Filling the Void After His Affair

ironic1There is a tragic irony in the story of infidelity, or at least my story. My husband was drawn into his affair because he felt like something he and I once shared was gone. He displaced his insecurities on me, believing I was no longer attracted to him and that our diminished sex life was a symptom of my indifference. He felt like something was missing so he cheated. Paradoxically, his affair left me feeling like I lost something, something important to my definition of “us”. The irony is that he cheated to fill something he felt was lost but in reality, his affair robbed me and left a hole.

It was a year ago my therapist asked me what I would do if I never found those missing puzzle pieces as I was struggling to find a concrete explanation for my husband’s affair. I sat in silence on the couch with my husband to my left and therapist in the chair across from us. I was silent because I didn’t know the answer to her question. At the time I wanted to believe if I asked enough questions that I would figure out why my husband cheated. I wanted evidence that my decision to stay and rebuild my marriage was the right one. I wanted to believe that I could fix what was broken. I wanted definitive clarity.

Six months after that therapy session I made an appointment to go back alone. I was struggling to move forward again. We had passed the one year mark, we were now a stronger and healthier couple but I now felt like something was missing from me. His affair had stolen my sense of security in my marriage. As I sat across from my therapist she suggested I make a list or write about what I was feeling. I wrote this post. My therapist also told me that I might never be able to find that missing piece again; I needed to accept the loss. The missing puzzle piece I had been relentlessly searching for was in fact, missing from me. The question still remained: What if you never find that missing puzzle piece?

The tragic irony in my story transpired because my husband believed I was the spouse with the lack of love and affection, yet while I was faithful he abandoned our marriage and began an affair. I accept my husband’s choices but I still feel like I was stripped of something I once believed was essential in our marriage. As time moves on, the hole inside feels smaller but I sometimes wonder if it’s actually shrinking or if other people in my life are filling the gap. Is it possible this empty hole within me can no longer be filled by my husband? Or does it just take time to fill the void?

And then I remembered my favorite childhood author, Shel Silverstein, wrote  about a missing piece. Sometimes it just takes a deep breath in to realize that my journey is creating me and I need to trust in the journey.

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49 thoughts on “Filling the Void After His Affair

  1. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your blog, I could never write like this or be so insightful. It’s like you are writing for me. We are coming up on year post D-Day and I have something I would like you to consider sharing on your blog. I have written a letter to the OW, not to give to her but just for myself in the healing process. Would you be willing to look at it and if you like it post it to your blog for others to gain from it?

    • I would absolutely be willing to read it and consider posting for consideration. Let me know if you can view the email address I use for this account in your own email inbox. Once you send it just let me know here.

      I am glad that what I writing connects with you. Sometimes these are just thoughts rolling around in my head that I hope will make sense when I put them on a page.

  2. The email address comes from word-press and I can send it there or if you want to shoot me a quick email I will send it to you.

  3. The painful part is my husband is the one who is and always has had something missing his character is forever altered. I see my husbands abuse of me our children our grandchildren as his twisted sense of love (his family said I love you and hurt ignored and abandoned him all in the name of love) he has followed his father at whoring lying cheating all with I love you twisted does what twisted knows. I’m sorry we both had our lives tsunamied by the whole sick twisted I love you BUT.

  4. Thank you for posting this. This is exactly how I feel at this very moment. We can move forward but nothing will ever be the same. Not the same security in our relationship I once had in our 25 year relationship. Maybe that is good.

  5. I have said that to him before that this will not define us. But I feel it has for me, I think reading your blog I understand that I have given up hope that I will never find love for him again. A love that I thought was beautiful and special. A love between us that makes me want to stay and fight the good fight with him, our beautiful children, and myself.
    Sometimes I think I try and move things along too soon it’s only been 1 month, 2 months if I count all the 1/2 truths along the way

    • In the beginning I always felt like my husband would take one step forward and three steps back. The affair doesn’t define us, we are defined by what we do in light of it. We are defined by how we rebuild our lives (with or without our husbands). Trudging through the muck is difficult but I’ve come to realize it’s really the only road to healing.

