What let to the affair?

Conversations With the Betraying Partner

Part 1 – Behind the Scenes of an Affair: Insight from a Cheating Partner: What Led to the Affair?


In this episode, Lora interviews Shawn, her husband and the man who betrayed her to find out what led to his multiple affairs. Shawn delves deep into the impact of growing up in rough neighborhoods and facing financial struggles, and how these vulnerabilities manifested in difficulty managing stressful situations in his own life such as finances, buying a home, and providing for his family. He also shares how his past traumas and fears led to emotional triggers, This episode emphasizes the importance of understanding how our childhood experiences can impact our behavior in relationships and that unresolved past trauma or vulnerabilities end up affecting our partners and children.

This interview series with Lora and her husband Shawn – the man who betrayed her – is a raw, vulnerable, and very real conversation about Shawn’s state of mind and understanding of what happened before, during and after his multiple affairs.

These conversations are intended to serve two purposes:

First, to provide an understanding of what goes on in the heart and the mind of someone who cheats, and to shed light on some of confusing and irrational behaviors surrounding affairs, and

Second, to provide you, the betrayed partner, with something to share with the person who cheated on you, to facilitate conversation and bridge some of the gaps in your collective understanding. Especially if you are trying to reconcile or need to amicably coparent with them.

While the circumstance of everyone’s situation is different, surprisingly, there are many similarities. Affairs tend to be born out of pain and an inability to express one’s feelings. Quite often, even though an affair causes more pain, more shame, and more guilt, the cheating partner irrationally believes that cheating is a viable option to lower their pain, and then find themselves stuck in a situation they don’t know how to get out of.

It is our joint intention to step bravely into the truth of our situation. To shine a light on a subject that, while shockingly common, is still judged and stigmatized and to do our part in moving the conversation out of the shadows and into the light. May these shows provide you with more answers and understanding than you had before.

It is important to note that while nothing excuses the choices made by the cheating partner, and the blame for the affairs lies squarely on the one who cheats, it is our hope that these conversations inspire a deeper level of awareness and compassion for the plight of the betraying partner. Not to let them off the hook or to mitigate the damage and pain caused by their actions, but to help you in your journey to forgiveness, by way of understanding and acceptance.

After all, Life is hard, hurt people hurt people, and it is only when we reach out and try to understand another’s perspective are we able to rise above the collective traumas of the past and create a better, healthier world for all.


Part 1 is very raw, emotional, and intense. The angst in Shawn’s voice is reflective of his emotions at the time he first chose to have an affair.

Parts 2 and 3 are clear and powerful as they reflect Shawn’s growth in understanding about his journey.


Get your Sparkle After Betrayal Recovery Guide and FREE hypnotic meditation, Embody Yourself when you sign up for my newsletter at www.BetrayalRecoveryCoach.com

About Lora:

Author, speaker and Burnout & Betrayal Recovery Coach, Lora Cheadle help women rebuild their identity and self-worth so they can find the courage to claim what’s possible on the other side of betrayal.

Download your Sparkle After Betrayal Recovery Guide at www.BetrayalRecoveryGuide.com and start reclaiming yourself and your life today!

Learn More & Apply Here! www.AffairRecoveryForWomen.com

Untangle yourself from the past, reclaim your power, and own your worth so you can create a future you love on your own terms. All with a wink and a smile!


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personal vulnerabilities, financial struggles, stress, trauma, fear, emotional triggers, vulnerability test, flawed approach, success, marriage, parenthood, lifestyle, affairs, opportunity, conversations, in-person meeting, inappropriate questions, validation, childhood experiences, perspective, unresolved trauma, bad guy, decision to stay married, daily connection, past traumas, difficult conversations, mask trauma, failed first marriage, early happiness, building a life, Flaunt, Laura Cheadle, Betrayal Recovery coach, Sparkle After Betrayal Recovery Guide, communication, cheating partner, social media, emotions, triggers, childhood trauma, fear of poverty, budgeting, middle child, shame, vulnerability, counselors, toughing it out, personal relationships, wiring, marital counseling, rejection, pressure, exhausted, grateful, sadness.


Questions & Answers


  1. What personal vulnerabilities does the speaker discuss in this episode?

Answer: The speaker discusses their vulnerabilities stemming from their childhood experiences of growing up in a rough neighborhood and experiencing financial struggles.


  1. What common financial issues can stress individuals with these personal vulnerabilities?

Answer: These vulnerabilities can manifest in stress around common financial issues like buying a home, paying rent, and providing for a family.


  1. How can past trauma and fear impact conversations about money and vulnerability?

Answer: Trauma and fear from past experiences can lead to emotional triggers and make conversations about money and vulnerability more difficult.


  1. What does the speaker mean by scoring high on a vulnerability test?

Answer: The speaker scored high on a vulnerability test and feels flawed in their approach to success and their desires for their marriage, parenthood, and lifestyle.


  1. How did the affair that the speaker had start?

Answer: The affair started with a few conversations and a reconnection because of a class reunion.


  1. What inappropriate questions did the other person involved in the affair ask about the protagonist’s marriage and family life?

Answer: The other person was asking inappropriate questions about the protagonist’s marriage and family life.


  1. What impact can childhood experiences have on a partner’s behaviour in a marriage?

Answer: In a marriage, there may be unresolved past trauma or vulnerabilities that can impact a partner’s behavior, even if it’s not immediately obvious.


