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rebuilding with DH after affair

(127 Posts)
HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 13:05:36

DH and I are going through some really tough times after I (stupidly and unforgivably) got involved with high-school sweetheart from 18 years ago.
This is now all over, OM and I are not in touch any more, DH and I have talked everything through. I know he is hurting badly, but I am struggling as to how to acknowledge his hurt on a daily basis whilst also trying to keep up a semblance of normality for DC.
Also, I am really struggling reconnecting with DH physically. Bottom line, I am not attracted to him. I was before I allowed myself to look elsewhere so I know I need to rediscover that for his sake but not sure how??
DH wants us to have more couple time and for everything not to revolve around DC. I want this too and we are going to move house to be closer to family for more help with this, but in the short term what can I do – do at home date nights work?!

HH xx

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 13:04:01

I am getting counselling, but the reality is we are staying together and we have to keep up some kind of homelife going for DC ... Feel like it would be very selfish to demand time to myself to sort my head out at this stage when DH is the one who needs the care and attention.

Hollie I think you are missing my point (which was admittedly very unclear). My point is actually that it is not about you staying with your DH, it's about him staying with you. I think that's what partners who have affairs don't always understand. Once the relief that someone has given up the affair is over, all kinds of emotions hit you. Suddenly having them back in your life is an awful lot harder than you realised. Read the other threads on affairs on here. Many people take back cheating partners, only to leave them a year or so down the line because they just can't get past it.

I'm currently happy, my marriage feels strong and unbreakable BUT if I had even an inkling that my DH didn't fancy me, and was in thrall to someone else I'd leave him straight away.

Your DH will know if you aren't 100% emotionally there for him, and it will be eating away at him. You have to sort your head out first before you can sort out his.

I say all this kindly, anyone can see you are sorry and want to undo the hurt. It isn't easy to mend the kind of hurt you inflicted.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 13:37:40

worsester makes a very good point. The fact is that it is so difficult to rebuild and manage after an affair (and i've been on both sides) that any doubt, loss of attraction, deceit or ambivalence will further undermine the tiny shaky bit of faith left in the cheating partner. The adrenaline of fighting for your marriage and relief that everything doesn't have to change lasts at most a year, as said above. After that, you are left with whatever quality of relationship you had before, halved because of the betrayal, unless you take right now as the opportunity to be whole hearted towards the marriage and can feel you are truly completely lucky to get another shot. if your body can't find full will, you won't find the way, and you're kinder to walk away.

Ask yourself this: How did you give yourself permission to have an affair? How will you address that ? Whether it's endemic selfishness, compartmentalising, a belief that you're too good for DH, chronic insecurity? HOw are are you actually going to go about changing that and do you realise it'll be on your own, not for him to do.

What would you do if OM turned up tomorrow saying he loved you and wanted to be with you? What if someone else did?

Have you told DH the truth?

If you are not prepared to make any sexual effort towards someone you've betrayed and destroyed the self-esteem of by cheating, you are possibly too narcissistic to give what it takes.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 13:45:03

I do feel lucky to have another shot - DH has been an angel through all of this and I feel very lucky to be with him.
I hope to deal with my issues through counselling. I definitely don't feel I am too good for DH - far from it - if anything not good enough / the wife he deserves. I know I have to sort my issues out on my own, but DH has said I need to talk to him about everything from now on as he doesn't want me to hide anything anymore, but I find this hard as it's like asking for sympathy from someone I hurt terribly, which feels selfish and wrong.
OM would never turn up, and if he did I'd tell him my decision was made and I am staying with DH and DC.
I am totally prepared to make sexual effort and we have slept together more times recently than in a long while ... I struggle sometimes to enjoy him touching me due to a medical problem of soreness around vagina but have seen GP and am taking steps to deal with this.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 14:02:09

That's good HH sorry to you hear about your condition.

I'm going to say something a little bit rough now. but I say it from a place of knowing about it from my own experience so please don't think me awfully judgemental. I am, as well, judging myself.

