Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

My DH has had an emotional affair

(470 Posts)
bullinthesea Tue 18-Jun-13 14:52:29

Hello,

I don't post very much, but I am a frequent lurker!

Sadly, I have discovered that my DH has been having an emotional affair with a woman at his work. I have met her a few times over the years, and have always liked her! (Not any more!).

He was supporting me through a nasty bout of depression, and she was also having problems with family illness etc, and it seems they got too close, whilst chatting. He has always been the type to help others out. I think perhaps his 'knight in shining armour' came out when he came across this 'damsel in distress'!

There were emails/Facebook messages/texts, (the texts were all deleted, but in plain sight on our joint itemised bill!).

I discovered the whole lot on Friday night, and confronted him on Saturday morning.

I told him to sit down and tell me the truth. He says that it was just a load of flirty e-mails, and that he knew it was wrong when he was doing it, that it had all fizzled out and that he regretted it. He was very remorseful, and asked whether I could ever forgive him. I told him it was about being able to trust him again.

I found comments such as

Him "I must have been on your mind, was this email meant for Mr X?"
Her "you're always on my mind"
Him "mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!"

And

Her "thank you for earlier, I feel a lot better now !!"
Him "yeah, me too, can meet up on Wednesday for a follow up if it helps smile"

Her "is there anything else I can do for you"
Him "there may be a couple of things that may rise up"

Him " look at you working on xyz"
Her "can never be too prepared?"
Him "I am always prepared!"

She also kept asking him about his knees, on one occasion, they were organising some work time, and he responded with:
Him "should be good"
Her " what do you mean, SHOULD......... Are your knees hurting?"
Him "no, they have recovered, it's my calf, I pulled it running this morning"

Another message went:
Her "how are your knees and feet now"
Him "well, no carpet burns! How are you, we,ve been thinking about you?"

Then there was the time about six months ago, when he was having some funny turns. He had to spend the day at hospital having tests. He had already phoned into work, to tell them that he wouldn't be in that day, and yet I discovered that he'd emailed her from the hospital, to tell her about the tests and said that it was scary, there were loads of exclamation marks at the end (and on lots of the other emails too). He then emailed her again later about the results, with the same message that he had texted to me a few minutes prior, but he'd added extra exclamation marks on hers.

A lot of the content of these emails (and some others that I haven't written about) suggests that things may have got physical.

He strongly denies that it got physical, and says that he doesn't even find her physically attractive. He has said that it was exciting, and that she had made him feel good, as it had felt like she wanted him. He also told me that she had tried to kiss him at an Xmas do a few years ago, but he didn't kiss back, and had thought it was odd.

I asked if he thought she might have a bit of a thing for him, and he paused and said, "yeah, probably".

I have told him that I am going to get tested for STIs, just in case, as I'm not sure I can believe what he's telling me, and want to be sure that I haven't caught anything.

We both cried a lot, and he buried his head in my lap and told me he was so sorry over and over.

I do love him very much, and feel that we became distant, (although things had been much better recently), that we need to focus on our marriage much more (he agreed) and do our best to recover the strong love that we always used to have.

Only thing is, if it did get physical, then I would have to end the relationship.

I am so confused, I can barely concentrate on anything, and I haven't a clue where I'd start if I suddenly found myself single - I'm a sahm, my son is 7, and I am not bringing in any income at the moment, so he supports us all financially.

I just don't know what to do next.....

MadAboutHotChoc Fri 05-Jul-13 11:37:59

Wobbly - I think in that case, the betrayer has to eat shit by allowing the betrayed party to have the occasional rant, listen and apologise. As time goes on, these outbursts should lessen in terms of frequency and intensity.

Bogeyface Fri 05-Jul-13 12:02:51

I think that expecting the betrayed party to "let go and start a new relationship" is more damaging than the ranting.

If the betrayer is not shown exactly how much hurt they caused then it could leave the false impression that the betrayed isnt actually that bothered! One of the things that made my STBX realise just what he had done was the fact that 6 months later I would still cry about what he did. He admitted that he never thought it would hurt me so much or for so long. It was that final realisation that it wasnt just a bit of fun that I would soon "get over" that pushed him into therapy.

