The Silent Killer

A few days ago I read a great article about a guy who used Ashley Madison to research why women cheat. It’s fascinating stuff, and well worth the read.

In the article he had the following observation:

When an adulterous man is found out, there are many, many women that can get past the sex act itself.

But the real problem is where his effort has been going. As his wife sits idle, being supportive, holding down her half of the relationship, house and kids, a cheating man will put boat loads of effort into seducing the other woman: four-star restaurants and hotels, gifts, laughter, spontaneity, passion, sex.

From there, it’s a sad realization for his wife that translates to “I’m not worth the effort.” This is a fatal blow to her self-esteem and self-worth and terminal to the relationship.

I’m not worth the effort.

I think this is how relationships truly die. Sure, the discovery of things like affairs can destroy a marriage, but it’s not usually a catastrophic event like that and the same idea will apply.

Rather, it’s like death from 1000 cuts. Most failed relationships are killed slowly, over time.

And it always comes back to effort.


Action Means More Than Words

It’s easy to say “I love you”, but what matters is what you do.

How does someone know you love them? How do you show them that love, and express it to them?

Life gets busy, and people understand that. Everyone has times where they get wrapped up in work, family and whatever else life throws at them.

These sorts of things can put a drain on a relationship, but on their own they aren’t a problem.

It becomes a problem when there is a disproportionate amount of time into “me” time vs. “we” time.

Every time your partner is able to make time to do something they want to do, yet they are unable to find time for something as a couple, it adds another cut.

And over time these add up.

This sort of thing tells your partner:

hey – I can drop things to get together with the guys, or go out with the girls. I can make time to play poker with my buddies, or bury myself in my phone. I can make time to…

But you? Sorry, I see you all the time anyhow. Why should I make any effort to see you, to do things with you, or to be with you. After all, you *know* I love you.

Alone Together

If you spend enough time looking and reading you’ll find there are a lot of people out there who are unhappy with the state of their relationships. And it’s common to see an overriding sense of sadness and loneliness.

These are people IN relationships. Their partners are right there, next to them, every day.

But they still feel alone.

Common expressions are things like:

I just wanted him/her to want to be with me,
or to want to do things with me.

People want to feel wanted. They want to feel valued, and loved. And when they don’t, troubles arise.

They see their partner putting time, energy and effort into pretty much everything BUT the relationship. Each time that happens a little piece of them dies, gradually eroding their self-esteem and self-worth.

And it destroys the relationship.

Finding Balance

When hearing their partner isn’t feeling valued or wanted, the person who is not investing time in the relationship (or perhaps investing less) will often get defensive. Their response may be some variation of:

  • But we do spend time together, we see each other all the time
  • My partner is just too needy, I don’t want/need to spend every minute with them
  • It’s important to me to be able to do my own thing
  • I don’t want to do the same things they do
  • What’s the big deal? It’s not like I go out/do my own thing all that often

Or even better, they may go into attack mode and turn things around on their partner with something like:

  • So what, you are saying I should never do my own thing then?

To be clear, this has nothing to do with not wanting your partner to go out and do their own thing. Space and time away from the couple is actually healthy for a relationship, and it’s important that each person has time to themselves as an individual.

If someone wants to go and do their own thing, great. As long as what they are doing is respectful to the relationship there shouldn’t be a problem. It’s not about being with each other all the time.

However there needs to be a commensurate amount of effort put into the relationship. There needs to be a balance between “me” time and “we” time.

And no, family time or time spent doing domestic chores does not count. Family time is just that – family time. And time spent on domestic tasks is just part of co-habitation.

There needs to be time focused on being a couple. On being friends, and lovers; and both building and maintaining the connection that keeps a relationship strong.

It’s about wanting to be with each other. Wanting to do things together. Wanting to share experiences. These are the lifeblood of a relationship.

If a couple doesn’t want to do things together, then what’s the point?

Why are they together?

History isn’t enough.


In a relationship, “Me” time is always important, and couples don’t have to have all the same interests.

The activities someone does during their me time, and even the frequency of those activities doesn’t truly matter.

It’s all about the amount of time and effort put into “me” stuff vs. the amount of time and effort put into the couple and into the relationship.

When someone can’t be bothered to make time for the relationship because they are “too busy” with life and kids, but they can make time to do the other stuff it tells the neglected partner that they aren’t worth it.

They aren’t worth the effort.

And without that effort and a sense of feeling valued the relationship will ultimately fail. Because no matter how much someone loves the other person, eventually it will be one cut too many, and even the strongest will break.

The point where we break gets closer everyday
But where do we go?
But where do we go?

