The 20 Most Common Mistakes of the Hurt Spouse

20-Most-Common-Mistakes-of-the-Hurt-SpouseIn “The 20 Most Common Mistakes of the Hurt Spouse,” Leslie Hardie of Affair talks about common mistakes people make when they find out their partner is taking part in sexually inappropriate behaviour. Whether your partner is having an affair or is addicted to pornography, these simple mistakes reveal the fragile and complicated journey that a couple takes once sexual infidelity is “found out.” While it is challenging to repair a relationship broken by such behaviour, it is not impossible. By keeping in mind these common mistakes, you can better protect yourself and your family through this difficult time while supporting your spouse in their own recovery.

  1. Believing that once your spouse agrees to end the affair or the behavior, it is truly ended.
    Quite often the betrayed spouse is somewhat naïve and actually believes that his or her mate is able to effectively flip and stop the behavior or talking to the affair partner. It is a lovely thought, but very unrealistic. Recovery may involve seeking out helping professionals as well as support groups. It takes time. Most people need help getting out of an affair.
  1. Demanding that your spouse pledge 100% commitment to the marriage right at the moment of disclosure.
    Even if your mate is willing to make such a pledge it does not really mean anything. Your spouse may mean it in the moment, but not realize how big of a problem they actually have. Addicts cannot just stop using. People in emotionally entangled affairs have trouble disengaging.
  2. Bludgeoning your spouse with guilt, thinking that this will be helpful.
    Your spouse already knows that what they have been doing is wrong, even if they will not admit it to you. Pointing such things out will usually only serve to push them away.
  3. Drawing too much security from changed phone numbers and email addresses.
    Although these measures can be helpful, they are not sufficient. They will not keep an unfaithful spouse from getting a new phone, a calling card or opening a new email account.
  4. Believing that you can keep your mate safe and away from temptation.
    As tempting as it may be to make sure your mate is always safe, it is impossible. You can try to be with your mate 24/7, but unless you work together, it is not near possible. Honestly, it is not even possible if you work together. One of you may have meetings or errands that the other one may not be a part of.
  5. Trying to compete with the affair partner, pornography, or other behavior.
    The affair or sexual behavior is not necessarily due to a deficiency in the marriage or sexual relationship. Even if it is, you cannot compete. A marriage and an affair are two entirely different kinds of relationships.
  6. Trashing the affair partner.
    If your spouse is having some ambivalence (one foot in the marriage, one foot out), this will hit the wrong side of the ambivalence and can push your mate away. It often will put your mate in the position of defending the affair partner and serves no good purpose.
  7. Trying to convince your spouse that nobody will ever love him/her as much as you do.
    If your spouse is in an emotionally entangled affair, chances are good that he or she may already believe this is not true. It may even encourage an “I’ll show you I’m not such a loser” attitude.
  8. Using your children or grandchildren as pawns.
    Perhaps even unwittingly, you have used your children or grandchildren to manipulate your mate into staying or using them to punish the unfaithful partner if they leave. This will only hurt your children. You do not want to force an unfaithful mate to stay if they are determined to leave.
  9. Beating up the unfaithful mate with guilt, shame, or the opinions of others to keep them from leaving.
    In all likelihood, regardless of whether they will admit it to you, your mate already feels guilt and shame over what they have done. Threatening to expose your mate will only increase the guilt and shame. It will not keep your mate home.
  10. Making threats.
    You might find yourself threatening your mate because you believe that threats will make your spouse “see the light” and convince them to “fly right.” Similar to item 10 above, threatening increases shame and guilt, but it does not increase desire or will to stay. Coercion from a mate can actually keep the unfaithful spouse from doing what you like.
  11. Trying to drive the affair partner off by personal confrontation.
    Confronting the affair partner to make him or her feel guilty usually only encourages the affair partner to think that in the end, your spouse will leave you. It may give the impression that the affair partner has all the power and actually encourage the affair partner to believe that the affair will turn into a long-term relationship.
  12. Contacting the affair partner and then believing them.
    It is interesting how often a hurting mate will believe that the affair partner is going to tell the truth and sorrowfully see the error of his or her ways having realized the pain he or she has caused. Quite the opposite, it is not uncommon for the affair partner to lie and manipulate the situation.
  13. Believing there is a simple formula or a set course to fix the problem. It would be nice if there were. Each type of affair has its own set of challenges with a different set of solutions that are not linear or stepwise, but are unique to each situation and couple.
  14. Believing that the threat of exposure will be enough to convince your mate to quit the behavior.More people may know already than you might realize. Some of them perhaps have even offered your unfaithful spouse support or encouragement in the affair or behavior.
  15. Trying to get all the unfaithful spouse’s friends on your side.
    You might be hoping they will help your unfaithful mate to “wake up and see reality.” Some of your spouse’s friends may come on board. This does not mean that your spouse will listen.  Others may believe the unfaithful mate is correct in leaving someone so controlling if you try this approach.
  16. Trying to “woo” your spouse back and expecting instant gratitude and immediate results.
    Wooing can be more effective with certain types of affairs, but in any case, it will not produce immediate results. For example, a man with a sexual addiction may be grateful for the efforts, but it will not solve the problem
  17. Believing that you, the faithful spouse, are “blameless” and the only one who has things to forgive.
    Even if you were a good spouse, no one is perfect. Your unfaithful mate probably has hurts and things for which he or she must forgive you. After dealing with the pain of the affair, it will be helpful to look at the marital relationship.
  18. Believing that your unfaithful mate will find you more appealing if you get attention from others.Your mate may find you more appealing if you get attention from others or they may not.  Your mate may actually feel relieved if it leads to the thought that you will not be alone if your marriage ends. Either way, it does not bring healing or restoration to your relationship. Your marriage becomes a power struggle.
  19. Believing that if you, the faithful spouse, should or can do the same thing. In this emotional time, you may feel a desire to show your unfaithful spouse how it feels to be so betrayed and that if you do, your spouse will ultimately come humbly back. It may bring them back. It may not. I have clients who have tried this approach, only to find their lives far more complicated. Now they have the pain of their mate’s infidelity and the guilt from their own unfaithfulness. Some have ended up becoming pregnant.