He is actually making good progress although he has been very down recently as he has been forced to look at the true him, not the image of himself that he had. He has said that it has been very hard for him to accept that he is a liar, a coward, a cheat and a very very selfish person. As I said, he is making progress and is working very hard to change that part of himself, and I hope for his and our DD's sake that he manages it. It may be too late for us, I dont know yet, but it is never too late for him.

Had I swallowed it down and not let me feelings out then none of that would be happening.

I also think that if someone kicks off about the fact that their betrayed spouse isnt "over it" within a time scale the betrayer thinks is reasonable then they probably dont actually care that much about their spouse. If they truly loved them, truly wanted to make it work and was prepared to do whatever it takes then they would accept that the ranting and the pain is a natural consequence of their actions. By allowing the betrayed to scream and shout and get their feelings listened to and validated the betrayed is likely to recover more quickly than if they are subtly or not so subtly pushed to hide those feelings and "get over it".

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 05-Jul-13 12:26:38

If he works in a school I take it that establishment will soon close for the long summer break.

I don't know how he thought he'd be spending this summer but the notion of him home with you 24/7 still being evasive and untruthful is not a very enticing prospect. I say "24/7" but of course that is open to speculation depending on his, er, proclivities.

lazarusb Fri 05-Jul-13 16:22:46

Bogeyface You make a good point - I've never understood why people try to attach a time limit to grief. I don't think that it's fair or reasonable. You can't predict how you'll feel in 6 months or a year etc in a happy relationship, let alone one with a catastrophic bomb like this in the middle of it. As Wobbly and you both say, these aren't feelings that should be buried or hidden, they need to be addressed by ALL involved.

Donkeys Good observation. The thought of Bull having to spend all summer with him sounds horrendous from my point of view.

Wellwobbly Fri 05-Jul-13 22:00:12

Bogey your post made me cry. Your H shows signs of being a good person.

Tell me: what pushed him into facing his selfishness? His IC? The therapy itself?

Bogeyface Fri 05-Jul-13 23:09:34

Sorry, not sure what IC means!

onefewernow Fri 05-Jul-13 23:51:54

Independent counselling, I think.

Wellwobbly Sat 06-Jul-13 10:21:01

Individual Counselling (Marital C doesn't work with twats)

Fairyegg Sat 06-Jul-13 22:29:29

Just read this. So sorry bull. I think deep down you know what you need to do but I can see how this can be differcult. How are you now?

TDada Sun 07-Jul-13 08:01:04

Dear bullinthesea - I really feel for you. So sad. I pray that there is a wany for you and family to find a way to happiness. On the whole men are more careless with fidelity even when t.hey appear to love their, partners. I have seen this with friends and family.

Your DH and mil shod not make any excuses NAND, accept that wrong is wrong.

bullinthesea Mon 08-Jul-13 14:05:17

Ok, so we've registered with relate, he's still at home for now.

I'm not making any big decisions at the moment as I'm still in a bit of a state to be honest.

Has anyone's marriage on here survived an affair like this?

I feel like I need some sort of hope that things can be ok.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Mon 08-Jul-13 14:13:00

TBH, I think in my heart over time I could forgive a long term affair... (depending on his reaction to be beng caught. If he acted like your H? No. Never forgive. Because I'd feel in my heart he just didn't care about me)

BUT I couldn't forgive things like gifts being flaunted in my DC's room/s for the term of the affair. That is so cruel it draws my breath away. The slap in the face of my family would be too much. My rage (and of course, extreme hurt) would be insufferable.

I hope you find happiness and whatever is right for your family. If you can get over this, admiration to you both and hand holding for you on a long, painful journey. If you choose to leave, admiration and hand holding to you. This isn't my marriage, or my place to judge. But I can offer comfort. flowers

tessa6 Mon 08-Jul-13 14:13:54

I worry that you want support for that path because it seems the least difficult right now. That's okay but you should try and contemplate all possibilities as open to you now. Actually staying together after something like this can be harder and MORE damaging, if trust is never restored and infidelity continues just on the quiet. Whatever path you take, it takes roughly two years from the last lie to recover, I am very worried from what you've said that your OH is still in contact with his girlfriend to be honest, it doesn't seem like you're anywhere near 'the last lie'. And I wonder if you haven't chucked him out because you fear he will run to her. If so, do you really want him/

To be really practical, things can be okay if the following things happen:

The infidelitor answers any and all questions that the partner has and wants answers to, honestly.

