Did I Choose Wrong?

This year has been full of doubts, flip-flopping, and wondering if I made the right decision. In one moment I am happy, confident, and blazing forward. In the next moment I am hesitant, untrusting, and overwhelmed with fear. Luckily, the latter moments are not in the majority. But the mere fact that they exist bothers me. All the books and articles say it takes two years to heal from infidelity as a betrayed spouse. But what does it truly mean to be healed?

To love is to be intensely vulnerable. To choose love means we also choose to know the loss of love. We are raised to believe that love is the antidote to loneliness, and all the emotions that accompany being alone: sadness, rejection, misery, and heartbreak. We live in a world that equates love with hope. But the truth is that choosing to love another person is the equivalent of asking them to hold a glass egg forever – at some point it will be dropped. And heartbreak is, well, heartbreaking. I believed with all my heart that my marriage was unique, our love was pure and unbreakable. The heartbreak I felt, and sometimes I still feel, was as if I lost something essential to my existence. Sometimes I still yearn to touch what I lost; to grasp it in my hands, pull it tight into my chest, close my eyes, and cherish it one last time.

Recently a friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook:


Heartbreak is heart breaking. It is painful and it is paralyzing. But we cannot let it define our future. Love can break us into a million pieces but it can also fill all the dark places that we never thought could be filled. Love, at it’s finest, feels as though I finally fit into myself. I clearly see myself, feel myself entirely, and my confidence exudes from my being when I give and receive love. Betrayal made me doubt all of that.

Somewhere along the path of healing I asked myself, repeatedly, did I choose the wrong man to marry? What if the answer is that we all choose wrong. It’s impossible to expect I knew at 23 years old what my needs would be at 35 or 46 or 52. I chose my husband because he offered familiarity, a compliment to me. I chose him because I never felt love in the way he gave it to me. I needed him and he needed me back. For better or worse.

Is it ever possible to know if we married the right person?

Every time I begin to fall into the doubts that still linger in the shadows of my mind I remember that love does not mean perfection. Love is having hope that as we break we will recover. Love is having the courage to believe that heartbreak does not mean devastation. Loving is risky business but somehow it’s the most desirable dream we share.

Sometimes I feel as if I am stuck in a Chinese finger trap – the more I pull, the more I am stuck in the same place. I just need to push, redefine the things I cherish, and move forward.




31 thoughts on “Did I Choose Wrong?

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. You will know know how much it has helped me. It gives words to what I’m feeling and hope to where there was none. We are just starting the process of healing after my husbands very public affair and I’m so glad I came across your blog

  2. I always look forward to your updates. I am almost 18 months after d-day and am waffling back and forth as well. Your honesty makes me feel so much better about where I am and the struggles I deal with on an almost daily basis still. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I feel just the same and often wonder when will it go away. I do love my husband and in many ways our marriage is better than before, but there is still too many days I feel vulnerable. Thanks for your words of encouragement, I will not let it define me. X

  4. Exactly! When will I let it all go and live freely? Is forgiveness possible? Almost 4 years out so not sure where that 2 year research came about. Maybe the length of the betrayal correlates to the time it takes to heal.

    • I think 2 years for a drunken office Christmas party grope, I did see reference to half the time of the length of betrayal. And I would add that to one year numb shock, one year blind anger. Then your world starts to settle. X

  5. “To choose love means we also choose to know the loss of love.” Wow, beautifully said. This piece put into words the emotions that I have had such a hard time articulating. I feel the push and pull too- one minute we’re laughing together. The next, I’m looking at things like https://thistoo.co . And every minute that we go on I’m forced to wonder: is another moment of happiness worth the certain eternity of pain?

  6. We are almost six months out from discovery. I have never felt so wrecked. With grace from God, we are able to talk deeply and meaningfully, and we are healing, slowly but surely….but there are still those times when complete disbelief and despair overwhelm me. My husband has more insight now than he ever has, and with help from above, counseling, and this amazing website, we press on.

  7. This was so wonderfully conveyed and it is so, so very comforting and helpful to read your words. I am feeling the exact same way, still have good days and not so good days. September will be one year and although our marriage is better/stronger, I still feel vulnerable. I don’t know if 2 years is the magic number but I sure hope so. Thank you xo.

