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How should a DH make up for an affair

(31 Posts)
siblingrevelryagain Sat 10-May-14 11:37:09

Apologies for the crass title, I don't know how else to word it.

4 weeks ago, I allowed my DH to move back home so we could try to work on putting things right after his emotional affair with an ex colleague (he is adamant it wasn't sexual, but I think that might have been lack of opportunity. They were in love/infatuated etc and had talked about leaving respective partners).

I kicked him out for a week, but as we have three young children I felt I owed it to them to at least try before throwing things away.

Since then he has been more helpful at home, offering to do jobs etc, but doesn't seem to be 'fighting' as he promised when I took him back. We are very polite with each other. He still goes out (he works away sometimes, so I would naively expect that on the nights he's here we should be together, either talking or just being), doesn't want to talk about things, and aside from asking how I've slept he doesn't ask how I am with things. He is ashamed so I think he wants to bury his head in the sand, whereas I need to process my own thoughts and talk about it.

I guess because I'm strong and seeming to be acting normal he thinks I'm fine, but I feel he should be making up for what he's done and showing me why he deserves me. I don't know what that looks like, but I just know if it were me I'd be doing everything I could (for example, tonight he said his brother has asked him round - I would have liked him to take some initiative and get a movie/takeaway/bottle of wine and allow us to spend time together when kids in bed. Seems silly but at least would show I'm being thought of, likewise sending flowers, buying a favourite cd or book etc).

What have your DH's done which made you really believe they were sorry? What would you expect to see from a contrite husband who is with his wife for her and not just the kids?

I think in my heart of hearts I know it's over. He has not done or said anything to reassure me that he still wants me. I just don't want to admit it.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sat 10-May-14 11:57:09

He should be prepared to discuss this with you until and unless he has reassured you that he's contrite and understands the total betrayed he has committed.

If he hasn't offered to crawl over broken glass to prove his contrition, he's not contrite in the least.

Making plans to spend a Saturday night with someone else is telling you that you're just not that important to him.

buzzardbuzzard Sat 10-May-14 12:02:52

I don't think it's so much what he could do because in my case I wouldn't be able to find it within myself to forgive him regardless of the sex. Even if my DP turned into the perfect partner in every way I would be like a black hole and would never be able to be filled to the brim with any amount of acts of kindness. But that's just me.

If you really think you can find it within your self to forgive him and show that you're willing to draw a line under it and treat each day as a new day then I think as long as he continues to be there for you and your children, supportive and helpful that would be enough. But then there's the issue of your self esteem, have you been bruised by the experience?

You will need to work on building yourself back up again and NOT through his validation but by you knowing that you're worthy just as you are.

I also think that he should text/call give evidence of late trains, communicate with you constantly whilst he's still on probation.
Good luck you're a stronger woman than me.

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Sat 10-May-14 12:03:21

From reading what you've just written, yes, it's over.

And also from reading what you've just written I think you will be fine - you sound realistic, clear headed, honest. Everything he's not.

But to answer your OP - how can one make up for an affair? Well. That tends rather to be the sticking point about affairs - or more precisely, lies. The lies are the problem, really, when you break it down. He has shown you that he is prepared to lie to you, deceive you, break the partnership. How do you make up for that, short of having a complete personality transplant? All the nights in and sorrys in the world won't change the fact that you now know that he's a liar and you can't trust him and living and raising children and sharing finances with someone in that category is... not a pleasant way to live.

But. Ok, let's move past that bit - let's hypothetically say that you understand that he isn't perfect and maybe why he got into that situation, can accept living with the uncertainty from now on and are now looking on seeing proof of his regret and wish to make amends.

Here's what says to me that your H is in the 'no' pile:

- He's not actually sorry, is he? His actions show that he has absolutely no understanding of what that means - that you look at the other person and feel desperately sad, longing to do something to make it better for them. But he doesn't - or rather, he still automatically puts himself before you, and any regret he feels is linked to the way he feels and not the way you feel. He'd rather see his brother, go out and forget about all the unpleasant stuff, more than he wants to put a smile on your face (so to speak). Staying with you will make him feel guilty and bad, going out makes him feel better. It's the opposite for you... but you don't matter. Basically, he's showing that at the core, when the chips are down, he's selfish. Which is precisely partly the reason why he had this affair in the first place. If you say this to him, he'll recoil in horror and deny - because he will never have analysed his feelings in this way. Incidentally, this should be the biggest red flag of all. You're seeing what he is - not only due to the affair itself, but its aftermath. Your instincts are right. He had an affair because he puts himself first, and is doing so now, and will likely always do so.

