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Betrayed Spouse 101

Betrayed and Pregnant: The Double Betrayal

Y ou're the wife of a man who has had an affair. But you are also the mother of a child waiting to be born - a life touched by this affair, just as you have been touched. At a time in your life when you need most to feel safe, protected, cherished - in one fell blow he's ripped your world out from under you and the stress is playing havoc with the life-support system for your unborn child. I've been there.

Whether this is your first child, or your ninth, planned or unplanned, getting hit with infidelity during a pregnancy (or finding out it after the fact that it was going on during a pregnancy) makes you feel TWICE as disposable, TWICE as un-special. I mean, its hard enough to face the fact that he was willing to discard you, his WIFE. But now he's discarding THE MOTHER OF HIS CHILD. Not even THAT could keep him faithful. Not even THAT appealed to his sense of personal honor. If THAT wasn't enough - NOTHING could be enough. What an incredibly helpless feeling!

Your mind is trying desperately to wrap itself around WHY he did this to you, and now it has to add HOW he could have done this NOW. Unfortunately, you're not alone. Pregnancy is a BIG anxiety trigger for men - and many men cope with this dramatic, life-changing event by RUNNING AWAY FROM IT. Even the ones who planned it right along with you, like mine did. Hell, we couldn't have BEEN more planned - our child was the product of five years of infertility treatments and a miracle of modern medical science. He sweated through it and braved it all right along with me. Yet when all was said and done, getting pregnant scared the hell out of him.

Getting pregnant, to a man (especially the first child, but frequently 'compounding' with additional children) means ADDED RESPONSIBILITY. It means having to think about somebody else first every single time you make a major decision. It means tighter finances, less free time, a loss of privacy, perhaps a lack of marital intimacy. It also means growing older - they're turning into "Dad" now. That's hard to take when you look in the mirror and still see that high school or college guy that's just out to have fun and raise a little hell in his lifetime. Fatherhood is staid, a way, its the end of life as they know it.

A woman looks at the situation and sees the added responsibilities, the sacrifices, and realizes they are small potatoes in relation to what she's gaining by having that child. Plus, we're trained from early childhood to expect that caregiver role someday. We take it in stride. Sure, we worry about it, but we figure we'll adjust. Hey, if my Mom could do it, so can I. And I'll do it even better. My husband (who is a great father, by the way) worried that he wouldn't be a good Dad. Worried that our marriage - which had just been the two of us for so long - was going to change drastically - for the worse. He believed all the idiots out there who say romance flies out the window when you have a baby. He felt pretty "underqualified" as a Dad, which made him feel lacking as a man. As I grew happier and more excited about the pregnancy, he felt like something was wrong with him. Like many men, he felt disassociated from the pregnancy - an outsider. Remember, he wasn't feeling those kicks, those flutters - he didn't have an occupant in his body. Suddenly, no one cared how he was doing, what was going on in his world - everyone was asking about me and the baby and due dates and such. He felt like he was on the outside looking in - and he felt guilty for feeling that way, lowering his self-esteem even more.

All this made him ripe for the picking, and his Other Woman came along - stroking his ego and making him 'feel like a man'. He'd revel in it at work, flirting back and enjoying the 'high' of being desired by a sexy new face. Then he'd come home to me, I'd tell him what a great Dad he was going to be, tell him how happy I was that we were a family, remind him of how glad I was that he's the man I chose to love - and he'd be inwardly writhing in guilt and self-loathing. He told me later that it only made it worse - he knew he was being a terrible Dad even before his child was born by encouraging an improper relationship with another woman, by lying to his child's mother, by risking hurting them both with his actions. He felt about as low as a human being can feel...setting him up for that now necessary ego-stroking from the Other Woman. It was a vicious circle, and it was tearing him apart.

Jane Greer, PhD is Redbook's 'Relationship Doctor', and recently in one of her columns, she addressed the subject of an affair carried on during the wife's pregnancy:

"Very often, pregnancy can be a milestone in a relationship, and the expectation of a child sometimes precipitates men becoming involved in an affair. This behavior is a by-product of all the new responsibilities that face them when a child is expected or born. Additional financial burdens, feelings about the family expanding and his role as a father, and perhaps fear of having even less time for the two of you, can all add up to an enormous amount of pressure. It's possible that all these factors were bearing down on him and spurred his need to escape the new responsibilities he was facing.

The first question to ask him is what he makes of why this happened. Although you still love him and he's saying he made a mistake, he must demonstrate some understanding of why it happened in the first place. It's also imperative that he be willing to build trust back into the marriage and resolve problems in those areas that have been a source of conflict. All of these steps must be taken so that his needing to escape does not occur again. "

It took a lot of soul-searching, a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of acceptance for us to get past all that. He loves being a father, and says he wouldn't take it back for the world. There are a myriad of reasons why a pregnancy can send a man into a tailspin at one of the times in your married life that you'll need him most. NONE OF THEM ARE EXCUSES. They are motivations, certainly, but the bottom line is he made the choice. WHY? When the going gets rough (and it will, as your child grows, I assure you), is this how he'll cope? By diving between the nearest pair of available legs and leaving you to take care of everything? When the two of you hash this out, hash it out HARD. This kind of betrayal is especially tough to forgive because it takes an especially selfish and thoughtless kind of cowardice to do it.

Now that we've discussed some of the motivating factors behind the 'pregnancy motivated affair', lets talk about YOU. Move ahead to the next page, where we talk about taking care of YOU during this time.

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~Coping With Stress During Pregnancy~

~We're Rebuilding: Do I Continue My Family?~