If you or your partner are struggling with infidelity, and need direction and support to repair your relationship, then here’s what you need to do; contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.


  1. I’ve been dealing with my husband’s infidelity for a while now along with his sex addiction. We’ve gone through marriage counseling before with the blame being put on me because of my teenage trauma. I keep forgiving and hoping for a change since we do have a disabled child in the middle of this. I’m willing to do anything to fix our marriage but I can only throw so much more in with trust and everything already out the window.

    • Hi Jessica, You certainly have a lot on your plate. Unfortunately our relationships cannot always be fixed as we would like them to be, in spite of our very best efforts. Having already gone through marriage counselling, it sounds like it is unlikely that your husband ‘s behaviour will change. I encourage you to pursue further professional support for yourself, if you have not already done so. Individual counselling may support you in moving forward in a direction that feels empowering. I wish you well. Colleen

  2. It’s been almost a week sincei found out about my husbands affir with a coworker. He is currently looking for another job and she has since quit/been fired. He assures me that it never went past hugging and flirting. That is hard for me to believe about a four month affir. He has been fully devoted to making it right, but how do I know its sincere and not temporary. We have been together for 3 years and have a child together. I’m willing to do what I can to rebuild our marriage but only of he is truely serious about our relationship. Is there any tell signs that its only temporary? He has agreed to seeing a marriage councilor but it’s not possible to fit into our budget with the changes we are having to make right now

  3. Hi Camri, It is always really challenging to trust your partner, having experienced such a significant betrayal. It is particularly difficult not to ‘check up’ on him all the time however becoming hyper-vigilant about your husband’s behaviour can become just as damaging to the relationship as his infidelity has been. I would suggest that you have a conversation with him about your (very normal) anxiety and agree together as to how he can help reinforce his commitment to your relationship. For instance, is he okay with you having access to his social media, email accounts and phone messages? Can he keep you informed about his whereabouts when he is out? Can he be home at the time he says or let you know when he will be home if he is detained? These are examples that you may or may not be comfortable with raising – they may or may not be practical in your particular situation. Ultimately, trust is only rebuilt a day at a time when two people are intentional about communicating and being kind and caring towards each other. I wish you well. Colleen

  4. Ardith brown says:

    I just found out last week that after I caught my husband having an emotional affair with multiple women. I caught him on the same site last year doing the same thing, it’s recently come out that he’s been doing this the entire time we have been together. He puts blame on me cause he felt I was doing the same when I would never dream of it cause it would hurt him. He also blamed it on a childhood trauma, I honestly don’t think I have it in me to forgive an entire relationship of infidelity.

    • I am so sorry that you have been betrayed and deeply hurt. I understand how difficult it is to forgive your partner when you discover that he has not only been having an online relationship but has also kept the secret of his online behaviour. Please take good care of yourself, spend time with people who care about you and will support you through this difficult time.

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