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How to rebuild trust after emotional affair that went beyond


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I've never posted on a forum like this and even as I do so I wonder if I should share something so private here... But I have no one I can really talk to about this because my partner is my closest and dearest friend, and she is the one I would normally turn to in times like these.



My wife of many years went on a 1 week vacation to see her mother back in spring. She's always had a very strained relationship with her mother and decided she was finally going to try to heal some of the wounds that she's carried with her since childhood. The months leading up to that trip were really hard for both of us as she was dealing with a lot of deeply seeded emotional wounds and I was trying to encourage her to express and explore them (she has a tendency to repress difficult emotions). This definitely had an impact on our relationship for those few months.


Finally when the time came for her to go off on her own to Cuba to see her mother (who is pretty much living there) I was really happy that she was braving the trip and looking forward to putting some focus back on our relationship once she got back. While she was gone I really missed her, it was a reminder of how much she means to me. When she returned and we got to talking about how things went with her mother she said that she tried to discuss her past trauma but her mother wasn't really hearing it and that she spent a lot of her time at the resort on her own.


This is where things get messy...


She then confessed that she had made a "friend" there that was kind of someone that she looked forward to seeing in the evening as a reprieve from her mother, but told me it was nothing to worry about. We got to talking a little more and she admitted that they kind of both admitted to feeling mutually attracted to one another but that she told him she was married. Yet they still saw each other every night while she was there and she did hold hands with him at some point (as well as hug him so there was some physical contact) I asked her if anything else happened and she said no, but she said that it was something she really looked forward to every evening.


Even though nothing really happened I felt hurt. I felt like she was flirting a dangerous line that wasn't really respectful of our relationship. Especially since there has been trust issue between us in this regard in the past. When she left I asked her half-heartedly to behave herself because I felt a little insecure about her going off on her own to Cuba. It didn't matter that nothing happened, I felt like she was pretty much going on dates with this guy who she admitted to having the hots for. After much discussion and seeing how much it hurt me she apologized and admitted that she shouldn't have behaved that way.




This is where things get even messier...




Needless to say this took a toll on our relationship, but I tried to deal with it as best I could (with lots of talks). Fast forward to two months ago.. My wife and I go away to this mediation retreat (where we don't see each other for 11 days) and when we finally get to see each other I'm once again so hopeful to put some positive energy into our relationship and the first thing I say to her when I see her is: "I know we've probably got a lot to say to each other but first I just want to ask you if we're okay... you and I?" It was like an intuition I had in that moment or something (because honestly I know Idea we were in trouble) and she looks at me and tears start to roll down her cheeks...


Then she confesses (once again) that that jerk from Cuba emailed her about two months ago and that they started chatting, innocently enough at first, then they started reminiscing on their dates, then it became the most exciting part of her week. She said she couldn't help herself that it was like an obsession, she was constantly checking her email for his reply. She said she knew she didn't want to jeopardize our relationship, that she knew she loved me, but that she was in constant conflict with herself. One moment she felt excited and the next ashamed. This went on for about two months until it culminated in her sending him a pic of herself in her underwear (as it was supposed to be the bikini he didn't get to see her in) and him sending a shirtless pic of him. After that she said she felt horrible and ashamed and wrote to him that she was going on vacation to fix her marriage and that she wouldn't write him again (I didn't even know it needed fixing!?)


It tore me up inside to hear all of this. I felt betrayed, I felt lied to, I felt like I didn't even know this person I was talking to. I am by no means an absent partner, in fact I'm always checking in to see if things are alright, I'm always trying to "sense" what's going on with her and prompt her because she isn't always the most forthcoming about her feelings. Yet I had no idea what was going on... I didn't even know that we were in trouble. It hit me upside the head and I haven't recovered yet. It felt like my reality was totally shaken


I've always said to her: "what ever it is... what ever you need... what ever is not working. I'm not afraid of talking about it... I know we can get through anything if you just talk to me and give me the chance..."


That's what kills me the most. Things admittedly have been hard in the past year, for both of us, but if something was so wrong that she was starting to question us, to question our relationship, why didn't she come to me?


We have since talked to no end about it (it's been two months since she told me) and she said with much remorse and determination that she doesn't want to loose me. She has said how much she feels foolish, how much she had begun to take me for granted and was blind to what she had right in front of her and I know she means it... But I just don't know how to believe it anymore.


