My Husband Cheated on Me. Why Do I Feel Guilty for Leaving?

my husband cheated on me

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

A reader recently wrote to DGS: “My husband cheated on me. Why do I feel guilty for leaving?” Here are are the bullet points of her situation: She was married for 20 years when she found out her husband had two affairs: first he cheated with a good friend of hers, then with one of their neighbors. She forgave him and thought they had moved on.

Three years later, (which was recently), she found out he had another affair, this time with an old girlfriend, who the woman says saw sexting him and sending him porn. Now she wants a divorce, and get this–she feels guilty for leaving her husband! I’m sorry. What??


The husband, who the reader describes as “good-looking, hardworking, very generous, supportive, and amazing in so many ways,” wants to work on the marriage and stay together.


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The reader says she doesn’t think she can ever get back the love for him or the desire to be with him sexually, but that he is now “fully committed” and wants her back very badly. Again, she says she feels guilty for leaving her husband and is afraid of making a mistake.


“My husband cheated on me. Does anyone think I should still try working on this?” she asks.


My gut reaction is that I am furious with the husband. I am beyond angry with this selfish, cheating, manipulative person who makes promises and commitments—repeatedly, to the woman he committed to, and then can’t keep them.


Let me back up and first say, I am honestly someone who thinks that when someone has an affair, it doesn’t mean the end of a marriage. I truly believe that some marriages can be saved after cheating, and many can even become stronger and better.


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That said, I feel like this is different. This man has shown he cannot be faithful time and time and time again. These three cheating episodes are only three that the woman knows about. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more.


Let’s talk about the wife. I don’t want to judge her because I don’t have all the facts and I think someone’s decision to leave or stay after cheating is a personal decision that should never be judged by anyone. Everyone has his or her own reasons for doing what they do in relationships.


So, for whatever reason, she took him back three years ago. But now, I have immense respect for her decision to leave. Leaving takes courage. It’s scary as hell. You have no idea what’s ahead for you.


But here’s where I have issues with her. First, she describes him as “supportive and amazing in so many ways.” Hmmm…. Supportive? What is he supporting? If it’s financial, or if he supports her in her career, that’s good, but he’s not supporting her need to feel loved and cherished and appreciated and monogamous.

He’s disrespecting her and the marriage by taking his clothes off with other women behind her back, by sexting and sending and receiving porn. Also, amazing is not a word I would use for this man based on his actions. Insecure, selfish, disrespectful, careless, thoughtless, or self-centered might be better words.


My other issue with this woman is that she feels guilty for leaving her husband. Seriously? Why on earth would someone feel guilty for leaving her husband who cheated MULTIPLE times??!!! Because she is letting him manipulate her by saying things to keep her.


My answer to her question regarding if should continue trying to work on this is vehemently and passionately NO.


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In my gut, I don’t believe her husband will ever change. Am I being a judgmental, closed-minded biatch? I don’t think so. Maybe if he cheated once, they could go to therapy and try to work it out. But at this point, he is clearly unable to control his unfaithful behavior.

This woman did a smart thing by getting away from him. She should not question or doubt what her gut told her to do. And, she should not let him try to control her or convince her that he will change.


The saddest part about this whole story is, the husband will eventually realize what he had, and he will regret it for a long long time, if not forever. He might or might not ever admit that to his ex-wife, (she will be his ex by then) but trust me, he will regret it.

But it will be too late by then. This woman has such a great chance of being happy. She might be by herself for awhile, but isn’t it better to be alone than be in a relationship full of lies and deceit? Also, someday, she might find true love with a man who wants pure monogamy, and who is faithful and loyal and trustworthy. That is what I wish for her. In any case, I am confident that she will be OK leaving her husband. He’s the one who will have to live with his actions all these years.

Like this post? Check out, “When Trust is Broken in a Relationship. Can I ever Trust Again?”

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    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:

    9 Responses to “My Husband Cheated on Me. Why Do I Feel Guilty for Leaving?”

    1. Judy

      One time shame on me.. two times shame on him and you and the third time WTF!!!! My ex cheated on me and I tried to restore it however it takes two to restore it and this man didn’t bring a fight to the ring. I have no regrets divorcing him as he went on to break up a 20 year marriage. The husband called me and I told him I am not sleeping with her.. call him.. lol Needless to say, they got married before our divorce was a year old and live in our house… I am truly blessed to be free of that garbage of a man!!! #stillsingleafter4years

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        What I find bizarre is, would you really want to be that woman? (who stole someone’s husband and then couldn’t even find her own house with him?–had to move into yours? I would rather be you than her.

    2. Byron

      My ex-wife cheated. I chewed on that for almost two years, trying to figure out what I did to push her that direction. As our divorce made its way through the system, I also found her true self (with the help of a counselor), and elements of her character and personality were simply incompatible with the notion she’d planted in my head that I was somehow responsible for her taking up with another guy.

      It’s my firm belief now that a person who “cheats” has far deeper issues than infidelity. They’re broken. They may well be disordered or mentally ill. They’re eventually going to leave you, physically or emotionally, if they haven’t already done so. They’re going to try to break you in the process as well. They’re a train wreck just looking for a place to happen. And we keep them around ,,, why?

