Having An Affair When Both People Are Married

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By Jackie Pilossoph, Divorced Girl Smiling Editor-in-Chief

There are many different kinds of affairs. They include one-night stands, flings, emotional affairs that never go beyond texting and/or talking, affairs where one person is married, and having an affair where both people are married.


I’m not going to say that having an affair makes you a horrible person. I have learned over the years not to judge without having all the facts. That said, having an affair always hurts someone, and for that, I wish more people would take accountability and admit that what they did was hurtful.


I can’t count the number of people who have an affair, and then don’t have the self-awareness to say, “Hmm…I hurt my spouse deeply and now I owe him or her an apology.” Instead, they think, ‘The marriage was over anyhow’ or ‘I didn’t really think he or she would even care. He/She never even looks at me anyhow’ or the worst one, ‘It just happened. What can I say?’


MJ Gabel - When a diamond isn't forever


I say…say you’re sorry! No matter how ugly the divorce is, sit down and tell the spouse you cheated on that you are sorry you hurt them in that way. You don’t have to say you are sorry you cheated (especially if you aren’t) but imagine how much good you would do to just apologize for the pain, for the embarrassment, for turning your spouse’s life upside down–even if there are feelings of resentment for lots and lots of other things.


The idea for this blog post came from a guy who wrote to me that he got divorced because he had an affair. The woman he had the affair with was also married and both couples have kids.


The guy wrote that his affair was exposed when the woman’s husband found out. So, basically they got caught. He ended up getting divorced—I think both he and his wife wanted that, but the woman’s husband begged her to try to work it out. Since then, she has gone back to the affair once– for a couple weeks and subsequently broke it off again. Now this guy wants to know if he should wait for her.


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Here are my thoughts. The woman’s husband found out about the affair initially. What that says to me is that the couple was not willing to come forward and end their marriages. Maybe not enough time had gone by and one or both weren’t ready. Or, maybe they just weren’t sure how to do it, or couldn’t get up the nerve. Or maybe this woman never had an intention of ending her marriage.


After the couple was caught, the guy and his wife proceeded with the divorce. To me, that means he wasn’t happy in the marriage regardless of the affair. People who are happy in their marriages don’t cheat. No matter what. They don’t have to. They don’t want to. Their needs are being met. Not the case with this guy. And maybe not the case with his wife, either.


As far as the woman giving her marriage another try, that says a lot, too. She has now gone back to the husband twice. She has chosen the husband over the affair twice. So, she is really all over the place and desperately needs to figure out what she is doing. Therapy would be a good option for her.




My gut says that the woman’s marriage will ultimately end, not necessarily for the guy she had the affair with (although that could happen) but because you don’t walk away twice if you really want the marriage to work. Just my opinion.


As for the guy, I truly don’t think he had the affair because he fell madly in love with this woman, but rather that he was lonely in some way and his needs were not being met in his marriage.


I think this guy owes it to himself to really take some time to think and not really focus on whether or not the woman comes back. He needs to let her figure out her life and what she really wants and time has to go by for both of them to do that. I know that isn’t easy. But, I think he would be making a big mistake if he continues the affair. I think that it will only hurt his self-esteem for two reasons: one because the woman is cheating still, and won’t leave the husband, but also he is contributing to the pain the husband had and will have more of once he finds out the cheating is going on again. The guy needs to take the attitude that he deserves more in a romantic relationship than a woman with a husband and kids who is going behind her family’s back.


I know this sounds harsh, and the thing is, I don’t think people who have affairs are bad people. That said they are confused people who made a bad choice in handling a not-so-ideal marriage. People who have affairs are so wrapped up in the excitement, the energy, the sparks and the feeling of being so happy and fulfilled that their mind is clouded and they fail to think of the hurt they are causing someone they promised to love forever.


I can speak firsthand about being cheated on. Not in my marriage, but in two past relationships. It is the worst feeling in the world. It makes you feel dirty –not just because you think you might now have an STD, but just kind of gross to think that the guy who you get naked with and are so vulnerable with went behind your back and got naked and vulnerable with someone else.


It also makes you feel stupid that you didn’t see it, and mad at yourself for not seeing it. And, it makes you feel very embarrassed that other people probably knew.



All those reasons go back to my saying that the cheater should apologize for the cheating, no matter what else and what other resentments are present in the relationship. It’s the only thing that makes a cheatee feel sane, like you can actually let go of the intense anger over the situation. That at least the cheater cared enough to acknowledge that the situation killed you.