I don’t want to be here anymore
I don’t want to be here anymore

I don’t want to be here anymore (be here anymore)
I know there’s nothing left worth staying for
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore (fight this anymore)
I’m listening with one foot out the door
But something has to die to be reborn
I don’t want to be here anymore

(We need a better way)
(We need to let go)
– Rise Against

10 thoughts on “The Silent Killer

  1. So much of this post struck a chord for me. It’s says all the things that I have been trying to get my husband to understand. Things had got to the point that we hadn’t been out together for over 2 years. Most of that time he was taking his other woman out and making her feel wanted and loved. When I found out about his affair, the fact he had had sex with someone else meant nothing it was the way he treated her in comparison to me that really devastated me. He used terms of endearment that he had never used on me. It still hurts. He now realises had awful he has been but it took me nearly dying to realise. We try to spend time together but if I ever feel that he is forcing himself to be with me I refuse to go out with him. As you so rightly point out they have to want to or there is no point.
    I found this post tremendously helpful so thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I touched on some of this stuff a few posts back when I talked about the need to escape from stress, and escaping together.

      If you are married to someone, in my mind you should be the most important people in the world to each other. Yeah, kids take precedence for a number of years, but your partner still has to be right up there for you. After all, if the marriage is successful, then you still have each other after the kids are gone.

      So you have to be important, and the effort always has to be there.

      But for some reason people stop putting any effort in. Maybe they don’t really want the relationship anymore, maybe they don’t feel they need to put in effort.

      For the “abandoned” partner though, it hurts like hell to see your loved one put all their energies into anything but you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s doubly hard for me because our child is severely disabled. He needs 24/7 care which is almost totally provided by me. My husband craved attention and found ot in the arms of someone else. I wish he had supported me more so that I had time to devote myself to him. I will never understand why he went looking for an affair. Maybe it was the eady option. He is different now. He asks if I mind him going out and always tries to find more time to spend with me. He supports me more with caring for our child. We have a long way to go but at least he is finally acknowledging that his is not the only life that matters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • If I were to guess, I would say the level of care for your child results in fairly high stress levels for your family.

        Not that this is an excuse for anything (because an affair is always wrong), but stress can do strange things to people. Some people respond well to stress, and they use it to bring themselves closer. Others retreat into themselves in times of stress.

        I’ve found that when people withdraw, there is also usually a tendency towards avoidance and poor communication. That combination leads to resentment, and it can become a vicious cycle.

        The changes you are describing sound positive. Hopefully it is something that he is able to sustain and build upon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes what you say is true. In fact I reblogged an article a while ago that was written by the mum of a disabled child. It basically said that there is so much focus on the child that nobody realises the strain it puts on the parents relationship. The number of marriages that don’t survive is extremely high. The article is heart breaking. We just paint on a smile and get on with it. We are not exceptional parents we just have no choice. I was unhappy and to ne honest just before I found out, I had more or less decided to ask for a separation. Not because I didn’t love him but because I was exhausted from trying to survive on an hours sleep a night and trying to cope with the cruel treatment from my husband. I couldn’t go and have an affair though. I had no choice other than to be there for our child. Having said that I have been with my husband for 30 years and never looked at another man. He doesn’t understand why I still want to be with him but that is what love is. I wish I didn’t love him it would be so much easier! I suppose it comes down to the fact that we need to work at a marriage for it to last. In some ways his affair did us a favour. We both had to decide what we wanted and work on the things that caused the affair in the first place. One thing is for sure I am stronger than I was before. I don’t look to far ahead it’s one day at a time for me which seems to be working.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nail on the head – exactly. I even contemplate sending the post to my ex, but know it’s so far late and even if he FINALLY ‘understood’, none of it matters now or erases the past or heals the hurts. At least for me it helps validate that my concerns and pleas within the marriage were valid and not from a place of ‘controlling, never satisfied status’…as though something were wrong with my expectations, with ME.

    Thanks for this…it’s right on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We all have different levels of need, that’s just in the nature of being different people.

      Part of being in a relationship is about trying to bridge those gaps, and ensure that both members of the relationships are feeling satisfied or fulfilled.

      When one person won’t work to meet the needs of their partner, they are effectively saying their needs are the only ones that matter.

      To me, when that happens it’s not really a relationship.


    • Thank you. I’m not sure if it’s just a difference in perception between intimacy and autonomy, but often the partner who is “neglecting” the relationship doesn’t even see a problem, or believe they are doing anything wrong.

      Perception is reality, so if one person feels neglected, then the relationship has a problem. Maybe they need to expect less, and maybe their partner needs to give more. But to have success they need to actually deal with it, and find a middle ground somewhere.

      When either person says “this is your issue, not mine”, the relationship is in a lot of trouble.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment


  3. Pingback: The Silent Killer | abrightstarlight

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