They agree, if desired, to open up communications like email and phone to be seen whenever by the wounded partner.

They contact the person they had an affair with to say it is over and they must not make any contact again. This should be seen by the betrayed partner.

You can tell they feel incredibly lucky to be given any sort of second chance and genuine sorrow and fear at how they nearly threw it all away.

They acknowledge their own entitlement, selfishness and dishonesty as traits that contributed to them being able to have an affair, can cite examples in other areas where they'e displayed them, and commit to changing that about themselves because they find it so ugly.

If already any of these is unsatisfied, you're probably in for a really really slow and painful decline.

Obviously this is my opinion but I would say it's supported by the boards, many books and my experience.

I hope you get some counselling for yourself. I would be asking why I want to be in a relationship with a man who, for the past 7 years, has been in a relationship with someone else and who has lied, lied, lied and lied about it. I'm sorry but the way he has treated you is beyond appalling.
"We didn't have sex...I don't find her attractive...It was a shoulder massage..." FFS

skyeskyeskye Mon 08-Jul-13 15:13:58

bull - it is very brave of you to do this, but it is a very hard path as others have said. I haven't done it myself, but have read numerous threads on here, several of whom have posted on your thread and it sounds horrendous.

As others have said, there is no time frame, but you do need to be able to overcome this in time. You don't want to waste years of your life trying to make something work, that won't.

Your H needs to be totally transparent with you about everything and as has been said above, I still don't think that he has.

But it is your life and your decision and you will get support on here.

captainmummy Mon 08-Jul-13 15:27:14

No expereince of it, Bull, but I think you have to be sure (in the first instance) that is is over !
Has he stopped seeing her ?
Has he said he will never see her again?
DO you beleive him?

For me, I could not get over this, nor would I want a man who could do this to me. But if you decide to give it another go, fair play to you.
Hope it works for you.

Fab post, Tessa

lazarusb Mon 08-Jul-13 16:27:36

You have a lot of guts bull. I know I couldn't contemplate what you're doing. I hope it proves to be the right path for you.

MadAboutHotChoc Mon 08-Jul-13 17:18:28

You will get support on here but it is a very hard path you have chosen, esp since the affair spanned several years.

My marriage is one of the few that have survived an affair - I made the decision to try again after several months, so you are wise not to want to make a long term decision as so much depends on your H.

Despite my DH's openness, transparency and honesty and genuine willingness to work on himself and his issues, taking him back has been one of the toughest things I have ever done and because of this I will not consider doing this again.

I would focus on yourself and getting some RL support including counselling. You need to look at rebuilding your own life - friends, hobbies, work, training etc. All of this will help strengthen your position whatever long term decision you make.

I would get Shirley Glass's Not Just Friends to help you process your thoughts and emotions.

Good luck x

jan5 Mon 08-Jul-13 17:23:53

Marriages can survive affairs but they need help and commitment from both of you. Will he agree to seeing a counsellor to work out why this happened and how to rebuild trust. If yes then maybe time will heal things. But he has to stop having anything to do with this woman and make sure he focuses on you. I wouldn't do the knee jerk thing and throw him out because you have a child to think about but neither would I allow him to carry on as if nothing happened and brush things under the carpet.

Good luck.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Mon 08-Jul-13 18:07:14

Good luck bullinthesea. There are MNers who have had a dreadful time but chose to forgive and forget, came through and are still with that errant partner. There is a separate category, those who came through, are still with their partner, asked for total transparency and are still with their partner and have a richer relationship.

Why, because their partners recognised what they'd done wrong and really applied themselves to rebuilding trust and dug deep.

Don't mistake the phase called 'hysterical bonding' - an eager reaction to the stress of a threatened break-up, fueled by long meaningful talks and resumption of can't-get-enough-of-each-other sex - for a magical recovery.

