A tiny word, just two letters. But a word of enormous implications. It is literally pivotal, and sometimes the only thing between right and wrong. Good and bad. Healthy and unhealthy. Wise and foolish.

OR is fundamental into most moments and most days. We stop at Starbucks OR we don’t. We do? Perhaps we are a bit late. Perhaps we spend the $10.00 that we would be better not spending. Perhaps we take in calories it would be better to avoid.


Woven throughout so much of our journey, we have OR junctures, and we often –  even mostly – zip right past them without too much thought, and usually get it right. Even if we don’t, the cost isn’t too high: We get up (make the bed OR not? This outfit OR that? Breakfast OR not? Vitamins, yes OR no?) We head out for errands, work, volunteer (Make time for the gym, OR not? Take this route OR that? Stay in this lane, OR change?) You get it. You live it.

And then there are big OR times…these we realize have implications of huge import, and we weigh lots of factors and consider outcomes. Things like get married OR not? Have a baby OR wait? Send the little one to this kindergarten OR that? Big university OR small…rural OR city… You get it. You live it.

There are also categories of OR that we think we don’t have to consider but later realize we should have. Things like sunscreen OR not? Eat dessert nightly OR not? Dinner out frequently OR not? And twenty years later, we realize the better answer as we deal with basil cells, added pounds or smaller bank accounts. You get it. You live it.


ORs are a hard thing for us betrayeds. You see, we think the decision to step out of the bounds of the relationship you have established as exclusive is one that should have been weighed, and the outcomes should have been considered. We struggle with the early steps of cheating: when the cheater first signed up for a dating site. When he wrote up a Craigslist ad. When he opened the door at a certain establishment. When he first had a conversation with someone that niggled at his soul a bit because he knew it was slightly out-of-bounds…but made him feel good. When he chose to share his cell phone and exchange text messages or set up an alternate email or agreed to meet at the art museum. Each one of those steps, those moments wasn’t OR screaming don’t forget me! Don’t forget there is an OR and there will be fallout from this step and this step and this step?!!

We betrayeds don’t understand how OR didn’t shake him up, how he could make this momentous occasion a zip-past-the-moment time and just stepped right on into his betrayal. Maybe it did…and he did it anyway after weighing it all? And the Other Woman, too…she was faced with OR after OR after OR and kept choosing the OR that lead to deception and pain and rippled out from there.


Nearly two years out, and HUSBAND has searched his heart and mind and soul. He can’t really answer this one – how he had the OR minutes and junctures and just simply ignored it little  moment by little moment until he was making that call and sending that text and meeting that woman and taking off his clothes and it may be one of the areas I have to know that I don’t know and never can or will know. He admits he had to quell it, but he can’t explain now how he did. It is one of those haunting thoughts that tugs at my soul, because I, too, have had those OR moments. And I chose him. I chose us. I chose honor.

So OR…speak up. Shake up. Don’t give up. And may we become a people who give you a voice – you are wiser than we want to admit…


40 thoughts on “OR.

  1. Very true! Best case scenario: A truly troubled person, has some sort of issues… denies that he could ever get caught, thinks that it’s not really “real”, compartmentalize his existence… can regret it afterwards. Worst case scenario: Cold-hearted, doesn’t care about “OR” at all, knows he can lie his way out of anything (can sell ice to eskimoes), has a huge need to use everyone and everything for his own gain, and all that matters is that he gets attention. Feels no empathy towards the partner. Ever. Has no remorse. Ever.

    Best case scenario represents more like, the “normal” people, I guess, and Worst case scenario is…you guessed it: narcissists. The hard part for us, the betrayed ones, is trying to find out which category the “cheater” belongs to. That can take a while, sometimes. And…the choice we get, is so unfair, truly. We never asked to get the choice: Leave OR stay, in this situation. The choice was forced on us by the one who betrayed us…. Great post!! Hugs.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I still can’t understand with the decision of “to do”OR not “to do” HOW could “to do” be so right in my husband’s mind when weighed against a wife and four children and a 30 year marriage ? What was so right about that decision? And like you stated, how could the OW think the same?
    They did lose their conscience in making the moral decision, but what are they thinking,? Prior to this ,my husband’s decisions were always the ones I had to think “yes, that makes more sense”! He was the sensible one, the one who taught our kids to always do the right thing. What happened to his mind at that moment and the following momentarily decisions. How can they repeat and repeat when OR is still there? Baffles me still and when I ask him, he regrets those bad decisions and says “he can’t figure where his mind was at the time” since he does condone this action in others today. He knows where his mind was now, but goes back and asks himself what was he thinking…it was soooo wrong of a decision.
    Many must ask this afterwards. I’m still confused