I'm worried that we won't be able to repair the trust between us that was so damaged. I don't know how to feel it when she says I love you and I want to be here... even if she's standing right there. It's like there is a voice in the back of my mind that says: "she saying that now..."


I just don't know how to rebuild trust but I know I don't want to loose her either. She is honestly the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love her beyond words and yet I don't know if I can ever feel safe with her and that sucks so very much.



Apologies, I know my story was way too long. I'd be surprised if anyone has read all the way to here. I guess I really needed to get that all out. But if anyone has, then any advice would be most welcome.

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I believe there is a way back from cheating, but I also think she needs to work on her issues first, she seems like an unstable person, lots of wounds, probably the thing with her mother somehow "pushed" her to this man, reopened scars can do messy thing to people... during emotional periods we can even see things in a different light, in a wrong way I mean...

I would forgive her, and give her time, if you see she is really willing to work on her issues and if she is really doing everything to save your marriage... but you know her best, trust your guts on this, knowing her and all your history together is this just a fault she made because she was unstable or is this really in her nature, is she really falling out of love for you and ready to just trough away you have...

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I'm usually one for saying don't put up with stuff like that BUT I can't help wondering if being with her mother led her to find solace with this person while they were away. That said. .... If it was just friendship, why would she send this person a photo of herself in a bikini? I don't know. ... If she genuine wants to work through this, including the issues with her mother, and you're willing to help her then go for it. I suppose the good thing is he lives in another country and therefore far easier to put a distance between them.

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I'm sorry you are going through a challenging time as this. Painful, yes. Multi layered too.


On the trust front, yes, you can rebuild it. By working together, and by not blaming the other, but accepting the behaviors about each of you that contributed to the space that has obviously developed between you. I understand her actions went too far as did her emotions, and that puts the spotlight on her, but if you blame her, you will not be able to rebuild. If you understand her, you might.


Please read about avoidant patterns of behavior, because I think you exhibit them, and maybe she does as well.


What struck me as I read your post is how you seem to act as her therapist, and how her responsibility for herself is lifted. The relationship is something in which you both make an investment, and if you make hers for her, than she doesn't have an opportunity to find a way to invest herself. Yet she is begging you to feel the connection. She wants deeply to feel that with you.


It seems to me you both are afraid of being absolutely vulnerable to the other, and may need some help learning new behavior patterns.


Stopping there for now as you've done a lot of work on your own and likely also have some ideas.

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How exactly did she manage to meet and get close to this man all within a week? Where does she say she met him?


Something about that doesn't make sense. I would seriously be questioning if she'd been in contact with him before she even went to Cuba and knew all along she'd be meeting up with him once she was there. Who is this guy?


OP, I don't think you two are anywhere near ready to rebuild anything, because I don't think she has been anywhere near transparent about this whole mess. There are missing pieces to her story and I would bet my bottom dollar there's a lot more you don't know.

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I read all the way to the end. Thank you for sharing your experience. I have been going through something similar with my wife and I find some sollace in knowing that others are weathering the same storm.


In the end, we are all beings tethered to biological bodies, and the chemical cocktails that bind us to each other are as addictive as anything you could buy on the street corner. When you want to bond animals, you stress them. You put them together in a difficult, emotional situation, and they naturally form a chemical, emotional bond with each other.


And the chemicals we felt when falling in love, dating, experiencing romance are equally potent. While my wife and I experience a deeper love for the length of time we've been together, I'm coming to see that my boring, old, safe, comfortable body just doesn't give off the electrical charge that a new, mysterious, interested one does. I can see how that bit of interest, coupled with the "forbidden" element of taboo made for a truly addictive emotional drug.


It's a rare privilege for us biological beings on this planet to even be able to consider how we're pushed and pulled around by our chemicals and conditioning, and lead astray from our higher values and goals.


It seems you'll have to form a new trust with your wife, one that incorporates the fact that she's stuck in a human body. But to do that, she'll have to demonstrate clearly that she is capable of rising beyond biology to be her highest self. IF she can't your new "trust" will have to incorporate the idea that she may be prone to this kind of behavior. IF you can't live with that, then you'll have to move on. That's how it seems to me.


It's very lucky that in your case, the guy is so far away. I wish you the best of luck.

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