- He's a coward. 'Fighting', eh? Funny how that always seems to be trotted out - I'll fight for you!!! It's so cheesy and drama-queeny - what the hell is it supposed to mean, except for creating a dramatic impression of a brave, humbled figure dashed by circumstance, desperately fighting... err - um - well nothing really - in order to 'win you back'. It sounds so much better than focusing on the fact that there's no 'fight', he just simply decided you were worth less than a cheap thrill - yes, you and your children and your family. There's no fight to have, there's just a need for a long hard look at his own stupid selfishness. And he doesn't want to do that. He doesn't want to talk (again, selfish - it's what you need, but not what he needs, so err - it isn't happening).

- finally, well - he's just crap, isn't he? Really not worth it as a person. You think he thinks you're fine. Because no chat is happening over this. He's burying his head in the sand, not talking, avoiding the issue and kind of hoping you're fine? Um, so where's the actual loving relationship to fight for? Nowhere, really. He's certainly not showing any sign that it's something he values or misses, and it leaves the rather unpleasant impression that he's there because it's comfier, it's home with its washed pants and dinner on the table, and now that the shine has worn off on Miss Lovely he'd kind of rather stay put. Shrug. Do you want that?

Does he want you - does it matter? Do you want to be wanted by someone with this lack of depth, breadth, honesty, communication, love?

Fairenuff Sat 10-May-14 12:04:16

Are you sure it's over? It sounds to me like this is a man who wants both - pretty standard cheating attitude.

I would end it for good. If my dh told me he was in love with someone else and had talked about leaving, I wouldn't want him.

Sorry, I know that's not what you want to hear.

He wants his meals cooked and his pants washed, and thinks that you, being a 'woman', will be so grateful not to be single that you will carry on servicing him domestically and indulge his every whim, and all he has to do is pull a sad face now and again.

clam Sat 10-May-14 12:16:17

Good post, Bruno.

Hedgehead Sat 10-May-14 12:30:13

In my experience of couples who have suffered an affair in the marriage, this is what the ones do who have made it work:

- Been clear about what the problem was that led one of them to have an affair and both decided on how much responsibility they want to accept for that problem, be it none, half or all.

- Either one or both of them have gone to therapy to work out how they feel about things and their relationship and to work out where they want to go from here. Also to talk about any issues that come up which could be a future obstacle to the marriage.

- Put together a plan about how they are going to try and repair things. Eg rules - the one who had the affair offers complete transparency of contact (phone, email etc). If they leave the house, they offer to call when they get there. Consistency - they do exactly as they say they will. A willingness to talk about what happened whenever the injured party wants to talk about it. Even if they feel they have bled every detail dry - to go over and over it again if the injured party wants to clarify something.

This sort of thing! Emotional, not necessarily practical.

JonesTheSteam Sat 10-May-14 12:31:08

I am just over 3 months on from discovering my DH's affair.

In no particular order other than how they come into my head:-

He ended his affair straight away.
He booked counselling for us.
He has spent a lot of time working out why he behaved how he did.
He has been open with me about everything he did. He didn't minimise but confessed all when confronted.
He is affectionate and attentive.
He tells me if he is going to be late home and why.
We have talked lots about the affair and his feelings surrounding it, and mine too.
He listens to me if I am upset and attempts to comfort me.
He makes an effort to do little things for me like run me a bath.
He booked us a weekend away to have a chance to spend some child-free time together and sorted out the childcare.
He is no longer glued to his phone and distant. He spends his time in the house with me.
He gives me space if I need it.
He emails me from work to ask how my day is going and to tell me about his.
If he has to interact with the OW at work (very rarely) he emails me after a meeting to tell me that she is still being professional (as is he) and she hasn't attempted to engage him in any way.
He tells me he loves me and wants to make this work if I have a wobble.
He confessed to his mum what he'd done - a huge step as he is her blue-eyed boy.
He makes an effort to do things with me even if it is only going to the supermarket.
We go to bed at the same time as each other - no more staying up late to avoid chatting with me and therefore having to lie directly. It was much easier to just lie by omission.
He has accepted that the affair was totally and utterly him being a selfish idiot and there is no justification for what he has done.
He thanks me for giving him a chance.
He is open with his phone / email account / passwords etc.

It's not easy. But his changed behaviour is making it easy.