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I hesitate to comment because I am considered the OW in an emotional affair. So, my comment could be a rationalization or just plain not helpful. My hubby and I don’t think I am the OW. Years ago, a male friend of 30 years and his wife were having problems and I was part of the problem. Currently we aren’t communicating because his wife says we are having an EA. I have been thinking a lot about my OR choices made during the past 3 years. I knew they had problems. But I was still in contact. Should we talk OR end a 30 year friendship? I consistently chose to maintain our friendship. I sought my husband’s counsel many times. What I didn’t do was think about my friend’s wife. Not much, anyway. I didn’t know the state of their marriage. I thought they had healed years ago, so my OR choices didn’t consider her. At least not much. On occasion I would ask my friend if it was OK for me to be in contact. That wondering probably should have been recognized as a signal to me from my gut. But I chose to ignore the OR. Do I want to put my desires first OR the feelings of my friend’s wife. I chose me.
    Why this OR that. The answer is selfish and short sighted desires. Salad OR french fries? The selfish, short sighted choice is french fries. But french fries do nothing for us.
    I can easily rationalize in my situation (in fact I would love your comments on some of my posts to help me over my rationalization!), but the bottom line regardless of what I think is that I caused pain to someone else. My OR choices? Selfish and short sighted. I would guess your spouse made choices in the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dragonfly. Thank you. Thank you so very much. I appreciate you honesty and insight. I will head over to your blog, and be honest back. And yes…selfish…short sighted. I think these are components…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post. Excellent. Or is indeed a powerful tool in our daily lives. In a fraction of a second it has the power to change everything. A harmless looking tiny little two letter word that carries such immense weight.
    I tried to understand why it was not a tool used very well by the cheater in my life. He was intelligent, educated and successful with a good sense of humor. Yet I came to realize that, like survivednarc pointed out, he was a narcissist. After I stopped trying to figure out what was wrong with me, I was able to see that it was his flaw—not mine.
    Like you, I had my ‘or’ moments. But I was loyal to the un-loyal in my life. Never once did I entertain the notion of crossing over to join the infidels. I never understood why he chose to join their ranks. I was never one to sneak around or deceive others. I’ll take honesty and loyalty, thank you. It’s far less stress.
    I have always been open and honest. He told me I was naïve and needed to develop a thicker skin. He did not believe it was an all-for-one & one-for-all world. His world was ‘a survival of the fittest/get them, before they get you’ world.
    So his philosophy OR mine? I’ll take mine. Peace to you dear. And again, excellent post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can echo Dragonfly’s thoughts, especially “the answer is selfish and short sighted desires”. That was me as an OW. I knew I was hurting other people (my spouse, his spouse) but I did not let that interfere with what felt so good and right to me (in what I now recognize was a huge infatuation). Rational thought pretty much disappears in the fog of being “in love” with your “soul mate”. Yes, SS you are right that this will never be something the betrayed could understand, because there is no logical reason for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow…thank you for that insight CJ. I remember when a friend came to me and told me she was an alcoholic, and needed help many years ago. I told her no…she wasn’t…she just made some bad choices. She went on to tell me about behavior she was engaging in and keeping secret and then I said, “when I start feeling buzzed, I just cut myself off. Why don’t you do that?” She answered, “That’s what makes me an alcoholic. Where you are prompted to stop, and follow that prompt? I want more. And you’ll never understand because you aren’t an alcoholic.” An aha moment for me…realizing I really wasn’t able to understand, although I did and do have empathy. And also why it is so important that she get support from people who did understand, intimately. Thank you for your honesty…I appreciate you so much. HUGS.