  6. You and I have the same exact d-day, and I am in the exact same place as you now. I find myself finding more joy and fulfillment in my job, my friends, my kids, and less from my husband. I feel complete as a person, but my husband is not a large portion of that equation. I fear I will never let him in again fully, so I fill my life with others to make up for it. It’s not a great place to be, but there is freedom in knowing that he does not complete me.

  7. or maybe that void is not getting filled at all, but rather, maybe you are learning to live with the pain/void, therefore it appears on the surface to be subsiding when actually you’ve grown so accustomed to it that its just a part of you you learn to live with..
    anyways, thats what I ask myself.. is it really subsiding, or am i just getting use to it?

  8. Wow I can’t believe your post came through tonight as it was a year to the day that I found out about my husband’s affair x thank you so much for making me feel I’m not the only one going through this x

  9. Your post is so beautifully written that I keep re-reading it.
    Being older and ill makes me bolder in accepting the failure as part of the marriage, not the end of it. That does not mean it is easy to accept or that there are not lessons to be learned. I feel fairly confident that you actually do have your missing piece. You seem to know the why, to the best of human understanding. It isn’t a void. It is the imperfection of a growing thing.

  10. Pingback: Triggers, Attention, Pedicures: My Affair Recovery? Not going so well.. | How To Not Hate My Husband

  11. I feel everything written in this blog..Why your husband had his affair, is similar to why my husband had his (at least that what he says).There’s many questions I want and try to continually ask to help me understand why. He doesn’t answer any of them, all I get is “does it matter”. I get mad and angry when I hear that. I feel he doesn’t want to confront it. I have to or maybe I feel I have to confront the hurt and pain in my mind daily. The way he treated me and spoke to me (verbally) was mean to me when the affair started&this past year is what.is hard for me to forget. Physical abuse will go away, verbal&emotional abuse is what reply in my mind. Even though I know. I am young enough, smart enough that I can walk away thru in the towel&maybe there is someone out there who will treat me like the woman I need to be treated right. I feel I would be robbing my children of the family structure of having both parents. Even though my husband and his mistress were (possible) are still selfish. It’s hard for me to be selfish like that. I don’t understand why people cheat. I thought out of all the guys who wanted to date me at the time I met him and was interested, I thought I found someone who believed in the same thing I did when it came to relationships. That if a person is going to cheat, let that person go before it happens. For me that wasn’t the case, the one person who I trusted out of all people in my life was the one who betrayed me the worst. Now a year later and after the birth of our daughter he says it’s over. After all the lies&more lies during the pregnancy and the day we had her, is what so hard to forget bout the past. I feel the same, there’s something missing. I don’t know what it is.

    • I, too, had a large field to pick from and deliberately choose the one I felt was the most trustworthy. Why? Do we need trust more than anything, and why,? Is that the missing piece or fatal flaw?
      Marriage was invented to provide the trust, we know it doesn’t work as a contract as you cannot impose feelings, only behaviour.
      My husband also supplied more adventure and boldness than I had, and I loved that. We thrived together till he weakened. Is that the fatal flaw? His adventurness caused him to seek the wrong solution, braver than I rather than less integrity, perhaps? His solution was wrong, I’m not going to give up because of that.
      Big and little O, plus the other little O tiring. so right, thank you thiswillnotdefineus. Let’s keep thinking.

  12. You always have such great insight, just when I’m pondering the same thoughts. From your husbands void, your left with a void. I have a void too. I HATE this void, this missing piece. I guess I won’t get it until I make myself complete first.

