Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Can a marriage survive an affair?

(57 Posts)
LetsGoToTheHills Sun 10-Mar-13 09:33:20

Does anyone have any stories of working things out after their partner had an affair? What happened and how did you go about it? Things seem so much less black and white than I ever would have thought (children, history, over a decade of real love and affection, genuine remorse on his part) and I don't know what to think. I have no idea how I feel right now (said affair is over) and will just sit with it for some time, but it would be nice to hear if a positive outcome is possible!

pinkypig Sun 31-Mar-13 15:52:58

How are you going LetsGo?

MadAboutHotChoc Sat 23-Mar-13 19:09:33

Glad you find the book helpful. I found it really helpful when trying to understand what could/would have been happening in my DH's mind when he went down the slippery slope into a full blown affair.

It really is very much a long haul journey taking at least 18 months to 2 years...

LetsGoToTheHills Sat 23-Mar-13 18:09:01

Hello everyone, thank you all so much for your insights. There have been so many really useful thoughts and experiences here. We have both been reading the Shirley Glass book, and it is helpful in a way to know (along with many of your experiences) we are not in any way unique. I am also quite disgusted that we (he) managed to recreate such a pathetic, massive cliche, that we even used to joke about! One thing the book says is basically sit tight for three months. My immediate reaction is to try and fix it all, but it may be too soon, it's only been two weeks after all. And I certainly can't manage it on my own.

angel1976 Sun 17-Mar-13 14:53:49

pinkypig Thanks for your hugs, back to you too. I feel so angry on your behalf! Four children and this is how he treats you. angry Good of you to ask him to leave, I have stopped short of that. Do you know where he has gone? I don't know why I haven't asked my DH to leave, maybe because he has committed a 'lesser crime'? I really don't know. I am tempted to ask him to leave. I almost did today. He fucked off went out with his close male friends last night (and popped him to see his parents on their request, they cannot get over his behaviour either) and stayed overnight (his best friend's wife is a very close friend of mine and again, she is also appalled at his behaviour so I wonder if part of me thinks it will do him some good to hear it from someone else that his behaviour is selfish and unreasonable) but I don't know what has been said or done and in some way, I almost don't care. At this stage, I feel so 'done'. The DCs have been badly behaved and I found myself thinking today if we split, he will have to be involved with the children even more than he is now and that wouldn't be a bad thing really... He doesn't want to leave as he doesn't want to be seen as the 'bad' guy. Hah! You choose to walk out of this marriage/family, you ARE the bad guy. I want him to fight for our marriage and our children. I don't want to be the only one fighting and I feel so tired of it. He came back and has offered to take the kids out and has gone out with them now (which makes a change). I just want to lie down and sleep...

I almost wished he had an affair so he would actually feel guilty and we have something to work from. Because he didn't, I think he almost feel vindicated and that he shouldn't be treated as the bad guy here. Anyway, we have another session with the therapist tomorrow and we shall see what comes out of that. I don't want to hijack the thread so pinky if you want to contact me off-line, please PM me and I will send you my email address. It's been more then 3 weeks since he 'dropped' the bombshell and I feel like my life before that moment is a million miles away... sad But there''s also a stronger side of me emerging, I am gathering bills, bank statements etc so I can make copies just in case... I don't care about me but he will not leave his DCs destitute because he wants the single life.

onefewernow Sun 17-Mar-13 13:11:40

Self respect

onefewernow Sun 17-Mar-13 13:10:58

Men who marry a woman and then get to a stage of needing a new one when you have become more domesticated are very interesting. You can learn a lot about who they are if you dissect that.

It seems to me that these men lack self reflect or self esteem or something. They also judge themselves by looking at the woman they are sleeping with.

They can't see women as whole people, but as either mothers or lovers.

Also, they are very very often selfish men, who don't offer a lot to the domestic situation, apart from money, and anything they happen to like doing anyway.

Fairenuff Sun 17-Mar-13 10:43:25

Do you even want a marriage that has 'survived'? A relationship where one person thinks less of the other?