  1. How did the speaker’s partner respond to the news of the affair, and what was the outcome?

Answer: The partner expressed a desire for the speaker to fight for their marriage, and this made a big difference in the speaker’s decision to stay married.


  1. What motivates the speaker to work on their marriage and what does this entail?

Answer: The speaker is motivated to have the kind of marriage they always wanted, which requires daily and weekly connection, healing past traumas, and navigating difficult conversations.


  1. How does the speaker’s childhood trauma impact their personal and professional life?

Answer: The speaker had a difficult childhood, which they masked the impact of to succeed in sports, college, and law school. They also discuss how their childhood experiences of shame and vulnerability may have contributed to their difficulty in expressing emotions and navigating personal relationships.


Key Topics & Bullets


Episode Summary:


– Personal Vulnerabilities:

– Growing up in a rough neighborhood and experiencing financial struggles.

– Manifestation of vulnerabilities related to financial issues like buying a home, paying rent, and providing for a family.

– Emotional triggers from past trauma and fear can make conversations about money and vulnerability more difficult.

– Speaker scored high on a vulnerability test and feels flawed in their approach to success, marriage, parenthood and lifestyle.


– The affair:

– Opportunity developed with the other person through conversations and a reconnection via a class reunion.

– Communication between both people became more intense before an in-person meeting at the reunion.

– Other person was asking inappropriate questions about the protagonist’s marriage and family life.

– The speaker revealed vulnerabilities about their marriage and felt validated by the other person’s understanding and response.

– The speaker had an affair due to vulnerabilities stemming from not feeling validated in conversations with their partner.


– Childhood experiences:

– Difficult childhood growing up poor.

– Middle child with unresolved feelings of shame and vulnerability from childhood experiences, including a decade-long bedwetting issue.

– “Tough it out” mentality detrimental to personal relationships.

– Childhood experiences may have contributed to difficulty expressing emotions.


– Healing and recovery:

– Betrayal is an opportunity to uncover truth about oneself, wounds, dreams, and desires.

– Rewiring of thinking and seeking help from the right people is essential.

– Communication and understanding between partners needed after infidelity.

– Sparkle After Betrayal Recovery Guide created to help individuals untangle from the past and rechoreograph their future.


– Relationship dynamics:

– Speaker and husband both feel rejected in different ways, causing things to spiral downward.

– Pressure to make the other person happy leading to exhaustion.

– Feeling grateful but also sad when husband leaves early for work and speaker decides not to call him so he can work.




Speaker A [00:00:02]:




Lora Cheadle [00:00:35]:


Hello and welcome to Flaunt. Create a life you love after Infidelity or a Betrayal. I’m Lora Cheadle, attorney and Betrayal Recovery coach, who believes that betrayal uncovers the truth. Not only does it uncover the truth about what was going on with your partner, but it uncovers the truth about you, too. About the wounds, dreams, or unmet desires inside of you that have yet to be fulfilled or even addressed. And most importantly, betrayal uncovers what’s possible for you once you stop focusing on what was done to you and you start showing up unapologetically for yourself. It is my mission to be a beacon of understanding, hope and light for you on your Betrayal recovery journey to help you get successfully to the other side of this dark night of the soul not just intact, but better, stronger, and more confident and clear than you were before. Because I’ve been there too. I’ve made the mistakes and yes, I have figured out how to do it right. I would love to connect and see how I can best support you on your Betrayal Recovery journey so you can understand what really happened and heal faster, skipping the mistakes, the pain and obsessive thoughts that plagued me during my own recovery journey. When you go to www.betrayalrecoveryguide.com, you can download your copy of my Sparkle After Betrayal Recovery Guide, a guide designed to help you take the first steps in feeling better so you can reclaim your power, own your worth, and start putting yourself and your life back together again. The guide will walk you through a simple way to untangle from and release the past, show you how to reclaim your sexy, which I define as the juiciness and joy in life, and fall back in love with yourself. And lastly, the guide will show you how to take the first steps in recharyographing the next chapter of your life your way. It will also remind you of three fundamental truths to remember as you navigate your journey and give you the opportunity to connect one on one with me, either during our monthly support call or by booking a free no. Obligation discovery call where we can sit down together over zoom and figure out what your most immediate next step needs to be, which is invaluable in this high stakes situation where literally what you do or say right now can impact the rest of your life in your relationship. So remember, Betrayalrecoveryguide.com, this show, actually this show, and then the two shows that follow this show are going to be pretty impactful because they are going to be interviews with my husband Shawn, who, yes, was my cheating partner. And the goal of this show is to foster communication and understanding so you can have a better idea of what might have been going on in your partner’s head, in your partner’s heart. This is also a show that I think you are going to want to share with your cheating partner, especially if you want to try to reconcile. The goal, again, like I said, is to foster connection and understanding between both of you. The goal of this show is to bring your partner in to help you both begin to understand, analyze and articulate what was going on both before, during, and then after this affair. What I really want you to see as we have this conversation is how it is entirely possible. More than that, it’s probably probable that the person who betrayed you really doesn’t understand what was going on completely and how you, if you were anything like me, the betrayed partner really is craving answers and wants to be able to say, why did you do this? And to have your partner say, I did it because and then for you to say, well, what were you thinking here? And for them to say right there, I was thinking blah. And as we get into this conversation, I want you to be aware of the subtleties, how oftentimes the cheating partner is confused too, and is unable to articulate his or her needs. So sit back, brew yourself a cup of tea, turn your phone off. And for today’s episode, we are going to talk about what happened before the affair, what led up to the moment where your partner actually started cheating. So with that, welcome to the show.