  13. I’ve been reading your stories for over a year now and they have helped me so much. I found out about my husbands affair on 7th march 2013 and then my life turned upside down. I felt I had no where to turn so I started looking on the internet and luckily for me I came across your page. You made me realise I wasn’t insane and I wasn’t on my own. It was such a hard time for me, I’d never felt pain like it. I’m still with my husband and we’re doing really well, even better than we’ve ever been. There has been a lot of arguing, I feel that I really went close to loosing my mind but I made it through and the hard times are now in the past. I want to thank you so very much for all you’ve said, you have really been my saviour through all this. I wish you all the very best in your life, I wish you lots of love and happiness

    • Hi Kate,
      Thank you so much. I am glad that the words on these pages resonated with you and were of helpful to you as you struggles with your husband’s infidelity. I truly believe that all the women here on my blog have been the key to my own healing and recovery. I wish you love and happiness too. 🙂

  14. I so feel that void. My husband had an affair with one of his staff. Told her how hot she was did it in a public toilet which I find so disgusting. My husband has taken over a year to get it to understand my pain. But he does get it now. I know now he loves me would do anything for me. But he can’t change what he did. And I’m so angry so angry he destroyed my sense of self my belief in a happy marriage. It fills me with such rage sometimes I just want to break every piece of china in the house. Will I ever not feel that rage. Will I ever not have the horrible images of him and his whore in my head. If he wasn’t here would I feel better would I not have the reminders of the disgusting whore. I don’t know.

    • Sometimes it’s hard to know what will make things better. For a long time all I wanted was to wake up and discover my husband’s affair was a dream. I guess it’s because it seemed so unreal and having a faithful husband was all I knew. To me, he was never the “type” but now I know there is no type. There is no husband that is completely immune to infidelity. I was naive to believe that once.
      The anger is part of the grieving process… the healing process. My therapist once told me to acknowledge a bad thought and then distract my mind with something else. She advised me not to get caught up in the spiral of negativity because it will swallow you whole if you allow it. Try to distract your mind with an activity you enjoy, children, cleaning, dancing–anything that will get your mind off of *her* and the affair.

  15. What a great post!

    After reading it I took our
    youngest to the pool and accidentally hit a playlist from my husband, and this song really resonated with me.

    Foster the People- Waste

    I think it’s actually about drug addiction, but it was his way of saying he was willing to go through all the muck to help me heal. It does seem like overcoming the hole or void in me is insurmountable. I wonder am I addicted to thinking about what has been taken away from me? I need to focus on how much stronger we are now. Thanks again for putting it so eloquently.

    • Great song and comment. I think the similarities between addiction and infidelity are huge. At times, I was caught up in thinking about the affair too much. It was part of the healing but it definitely becomes an endless cycle. last summer I began to limit my time on my blog because I was so caught up in the pain.

  16. Thank you yes I need to distract myself from the anger it’s easy to get lost in it. You write so well and as everyone says you help us all. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD by my local doctor and two psychs. His affair came on top of me being carer for my mum as she died from cancer. His affair was a while ago but only found out last year. Then this year my 12 year old was diagnosed with cancer. It’s hard not to feel anger at the whole world now. But I read your posts and you seem to feel like me but seem to be getting better so that gives me hope.

    • I’ve heard many women are diagnosed with PTSD after discovering their husband’s affair. I can completely understand and I suspect I suffer from elements of PTSD too. There are so many triggers. I am happy to say that they no longer affect me the same way anymore. You will get there too.
      You are dealing with so many traumas at once. I hope your 12 year old is doing well. I am sending positive energy and thoughts your way.

  17. Oh try listening to Brink of destruction by Sarah Mclachlan very positive song and so like it was written for what we are all going through.

  18. Thank you for writing this. It puts a lot of things into perspective. For a long time, I wanted my husband to fix every hole and every insecurity. But, the truth is, I am responsible for my own happiness. I can choose to live in the past. I can choose to dwell on his affairs. I can choose live in a bubble where he is the only one to blame. But I can also choose to be happy and look towards our future. I can choose to focus on what comes today. I can choose to love myself and believe I am worth loving. I can let go of the pain and allow our marriage to recover and heal.