I think you a respect problem for your DH. I think this is why sex is a struggle (often women find it difficult to be sexually attracted to men they don't respect) and also possibly why you had an affair. The reason I'm raising this is because if you don't address THAT, I think you're liable to do it again.

Here's why I think that. You refer to him with terms like 'angel', overly pure and almost implying a child-like naivete and perfection that's not manly and certainly not realistic. It's the sort of term we use for someone who's 'behaved well' but is on the same level as us in some way (either up or down). You think you are not 'the wife he deserves', this is the language of someone with one foot out the door. You're already envisaging the other wife, the next one who can take over and salve your guilt for leaving. It's not YOU. It's not YOU being better and surer and kinder. The wife he deserves is YOU if you want to be.

He has told you, literally told you, what he wants. He wants full disclosure from you, about what you are doing and what you are feeling and this is not an unreasonable ask, considering. You immediately discount that. Why? Because you feel very guilty, apparently. But look closer. I have no doubt you feel profoundly guilty, but that's not why. If the truth is that you would turn away OM, or future lovers, then whatever emotional rollercoaster you are going through would be difficult but helpful for your husband to hear. And difficult for you to admit. So you are running away from your own discomfort. Apparently for 'generous' reasons, you are finding a way to AGAIN hide things from your husband, and AGAIN ignore his wishes. But you are phrasing it as being philanthropic. This is very dangerous and narcissistic. When women exhibit narcissistic traits they do it differently from men. Because women are raised to be always thinking of others and subtly masochistic, this is where the lies we tell ourselves get spun, what we hide behind. But this pretense of masochism is very very narcissistic. It focuses again on you, not him really. When you talk about going to him to share and for support you worry That it makes YOU selfish, that it makes YOU wrong. Who cares? He has been shut out of you life for ages and just wants to share and support. Do what he asks. If you really feel guilty, do what he bloody asks. Shut up about you.
To despise oneself, you need to have a great deal of respect for the part that despises.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 14:13:34

A lot of this rings very true (though hard to read!). It's difficult though as how can I feel genuinely guilty without being masochistic?? ...
I think you're right that I need to talk to DH more and not bottle things up all over again as that's what led to the problems previously.
I'm not totally sure the part about not respecting DH is 100% right. I have an immense amount of respect for him, for the stand he's taken and the decisions he's made. I feel nothing but disgust for myself and OM right now.
There definitely are issues about sexual attraction that I need to address ... I know DH needs me to show that I am attracted to him so this is something that I need to work on.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 14:30:04

You can feel guilty, and it's a testament that you do, you're not a sociopath! But guilt, unlike shame, is an emotion that is actually about other people. So if you think about it, guilt says 'I really hurt and wronged someone else, I feel bad about it and I don't like that about myself'. It's a noble, corrective emotion. But it doesn't make sense that as a result of guilt we should punish ourselves, does it, really? If you genuinely feel guilt, a sadness and pain at having hurt SOMEONE ELSE, that is easily addressed. 1. Don't do it again. 2. Be mindful of what allows you to do that and try and change it. 3. Try and help and repair the damage to the person you have wronged and apologise to them.

There's no masochism there.

Oh and also, no contact with OM at all, that's a given right?

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 14:40:46

No, there's no contact. The last I heard from him was a month ago, which was 'Things are really hard for me. Please don't e-mail me again.' This was in response to an e-mail I sent asking how he was as his wife threw him out after what happened. I have deleted his contact from my phone, deleted all messages etc.
I am determined about #1., am working on #2. ... it's the repairing the damage that I am struggling with at the moment. I have apologised to DH and continue to do so.

ownbrand Wed 04-Sep-13 14:43:18

HH nearly two years ago i was on the receiving end of this , and still theres rareley an hour in a day when i dont think about it . There are constant bad dreams and mind movies that replay the scene over and over again .