You no longer trust and and respect him. He never did respect you or consider you worthy of honesty.

He sneaked around behind your back, lied to you and had a thoroughly good time enjoying himself with no thought at all for the devastation this would cause you.

If she hadn't ended it, would he still be shagging her? If you hadn't found out, would you ever have known? Have there been others? Will there be others? Do you need to get an sti check?

This is a completely different relationship now. With a completely different man. He is not the man you thought he was. It's a new relationship and you may not want it.

He thinks everything will go back to how it was. How can it?

pinkypig Sun 17-Mar-13 10:19:21

angel your story is almost exactly the same as mine apart from the fact that my husband DID have an affair for 15 months. We have 4 DC's aged 6, 4, 2 and 10 months. I too found out 3 weeks ago.

I asked him to leave and he has. He had a full blown relationship with this woman (I am 40 she is 31). He says he is confused, he has loving feelings for her and she had become his best friend. Throughout the affair he told her that our marriage was dead in all but name so she thought it was legitimate. I have met her and she is horrified that was not the truth for me at least. She has very strong feelings for him, though he was her soulmate etc. They went to Paris and to Wales canoeing (!), how I would never do that with him etc etc. He cannot tell me that he doesn't want me. Says he is working it out in his head. It is awful. I know most of you will say kick him to touch but I have 9 years invested in him and 4 small children, and yes I do still love him.

Just wanted to say you are not alone. I am struggling to cope with it because it is so raw, and he cannot end it with me.

Arghhhh. I so relate to your comment 'that was me 9 years ago before you gave me baby after baby and I focused on their needs'.

Hugs

angel1976 Sat 16-Mar-13 18:08:00

countingto10 Brilliant post. It described the current feelings/situation I have about DH so accurately except at the moment it feels like DH has just pressed the self-destruct button (3-4 weeks after he told me about having feelings for someone at work, no affair, I believe him, but he might as well have had the damn affair!) and leaving me completely traumatised (DCs are 5 and 3 and unaware as we are not actually 'fighting' as such or doing our talking when they are in bed). He seems willing to throw everything we have right now for the another chance at having that 'spark' with someone else. I also think he is having a classic mid life crisis (we are coming up to 10 years of marriage sad).

Everyone I have spoken to (including his friends) seem to think he's lost his mind except him. We are going counselling but feeling hopeless at the moment as he seems intent on NOT working on the relationship. He has taken himself off to see some of his friends tonight (including dropping in for a cup of tea with his parents, who are appalled at what their son has done) and the DCs are rather unaffected by it all as they are so used to daddy not being here. DH was a bit of a workaholic. Times like these I feel it wouldn't be that bad to be without DH... But for the sake of the DCs I do feel I need to stick it out a bit longer and see if DH 'comes around'.

But counting I do feel your post resonating with a lot of how I am feeling. I am also taking this time to re-evaluate my life. I can see why DH and I have 'fallen out of love'. I've devoted myself to taking care of DH and the DCs and have neglected me and not done much for myself. So I am starting to do stuff for myself and interest myself in things outside of DH and DCs and I do feel in some ways, they will help me to cope regardless of what happens in the future. I need to find out in the process if I want to be with DH too. Hills I hope you get the resolution you want in the end but it's early days, be kind to yourself. My DH also had his head turned by someone in 'work mode'. I want to slap him and said 'that was me 10 years ago you stupid nob' before I gave up so much for our family and I thought for us.

MandyH62 Sat 16-Mar-13 09:29:33

I got the proof that my husband cheated 9 days ago, i knew for 2 days before i plucked up the courage to confront him , naturally he said " iwas silly nothing had happened",till i showed him copies of texts, i got him to leave, a week ago today, he wants to talk to morrow, about getting back together, what hurts me is the "affair" didnt end she went back to nz, she was over here for a while, she;s also married, he blames me for not showing him i love him, if he wasn't happy why didn't he leave, he made the choice to sleep with her,

Destinysdaughter Mon 11-Mar-13 19:28:59

Sorry, typos, meant to say, 'and dumped him'!