Shawn [00:07:18]:




Lora [00:07:19]:


I salute you and your bravery beforehand because I know this is a lot.


Shawn [00:07:26]:


Thank you. Thank you for having me. This is a difficult conversation to have, but it’s one I’ve spent years preparing for, really, because I’ve done a lot of work trying to get ready to understand my before and why all this took place for me.


Lora [00:07:46]:


Absolutely. So let’s talk about the before. How far before do you want to go into?


Shawn [00:07:56]:


For me, the before begins, frankly, with childhood. But I was not aware of all this at the time the affair started. So if you think about, as so often, people who go get help for past harms, past abuse, past trauma, for me, it was a long childhood of some rough stuff. And I masked it. I masked it to be successful in sports, to be successful in college and not really deal with the impacts that it had on me. And I did this for years and somehow made it through college, somehow made it through law school. But I thought I was going to have an incredible marriage with you and had a first marriage that failed. And that was for kind of long distance reasons, reasons that we don’t need to go into too much. But it was not because of my trauma and such. It was just really not meant to be. It was an easy split, easy separation, no kids, et cetera. With you. I thought that this is the reason you get married and this is what I want to make successful. And for the most part, our courtship, our dating and our early marriage was successful from my side of the ledger and hopefully from yours. I think it was even more successful from your side, probably because as we entered into parenthood in the before phase, and just so the listeners understand, we’re talking about eight years or so from the time we were married to the time the affair started. And a lot occurred in that time period. Early happiness, a lot of bliss, the honeymoon phase and getting a puppy and then having two boys both getting career jobs, right? We were really trying to build an incredible life together.


Lora [00:10:14]:


And like you said, we did. For the most part, we did. So we have the before, before things are going well. You mentioned childhood, you mentioned the impact of trauma, that you were doing a lot of masking. Even though you were doing a lot of masking, you still felt connected, you still felt like this was a successful marriage. So what changed? Because I think most listeners agree life gets difficult. There’s bills, there’s kids, there’s in laws, there’s family trauma, there’s world events. So what was it that all of a sudden went from, yeah, this is good, and I’m building the kind of life and everything is really happy to it’s not just having a hard time with parents, kids, families, finances, to actually having an affair. Bridge that gap.


Shawn [00:11:16]:


It’s interesting in doing all the work that I’ve done, I watch some social media tough guys that give sage advice, but they will tell you, if you’re a cheater, stop. Right? If you’re doing this, stop. It’s not as easy as the tough guys make it sound, because what happened in that gap, for me, sort of the undoing of all this happiness was an inability to express emotions around triggers that kept coming up. So we’d have difficult conversations about money, about in laws, my side of the in law ledger, about moves, about careers, about parenting, whatever it was. And when you and I reflected on that early on in this disclosure of the affairs, we realized that you thought our discussions were fairly minor in magnitude. I thought they were pretty significant. And I felt really let down by the conversations because I was not expressing my emotions, didn’t really know how to express my emotions. And frankly, some of the traumas that led to fear, fear of being poor. I don’t ever want to be poor again, right? There was unbelievable childhood trauma around just being poor and so driving ourselves to a budget and having enough finances and quality of life that we wanted. We would have tough conversations around how we spent money. And call it a flight for my mom at Christmas time, call it golf clubs, whatever. The fights can be over or the discussions. They’re not always fights. It’s just we’re out of money and we got to make ends meet. That is what is known as a vulnerability. And I had vulnerabilities starting to pop up in those first eight years and I was not aware that they were vulnerabilities at the time. By the way. Didn’t know this.


Lora [00:13:37]:


So it’s just difficult things. What I’m hearing is just they’re normal things that happen in life. So you’re talking about we’re having conversations, we’re having like normal lifetime things that happen. You mentioned a puppy, you mentioned in laws, you mentioned money, you mentioned not wanting to be poor. You mentioned career. There’s like all of these things that are coming up and it’s kind of normal life because there’s some hard things that are going on. Can you explain a little bit more about what you mean by like these.


Shawn [00:14:14]:


Are personal vulnerabilities to me, vulnerabilities around what you call normal life. My perception coming from a rough background where I didn’t know if the lights would be on. There was nothing in the refrigerator. Most of our childhood, all kinds of other things that were vulnerable. Living in a rough neighborhood, right? Not knowing if you were safe, walking home from school, not knowing if you could ride your bike to the store like mom told you to do and get back safely. The vulnerabilities in life for some of us are stress around the big issues in life that you call common finances. Home buying or not buying a home, trying to pay rent, trying to make ends meet, trying to provide food, trying to remain healthy, trying to raise a family. When do you get pregnant, when do you have kids, when is it ever right for people that were not exposed to trauma? I think yes, it can probably be normal. And having conversations around budget and what you can spend and you can’t spend is probably an easier conversation. If you have traumas and fears that result in triggers, the conversations are not mild. The conversation is going to be really emotional and I’m not expressing any emotional, I’m talking loud, but I’m not expressing why I feel triggered by something, why I have fear around something, why I have shame around something right. Or fears based on prior shames. I mean, it’s really difficult when you don’t express your emotions properly and you even know what they are, much less express them to then explain why you’re talking about and why you’re feeling vulnerable. And these vulnerabilities can calculate into significantly. There’s even scores and tests for this kind of stuff, right? And I scored extremely high, if you remember on this one test we both took in terms of being vulnerable. And I don’t like feeling that way. I didn’t like feeling that way. But in our conversations, I started feeling like I was the bad guy, that I was somehow flawed in my approach to success, what I wanted out of the marriage, what I wanted out of parenthood, what I wanted in a lifestyle, really running away from ever being poor again and not really knowing how to be successful.