    • 2 years is nor 😦
      Almost 4 years in the process, and still find myself suffering the same pain every now and then.
      Specially when he makes me mad or when we do things that make me remember the whole situation or when I see him texting other females, that he does a lot. Is a bottle we have to fight every day I think. I do have good days though, sometimes I go through most of those without thinking about it.
      Good luck to you!

  8. Thank you! I am going on three years this October! So many things in our marriage are good, but, I thought our life was good before my husband infidelity. We both got a true awakening! We have worked to save our marriage and make it better. I just wished I didn’t have thoughts of her and I still feel uneasy, untrusting not all the time but it’s there. I think it’s a life lesson, you can forgive but you will never forget.

  9. Thank you for your blog. Going on three years for me, October 19th, a lot of hard work has went into our marriage since then. I thought our marriage was good before my husband’s infidelity, it is better in so many ways, but, I still have trust issue and doubt. I don’t think I will ever get the OW out of my head, it is much better, but still there. Forgiveness, yes, but never the, forget.

  10. Your words ring true through my house as of late. For me vulnerability has never come easy. Trust has never come easy. I was always good at writing people off if I feared getting hurt. So, when in 2012 the affair email was received, I crumbled. However, for the first time in my life I didn’t run. For me, there has been a lot of inner soul searching…with the help of a great counselor of course! I have learned that every relationship be it friendship, family, or partner, carries with it a form of vulnerability. Yet, it is that vulnerability, or willingness to be vulnerable, that opens us up to some of the greatest moments in life. So, when my fears of “Did I choose right?” surface, I search what is making me feel vulnerable. I can shut down and close him out or I can choose to push forward. I choose to push forward. Humans are perfectly imperfect, including me.

  11. The answer is a resounding “YES”. When I first learned of the betrayal (he had a year long affair with a co-worker) by the man whom I most loved in this world, I died inside along with 13 years of wonderful memories. I no longer felt like me, but so did he. The man I married, my best friend, the man I choose to love forever had “died”. Now I was left with a stranger, a traitor, a liar, someone I did not know or trust. I choose to save myself, for my children’s sake. Today I no longer feel like a fraud, I feel alive and new. I have grown by bounds and leaps. I am stronger than I ever knew and with that came a new love, a new family, and a new LIFE! My heart always goes out to women who still have stayed wanting to do “the right thing”, the truth is there is no “right thing” but there is “the right to live”. There is a reason why betrayal hurts so much, just like fire once you get burned you never want to stick your hand in that flame again. Move forward LIFE IS GOOD.. As my kids say YOLO (you only live once) why live it in fear, denial and pain. Therapy and self love, two very important choices along your path to recovery…

  12. I had the same questions coming to me at various times. Particularly, did I choose the right man and if not, where did I go wrong? Eventually I decided I did choose the right man but he made some very wrong decisions! We are back on the right track and I’m so happy we stuck to it.

  13. The worst injuries are those which separate us from ourselves – our ideas of right and wrong, what we believe our reality to be, our values, hope and dreams. Betrayal make us doubt the validity of our own history with the person who betrayed us. This is deep, painful psychological damage and trauma and so hard to recover from.
    I am nearly 2 years out from DDay and have made the harder choice to stay and create peace, by keeping my pain close and absorbing it. There are few people who know of my husband’s affair. His Affair Partner’s husband does not know and her marriage is still in tack and thriving as far as I am aware.

    There are better days now than before but I am a long way from ‘healed’. I do not know what it looks like to be healed. Something is lost now and will never be retrieved and I too long to hold it in my hands again… but it is gone. I am not sure where I will go from here. My husband is devastated by his lengthy and terrible betrayal of himself as much as me. He is changed for the better. I am changed and I do not know if it is for the better or not – but I am definitely changed.
    Every day, I hold tight to my values, rather than my feelings and to the words of the poem Invictus:
    ‘Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the pit from pole to pole.
    I thank whatever Gods may be,
    For my unconquerable soul.’