    • Everything you wrote is so true. It’s ironic because I just posted the song “Fix You” but the first comment was: “Can anyone really fix another person?” The answer is no, we have to fix ourselves and start over.

  19. I thought I was learning to fill the void and live with the new normal. It has all changed yet again. I discovered that over the course 18 years my husband had sex with 5 different women only the last of which I knew of. I have spent almost 2 years trying to learn to rebuild my marriage. He is currently a much better partner, friend, father and community member nonetheless my life and marriage as I knew it is shattered. Who have I given 18 years of my life to? Who did I have children with? Who stood with me in front of God and family vowed commitment? It has been 5 days since I discovered this revelation and my feelings range from shattered to angry to despair to helplessness. I will continue to work with my therapist but there is comfort and connecting with others through your blog.

    • There is a solace that comes with hearing the stories of other woman. Knowing that none of us are alone. That there are good days and bad and on the worst days there are woman here to connect with us.

  20. I’ve been telling my husband I feel “damaged”. I wasn’t able to really able to explain what I meant, just that I don’t feel like I will ever be able to be the person that I was. This blog post puts it into words. I’ve lost the security of my marriage. He is working so very hard to build that feeling again, but it’s gone. It’s still so surreal that my husband would have an affair…well two affairs…that I didn’t find out about until November of last year. I just want it to be a bad dream, but it isn’t. He is so wonderful now, and I want to be able to enjoy the man he is becoming; I’ve just been hurt so deep and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever feel happy again. He is very supportive and reads your blog too when I send him links to the ones I connect with so that he has a better idea of what I am going through. You are amazing; thank you for sharing your journey with us. Hopefully one day we can be as much of a blessing to you as you have been to us.

    • You are a blessing to me. Just knowing that I have other women to connect with has helped me get through my most difficult days. I am glad that my words resonate with you and have opened a way for you to connect with your husband. I hope we can all find that happiness again.

  21. Beautifully written! Your story sounds so similar to mine. “Life” changes every day. Kids, jobs, finances and day to day happenings. How we choose to react to those changes and sometimes challenges set in motion the good and bad parts of a relationship. My husband had 2 affaires. I could see that he was having some sort of crisis. He has had a “social” drinking problem for a long time, but in the last several years before & during the afaires, he progressively began drinking more. He was a different person when he was drinking and he was a different person when he needed a drink. It changed his relationship with his daughters because he would over-react if they did something wrong, and his drinking put a “stain” on more than one vacation, holiday, family events or evening dinner. If I said something to him about it (away from our children) it would make him angry. I would try and talk about it the next day, but really never got anywhere— except he did apologize to his daughters & my Mom one time. There is a lot more to my story, so to make a long story short, I am in a “different place” mentally about how I am seeing my situation. He left about 1 1/2 years ago. I wrote heartfelt letters, tried to get him to talk, but he wanted no part of it. The AP left her husband…..I really had no chance. It took me a long time to realize it was over after 29 years. Now, I am getting used to the idea of making a clean break. My big eye-opener was being diagnosed with Breast cancer 7 months ago. The stress of these past 7 years have taken their toll. Anyone going through betrayal of their marriage KNOWS the mental & physical stress. It is consuming!! I was willing to go to counseling— we went—he quit after the 2nd session. Where I am now is: I don’t want to live my life like I have been– In limbo!–Waiting for him to see the relationship & family he threw away. Ladies, if you are going through this, don’t sacrifice your life for someone who disrespects you by having an affair. Don’t make yourself sick worrying when he is out of town or with his “friends” wondering if he is cheating again. I gave my husband a second chance. He seemed remorseful & was more attentive and seemed happy. I thought we had dodged a bullet. I started to “forget” that it ever happened and was so glad we stuck it out. Then I suspected he was seeing one of our customers. He denied. He lied. I just cannot keep putting myself through this!! I am putting my health at risk with the possibility of contracting STDs. I HAVE to move on by myself. I HAVE to have some dignity & self respect. I have read many pages to this blog about women willing to make their marriage work— just like I did the first time. My advice to you ladies: if he does it again, you need to think long & hard about what to do. You don’t deserve this! You may love him, but it takes 2 people who are fully committed to make a marriage work. You can’t live your life feeling like crap about yourself wondering what you did. It has nothing to do with you—it is his problem within himself. My heart goes out to all of you who are going through this. You are not alone. I pray each day for mercy & strength to do the right thing.