Lora [00:17:04]:


Yeah. I want to go back to a couple of things you said because I think there is so much gold here. Conversations are happening and your experience and perception of the conversation was so much different than my experience and perception of the conversation. And the part that I want to point out on that because I’m sure people can relate to this I didn’t know it was different because you never told me. It was different because all that was going on in your head and in your heart and in your emotions and I didn’t know.


Shawn [00:17:43]:


And I think differences in conversation, it happens in the workplace, it happens in the legal space that I work in, the misperceptions, because you don’t truly explain where you sit before you tell them where you stand, so to speak. I mean, if you haven’t explained your side of the issue well enough and often emotions and trauma and triggers can block the ability to do that successfully. Sadly.


Lora [00:18:14]:




Shawn [00:18:16]:


If you haven’t done that, then you’re not having an authentic conversation. There’s lots of conversation techniques to try to break through these barriers right. To see the other side story. And we had to do a lot of work around that, of course. Both of us being lawyers and going really fast frequently. And yet here I had some vulnerabilities that were based on traumas and fears and shame and all sorts of other things, anger and rage that I didn’t want to come out in this marriage. I really didn’t.


Lora [00:18:46]:


Yeah. And that kind of brings up this next question because you’re talking about good communication and good communication yes. Leads to a good marriage and good conversation skills. But underpinning that is if you don’t even know what’s going on with you, how can you communicate it?


Shawn [00:19:06]:


Well, I didn’t, and I don’t know, maybe some people can, but I don’t.


Lora [00:19:11]:


Think you can communicate what you don’t know.


Shawn [00:19:14]:


But I think, too, I’ve seen friends, colleagues, whatever, family members that don’t communicate because they shut down and they don’t say anything and there’s no conversation happening. So you never know. Right. I’m having high octane conversation because I’m exasperated by the issue and I’m not making myself clear. I’m not showing you, for instance, how important something meant to me and that’s why I got angry. Right. Or I had fear around it or I had shame around that and I didn’t want to experience that again, which would have changed most likely your perception of what I was experiencing.


Lora [00:19:55]:


Right. And at the time, I don’t think you were capable of saying, what I’m feeling is fear and shame around this.


Shawn [00:20:02]:


No, I was not capable at all. In fact, it’s taken a lot of work and bravery, really, to go face all this. And don’t listen to everything you hear on social media. If they tell you, don’t let go of the past, move on. Yeah, to some degree. Unless it’s you’re stubbing your toe because you’re repeating triggers now. You ought to go do some work. I would like everybody to know what their Ace score is. The adverse childhood experience. Anybody can go take it. It’s ten questions, and not one of us should score one on this thing. When you see these questions, I score a nine. And I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that before.


Lora [00:20:39]:


Nine out of ten.


Shawn [00:20:40]:


Nine out of ten, I scored a nine. I had no idea that I had so much of this level of trauma in my childhood that caused me to react this way in marriage conversations, parenting, and somehow masked it to be successful at work or whatever else it was that I could be successful at.


Lora [00:21:01]:


Yeah. And I think that’s an important thing to know, because as spouses, you think you know your partner, you think you know each other, and you know what your partner’s childhood was like. You know what your childhood was like. But I think what I really want to underscore around this is but do you really? Because if they’re not even aware of the impact that it had on them, how can you be aware of the impact that it had on them? Because to them, it’s just normal. Because we can’t be aware of the water in which we swim. I thought my experience was normal. Shawn thought his was experience was normal. Whoever you are, whatever your experience was, you kind of think it’s normal. You might have some idea, oh, yeah, this was a little wonky, or yeah, I went through something. But the bottom line is we all think everybody is just like us. We all see things from our own point of view, and it takes a lot to get outside and to really look in on the experience that we had growing up. So now that we know, okay, we’re in this marriage. It starts off really good. There’s a lot of joy, there’s a lot of similarities. We’re having some difficult conversations. You’ve got a lot going on inside you. I don’t know this, but you have a lot going on inside of you caused by the past, caused by vulnerabilities, caused by unaddressed trauma, caused by so many a whole myriad of things. So then what you’re feeling you said earlier you’re feeling like the bad guy.


Shawn [00:22:44]:


Yeah. This is a key point, because for me, I was the middle child, and I teased that I might write a book about what it’s like to be stuck in the middle. I was really not treated well by my parents as a middle child. And despite that’s an understatement, by the way, right, because you know more than the listeners, but to feel inadequate and for the listeners, I mean, look, one of the massive promise for me was bed wedding for nearly ten years in my childhood, all the way until I was 14 years old in high school. It was absolutely horrendous experience to not be able to overcome that and have no help from doctors, et cetera, because parents wouldn’t send me, et cetera. But having that kind of shame and vulnerability now I get into marriage and you think that my talking about an issue is anger management issue and I need to go see counselors, which I did. I went and saw two or three counselors before the first affair, and I would bring solutions home. And sadly, these counselors, not one of them talked about this childhood. Not one of them went into maybe I had shame and fear and triggers. All three of them talked about changing my environment, and that is go negotiate with your wife, in other words, right? How to be on time to church, how to address your mom flying home or out for Christmas and how to parent differently. Show her that you’re feeling anxious around the kids, drinks in the living room or playdoh. Show her that you have sort of this anger building up and your cup is about to overflow. It’s really hard to do with emotions because they’re inward. They’re not outward.