  14. We just learn to live with it.

    Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.
    ― Cheryl Strayed

  15. Dear Thiswillnotdefineus,

    I am using this comment just to thank you and tell you HOW MUCH your blog has helped me and my husband to solve the situation we live right now.

    I came across your post about hysterical bonding and was so thankful that you put a name to the madness that was going inside of me. Then I started reading the whole blog. Your words gave a structure to my chaotic thoughts and the mere activity of reading them helped to calm my nerves and got me through the day. You have a talent to write about your feelings that helps others. And your links and insights are always so interesting and serious.

    I shared the blog with my husband and we have been using it and its links as triggers for themes we had to approach and for which otherwise we would not have found the words. At least not in such a short time.

    Your doubts in your post today break my heart: because of you and because I know I have that in front of me.

    You have asked so many times in your posts when is it going to be over. Never. That is the answer. I discovered 14 years ago that my boyfriend at that time had an affair. We worked it out, we solved it. We even got married after that. And yet there is no day I don’t remember it. Not a single day. With different kind of thoughts and different emotions associated to them. And, of course, it hurts less and less. Sometimes it almost does not hurt at all, almost.

    It made our relationship stronger. But it did not give us any guarantee. Proof: He had another affair after four years of marriage, that is nine years ago. That is the affair I recently found out about. So, it is a very strange situation: like someone telling you that you suffered a very severe illness nine years ago, but you recovered, everything is fine now and you are safe. Nobody wanted to tell you at the time to avoid you the pain. And now? Now you feel like a very important part of your biography, an old one, must be rewritten.

    Proof that our relationship grew stronger with the first affair is that the second one was much shorter and my husband had the strength to get out of it by himself without me having to discover it.

    So, facts are:
    . if it does not destroy a couple, an affair makes it stronger
    . none of you is going to ever forget it
    . but you can rebuild complete trust
    . so complete that it can even happen again
    . you have to live with that

    You wrote a post about the beauty of a “mistake” on a canvas, about how it is precisely the imprecisions that give a piece of art its character. I am focusing on that. As an artist fighting with that same concept in my work, I can totally relate. In a way, from the perspective of this very day in this very minute: a flawless marriage is somehow a boring one. Don´t misunderstand me: I wish so badly I would have had a boring marriage in that way. It is like you sit down and want to draw a perfect circle, of course you want. Nobody aims to draw imperfect circles. But now that I know for a fact that my beloved relationship, with its so so many fantastic aspects, has this imperfection: I cannot do other thing that still loving it, loving him, with all flaws and everything.

    I see all this as a tunnel. And a couple of weeks ago, as I found out and saw it coming, I was sooo unwilling to enter again this tunnel I knew so well… But now we are here and I just hope to get out of the tunnel with a scare and a jewel crown. Now we are working on the jewels. You have contributed so much to it. Thanks for that.

    I would like to give you back some of the comfort you gave me, us. You asked in this post: Have we married the right person? I go further, have we chosen the right life? the right friends? Probably yes. It was not a totally random lottery, we chose them, they chose us. Does it mean they are perfect? No. We aren’t either.

    Googling in the past weeks I found so many blogs and forums which just nurtured the feeling of revenge and were just nasty. But, after all: What do I know about those couples, those stories? Maybe it is the natural response in their relationships. Not for me. That is why it was so comforting to find your firm but calmed words, your voice. My point is: if you both were able to work it out that way so far, then: yes, you very probably married the right person. Otherwise you would have posted in one of those other forums.

    Since I saw Esther Perel´s TED talk in one of your posts I have listened and read every wise word of this woman. And she mentions many times our expectations of finding THE one, the soul mate, the one and only… And the thing is, we know rationally that it is impossible that there is only one person meant for us and we had the luck of sharing time and geography with them so that we could meet them, it is impossible, and yet we feel it that way. What I know believe is that there is not the one, he or she BECOMES the one. It is not less worth than being it. My husband sent me these days a quote saying “I want a person who comes into my life by accident but stays on purpose”. So, if your husband´s and your purpose has been to stay, I guess you are THE ones to each other.

    I wish you all the best. Thank you so much.