  6. The OR is ignored in favour of the “ID” and the “EGO” fails as it yields to the ID. (My interpretation of Freud’s basics). The betrayed (yes me too) who would never consider to NOT think about consequences when it comes to selfish decisions, will never be able to wrap their head around it in similar ways as the betrayers will never truly understand the impact of the betrayal. It is not in them..they lack this. They can say “sorry”, do all the therapy in the world…in the end there will always be that stain in the marriage and you can put a vase on it as you do on the stain in the carpet you created after an anger outburst…but you know it is there always….that is the “missing thing” I communicated about before…..the reason why all the “happy” reconciled can say that their marriage is “better than ever”…but they know they are not honest….because you cannot ever get can rid of that stain.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You absolutely cannot remove that stain-no matter how hard you try. But…BUT I don’t think that necessarily means it cannot be better-if you can accept that better is different. Nope-my old marriage wouldn’t and couldn’t be better because I was married to a liar, cheater and addict. But my new marriage is to a new man who isn’t those things, and nothing between us is the same. Does that kind of make sense?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It does make sense…as long as you can free yourself of the ghosts of “Christmas” past.
        I guess we should never give up… It is the logo of one of my colleagues.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think this is the core issue, and the reason I can decide to accept that I will never be able to understand – really. Because it was his addict acting like this, and now that he has identified it, and is willing to live every day humbled to the presence of the potential and choosing to be transparent and vulnerable…I can either accept it, or continue to wrestle. Somedays, weeks I accept…and then boom…it hurts again. Yet as the cycle continues it has less and less ability to take me down completely – the lows are not as low – and that, tempered with HUSBAND’s consistent behavior – is giving me confidence to accept. Maybe. I hope you have some good days in your struggles? HUGS.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks SS, I either struggle with it or I just decide to accept it. Acceptance doesn’t stick though.. SIGH! The acceptance gets bowled over by the waves of ‘trying to make sense ‘ of it all. It’s unbelievably hard to accept something that just does not fit into logical way of thinking.
        I wonder how many of us betrayeds out there wrestle with this issue and manage to come to terms with it in any comprehensible way?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This is what I’ve been trying to figure out since day one of discovery. What was he thinking? If you look at the “OR” as the center of a balance scale, the consequences of his decisions were so much heavier and costly than choosing the other side of the OR, being faithful. I don’t get it. I can’t figure out the mind and thinking of a cheater. We see the OR. Cheaters . . . not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. With all due respect, and I respect you a lot!…I struggle with that addiction thing…to me it functions as an excuse…”it was not me but my addiction”…as if it was someone else…the praised and flawed medical model so prevalent in US.medicine….The perception of addiction as an illness….over which we have no power….
    I met a man who told me that he had had three affairs…but they only happened when he had relapsed into drinking and drug use…Now that he is clean…he is a “good” man.
    I struggle with that…and even more when we are talking about a non-chemical addiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I understand the struggle, and don’t think it is an easy answer. After delving in to Craig Nakken’s work, along with understanding the studies on chemical addiction related to the Skinner Box, and later Alexander’s Rat Park, coupled with Dr. Laurie Gordon’s work on emotional needs, I’ve come to believe addiction is real – although I think it is NOT an excuse. I believe factors converge in each of our lives – some passed on both environmentally (epigenetics), some learned behavior, some experiences/events & our healthy or flawed interpretations of those experiences/events and ultimately we are either on the pain or pleasure side of the emotional roadmap/emotional needs. Like any need, pain pursues pleasure/reduction of the pain. And like any need that is met, that pleasure/pain reduction source becomes something we may return to. Depending on all the other factors, some people return over and over to an object, or event, or other nonhealthy source to reduce their pain. I can only speak to my own experience with HUSBAND…but this is where I am on the addiction continuum. Thoughts?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Is he a narcissist or sociopath or a narcissistic sociopath or common cheater or sex addict or asshole? Damn, when it comes to men and their traveling pants the or’s have it…..Great writing SS.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Honestly, calling it a puzzle is being kind…….It’s a fucking mess. When it comes to making the decision about screwing another woman or being faithful and not ripping out their wife’s heart……it’s hike that skirt up Bertha and lets get it on. Wife, what wife? I love it when couples can work out what is right for them, but the reality is no wife EVER forgets…..It’s a fucking mess….Thankfully we have chocolate.

        Liked by 3 people

  10. I think its… Easy to say they don’t know why. Or how they said yes to the or. “I don’t even know”… Sure you do. The OR registered. They chose them, themselves. Not us. He chooses you now. But then… He ignored it because he and his enjoyment mattered more. Because he could. What other answer is there? Because he might have hated himself enough to think that he should sabotage his good stuff? Nope. That’s over complicating the reality of it. Mememememememememe. That’s it. Because. Because I said so. Because I can. Because it feels good, because it gets me off, because my wife is cake and my life is cake and I get to still have other dessert too because memememe. It’s so simple and so true. You do have to get over it. It sucks and it means you always have to deal with their ability to resort to that path again.

    It’s terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you have a unicorn because he chooses to be one. I think everyone is like Adam and Eve. We are all totally capable of being terrible and selfish and choice is all that stands between us and falling. It’s choice. But people who have chosen to lie and cheat and fail before, obviously have the justification in their head to do it. So maybe they can do it again. The line was already closer to them before. Your man seems reformed. I get your story. But I think most of us betrayed spouses are hooped….

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We are all capable of it, and it (sometimes) a mystery to me why some fall and some don’t. Choice, yes, but even in that –
          I hope HUSBAND is reformed, and I still am keenly aware of the possibility he isn’t. You’re so right in that they have justified their choices before…making it far easier to do so again. I think that’s why I am immediately on alert when I see any small tendency to justification from H on things completely unrelated. You’ve really given me food for thought. Thanks.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. I have asked Will if he ever just once asked himself, “Is this behavior right OR wrong?” His answer was “No…because if I asked and answered, I wouldn’t get what I wanted…sex” He knew it was wrong, he knew it was disgusting, he knew it would devastate me. So he CHOSE not to think about it. He CHOSE to ignore any semblance of conscience or morality and went instead with selfishness. That is what addicts do.

    Liked by 2 people

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