Lora [00:24:47]:


Yes, and I’m just going to drop in a little therapeutic bomb here, too. There are different kinds of counselors. There’s different kinds of therapists. There’s different kinds of techniques. The kinds of counselors that Shawn was saying were like the CBT, the cognitive behavioral therapy, which comes from the idea that you have a thought and then you have this emotion and then you can control it. So just control your environment. Just think about it, plan it and control it. But with trauma, that’s not the case. Trauma is lodged in the nervous system. Trauma is more of an automatic response. It’s like when they hit your knee with a little hammer. You kick. You don’t think, oh, the physician is hitting me in the knee with the hammer. This is to test a reflex. I am going to extend my leg. Trauma is reflexive. The kind of counselors he was seeing were not trauma informed, trauma based trauma experts. Therefore, it was not appropriate. It didn’t help. And that’s just one of those things that if we knew then what we know now, talk to your therapist. If you’ve got somebody who’s dealing with trauma, find a psychotherapist who’s a trauma specialist and can help you the right.


Shawn [00:26:15]:


Way, well, that’s golden. But I tell you too, that for many people, it’s not just men, but people going to see a counselor is scary. And many of them think the old phrase in sports was, walk it off. Big boys don’t cry. Be tough, right?


Lora [00:26:37]:


Tough it out.


Shawn [00:26:38]:


Tough it out. Suck it up, suck it up. All those things, right? And you play through injury and all that, and you can be successful. Playing through traumatic injury is really difficult to be successful. Yes, I scored big legal jobs, et cetera, but I failed miserably in expressing my emotions to my own wife and didn’t know how because I walked it off. And I tried to tough it out by being firm and strong and loud voice and masking the fears and the shame and the anger that why do I feel this place in my network? As you said, I was wired for these things. Now I’ve got to go rewire. And this was years later, obviously, before I found the right people to help me and got the solution. So talking about all this now and understanding that before is also fairly new for me, because I’ve done a lot of work on myself and haven’t really reflected back on my why, right? Why did I have an affair to begin with? So back to that point, I thought in those eight years that things were getting less and less well between us and I was becoming having an experience from my childhood again where I’m the bad guy. Shawn, he can’t have a full glass of milk, he’ll wet the bed, don’t give. And Shawn’s not as fast or big and strong as his older brother. Shawn can’t do this, Shawn can’t do that. Shawn doesn’t get new clothes, he gets handmedowns. It all came up, all came up into, I’m the only one going and getting counseling. And, yes, we did try some marital joint things that were also not very successful, probably because I still hadn’t dealt with my own inner triggers and wiring, frankly. So as soon as we had the same stimulus for a difficult conversation, parenting, finance, whatever it is, I would still react the same way, right?


Lora [00:28:57]:


And here’s the insidious nature of it. Because you had trauma, it was building up faster and harder in you. Because I did not have childhood trauma, it was not building up in me at all. So the longer our marriage, the more experiences, the wider the gap between us. And I didn’t know, and you didn’t know why.


Shawn [00:29:19]:


I didn’t know why. And even as we discussed the whole process after disclosure, it was difficult for me to articulate, even in the first year, it took us a long time with a lot of conversations. And you said something to me in there that made a big difference for me, though, because I fight for a lot of things, right? I fight for a lot of things in life, as a lawyer, as a father, but as a husband, I was not fighting for you. And you asked me one time in the car heading out to a flight and you said, I want you to fight for me, fight for the marriage. And I realized that that’s what I wanted to do and that’s why I was still married. As one counselor asked me, why are you still married? Three times within an hour, he asked me that, right. Like I should just go get a divorce. I didn’t know how to answer the question because what I really wanted was a marriage that I’ve always wanted. I wanted to know how to have that marriage. And that meant maintaining connection daily, weekly, through difficult conversations, but also healing unbelievable traumas that caused shame and fear and all these other emotions to trigger and then result in these vulnerabilities where I go off or I misperceive these difficult conversations we would have as now I’m the bad guy. And every time I say something, I’m not being validated. That was, in hindsight, what came to me as the most important part of what drove me into having an affair.


Lora [00:31:07]:


Not being validated.


Shawn [00:31:08]:


Not being validated. And I own on my side of that. I had no ability to explain. And I always think about how funny that sounds. I had no ability. When Stephen Covey likes to say, or used to say the late Stephen Covey would say, we have an ability to respond differently. That is, we have a responsibility to do something different. Okay. Unless you’re wired differently and you haven’t fixed your wiring to create the ability. To me, that’s really important. If you always raise your voice and you’re feeling yourself get worked up and your blood pressure is going up or whatever, and you don’t know all these techniques to calm yourself down or you haven’t done the work, then you’re going to explode or the conversation is going to go bad, or you’re going to cross your arms and you’re not going to say anything. Right. And now nothing gets solved. For me, being validated would have made a huge difference to my own self esteem and understanding that you’re hearing me. But the sad part of that is I wasn’t doing my part of the ability is clearing my conversation. So you understood what I’m saying, what I’m feeling, especially what I’m feeling. Why does this make me angry? Why does it I feel shame around this. Right. And not being shamed that I’m sharing shame.


Lora [00:32:41]:




Shawn [00:32:41]:


Got to get over that. That’s a big hurdle for a lot of us.