If it was a work-centred infatuation then the long summer holiday will work in favour of keeping H and OW apart, aside of course from phone, texts or emails.

Your love for him wasn't ever in question, I hope he lives up to your hopes.

Wellwobbly Mon 08-Jul-13 18:27:26

Hi Bull, you will do everything that is right for you to do and what you are capable of, at that time. It is all a huge journey.

My H and I did 'reconcile' - for 4 years. It slowly became apparent that his version of reconciling was that I was not to 'upset' him with any pain or demands for accountability or empathy, and 'moving forward' meant sweeping everything under the bridge whilst he continued as he had always been - as selfish, as unemotional, as incapable of seeing me as an equal.

But it took me 4 years to truly come to terms with this, and it was 4 years not wasted. I spent that time working on my own issues, went back to uni, got a job and learned that I don't need to live through him.

I told him that I am not going through this again. I warned him specifically. Well, I don't count as an equal, because I found out that he had resumed contact with co-worker schmoopie 'just for coffee'.

I saw the lawyer the next week, it is time for me. So whatever your timeline and outcome, it is appropriate for you. Just keep doing the hard 'me' work, whatever he does or doesn't do.

Lilly3000 Mon 08-Jul-13 18:33:59

I think the thing is to take one day at a time. We can all stand and judge but you've got to go through a process. You may not feel that you want him to go at the moment, but at some point you are likely to. Be kind to yourself and - without a moment's hesitation - always put your needs before his from now on.

I'm still with my DH 2 years on ( although the affair only went on for a short time) and I still have a meltdown every couple of months or so, over little things that remind me of his disrespect for our marriage and me. I still can't get my head around it.

We had one this weekend where I suddenly saw what had been happening all along - he'd acted selfishly and I made excuses for him.Why? Because I'm embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed. I'm repeating the pattern that my mum and dad followed, and DH's mum and dad too. Don't make excuses, look out ONLY for yourself. He will have to find his own answers, as it should be. Sometimes things are clear straightaway, sometimes it takes time. You have your own wounds to lick.

Wellwobbly Mon 08-Jul-13 18:51:19

BRILLIANT post Lilly.

It all does come down to selfishness. Look, and you will see it. Then look again, and like Lilly says, how you make excuses for them.

Lilly3000 Tue 09-Jul-13 12:32:01

I tried explaining to my DH that by destroying my faith in him, he has effectively amputated an emotional limb. It's that big a deal. Thinking he is going to come up with a magic powder to make it grow back just isn't going to happen. Sweeping it under the carpet is expecting me to be able to hop and skip like before and I can't. He can, however, help me up the difficult steps and be there to catch me when I fall. This way I can get strong again in my own time.
Despite the occasional meltdown, I'm still glad we are finding a way through this. He has done everything I asked of him and more. You should expect no less. I don't want him to suffer, but my feelings are more important than his now.Wellwobbly's phrase "I don't need to live through him" is critical. I have always been a sacrificial person and it's a mistake. Few will respect you for it and others will take advantage. If it's any comfort to you, the OW sounds like she's nothing more than a friend with benefits, not a real option for him. He is 'confused' ( i.e ego wanking) and needs to be put very, very straight. Still, all this takes time xx

schmarn Tue 09-Jul-13 13:21:11

Bull, the problem is that even now he is still lying to you. You have given him countless opportunities to come clean but he still won't admit that the texts relate to recent sex with her. This is a typical male approach. He thinks that the fact that he shagged her years ago is less hurtful to you than if it happened last week. What he doesn't realise is that the fact that he is still lying to you now (while simultaneously feigning tears) is possibly even more hurtful.

Sorry to say it but you are wasting your time with counselling. Counselling only works when both parties are committed to the process. He is going through the motions in the hope that you will forgive and forget. The reality is that he still sees her every day at work and is almost certainly still in love with her. If they have been having sex for years, she is basically like a second wife to him. He is probably treating her to the tears and apologies too.

In fact, the only prospect of saving things is to kick him out and show him that you are serious. As things stand, he has no respect for you and assumes you will never call his bluff. By allowing him to stay, you simply confirm his view of you.

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