Cheating Spouse: Cold-hearted or Nice Guy who Just Wants Love?

cheating spouse

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

This is a comment that Divorced Girl Smiling received from a cheating spouse, along with my comments and advice.

I have been married 17 years to my wife and we have 3 great kids. I’ve been unhappy for a long time. It’s one of those situations where it was just the way it was, and I didn’t want to be alone if I left. We are both professionals and financially are very well off. But for years she makes me feel like one of her employees. If I don’t do a task “properly” it gets commented on. There is no “lovey-dovey” sweetheart-type behavior that I see with other couples.

 We make very good business partners but I don’t feel like husband and wife. I find myself feeling somewhat indifferent toward her. If she takes a trip I find myself wishing that she wouldn’t come back. This makes me feel so guilty. Then I met “her”.

 At a business meeting two months ago. I wasn’t looking for anything, we just met briefly, but started texting all the time. We “talk” all day long and have probably had more meaningful conversations in 2 months than most couples have in a year. We are absolutely crazy about each other. We’ve had a few dates, but we live several hours apart so it’s difficult.

 Yes, I know all the problems: 1. it’s all new and shiny right now. 2. It’s only been two months. 3. blah blah blah. The fact is that she brings out the best in me. She loves my sense of humor, whereas at home I get a lot of blank stares so I just keep quiet. At home it’s a lot of feeling stressed and walking on eggshells. With Miss New Girl it’s so relaxed. We laugh about everything. It kills me to be apart from her. She feels the same. So now I’m wondering about leaving. I’m so torn up inside because of the guilt I’m carrying that I want to leave my wife.

 There is no support for that. Everything I have seen relating to a situation like mine completely vilifies the man as being selfish and immature and slays the “other woman” as should know better, why is she getting involved with a married man anyway? Facing all this is torturing me. I really think that Miss New Girl and I have something very special. But I wish someone would tell me that it’s OK to feel this way. I don’t want to do counseling. Like Jackie said, if you ask if it would be nice to reconcile and you say no, you’ve checked out. I definitely feel like I’ve checked out. I feel like I’m cheating on Miss New Girl when I’m at home with my wife. It’s crazy. I just try to avoid my wife as much as possible. This whole mess is tearing me up.


Wow. This is really a tough one. I find that part of me is judging you, a person who is sneaking around, happily in love while living under the same roof with a wife and three kids who know nothing. After all, just because your wife is cold and unemotional towards you, does she deserve to be living with a cheater? Don’t get mad, I’m not done.

All that said, I totally understand how this can happen because I see it so very often, and I really feel for you. I bet you are a really good person, and you’ve been a committed husband and father, a provider who tried to do the best you could for years. That is commendable. No one should have to “settle” for a life with someone who is cold, who stopped appreciating them, and who treats them like an employee.

Here are my red flags for your situation:

“I didn’t want to be alone if I left,” you say. So, what you’re basically saying is, if you never met this woman, you’d still be in the same spot, not even considering leaving? Have you ever considered leaving before? I guess, as a woman I’m kind of mad at you for giving up! For not trying harder! (I’m also mad at your wife, by the way because she didn’t try hard enough either.) My point is, I firmly believe people shouldn’t leave people for another person. People should leave if they are truly unhappy, they’ve exhausted all possibilities of making the relationship better (talking, counseling, etc.) and if they absolutely feel there is no way to go back and fix it. Maybe something really bad happened, maybe there’s an addiction, maybe there was unwarranted cheating. Those are deal breakers. Do you have a deal breaker here?

“We’ve have probably had more meaningful conversations in 2 months than most couples have in a year,” you say. Come on. You are in la la land, and you will be there for the next couple years. I’m not minimizing your new relationship. I get it. It feels wonderful to feel alive and happy, and meet someone who cherishes you and thinks you are all that. It feels like waking up from a coma. And you even said it, “it’s all new and shiny right now.”