Lora [00:32:45]:


Yeah. So it’s building up. I mean, it’s building. It’s building. It’s building. It’s like this bomb is about it’s building up. It’s building up in you, not in me. Because so many of the women that I work with say I thought I had the perfect marriage. I did too, because from where I stood, everything was fine. He just got really loud, obnoxious over which I would kind of, like roll my eyes and walk away because I thought, god, he’s such a drama king. He’s so loud, he’s so obnoxious. I don’t know why he does that. And I would kind of just blow it off and walk away, which I didn’t realize was invalidating him because I thought he was just being overly dramatic over a bunch of things.


Shawn [00:33:31]:


And when you don’t feel validated, you feel rejected.


Lora [00:33:34]:




Shawn [00:33:35]:


And I felt rejected by both of my parents for years and years and years and years, and it was horrible. And so as a result, as a family unit, a wife, a husband and two boys, I felt on the outside of the family unit, and I thought that that carried over for a long time. And sometimes in public venues like, say, scouting events or at school or whatever right. Or in front of family and to be sort of shamed and you probably didn’t think you’re shaming me at all, I’m feeling shamed.


Lora [00:34:15]:


Right. Right.


Shawn [00:34:17]:


And so I’m Bottling up and not happy with those situations and didn’t know how to express that for days on in. And we would have a lack of connection during those days. I get up and go to work early because I was mad as hell, and I’m not a really riser, but I didn’t want to deal with conversation in the morning, and now I’m running from it. And Bottling anger is no good either, obviously. But it’s ironic, too, that you talk about a lot of folks think they had a happy marriage. I did, too, for those eight years, three to four of those years before I started feeling this lack of validation creep in. In fact, at our marriage wedding reception, I said, today I married happiness. And as much as I still believe that phrase, I realized that my happiness comes from within, not from you.


Lora [00:35:22]:




Shawn [00:35:23]:


And that took a long damn time to figure out. And that’s sad that we all need to realize that joy comes from within. As soon as you figure that out, you’d be happy a lot quicker.


Lora [00:35:34]:




Shawn [00:35:36]:




Lora [00:35:37]:


Exactly. And I love that you said that because as a listener, I’m hoping you can pick up how there’s these subtle spirals that are starting to happen. And again, from my side, I think we have a great marriage. I think he just gets loud and blustery sometimes. I roll. Let’s just get out of here. I don’t think that’s rejection. I think I roll. Let’s get out of here. Until he calms down. I don’t see it as rejection. He does. I have no idea that there’s shame, that there’s fear, that there’s vulnerabilities. He does. As a wife and mom who is completely exhausted because our kids are two months apart or 22 months apart, two months apart would be pretty impossible. 22 months apart, and I’m exhausted. And if you’ve had kids, you know how that is. And suddenly I’m trying to take care of everything around the house, and I can’t even sleep through the night, and I’m leaking milk all over. And my body is not my body anymore, and it’s horrible. And sometimes I would feel the pressure like, you’re not making me happy. And it’s not that he would ever come to me and say, you’re not making me happy. But I felt the pressure to make his day good at the end of the day or to make things happy for him. And again, not that I’m intentionally saying I reject you, and I reject that, but at the same time, he would come home from work, I’m not there to greet him with a smile on my face. I’m like, oh, my God, I’m glad you’re here. I’m exhausted. Which, again, feels kind of like a rejection. So things start spiraling down that neither of us really knew what was going on. And he’s thinking, I’m rejecting him, and I’m thinking, he’s rejecting me because I’ve been with the kids all day long and I can’t even take a shower on my own. Why aren’t you helping me? And he’s thinking, it’s a rejection. And he also mentioned going to work early. When he would leave for work early, I would wake up and I would always feel very grateful and sad. I would think, like he said, he doesn’t like to get up early. He’s not an early riser. So when I would wake up and he’d be gone, I would think, oh, my gosh, he is working so hard for us. He must have a horrible day that he’s up and he’s out of here and he’s working so hard. I am not going to call him. I’m going to back off. I’m going to let him work. Because this poor guy well, do you know what he was thinking at work?


Shawn [00:38:18]:


How mad I was and how am I going to resolve this? Right? Because I can’t seem to express what I’m feeling and why I’m so angry and why that issue made me angry. And for you, it’s a Blip, right? So the spiraling down was much faster for me, it felt, if you were to diagram it, I suppose.


Lora [00:38:45]:


And you’re thinking, shoot, why isn’t she calling me? She should be calling me and apologizing. She should be calling me. And I’m thinking, I’m not going to call him. He’s busy. So things are spiraling in all sorts of directions that’s going on inside of us, that neither of us really are communicating, because we just think that it’s normal. So what? You’re not getting validation. You’re feeling rejected, you’re feeling like the bad guy. So why an affair?


Shawn [00:39:18]:


So, as we’ve learned, affairs often come because there’s opportunity. And the opportunity was a slow development. And it’s a person who was out of state, not somebody nearby, easy, accessible. So it started with a few conversations, a reconnection because of a class reunion. And then it led to the emails going back and forth from this committee to just the two of us. And we had classes together years ago, and we’re trying to learn where we’re at in life right now. And then it led to a few phone calls and then there was going to be this is months went by and then there’s going to be an in person meeting out of state for this reunion and all these characters are going to show up, try to plan the reunion. And of course that led to several weeks before that meeting, some more intense communication between the other person and me. And that led to me feeling like this person gets me. And they were probably asking inappropriate questions about am I happily married? What’s it like having two young kids, et cetera and all those things. And then I’m revealing probably way more than I ever should have about the vulnerabilities and what I considered in my marriage. And suddenly I feel like this person is validating on every issue. I would bring up what I thought I wanted you to say to me, right? And this person doesn’t have kids, never been married, had her own budget and finances and never been married. Right. It was a feel good situation that somebody gets me. They’re responding without me having to raise my voice. They just seem to understand my side of the equation and I didn’t have to express it any differently and I didn’t have to share my feelings about it.


