Valid excuse for infidelity?

The husband was busted (again) for partaking in online affairs. (discovered on the credit card bill - Ashley Madison was the culprit). Then of course I found some emails, etc… All physical contact was denied, and (to my knowledge) the transgressions only took place via email/text… I have chosen to believe this since there is no evidence at all of a physical affair.

Anyway, of course after being discovered (back in November) he has been seeing a therapist a couple of times a month now to find out what is going on with him. He pleads for me to stay and showers me with his undying love and affection, stating that he only did it because he is “broken” and was being egotistical by seeking out the affirmation and approval of other women. Hence, his alibi.

His father left him at age 9, apparently leaving a big hole in his heart and his life. His mother stayed angry for years, hating the father immensely and even having him change his last name to her maiden name out of spite for the father. His father went on to re-marry and have his own “new” family… which broke my husband’s heart even more. They are no longer in contact, and have not been for some time.

While I feel deep hurt and compassion for him for what he went through as a child - is that a VALID reason for this betrayal of me? Can I feel compassion and anger at the same time? I am wavering between the two extremes and I am so torn. I love him very much, but the constant lies and secrets are killing me inside. Apparently he does it as a defense mechanism, some deep ingrained fear of being abandoned by me. I can honestly say he loves me and wants to stay together, but is the need for approval so vast that it might cause him to do these things?

Edit: I’m not going to argue about whether an emotional affair is considered a “real” affair. It most certainly is.

What does the term valid mean? There can be contributing factors to any personality defect. Early life experiences can certainly shape who you are later. The real questions are can he overcome it and can you handle it? I don’t see how labeling his reasons as valid or invalid has any meaning.

It’s your call, but you can choose to believe him and give him additional chances. Don’t be pressured into feeling like you’re a sucker for sticking around; it’s your marriage, you work on it as long as you want. Hell, even working out an understanding, if it comes to that, *might *be preferable to divorce for some people (though not for others, surely).

Of course, by the same token, you’re free to leave without criticism at this point.

My father cheated quite a bit and I remember how he hurt my mother. I swore I would never hurt my wife like that and I never have.

Not exactly the same as your situation, but close enough.

I was only searching for some higher thinking skills here - does his past hurt as a 9 year old contribute to the happenings going on now (as he claims).


adjective: valid

(of an argument or point) having a sound basis in logic or fact; reasonable or cogent.

“a valid criticism”


well-founded, sound, reasonable, rational, logical, justifiable,

Ah yes, you’ve hit something here - feeling like a sucker for sticking it out. That is a huge part of this!

I think Loach’s point is that “valid” is entirely subjective. Of course his past history contributes to his current personality. But what does that mean? It doesn’t “obligate” you to forgive him and stay with him, if that is what you are worried about. On the other extreme, maybe you think you are only “allowed” to forgive him and stay with him if he has a “valid excuse”, but that’s not true, either.

All that matters here is what you want. Do you want to build a life with this man, as he is now, shaped by his past in whatever ways? You don’t have to decide right away, of course, but that’s the question.

No need to be snarky.

Your past shapes your present. But your actions are always a personal choice. Whether his past excuses his current behavior is a personal choice for you to make.

Wasn’t there when I started typing. That’s it exactly and written better than I could.

Probably, but, as the saying goes, “it’s a reason, it’s not an excuse.” Lots of people feel those same feelings based on those same experiences and don’t throw away money on internet sluts. For whatever reason he chooses to do so.

You are allowed to have compassion, and also boundaries. Feeling compassion or understanding doesn’t mean you accept any and all behavior.

You said he was busted again. How often has this happened?

I don’t buy it. Not a marriage but I’ve had a long term relationship with agreements of exclusivity crash and burn for essentially the same excuse: my mom left when I was a small child, my dad made poor choices with a string of shitty “step moms”, I was afraid you’d abandon me too (way to speed up that process, idiot), etc.

I think it was a convenient, seemingly valid excuse for the fact that he was inherently selfish, wanted whatever, and chose to get it regardless of what it would do to me and our relationship. If his mom hadn’t left him, I’m sure he would have come up with some other woe is me, I’m hurting too excuse.

You can feel compassion and anger at the same time. I felt bad for him. He really did grow up without his mom, who is crazy, and with an alcoholic step mom and that can’t be easy. But I also think, when the inevitable break up came, in his mind I was just one more. It was not “I liked to stick my dick in anything that stopped moving long enough and that ruined my relationship…” it was, “OMG, LOOK! SEE?? I WAS RIGHT, SHE LEFT ME TOO!” So, for him, I think he’s very much a victim in his own mind and that the “I’m broken” excuse was more for his benefit than mine; if he can blame his mother, or his stepmother, or his dad, he doesn’t haven’t to recognize and embrace the fact that he’s a selfish asshole.

You say he got busted “again”. The lies and secrets are “constant”. This is a pattern of behavior with a cause that he claims he recognizes and understands, yet he won’t stop. I don’t buy it.

He’s going to continue to disregard your feelings in this matter, he’s already shown that. Is his excuse valid to you? Will it be valid next time? You also said it’s KILLING YOU INSIDE. Are you okay living out the rest of your days feeling exactly the same way you do right now?

I agree with Varlos in that I don’t think you should feel pressured to leave. I’m not telling you to leave. I stayed. I felt like a crazy person the whole time and added “complete retard” to that feeling when he did it again, but I stayed. And then it became too much so I stopped staying.

I think at this point you have to do what’s best for you. Of course he’s begging you to stay, that’s what they do. Of course he loves you and wants to be with you now. Of course he’s showering you with affection now; he’s panicking because, in his mind, you’ve got one foot out the door. But I think you really need to evaluate your own wants and feelings and hopes and make the very best decision FOR YOU without regard to what he wants. I think it’s pretty clear what he wants. What do YOU want?

Your husband’s childhood sounds like my husband’s childhood. In 20 years of marriage I have never had a reason to suspect him of being physically or emotionally unfaithful.

His behavior is not the inevitable result of his childhood. Its the result he has chosen.

People cheat because they aren’t getting something they need in their primary relationships (or occasionally because they have poor impulse control.) You clearly can’t offer him whatever it is he’s looking for in the arms* of other women - and you shouldn’t have to. Would you “excuse” a psychopath who murders because he was abused as as child? Well, maybe, but you still have to lock them up because no amount of therapy is going to help.

Easier said than done, of course, but if you want a faithful husband you’ll have to find a new one.

*or inboxes.


married 10 years. I’ve discovered 3 of them (and most likely there were more).

I meant to edit that to add some words of sympathy, because I can barely imagine how hard this must be for you. Seriously, though, I’m a man whose childhood went very much like your husband’s, and I’ve never cheated on anyone. That isn’t to say I haven’t had the desire, just that I value my wife’s trust too much to act on it. Maybe your husband really did develop deep-seated emotional issues that make cheating a compulsion for him, but even if that were true, would that make you happy?

Do you have kids?

That’s kind of the line of thinking I had - why was his childhood so unique that is “made” him lie, betray, and cheat. I know people who’ve had it worse and are loyal and have integrity even in the face of temptation. My gut keeps telling me that while therapy is great and all, he will always use his father leaving as pity-bait.

Yes. Otherwise leaving would be a no-brainer.