  16. this is exactly how i feel. my heart in pieces.so broken. still look at him and wonder why, how,how could you?our anniversary for 29 years end of this month i was proud of how long we have been married and we i thought he was happy with just me., i gave it my all we were happy, friends and family looked up to us and yes we were very much happily married. But somehow he strayed.. he didn’t have an affair or did he?, he has strayed many times not once or twice he has told me a few visits to massage parlours etc. Caught him last year and i didn’t think i could be healed it took a whole year and then just last week. i found out he had ads in craigslist for movie/dinner buddy and some online chatting.Hell again so soon? he tells me he loves me and he has stopped doing it and will never do this again as he truly loves me. he was just lonely and curious!!!!!! (its what he said a year ago) he was lonely (i was away for a bit) but we spoke and send loving messages at the same time he was ‘lonely’. So how could he have done it so soon. how quickly did he forget and i know he has professed and confessed everything and said it the truth and he loves me so much. i mean if he loves me that much why would he do that again whilst i am still healing from last year???????? like i said my heart is in pieces i have put so much in this marriage and how would i know if he is not going to do it again???? do we see a counsellor and get help for him because i can’t trust or guarantee he will not stray and do those things again. or shall i be prepared for another one of these strays in the future?? he’s a good husband i love him so much and he has been so good to me and our 5 children. life is full of adventure and getaways here and there so why does he do that?????

  17. Thank you very much for the brutally honest piece. It is good to know you are not alone. In my reading about the subject I came across similar thoughts and of course I harbour them myself too. What I keep wondering is what will the trigger be to reach the next stage and find peace? The trauma is tough to overcome but so many people seem to find their way through the maze. Fingers crossed!

    • Diane…. Hilarious… good for his affair partner too… she’s a ditz in TX – and a teacher who violated her teacher contract and morality clause in it while having affair w/my husband. Any ideas for her… I had a bunch of catalogues for the “bigger woman” fashion sent to her as well as information on STDs from local AIDS/STD prevention organizations since they had unprotected sex. He bought condoms. I found the receipt months later; they just opted to throw caution to the wind and not use them! And my husband knows I had a sibling who DIED of AIDS in the 1980s… before their were retrovirals to extend life spans. How do you like that? Any other ideas for her??? For the 2nd year anniversary of Dday… I like your sense of humor. Spot on. Thanks… MM

  18. Does anyone read these posts… two years, three years, five years post Dday and hear Ms. Brown’s honest doubting and the remainder of the pain and think… thank God I got divorced and started all over post being cheated on? I am just wondering if there’s anyone out there who can weigh in on that decision. I wonder if men would be second guessing themselves like we women seem to do so much; and I mean men who were the betrayed… not the betrayer. I am in a post affair support group and it seems that men in it – who were betrayed – are able to know that can’t take being a cuckold and they end the marriage. Why is so hard for we women to do this? Why do we deny our instincts and our gut reactions and WHY are we the ones left feeling its on our shoulders – that we caused the break and hurt to our families (when we KNOW we didn’t!!!) and especially to our children by moving toward divorce post being cheated on? I am so torn up, about myself now – my identity, my sense of self, my sense of any self esteem, on the 3 month countdown to two year Dday anniversary. It’s no longer solely about him and his stupid mistakes and his stupid affair w/a stupid, nothing of a woman. It’s about all my old demons and hurts now (a long history of abandonment from childhood) bubbling to the surface and all my damage from my past with the new layer on top (his betrayal; his affair) – that seems insurmountable to me – especially while trying to also stay married. But even if I didn’t have that past with so much loss and abandonment – his betrayal and abandonment, thru the affair, would still hurt like hell. The most rational thing seems to be to separate and divorce so I can just be at peace w/myself and heal myself thru having a new life. I wish we women wouldn’t torture ourselves and second guess ourselves so much as females. Any thoughts on this? Am I the only one that wonders if there’s anyone out there who did end the marriage and can say, “Free at last, free at last!” and that they are generally happier and at peace. I get that we are in each other’s lives for life – due to sharing our children. But divorce seems to be the only way we can stop sharing his stupid affair. And I can end this pain. Thanks for listening. Peace to all going thru this s-show. Namaste. Molly Magee

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