  22. I have read and reread this post and some of your others many times in the past week. I think it kept me sane to see what you have been through and other women are feeling the same. We just hit the one year mark and the last week has been hell. Is it possible to feel just as bad at a year as I did at the beginning of this awful mess? My husband got mad at me and admitted that he did not want to go back there as he is ashamed of himself and what he did. He said he didn’t like himself back then and didn’t want to revisit it all the time.He said he thinks I am thinking about it and spiralling into a depression on purpose and he didn’t want to live like this. So I told him to leave then. He asked is that what you really want and I told him I don’t know what I want. Anyway as I said it was hell this past few days and now today we have a truce. I guess I just want to know if this is normal or is he right, am I just looking to be miserable on purpose? I loved the story about the missing piece video. I used to teach preschool so children’s stories are wonderful to teach life lessons. Thing is I feel like the little piece but I have spines like a hedgehog and every time I roll the spines stick in me and hurt a whole lot. When will this pain ever go away. My husband for the most part is very loving to me and doesn’t know what to say when I get so sad. He just tells me it’s not worth it, to stop looking back and look at what we have now and what we can look forward to. Our first grandchild is due in a month. I know he is right but sometimes I can’t crawl out of the rabbit hole.LB

    • I know exactly how you feel. Shortly after my one-year mark I started spiraling. I felt like I couldn’t trust again. the pain was different than right after D-Day but I believe it’s because of the year I had to absorb the affair. I heard on a news report about PTSD that the one-year anniversary of a traumatic experience is sometimes worse/more difficult than the initial aftermath of the traumatic event. In the immediate aftermath we were in survival mode and our brains could only absorb bits of information at a time. We didn’t have all the pieces of information about the affair. A year later, we have so much more information, if not all of it. On the one year mark we realize what we survived. There’s clarity–whether we want it or not.
      Try to connect with your husband because it’s important for him to understand you are not sabotaging the work you’ve done. Unfortunately, this is all part of the healing process. There will still be moments when we take two steps backwards. Sending you good thoughts and energy.

    • Dear LB
      Just adding my similar experience of one year confusion. I truly can’t believe it has been more than a day. The year is one big tumble, how many Christmases only one or is it two ( D Day was Boxing Day, ha ha) the ground covered is a jumble as well, a lot of going back over the same questions for me as the first time around didn’t sink in properly. You might explain to your husband that you are still grappling with aspects of shock. You are not trying to make life harder, not possible. He knew what he was doing and it’s all a shocking revelation for you, as thiswillnotdefine us says, you can only process a bit at a time. That post is clearer and succinct, I just want you to be reassured you are normal.
      At 19 months I honestly feel that d day was a few weeks ago; that’s an improvement, at 18 months it felt like 20 minutes or a day. The one year anniversary was melodramatic, as expected. I was afraid of it, it came, I fired off an sms to OW, but each day is exponentially better. I read an awful lot.
      My husband says the same thing yours did,; hates what he did, hates what she did, hates the whole thing and wishes it would “disappear in the rear view mirror.”
      Who wouldn’t, but I believe to construct something from the mess something needs to be learned, mainly by the person that made the choice to make such a huge mistake.
      There is a major glitch in that persona, having nothing to do with you or the marriage. Being sad may be your recognition that something has to be gotten in the light to move on. I was more than sad. Crying fits from the depths of loss that frightened me. Still occasionally. It is also good to Iet him know, genuinely, not out of spite, how much damage has been done, if he thought it didn’t mean anything ( some don’t! ) I think saying you didn’t know what you wanted was brilliant. I got a bit more emphatic than that, but that is what I should have said. I was really trying to force his hand to fight for me, I think. I did it a few times, I really meant it too. Felt like locking the two of them in a room and making them live together, the ultimate horror for him. But I digress….(my sense of humor coming back)
      My husband also does not know what to say. Interesting. My guess is that that inability is what landed him in this jam.
      I do sometimes treat myself to a holiday of not thinking about his affair. It feels great and a bit strange, bipolar by necessity.
      And it feels soooo good, to pretend it never happened; even to feel a slight freedom of not caring what happens.
      Also, my husband can only be expected to deal with so much at a time, personal growth obviously not being his forte., and I do feel sorry for him. He and his accomplice have done so much damage to so many. That has to be a burden for him. I think.
      Congratulations on your grandchild!
      Wishing you and all of us the best.

