MC: “Forty costs of my infidelity”

One of the many exercises I appreciated in Rick Reynolds’ Affair Recovery program was when he asked me to list forty costs to TL of my infidelity.  It was an important early step in my learning empathy. This was one of my first structured steps, written about November 2012. After 40 something years of thinking too much about things in my life that I thought were painful, I had pretty much never thought about anything painful in anyone else’s life. So, to force myself to think in a deep way about painful things in TL’s life, specifically things that I caused, it forced me to see life through her eyes. I’m still working on empathy, as well as selflessness, loving, and listening. I highly recommend this exercise to other unfaithful spouses.

1. My infidelity cost you your sense of security; you fear I will re-offend.
2. My infidelity cost you beautiful memories of our life; you fear you were only “filler” and that my focus was on other women.
3. My infidelity cost you your dignity; you fear other people know what I did and that they look down on you for choosing a bad husband and staying with a bad husband.
4. My infidelity cost you hours and hours and nights and nights of sleep, thus destroying your physical and mental health; you have nightmares and intrusive thoughts.
5. My infidelity cost you your self-respect; you question how you could choose to stay with me and how you chose not to confront me about clues sooner and more skeptically.
6. My infidelity cost you your health; sometimes you are too grief-stricken to exercise, eat right, or maintain healthy routines.
7. My infidelity cost you your relationship with your kids; you are sometimes too grief-stricken to engage with them.
8. My infidelity cost you your uniquely strong optimism; I brought you such despair.
9. My infidelity cost you your confidence; you wonder how I could choose others over you.
10. My infidelity cost you your favorite gym; I took an affair partner there and the place is now a trigger for you.  In fact, my infidelity cost you the ability to share a physically fit lifestyle with me; thoughts of fitness make you think of me grooming myself for infidelity.  My infidelity cost you the ability to enjoy diving with me; it reminds you of times we dived together even while I was involved in an affair.
11. My infidelity cost you your relationships with certain friends and acquaintances; some were unable to relate to your pain and were frightened away, and others were judgmental.
12. My infidelity cost you eighteen years of time; you could have experienced love more deeply and achieved greater things without doubts about my support had I been more focused on you.
13. My infidelity cost you your remarkable ability to focus; you are haunted by intrusive thoughts.
14. My infidelity cost you the ability to peacefully enjoy some of your favorite activities or dream activities such as soaking in a hot tub, going to a spa, or skipping morning routines and staying in bed; I did those things with affair partners, and now they are triggers for you.
15. My infidelity cost you your sense of comfort and sanctuary in your own home and your favorite bed; I infected those places with an affair partner and left you with the trauma of a home invasion.
16. My infidelity cost you your peace of mind; you fear there are more secrets you do not know.
17. My infidelity cost you the sense of being loved; I did not learn to truly love until after D-day, and it is shocking that someone who believed he loved you could betray you so terribly.
18. My infidelity cost you your sense of closeness with your aunt; you want to tell her what happened but you fear being judged.
19. My infidelity cost you your confidence in being a good mother; you wish you were not so grief-stricken and could devote more time to the kids.
20. My infidelity cost you thousands of dollars; I spent money on prostitutes and affair partners.
21. My infidelity cost you immeasurable time and energy; we must now devote time and energy to counseling, classes, blogging, studying, and anything we can try to improve our marriage.
22. My infidelity cost you your sense of adventure in bed; some activities that could be intriguing or exciting for you are now triggers; I did them with prostitutes and affair partners.
23. My infidelity cost you your ability to respect or take pride in your husband; I treated you with disregard, hurt you, and behaved shamefully.
24. My infidelity cost you your physical health; I gave you herpes that I contracted from a prostitute.  In fact, it cost you physical safety; I risked exposing us all to more and deadly diseases.
25. My infidelity cost you a partner in parenting and in life; you worked tirelessly to compensate for my inadequate contributions.  I misdirected my efforts to selfish pursuits.
26. My infidelity cost you the experience of being deeply and mutually in love; I focused on self-pity, selfishness, and resentment rather than love.
27. My infidelity cost you your faith in your own judgment; I and affair partners deceived you.
28. My infidelity cost you your ability to trust people; the person you trusted most betrayed you.
29. My infidelity, selfishness, anger, and childishness cost you your sex life; for years I did not give myself to you freely because I was too filled with pride, insecurity, and anger.
30. My infidelity cost you friendship; I was not there for you.
31. My infidelity and cowardice cost you protection; I did not protect you from my mother or from affair partners.
32.  My infidelity cost you your sense of security about the future; you question whether I will be there to help with our hopes, plans, and dreams.
33. My infidelity cost you your belief in justice; I treated you so unfairly and there is no way to undo it.
34. My infidelity cost you your admirable ability to live in the moment; you are haunted by intrusive thoughts.
35. My infidelity cost you your brave, curious, and adventurous willingness to live in many exotic places; you fear I will take advantage of prostitutes or available women, and you feel your adventures abroad in the past were risks and hardships that resulted in nothing gained.
36. My infidelity cost you your plans and dreams; you fear I will abandon you or fail you and you will have to start over.
37. My infidelity cost you your belief in your own wisdom; I deceived you so terribly.
38. My infidelity cost you your sense of being wanted, loved, and cared for; you fear I wanted others instead of you.
39. My infidelity cost you your belief in fairness; you fear that my former affair partners will never know how little they meant to me and how much you mean to me.
40. My infidelity cost you your sense of a happy family life; I neglected you and our children.