You say you want someone to tell you it’s okay to feel this way. Of course it is. No one has the right to tell you how to feel. You’re probably so freaking happy right now and I love that. Life is short. Know how many people I know who have cancer and other illnesses? We’re not here that long. Living unhappily is cheating yourself. So trust me, I get you.

Here’s the thing. You have to let yourself see the reality, which is that at some point, with this new girl, the shoe will drop. It will. That doesn’t mean she isn’t the one for you, and it doesn’t mean you won’t end up spending the rest of your life with her, but what you have now isn’t reality. It’s secret, sexy meetings that make you feel guiltier than hell, and the best you’ve ever felt in your life at the same time. Honestly, though, you don’t know this girl and you won’t for years.

What I would tell you is that no matter how bad things are at home, you really do owe it to your wife and kids NOT to be a cheater. I’m sorry if that sounds judgmental and impersonal, but I really do feel that way.

Also, if you leave and it doesn’t work out with this girl, are you okay to be alone? Because you said you didn’t want to be alone (which is an entirely different subject that disturbs me.) What’s so wrong with being alone? Wouldn’t you rather be alone than live with and be married to someone who makes you feel alone anyhow? To me, that’s almost worse. The question is: would you be “checked out” if you never met this woman?

The saddest part about this is that somewhere along the line, you and your wife stopped cherishing each other. It’s like if you decided to just stop watering a plant. It would die. Why did that happen? It’s probably not all your fault or hers. There’s no cheating, no addictions in the marriage, so why did you guys stop appreciating each other for all the things you married each other for? That might be crying over spilled milk, but I thought I’d bring it up.

Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best.


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    Divorced Girl Smiling welcome video
    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    16 Responses to “Cheating Spouse: Cold-hearted or Nice Guy who Just Wants Love?”

    1. Nikki

      Great advice Jackie…

      Another thing I think this man needs to do is counseling. He states that he doesn’t want to do counseling. I’m sure it’s because he thinks he knows what he wants and knows that if someone challenges his new desire then he may not end up where he hopes to end up, with Ms. New Girl.

      First and foremost, go seek counseling, whether it’s alone and wife doesn’t know about it or if it’s with wife. I’ve seen couples come back stronger after similar situations. Sometimes it’s even best to tell your wife you are seeing someone else. It may wake her up out of her comfortable zone and actually realize that she needs to make some changes. If she is willing to see her faults and change the way she treats you, how great would it be for your 3 kids to have happily married parents?

      This is all coming from a recently divorced woman with two little boys. My ex-husband was in your shoes! I was uninterested in him for a variety of reasons that are mine and his to share. Our nanny showed him the slightest bit of attention and off they went to the bedroom for over a year behind my back. I was able to see that my actions could be to blame for him seeking attention elsewhere but I was unable to trust him again. And he is also an alcoholic. But, I tell you if I were able to learn to trust him again and he were willing to get help for his addiction I would have tried to work things out for him.

      Like Jackie said, new and shiny wears off. My ex is no longer with the nanny. That pretty much went downhill for him the minute their secret was revealed.

      Please get counseling! Even if it still leads to a divorce, then you can really say you tried.

    2. Understand

      I think what the writer needs to hear, is that what he is going through happens to others. Right now you feel like you are on an island and the only person on the planet that this has possibly happened to. Maybe you would have let yourself live miserably for the sake of your family, but now you realize that it may not be worth it. There is a long road ahead of you and right now what you need to do is step back from all of and assess. You cannot see what it would look like to live alone. You can’t see what it looks like to be divorced, but right now you can see that you have been very unhappy for a very long time and you have some serious red flags in your marriage. Now to complicate it, you have true feelings for someone else.

      I went through this a year ago–although my spouse was a prescription drug junkie and it wasn’t until I met someone else and fell head over heels on a short work trip that I had a complete panic attack that woke me up for how incredibly unhappy I was.

      Give yourself some space from “new girl” no matter how hard that is. Get counseling for yourself ASAP. Start putting a exit plan together. And tell your wife before it goes on any longer. Give her a chance at responding before you are so far gone that you cannot see your life with her at all. That happened to me and that’s the one thing I would have changed. I would have told him sooner and given it some effort before I was too deep with someone else. I didn’t go to counseling until I was 5 months in and it was too late.