All cheaters have a script , its fairly typical , but so do the betrayed . I do not worry about it happening again because im gone if it does , i do not check up on him and i do not monitor his movements . It is not me that is left with a crippling fear of being left or cheated on , its him . I understand this is fairly typical and while my P was having counselling and reading about infidelity he learned that there can be a high risk of a revenge affair , or of the cheated on simply ending things further down the line after all the drama has died down.

I think you need to say sorry every day , it wont drag things up because hes already thinking about it . You also do need to talk to him openly and honestly , if you can do this it will go a long way to rebuilding trust . If you dont talk , or apologize enough you may find your H mentioning it less , or asking less questions . This doesnt mean hes ok with it , but could signal hes giving up with it .

The sexual attraction thing is important . Have you talked honestly with him about this ? Have you ever been attracted to him ? What do you need to be attracted to him again ?

Have you bought any of the books for you both about affairs ? Your H would probably really apreciate that .

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 14:50:05

Thank you, that's really helpful. I know I do need to be more open and honest with DH. It's difficult when it comes to sexual attraction. I have definitely been very attracted to him in the past ... I'm not sure what I need to be attracted to him again.
I think we should look at marriage counselling to sort some of the issues out. So far I have only done Relate online relationship counselling on my own as easier for childcare etc. I will discuss this with DH.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 14:54:03

Give yourself a break, if this is recent it's going to take weeks for 'normal' feelings to come back. The most important element of this is to completely excise the OM from your life.

If I were you I would volunteers complete openness with phone and passwords etc and arrange a weekly time to talk about it all or about anything that isn't home/work/kids so you can share and break down these compartmentalising walls you have. Why are they there? Have they been there in other relationships or just with him? When did they start? Why do you lie to him, when you have? What do you fear if he knew 'the truth'? These are all important questions to ask.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 15:00:39

I showed DH my phone last week after he woke me up at 5:30am really distressed / crying. I showed him there was no trace of OM in contacts / messages etc. My phone has no passwords and I've told him he can check it but he says he doesn't want to and just hates my phone. I've offered not to use it and leave it at home when we go out also.
I have been with DH from age 20 so few previous relationships ...

ImperialBlether Wed 04-Sep-13 16:04:29

Hi Hollie, I've just read your previous thread where you decided to end it with the OM. What made you decide to tell your husband? Did he find out? I was hoping you'd manage not to tell him - it's the most hurtful thing and I knew your husband would be devastated.

I think you've made the right decision in terms of the OM and hope you and your husband find peace within your marriage.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:09:42

Oh, HH, you must have had a rough old time of it. You know and feel what you've done is wrong. Eventually, you will be able to forgive yourself.

I expect part of the reason for the affair is you have only been with DH. Often we test our relationship against others to make sure we haven't missed out on something or because we lack adequate comparison.

Obviously your partner is deeply wounded. I'd suggest reassuring him verbally and physically, as you've suggested.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 16:10:45

I didn't decide to tell him - we went away on holiday and things were obviously not good between us and we had a long conversation the first night during which he asked me point blank if there was someone else. I felt I had to be honest then so admitted about OM. He was devastated and I wish it hadn't happened but at that point lying didn't seem fair to DH.
OM was totally freaked out by me telling DH so we cut contact at that point.
About a week after that OM got back in touch to say his wife had found his phone and chucked him out. We've not been in touch since.

LadyMedea Wed 04-Sep-13 16:19:00

No contact and total disclosure is minimum. - does your DH know everything that happened?

Get hold of 'Not just friends' its such a detailed book I lived in it after DH had an affair. www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Just-Friends-Rebuilding-Recovering/dp/0743225503

Also the surviving infidelity forum online has lots of good resources for both sides of the experience - www.survivinginfidelity.com/

As other posters have said the place to do the work right now is yourself - why were you vulnerable to an affair? What can you do to never be vulnerable again? Then work on where the vulnerabilities in your relationship are...

noddyholder Wed 04-Sep-13 16:19:12

You can't just stay with him though because it is best for the kids as they grow up and move on. I agree you don't seem ready for moving on with your dh as you haven't let go of the affair yet. Did you fancy your dh before you met the OM?