Destinysdaughter Mon 11-Mar-13 19:28:05

To aftereight. You say that you haven't told anyone about the affair and that shouldering is alone is a massive responsibility and that it is making you ill. |I kindly suggest that you start your own post on mumsnet where you can get anonymous advice and support. Am curious, was the affair a one night stand or a longer term relationship? Also, whether he ended it and chose you or whether she had enough asnd dumped you, can make a massive difference to how you are feeling and to the future of your reltionship...

bodencatalogue Mon 11-Mar-13 19:21:27

Yes it can survive. Mine has survived ten years. Only you know the ins and out of your relationship. So ignore the "leave the lying cheating scumbag" advice that is being so easily peddled.

There is good advice being given, take your time, give yourself space, ensure your partner is showing remorse and be prepared for moments of anger and mistrust.

Only you know if your marriage is worth saving

Looksgoodingravy Mon 11-Mar-13 15:33:22

I'm almost 12 months on from finding out about dp infidelities, we are still together.

It's a hard path to choose, well either path is difficult! You will go through a rollercoaster of emotions, this is all normal.

Only once the fog has lifted and you can see more clearly will you really know what you want to do.

I still have moments of anger now but it's not as intense as during those first few difficult months. The moments now flash by and I carry on.

Dp has shown complete remorse, he has changed and isn't the selfish person he once was. He has answered all of my questions (even though I was initially drip fed the truth) and even now he will sit and talk never once losing patience (no choice). It's been one of the hardest moments of my life, betrayed by my best friend but I love him and I'm giving him a second chance. Before this happened to me I would be the person you heard saying I would kick out a cheater but I haven't, until it happens to you, you just can't predict how you'll react, plus every story is different.

Good luck with this, it's hard, you will have moments when you just don't know what you want to do for the best but you will come through this.

Selba Mon 11-Mar-13 14:30:00

Well done on shielding your children from this.
Yes a marriage can survive an affair. Many do better than just survive, they flourish.
I wish you all the very best .

countingto10 Mon 11-Mar-13 14:26:16

I found this site very useful after my DH's affair 4 yrs ago - we are still together, it has not been an easy path to walk.

His affair lasted about 3 months and was a classic mid life affair see Romantic Infidelity here. He moved in with the OW for about six weeks (I had no idea what was going on, he had seemed to have had a personality transplant, the DCs were traumatised, I was traumatised, the business was being neglected/compromised - in effect he had pressed the self destruct button and was taking me and the DCs with him).

He moved in with parents for about 4/5 months and in that time we went to Relate. We both made the decision that we needed to try and repair the marriage. I needed to be able to look my DCs in the eye and say I did all I could IYSWIM. We owed it to our DCs to try and establish a good solid relationship and family. If my DH was not willing to put the work in and be prepared to walk the walk then I would have called it a day.

One of the most important things, if no the most important thing, I did was to re access my life and what I wanted from it. I had given my all the the DCs and DH and lost myself along the way. Spoil yourself, take long baths, treat yourself to new clothes, hair style etc, take up a long forgotten hobby again (I took up horse riding after a 20 year break). You need to be selfish and put your needs first and you also need to put the needs of the marriage high on the list too.

You also need to surround yourself with friends of the marriage (DH distanced himself from certain people whose mindset and behaviour condoned infidelity IYSWIM).

During our separation, DH arranged date nights for us, weekends away (our families knew about the affair so were more than willing to babysit to help us repair the marriage). He also did his fair share of the childcare, taking the DCs to school, doing bath and bedtimes even if he didn't stay. He worked like a Trojan at his business to repair the damage there as well. In fact he completely turned himself around - if he hadn't had done this then the marriage would not have survived.

After about two years, he took himself to individual counselling again to try and understand himself more - he has been damaged from his very dysfunctional childhood.

Four years on we do have a better marriage, we both understand what we both need from each other and from ourselves. The innocence of the marriage is gone but we have a more adult relationship now if that makes sense.

Above all one day at a time and be kind to yourself, do not expect too much from yourself.