      You will know what’s right for you when you get a good picture from an outsider. A counselor will help you see your own personal issues. I also recommend the book ‘When Good People Have Affairs.

    3. Jenn

      What if he doesn’t tell his wife he’s been cheating? He could tell her the other things /being unhappy The pain she will have to go through because of this betrayal is terrible. Newly divorced, I’m going through this type of pain. It creeps up every once in a while. Knowing the attraction was shiny and new. How could I compete with that? The feeling of betrayal. Questioning whether I can trust a man again. It just really sucks.

      • Laura

        Been there, Jenn. Betrayal pain is horrible, and thinking you can’t compete with shiny and new! But 4 years out now I can say that the pain does lessen and you realize that “shiny and new” will become old and commonplace and you can have the confidence to believe in yourself despite feeling as if you were thrown away.

    4. Tegbez

      Wow, I’m male.. its interesting… its been 3 years since my separation. I have 3 children like the other male writer. I identify with much of what he said. Everyone seems to come from the premise that it is a perfect world we live in and we need to punish the “transgressors”. I look after my 3 kids beautifully & lovingly and my stbx (took me a while to decode that ) will gift me that skill anytime. Yes, I cheated in the same language that blames transgressors… I see all that msw (my still wife ) may have gone through. I have not retaliated against msw but rather supported her financially & morally almost as if I were still there.. after all if I am dissatisfied with the way she conducts herself surely depriving her of my company should be the only penalty ? Then there is the other.. Yes I fell from grace in falling for her. She was everything for a time & she was my soulmate … Understand that we live in a world of illusions that we see what we want to see. In the end it is an eye opener to why I chose my wife in the first place… And the dilemma ? How to balance the Mother of my 3 children vs the Mother of my soon to be & long desired 4th child and second daughter.. both of whom will be well looked after but who are Captains of their own ships… Yes I couldn’t help my self.. still we are all moderately happy in this limbo.. Like a friend once said.. ” Its a precarious situation.. Nobody make any jerky movements..” Lighten up this is one life in many.. and s that is not acceptable how about this is many lives in 1 ?

    5. Sarah

      I guess I am the transgressor. I had a year long affair with an old high school boyfriend. My marriage seemed wonderful on the outside, we were “happy” and had “the perfect family”, we were the envy of many except for the sadness I felt. I was lost in this sea of 4 kids and motherhood and trying so hard to be perfect that I totally lost who I was. I was no longer Sarah, but “Jack’s” mom or Mark’s wife… where did Sarah go. So here I find myself in this affair with someone who makes me laugh and smile and feel like me again. Well, that all ended when our spouses found out. I wish I could say I tried my hardest to keep my 24 year marriage together, but I didn’t. I misses the HS fella and before long (well 2 years) we both left our spouses for each other. And here I sit, almost divorced, sharing custody of my children, missing them like crazy when they are not with me, missing my old life, the comfortableness that “bored” me so, the routine that I dreaded. I am embarking on this new adventure and I am scared to death, scared that maybe if I really tried to keep my marriage together I would still be in my house, with my family, using my dishes, in the rooms I painted. My advice is this: get help, the grass may seem greener, but in the end it is all just grass.

      • Christa

        Sarah- I could have easily just typed my own life from what you wrote! It’s almost an exact duplicate! I wonder how you are handling any guilt you are having? I am really struggling with guilt, even though I know it takes 2 to make or break a marriage.

    6. Carla

      I know that everyone on here is trying to see both sides and not bash the guy who is currently cheating on his wife however I will go ahead and say it. In each of us there is a good side and a bad side. In his case his marriage may be in the dumps and he has the right to change this. It is called being a man instead of a shriveling whining loser. Go find your balls, man up, and either work on your marriage or get divorced! The fact that he wants be with his “new woman”while still being married to his wife and the mother of his children is terrible and morally wrong. Life is hard dude grow up!