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:19:18

Well done you for being brave enough to say. You need to answer his questions honestly now. For someone used to being secretive this is going to feel uncomfortable and even wrong. But if you lie to him you are going to be maintaining the reality that caused the affair and further disenfranchising him.

Are you being completely honest about your motivations here? Did you tell him in that moment because 'it wasn't fair to DH'? Or because you were half expecting a future with OM? Or because you couldn't cope with the subterfuge anymore? Or because you wanted to leave but wanted him to do it?

The fact that OM was freaked out by you telling speaks volumes. I would take that fact about his wife having found his phone and chucked him out with a huge huge lorry full of salt. Coincedence it happened just after you'd revealed all and broken open the bubble. The normal psychological response would be to seek your support and help if he was made homeless and exposed. What's more believable is he didn't want you DH telling his wife and so he made the decision the affair wasn't worth it and to cut you out of his life, but telling you a story that placed him as equally wronged and broken and dealing with consequence as you. What a coward.

ImperialBlether Wed 04-Sep-13 16:20:42

I've been on the other side to your DH and I don't think full disclosure is all it's cracked up to be.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:23:00

I agree about full disclosure. What I advised is to answer whatever questions he asks honestly, rather than go through every detail and moment. Even in their pain, the betrayed often ask what is important to them and to accept there are some things they either won't know or don't want to know. Let him decide what he wants.

ImperialBlether Wed 04-Sep-13 16:28:15

Yes, I think honesty is important, particularly once you know something has happened.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:31:36

If you lie to him when he asks, you are not protecting him. You are protecting yourself. And carrying on the same situation in miniature as before. I understand you feel incredibly exposed and vulnerable right now. You had two men after you. now you barely have one. But the relationship can be saved if it's made BETTER than before. And that means revealing parts of yourself you hid before, being brave enough to respect him genuinely, by giving him what he actually WANTS, rather than what you feel would be best for him.

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 16:41:04

DH isn't asking any questions and doesn't want to talk about what happened at all, just about how he feels - incredibly hurt - and how we can move on.
I'm finding it hard to show him just how sorry I am but I think verbal and physical reassurance was mentioned earlier and I need to try harder on that and showing more love and how I am thinking about how we can plan for the future.

tessa6 Wed 04-Sep-13 16:50:03

That's good about the future. Be prepared that he is in shock, and will probably want to know more as time passes. Resist the urge to lie when he does. He'll be running on adrenaline. There will be a big dip into depression after a few months.

That sort of reaction is common among men. He may struggle emotionally because he's not got an outlet for expressing the pain or saying what he fears. Men often feel they can't talk to anyone about it because it makes them weak and cuckolded. YOu need to talk to him about it and bring it up (in the right way) sometimes to show you get it and his pain. State how lucky you are and how much you value his forgiveness. Make a plan for something really bonding you can do together. Some sort of holiday that's very activity based and exciting or some sort of shared work project. Write love letters.

'Try harder?' 'Showing more love?' Forget the affair, let's say you're forgiven it totally, imagine all the guilt is lifted. Just for a moment, OP, we know your DH is a lovely, amazing man but putting that and the guilt aside..... Do you actually want to be with him?

HollieHelen Wed 04-Sep-13 17:01:24

Yes, I really do. Everything that's happened has shown me just how much. He's the man I can see myself growing old with and the most amazing dad to our DC.
I am loving to him - maybe my messages don't convey this. I just feel like whatever I do will never be enough to make up for what happened.
We've organised to go away for 2 nights for our wedding anniversary in a few weeks. We've only done this twice since DC were born (6 years). We've both been guilty of focusing on the kids not us as a couple but obviously my way of dealing with this was totally negative.
We also want to move to be closer to family and I'm putting a lot of energy into that too.

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