Good luck.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 11-Mar-13 13:54:17

So you're lying to your kids and sticking around because it saves money? Is that how you thought life would be when you grew up?

aftereight Mon 11-Mar-13 09:49:17

Yes Cogito, but if there is any chance we can sort things out we need to try. We have financial issues which mean that living apart isn't an option even if it was what I wanted. And I am doing my damndest to shield my children from this.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 11-Mar-13 06:35:57

"struggling to the point that I am feeling ill, 3 months on"

That's not a marriage... that's a life-sentence. No matter how much you 'get' someone, is living this way acceptable? Are you worth so little?

aftereight Sun 10-Mar-13 21:51:19

I too didn't tell anyone local/family. Shouldering it alone has been, and still is, the most crushing responsibility. I am trying to rationalise what has happened (a classic ego affair), but struggling to the point that I am feeling ill, 3 months on. We still 'get' each other; our counsellor has commented on this, and our gallows humour and obviously strong bond.
I can't advise but I can empathise. And I am reading the responses of others with interest.

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 10-Mar-13 17:34:54

Yes, a marriage can survive an affair but it won't be the same marriage - you both will need to re create a new one and that is a long painful process involving a lot of hard work on the cheater's side.

He needs to look into himself to identify what was in him that chose to cheat and work on those character flaws and issues...

Get Not Just Friends by Glass for you both to read. A good short (and hard hitting) book for him to read is Julia MacDonald's How to Help Your Spouse to Heal.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 13:09:06

I spoke to my ex about this he was big time cheat and was only sorry he got caught. He would have done all the counselling etc but only to shut me up! He ended up in a flat with a bloke from work in the same boat who also admitted he had no regrets and was only going through the motions of a separation and had no intention of going back. I feel blessed that I found out when I did and moved on going back is not always healthy

ZumbaZara Sun 10-Mar-13 13:03:56

Best friends husband had an affair about 6 years ago they are together. He decided to was an idiot. He told her, they went to counselling and he went alone. They moved house.......
Best of all he said sorry to his family. He organised for me to come to lunch with my friend and with her there told me what had happened and asked me to be there for my friend whatever happened next.

Dryjuice25 Sun 10-Mar-13 12:51:20

notnagging The reason why it happened was because the OP'S Husband is selfish,entiltled, weak, cruel, inconsiderate and manipulative twat. All the other reasons that may have been given are just excuses. There is no justification for penetrating another woman's vagina/snogging and feel some glorified glee whilst at it for cheating whist married other that for self-centred reasons IMHO. It's about the cheater, not the cheatee.

I saw a survey years ago about people who were forgiven after cheating. Most people ticked the 'I'm glad I did it' button instead of 'I'm sorry for the hurt I caused'. These people also went on to say they'd do it again but be more careful next time! I always wonder whether forgiven cheaters secretly feel like this. Sorry to digress but I really hope he is genuinely honest/sorry about the mess he has caused

onefewernow Sun 10-Mar-13 12:36:29

I like the frank Pittman book, as it categorises affair havers into 4 types. Moss an your h was a serial adulterer and very unlikely to change or be trustworthy. I think you were right to call it a day.

I am 15 months on and still not happy about h's adultery, which was online, but went on for a very long time- 5 plus years out of 20.

I remember a real dip after 2 months, I think at first the relief of making sense of the past deluded me. but I began to go over the past and catalogue the sheer volume of lies, and had a very bad winter.

He has made some real effort to change and then slipped in terms if general selfishness, then been thrown out and is now back but on last chance.

I think you really should read those two books. The key learning out of this, or one part of it, is to use the affair to really diagnose the relationship if you are going to stay for now. We went to Relate and it helped, but those two books helped more.

Because you come to see that the affair/infidelity was not a coincidence. Of course my h too would never etc etc, but he did, even whilst he was tutting at the stupidity of men who did this.

I came to see that contrition, although critical, was hardly enough, or even scratching the surface. He has to examine what his world view is and in what ways he is selfish and why, in general life. You need to examine how you have related to him until now. That is the hard work, and it is that which had been the subject of out ongoing struggles.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now