Lora [00:41:44]:


It was easy.


Shawn [00:41:45]:


And so it made it feel easy to have the conversation. And then that led to suddenly this sort of flirtatious conversation and the past and how come we never dated and blah, blah, blah. And the next thing when we’re in person, the affair started.


Lora [00:42:10]:


So what’s going on in your mind that makes you feel like either a, this is a really good idea or b this is going to solve some of those problems that I’m having. And I recognize I’m asking you to make rational sense of something that oftentimes isn’t very rational, but I just want you to response.


Shawn [00:42:38]:


Thank you. Because as logical as I can be as half engineer, half lawyer, I like to say this was entirely irrational. And if you understand the phrase compartmentalization, it’s sometimes really difficult to get our arms around even for those of us that compartmentalize daily, it literally is like a chest of drawers. And when I opened the drawer for this affair, nothing else in my life was on my mind.


Lora [00:43:13]:


And everybody says that and everybody says, but why couldn’t you think about me? Why didn’t you think about the kids? Why didn’t you think about our families, our friends, the life you were throwing away? And you’re saying you really truly didn’t.


Shawn [00:43:27]:


I really, truly didn’t. And I wasn’t thinking that I was throwing anything away because when I closed that drawer and opened my family drawer, I was all in in my family drawer. And I think that when you study, as I’ve done many affair personalities, those are compartmentalized operate in very similar fashion, and it’s why there’s no crossover circuitry about how come you’re not thinking about the impacts and the results and maybe the divorce or the nastiness in court or the pain to the kids. And this can happen at any phase through a marriage where the impacts can be really substantial. But we, as a betrayer, don’t think of it that way in the moment. Okay. So how come you don’t put two and two together while you’re and this is really part of the during, I suppose, right, that we’ll get to in the next session, but a little precise into that is that that compartmentalization. It’s hard to explain why there’s no crossover circuitry. And why don’t you think about well, I think you do think to some degree about the secrecy. That drawer needs to stay closed.


Lora [00:44:47]:




Shawn [00:44:48]:


You got to delete text, you got to delete emails. You got to do this, you got to do that. And lo and behold, as you and I discovered, I still had two emails from 15 years ago, or whatever it was. Right. Because that was a long standing, long distance situation. And it’s interesting that we don’t have this more front and center when we’re dealing with whatever our why is, why we go into an affair. The irrationality around that kind of illogical connection that you are now trying to mask something, delete the evidence of something so that no one discovers it, because you do know that that’s going to be a bad situation.


Lora [00:45:36]:


Yeah. You know it’s wrong.


Shawn [00:45:37]:


You know it’s wrong.


Lora [00:45:40]:


So do you think it’s going to help? Do you think having an affair is going to help?


Shawn [00:45:48]:


It’s never going to help. What would help is if everybody understood their why before they ever have an affair. Why would I ever have an affair? Simon Sanders got a great book, Understand Your Why. It’s kind of corporate based, but if you go look at the elements and then apply it to your personal life I don’t know that anybody would ever have an affair if they truly understood before they take on an affair, if they understood why they might have one. Yeah, because some people do it because the sexuality has fallen off. The connection has fallen off. The love has fallen off. Right. There’s disrespect. There’s negative conversations going back and forth. There’s a lot of things that drive people apart. Some of that includes opportunity. Some people go a long time with all that negative conversation. There’s never an opportunity. And so affairs may not happen because there was no real opportunity. Some people go looking for the opportunity.


Lora [00:46:51]:


I was just going to say there’s the difference between I’m seeking it out because I want to find love. I’m seeking it out because I want to feel attractive. I’m seeking it out because versus OOH, this is kind of developing. So as this was developing, as you’re sharing emails, as you’re connecting, as it’s getting a little flirtatious. Do you think, yeah, this is leading into an affair and that’s going to get me? Or what are you thinking? Break that down. Help betrayed women everywhere understand what are you thinking if this is happening? Because she was asking clearly very inappropriate questions.


Shawn [00:47:30]:


Well, for me, and I don’t know that I can help everybody because no, I know there’s lots of different situations, but in my experience, the other person was might feel good was not because of sexual encounters. It was because of really emotional support that I didn’t understand myself.


Lora [00:47:54]:


You’re being told you’re right.


Shawn [00:47:55]:


I was being told that I’m not a bad guy. I was being validated in my point of view. I was being supported from afar. Right. Emails, phone calls that I’m not crazy. And yes, the counselors had good ideas, and yes, you guys should have tried this. Yes, whatever, I was being emotionally validated and supported is why I thought the affair was a good idea. Right.


Lora [00:48:29]:


Yeah. Even though on some level, you knew this makes no sense.


Shawn [00:48:34]:


Right. And we can get into that in the next session as well, because there’s much to discuss around why affairs continue.