    7. Laura

      In the initial article, you can find the words “unwarranted cheating” highlighted. What I really want to say is that all cheating is unwarranted. Sure, marriages can drift into complacency and not be tended and nurtured as they ought to be, but cheating is wrong. It’s morally wrong and shouldn’t be excused. That “well, I was unhappy for years” line used to justify cheating is reprehensible. If you’re unhappy, seek remedies other than falling into bed with someone new. If you are determined to walk away from your spouse anyway, at least wait until the divorce is final before finding someone else to make you happy, because it doesn’t really work that way after all, does it?!

    8. Kathy

      Unbelievable. You say those vows for better or worse and worse comes and you are basically a liar. You coward. Turn to your wife, ask her forgiveness and say you will do whatever it takes to make this up to her and make it a great marriage. Hopefully she will say yes. I am sick and tired of people who when times get tough want to say poor me, it takes two. BS no one should cheat. That is the worst thing you can do to your wife or husband and you just did it. Get counseling with a counselor who believes you do everything to save a marriage. It may end in divorce but at least you tired and you make the decision together for both of you and your family.

    9. Jenn

      People are so judgemental and feel free to toss their opinions out there! Have you been in the valley of darkness for 20 years after trying everything to make a marriage work? I remember asking my X (husband) to spend time together to improve our marriage; I remember trying to be the perfect wife and mother to get approval; I remember my X (husband) comfortably sitting in his recliner watching his 50′ Flat screen TV as he yelled at me for making too much noise as I was working hard to make our home life run smoothly. Total of 15 years prior, I was the primary caregiver to our children with my X (husband) working 2nd shift. I would not trade those 1:1 years of being with our children alone but this did not help out marriage. I remember the first time I noticed a “house” lock on his bedroom door so he could keep me from retrieving my personal panties which he used to masterbate in. I remember being put down and yelled at in front of our children. I remember crying myself to sleep knowing my X (husband) wouldn’t console me or apologize at any time for the tears he started. I received no thank you’s or hugs when feeling blue. Do you know how this feels to be all alone in a marriage that is suppose to be between 2? YES! I left with my children and then soon after cheated! I was emotionally dead after 20 years of emotional and verbal abuse, neglect, and needed to know I was good enough. I tried a few sessions of therapy after leaving but consistently my X (husband) blamed me for everything which I couldn’t stomach after I tried for many years to make our marriage work, even going to therapy alone, without the dedication from my X (husband).

    10. Jenn

      Sara the thoughts at the end of your write up were words straight from my mouth! During my divorce process, not having a house of my own, my children had to go to live with their dad, the man that I wanted to save them from. I have never down graded their dad Infront of our children and have only supported their relationship but I hope it is understandable why I don’t want them living with their dad (not for selfish reasons). My faith has brought me through so far with much of the divorce process still remaining. Sometimes, I don’t feel God’s presence but believe that is when He is inthe background working His hardest for me and my family so I know His plan will reign.

    11. lori

      Unbelievable, why do they cheat and not talk and try to get back what they had,what made them fall in love. This happened to me I had to leave he wouldn’t, he wanted boy toy and wife.Just please try to talk stop cheating, good luck just please be honest to her and yourself.

    12. Jane

      I wasn’t fulfilled in my marriage and was unhappy. He wasn’t fulfilling my needs but did I go and cheat on him? No, because I have morals and integrity. He decides to cheat on me and humiliates me by saying I wasn’t sleeping with him for months or being a good wife. Why doesn’t he take any accountability? He wants to blame me for not being good enough yet he wasn’t stepping up to the plate or working on why we weren’t emotionally or physically connected. Everyone has issues, no relationship is perfect but going outside of the marriage is a cowards way of dealing with things. I’m tired of these weak spouses making excuses and blaming their significant other for their stupidity and lack of integrity.

    13. Francine

      I don’t seem to understand why we as a people have to live our life’s that way. So much heartbreaks, you meet someone you fall in love with,which was not even genuine in the first instance.


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