7 thoughts on “MC: “Forty costs of my infidelity”

  1. What a brave thing to share. As the spouse on the other side of the affair reading this offered comfort. While my husband may never have written anything like this out for me it gave me a glimpse into where his heart and mind may have traveled while we both move forward from his choices and actions. I pray your honesty and steps toward rebuilding your own marriage have been blessed. Thank you for sharing these words.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Much like experiencing the untimely death of a very closed love one, the loss in infidelity is astounding and paralyzing. All of those hopes and dreams are suddenly shattered leaving the future with such a degree of “unknown” that if feels as if it no longer exists.

    Unlike death though, infidelity carries the risk of repeating itself and robs the betrayed of everything they thought they experienced and knew with their spouse. Every moment ever spent together comes under question due to the deceit. It doesn’t matter if it was a one night stand or long term affair, once that trust is shattered, the betrayed can’t help but to wonder: where did the lies begin and our relationship become a sham?

    The “costs” you’ve listed are very real yet only the tip of the iceberg.

    For example, we can read a sentance about ‘losing one’s security,’ but what does that really mean? What does that feel like?

    It is anxiety from sun up to sun down and even bringing you nightmares. Worrying all day what your spouse is doing and if you checked the phone records thoroughly enough. It is holding your breathe while putting laundry in the washer because you just “know” you’ll find a clue in a pocket that will bring your world crashing down, again. It is the emotional conflict between wanting your spouse to be able to live their life (see friends, go to the gym, go to work) yet fearing that doing so will result in your own destruction because you can never fully trust them again. It’s the internal debate as to whether or not you should be setting aside money, putting a lawyer on speed dial, and thinking of the best place to spend the night should it happen again. It is fearing making plans for the future. Whether a simply weekend trip or setting aside for retirement. It is wondering how your kids will cope if you don’t keep this marriage together and how you will cope if your heart is stomped on one more time. It is pondering the idea that you may be too old to move on if/when it happens again. It is pushing aside all those thoughts as best you can to get through the day with a “smile.”

    Each one of these 40 costs summarize many costs. To write them all out would result in a post that was endless.

    I think this is a good excercise for waywards. Each of them should sit down and make such a list and then they should go back through and imagine what it’s like to live each of those “costs,” all day, every day.


    1. Julia, yes, yes, yes. This exercise was a fantastic way to “open the door” to empathy and understand of the pain. But, you are so right, it only scratches the surface. This is part of the Affair Recovery Class.

      My thought on it is that in order for that class to truly have some impact on the cheater, they must open that door to our pain to be open to learning empathy for their spouse and facing the destruction they have caused. I think of it as a primer, and an important one at that, but only a step on a long journey. And, I agree that it is a very good idea for the cheater to not just write the list, but read it many times and truly think through the words and what they mean. I do like that Mindless had to read out loud to our AR group, something about that was exceptionally compelling.

      How are you doing? How are things going? I’ve not seen any new entries on your blog for quite awhile. Hope all is going well!!!


      1. Life moves forward after this disaster. We’ve busy with daily life and healing and so I’ve had less time – and felt less compelled to write.

        I’ve considered taking it down all together….?


  3. Irene, Thank you for your kind comment. It is such a difficult journey. Though it is not a journey I would wish on anyone, we are grateful if sharing our journey can bring any comfort or solace to others going through this too. TL xx


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