Lora [00:48:44]:


Yeah. Something that people talk a lot about is they’ll say, I understand there was pain. I understand that. One of my clients said to me once, and I think this is great, she said, we built the bomb together, but he detonated it when he had an affair. And I think that’s a great analogy. So many of us are conditioned to think affairs are about love, and affairs are very rarely ever about love. They’re about pain. They’re about unmet needs. They’re about internalized pain that cannot be expressed. But because of Hollywood, we all think, my partner must have had an affair because he loves somebody and because they’re prettier and they’re smarter and they’re a better conversationalist and they’re better in bed, and he loves her, which is why he cheated on me, because I’m not good enough. I would like you to address in your words how that is not true, how that was not true for you in service of both people who have been cheated on, understanding that it has nothing to do with them. Being fat or ugly or bad in bed or bad cooks or unloved and how really the drive for you is not about. Oh, I was so in love with somebody. I just had to have an affair.


Shawn [00:50:18]:


For me, the experience of moving into the affair process was not anything to do with me loving you less, me loving my kids less, me loving my life less. I did not like being a bad guy. I did not want to be invalidated in conversation about important things in life right. Where two married people should really be having authentic conversations money, in laws, love, sex, new car, home buying, whatever. Right. But I also appreciate that a lot of people think there’s this notion of affairs are all about the sex part of it. And you and I both know many people who’ve had horrible encounters their first time sexually. Not great experiences. And mine’s the same way it’s not a great experience. The point of my affair was emotional. I’m running from something, running to something, and that’s validation. I don’t want to be invalidated. I want to be validated. And I agree. Sex at home. I love my wife. What the hell am I doing? I don’t know. I don’t freaking know. All I know is I want to feel better. I don’t know how to feel better. It’s not about love. Love is not in my equation. It might be in others, or they might be looking for the sexual experience. I don’t know. But for me, it was all about this emotional need that was not being met. That’s really my why.


Lora [00:52:04]:


All right, how I want to wrap up this show is by just clarifying for the listeners that the why you have an affair doesn’t really rise to your conscious level until maybe looking back, that in the moment, it’s something that you do to take away the pain. So many people think that having an affair is that you’re wanting a new relationship, that you’re falling in love with this new person, that you’re falling out of love with your spouse. They think an affair is this big, illicit, passionate thing. And most often when people really do the work like you and start unpacking their why and start figuring it out, they realize that the affair is born from pain. The affair is an illogical way, really, that takes away their pain momentarily and that it really doesn’t have anything to do with their current relationship or their past relationship. It has to do with them and having their pain taken away. And that even though people think it’s about love, affairs are really about pain. So I just want to end kind of with your comments around that situation.


Shawn [00:53:41]:


For me, this affair began because of pain. To your point, not because of love, not because I was seeking love. Some people may be in their pain seeking love. I’m seeking validation. And when I got validation, my pain went down. I got validated. My pain went down. I got more validation. My pain went down. That was a really good feeling, is to have less pain and to be validated. And when I close that drawer illogically, my feeling of love can still be there for my spouse, which is I don’t know how that works. I do not. But I was not because I was not seeking this situation because of love. I was seeking it because of pain. And pain is a big driver. It can cause us to seek love in the wrong places or seek validation or whatever else it is that your pain is causing. And that’s the root of all of this is understand where we stand what has caused us to be who we are and react the way we do so that we do have an ability to respond differently.


Lora [00:55:00]:


Yeah. Like that. From what you’ve told me, you’re not thinking about her and wondering what she’s doing. You’re not thinking about her. She’s almost a tool to take your pain away and then you come home and live the rest of your life.


Shawn [00:55:17]:


Yeah. I want to say that I think that affairs, sadly, are very selfish from both sides of the ledger. Whatever her interests were, were very selfish. And whatever my interests were were very selfish. For me, it was not pursuing love and not understanding my own pain, even what it was, but to feel the goodness of that going away was something that drove me to do this. And for better or worse, I wish that I knew all this now, what I know now. I wish I knew then what I know now.


Lora [00:56:02]:


Yeah, don’t we all? Well, that is a really good place to stop for now, because the next show we are going to talk about what your experience was during the affair. This is what led up to it. What led up to it was pain. Pain born from not understanding what you felt, not being able to articulate what you felt, having a lot of unresolved trauma and triggers and not having the skills or the ability to communicate around that and just a continued buildup from life. And that’s what led to the affair. The desire to have some of that pain and some of that frustration go away again. Next week, we will talk about what happened during the affair and then the show after that, we will wrap up with everything post affair where Shawn will break down all of the stuff that he indeed does know now that he did not know then at all. Thank you, Shawn, for your honesty in talking about something that’s difficult and also in talking about something that in a lot of ways really defies logic and is incredibly difficult to explain.


Shawn [00:57:47]:


Well, thank you, too, for having me. But I want to say that and it’s hard to have these difficult conversations with the person you betrayed. Stand in there. Stand in there and deliver because it’s worth fighting for.


Lora [00:58:09]:


Thank you. It is worth it. And listeners, I can’t wait to bring you the next two shows and as usual, have an incredible week. And always remember to flaunt exactly who you are, because who you are is always more than enough.


Speaker A [00:58:30]:


Tune in next time to flaunt. Find your sparkle and create a life you love after infidelity or betrayal with radio host and live choreographer Lora Cheadle. Every Wednesday at 07:00 a.m. And 07:00 p.m. Eastern time on syndicated reamvision Seven radio network, develop naked self worth and reclaim your confidence, enthusiasm and joy so you can create a life you love and embrace who you are today. Download your free sparkle through Betrayal recovery Guide at Naked Selfworth.com.