The bottom line is, all affairs are complicated and they rarely end well. I’m not going to say that none of them work out, but for the most part, they fail, I think because the relationship began with lies and cheating and deceit and hurting others. And maybe the guilt gets to people, creating new resentment and of course, lack of self-love (which will ruin any romantic relationship.)


I didn’t write this blog post to berate or judge people who have an affair, but maybe some of what I wrote will make them think a little bit. Almost always, everyone loses in an affair, whether it is a meaningless one-night stand or even a short emotional affair via Facebook messaging. Even if the affair turns into a love that you call “the love of my life,” it isn’t pretty. Why? Because what is supposed to be the beauty of true love will always have a stain on it with someone else’s pain.

Like this post? Check out my blog, “17 Ways to a Great 2017!”





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Divorced Girl Smiling, a novel by Jackie Pilossoph




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Author: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling offers advice, inspiration and hugs. If you want a Cinderella story, be your own fairy godmother. You're the only one who can pick out that perfect glass slipper!

One Response to “Having An Affair When Both People Are Married”

  1. Keith

    Okay here goes…I’ve been married for 31yrs. My wife and I have two beautiful and now grown kids, f29 & m26. She runs her own business out of our home and has for 26yrs. She has always filed our personal taxes and her business taxes together. I know nothing about taxes other what can be entered on an EZ form. She told me years ago how many dependents to claim. I have recently figured out several things. 1) dependents for tax purposes are no longer viewed or work the same way with the filing of taxes. 2) she always told me to claim many (6 or more) dependents because she wanted my tax over-payment to be her refund as she would write off enough with her business to claim a loss. The refund for many years went towards credit cards but the balance never really went down. For a few years I never saw the $3-5k refund. (yes this one is partially, okay mostly, about money) She opened a separate bank account with the reason of it being a “Christmas fund” for the kids. I was the one paying the bills. Her deposits to our account were always sporadic. Imagine paying bills when half of what you need to pay bills is never available on a regular basis. My deposits were direct deposit. Hers were in a drawer in the house for weeks at a time. One day I was at work and wanted to buy myself lunch. I went to the bank to get the lowest amount out of the ATM possible, $20. The account would be overdrawn if I followed through with my withdrawal. I didn’t eat that day. I also figured out she was depositing just enough to pay half the bills and sometimes less. After countless conversations asking her to make timely deposits, I was done. From that point on my direct deposits went to a bank account I opened separately. After that first deposit I took all the bills to her and told her because of her lack of insuring she made timely deposits, she could pay the bills. I told her I would make deposits to the joint account like she did, when I felt like making a deposit. Since I had paid the bills, I knew how much constituted half. I deposited more than half and still do. She uses my extra to pay on her credit cards of which I’m a co-applicant. I haven’t used her cards in 10 years. She still can’t stop charging. She still hasn’t filed taxes for 2015 or 2016. Needless to say we grew apart. We had a dog that passed away. We were discussing replacing with another large dog. I’m not a small dog person. She brought in a small dog that she had asked me about and I kept telling her that a small dog was not what we were discussing. She wanted it to sleep in the bed with us. I told her if she couldn’t sleep without it in our bed that she could sleep in another bedroom. She chose the dog over me. We haven’t slept together in 10 years. No sex or romance in 10 years. I was faithful until I couldn’t go on. I met a woman at work last year. She was in almost the same situation with sex as I, only 8 years without romance in her marriage. We were great together and had a lot of fun. Without making this story even longer, our affair ended. I do feel guilty about it. I have admitted to my parents and sister and her husband about my affair. My parents and sister know I haven’t been happy for years. I also told them I am filing for divorce. I WILL tell my wife and my kids of my affair after the divorce is final. I don’t want it to be the focus of my divorce as it is not the cause only the incident that made me realize the love, companionship and fun I have been missing from a loving and caring relationship. We did try therapy a few years ago for a separate issue involving our kids but when it was my turn to meet with the therapist alone, I caught him napping while I was telling MY story. I won’t try therapy again. I will eventually be okay. I will lose half of my retirement and my portion of equity in the house, roughly $155k, but to get away from the loneliness of being in a loveless, roommate of a marriage it will be worth it. Am I nuts here or is my whole situation nuts? I’ve allowed it to continue so long I could kick myself for not getting out earlier. Help me Jackie! What am I missing?


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