      In some cases I could see where there may be some apprehension. They’re the breadwinner and you can’t support yourself. Children. Networks of family or friends. Or maybe you’re that person who meant it when you took those vows. I fought to keep my marriage together. It’s just what some of us will do. But, in hindsight, I was only playing myself to be the fool. Getting that lying, self-absorbed, irresponsible, soulless person out of my life ranks right up there as one of the best things that ever happened to me, as well as for our children.

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        First of all, the only person responsible for cheating is the cheater. Period. Anyone who doesn’t own up to that has serious narcissistic problems. Secondly, you are correct that the person who cheats has far deeper issues than infidelity, but they are not necessarily broken. They might be unraveling, and although I have compassion for those people, the bottom line is that instead of finding another way to cope/fix their unhapiness, they chose to cheat. I do have issues with that. But, I will say, if a cheater has the desire and is willing to try to work things out–and obviously not cheat again, I do think marriages can survive infidelity. But more often than not, the cheater either doesn’t have the self-awareness to own up to it, or the damage/relationship resentment is just too far gone for repair.

    3. Soap Enthusiast

      Pretty sad that this person didn’t realize what he had, considering his wife was loyal enough to stay with him after caught cheating on her twice. Loyalty is a difficult thing to come by these days, and the guy had no right to be doing the things he did with the other women.

    4. Fredrick Carter

      Great post. According to a research by Peggy Vaughan, up to 75% of couples hit by an extra affair stay together. Fear of being alone keeps people in all kinds of horrible situations and relationships. Many women also have a fear of financial insecurity after getting divorce. And there are also other factors such as family appeasement, status stigmas, emotional investment in the relationship that stop people from making the right decision.

    5. Toughspot

      My husband cheated on me with a co-worker two years ago- it was an affair they had for a few months and during that time he was constantly emotionally manipulating me into believing we need to divorce as he doesn’t have any feelings for me as I never made him but I didn’t know at that time he was cheating and everytime I asked if there is someone else, he said I’m crazy. And then one day I walked home and caught them in my own house…and she was married. He still denied there was anything going on and ridiculed me in front of other people when I called him out. And then I found out enough information on their affair with proof and called him out in front of his family. And he couldn’t deny it anymore–he suffered backlash from family and came back to me saying he wants to reconcile..I did, thinking I have a 1 year old and for some reason I still thought I must have pushed him away. But things were never the same…eventually I separated for a year. I am independent and working and have a good job..lately we reconciled again while working with counsellor and a prereq was he would not be in touch with that girl any more- and here I found her texting him again and him hiding his phone from me. I am done with him and have asked for a formal divorce- would I be wrong? I don’t think he is sleeping with her anymore but I don’t have feelings for him as to me he went back on his word and kept in touch with her and has been hiding it from me. I stayed for the sake of my child who is now three..and my husband says he has tried to make it work with me…but I feel betrayed with this last act. Am I wrong for wanting out?

    6. Krista Jansen

      I have a similar situation. I was with my husband for 24 years, since we were 20. He had two affairs in the past decade and we worked on our relationship after the first. When I discovered the second affair I really didn’t think we would get past it…but two kids, about 20 years together and financial concerns and that we could still enjoy each other’s company lent to my decision to stick it out. In the last 8 months he met another woman that he started a friendship with and I got to know her as well. I was hesitant and expressed concerns about their growing relationship with both him and the other woman. Both assured me they would respect my concerns and the other woman even went so far as to say if she thought she was coming in between me and my husband she would remove herself from the situation. Needless to say that didn’t happen their relationship grew and neither one had the decency to come out and tell me, I found out. I was stunned as she went through a similar situation with her ex. My husband and I started counselling and I stated flat out I didn’t think I would ever be able to trust him again and that if we stayed together I would just be waiting for the next time. Well fast forward and he continued his relationship with the other woman and now credits our seperation to “not being on the same page or growing forward together”. We are separated and that he could have been ‘just friends” with this other woman but he she was a positive influence in his life and wasn’t willing to let that go. I have had a tough time lately trying not to be resentful and bitter as they are happy and have had a wonderful summer together. So in summary it’s a long journey and while I understand the feelings of guilt as I was the one to draw the line in the sand and feel bad for my kids that they are going through this I realize I had to for me and them; even when I am still grieving and prone to tears and struggling to figure out what my new future will be as a single almost 45 year old with 2 kids. Feel whatever you need to feel but realize that each of us can only make the decision that is right for us and we make it for a reason.

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        I personally think you did the right thing. I’m sure it wasn’t easy so I respect you immmensely. You didn’t take the easy way out. First of all, I think platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex are very very inappropriate for married people, unless they are childhood friends or old friends. There is almost always an ulterior motive if a new platonic friendship begins while the person is married. Not buying it at all. secondly, how many times does your husband have to show you that he cannot be monogamous? Three. There. I can almost guarantee he will cheat with the new woman. It might be years from now but I promise you, he will. Plus, part of the draw for him might be the sneaking around. Another thing. You are doing your kids a favor by showing them that cheating is unacceptable in a marraige and that when they get married, they shouldn’t settle for being cheated on. But most importantly, focus on your own life ahead. It’s going to be wonderful! I met the love of my life at 49 and I know countless others who met their spouses in their 50’s and even older. I wish you all the best!!! xo


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