  23. Thank you so much sharing. This blog has been a tremendous comfort. I relate to every story, every emotion and I am looking for answers I suppose. I know it’s for me to discover, no one has the answer but as I hear years later there is still the pain, though less, still the hole, still a void, something missing…my question is why stay? Do you think you are in a better place than you would have been if you left? I understand it takes just as much courage and strength to stay as it does to leave but gosh, it’s so hard right now to stay and I am wondering why put myself through it? He has taken away that safe place where I felt loved and secure. If there is always going to be a little piece of that missing, why is that okay?

    • I look at my life and my love and that is why I stay. I love my husband and yet there is a hole. There is something that was taken from me in the affair. The past six months I’ve found that filling that void with friendship is a cure. It may be a short-term cure but I feel like the connections I’ve made with new friends has helped me move forward. I think the hole will get smaller with time and, I suspect, someday it will be undetectable. It’s up to me to feel complete. I wonder if this hole I feel is because whatever used to fill it was superficial?

  24. Well after the horrors of the anniversary date when I truly thought I was going off the deep end I now feel more calm. Still have my moments but not quite as bad. I have been going to an Energy Healing Therapist and I have to say she is great. The first therapist I went to, a man with all the Phd credentials, was a complete jerk. He made me feel worse, made me feel like an idiot to try and trust my husband and work on my marriage. I still have a ways to go. I would like not to think about the affair every single day. I don’t fall into a pit of despair any more when I think of it but I do shed the occasional tear and sometimes I still don’t like my husband very much, or is it I don’t like who he was back then? On a brighter note I am now the proud grandmother of a most beautiful little boy 🙂 So thank you ladies for taking the time to answer. I do appreciate the responses, makes me feel not crazy to read what other people are going through. I do have to limit my time reading this page though as it sometimes makes me more sad to dwell on the ugliness of what people can do to each other. I will never understand that. Love to all you ladies out there who sometimes struggle to get through a day. It does get better. A few months ago I lay in the bath one night and thought dying didn’t seem bad compared to the pain I was feeling. I hope I NEVER feel like that again. I told my therapist I want to gain enough self esteem so that no matter what happens in the future I would know I was strong enough to get through it and walk away if necessary to find happiness. Only I can do that, nobody can do it for me. So remember “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” LB

  25. This post was so what I needed. I have a void as well. One he caused one that was filled in the past by him. I have realized I want the void filled just not by him. He put it there but and I do not have to let him fill that void. I want to fill it with new things. My kids activities, my friends, new hobbies, things I love to do. I will repair the hole with my happiness. I have been sitting around wanting him to do something that puts me back together. Why should I want a person who would break me by his.own selfish behavior to fix me. Thank you so much this is such a.break through for me. Gos bless you.

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