Before his affair we were happy - he admits this himself. We were in a bit of a rut maybe but still not a reason to do what he's done! I haven't forgiven him, but I am willing to accept that neither of us can change what has happened and we are moving forward together.

siblingrevelryagain Sat 10-May-14 12:36:14

Thanks for all the replies-an outside perspective and some clarity is what I need right now!

In some ways, regardless of how he feels, I think that in my heart I don't know how (or if we can) get back to a happy and successful marriage.

The other day I was buying cards for his 40th next week, and after choosing ones from the kids I couldn't choose one myself. I couldn't send one saying 'wonderful husband', but equally I couldn't send a plain one without a loving message-"happy birthday" seems wrong after 17 years of special messages.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 10-May-14 12:54:06

Sounds to me like a week wasn't long enough for either of you to work out what happens next either way. Doesn't seem as though there were conditions attached to his return, changes required, enthusiasm expressed etc. Are you 100% sure he's knocked the emotional affair on the head, even? Sounds like he's missing her....

Softlysoftlycatchymonkey Sat 10-May-14 12:59:30

op you are me. I'm going through the same . When he returned he was like a fucking robot. Only here in presence not in mind .

In the end I told him to get out. sad

Hope you get things sorted x

Softlysoftlycatchymonkey Sat 10-May-14 13:02:08

cog I agree with all of your post apart from the last sentence . I don't think that was helpful - you don't know that.

tribpot Sat 10-May-14 13:03:06

I sincerely doubt he cares much what the card says, so it should say what you think is important. If you and he have to remember that his 40th was the year you wrote 'with best wishes' in his card, well - that's an accurate memory of what you were feeling at the time. The affair will never go away, it happened. I certainly wouldn't assist him with pretending it didn't happen by writing a nice, loving card. If you can't find one that you think is right, just don't get him one. It's not your problem.

If you don't feel you can forgive him, that's your choice. If you can't forgive him yet that's equally valid, and a longer period apart might help you process what's happened, not to mention show him you are serious about the level of damage he has done to the marriage.

He is doing basically nothing off the lists given above of things a repentant spouse should be doing. Don't buy this 'he is too ashamed to talk about it' crap - he has broken your marriage. He has to fully own his actions, and be prepared to talk about them and their consequences, if he wants to 'fight' for the marriage as he claims.

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Sat 10-May-14 13:12:00

No - he isn't ashamed. He's not too ashamed to head off out and have fun. Not too ashamed to do anything which he wants to do. Just too ashamed to do anything which is difficult for him.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 10-May-14 13:14:07

I don't think it's 'unhelpful' to point out that someone doesn't just switch off feelings intense enough to promise someone they'll leave respective families etc. in the space of four weeks. His head's clearly not in the game and he doesn't want to talk. In the context of 'how should a DH behave' after an affair one of the basics is that everything is out on the table and everyone's honest about their feelings.

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Sat 10-May-14 13:14:28

Oh - and you could just not do a card for him. There's no real point at the moment, surely. Being honest is better - you don't want to send him loving messages at the moment, although you're more than happy to make sure the children do, for both their sake and his. That's enough caring for his feelings right now, I'd say.

Remember that how you feel is important, and you don't have to stay in the marriage if you don't want to. Your H is certainly not behaving as if you matter to him other than as a housekeeper and child-raiser.

Maybe the OW binned him first.

eatmydust Sat 10-May-14 13:32:51

I think in my heart of hearts I know it's over. He has not done or said anything to reassure me that he still wants me. I just don't want to admit it.

What you said above.

I found out about my exHs EA within a few weeks. He left for a month or so, asked to come back several times, did tell his DM, who put a lot of pressure on him to sort things out with me, and eventually I agreed to let him come home. He promised to try.

Except he didn't. Still went out, overnight work trips etc. Did a lot of work around the house, we had fantastic sex, but he didn't tell me he loved me. Ten months later, I found out it was still going on, she had also lied to her DH in the same way. ExH said he had never promised to try, he had just promised to try to try. sad. He didn't see what the problem was, he wouldn't have left again - I was happy (I wasn't) and the OW was happy shock.

I went through a year of extreme stress and nearly had a breakdown at the end of it. The DCs completely fell apart. The cruelty was unbelievable. It took several years for me and the DCs to move on. Parts of us never will. But, at the time, I couldn't think, I just wanted it to all go away and everything to be back as it had been. The point is he didn't try.

Your DH needs to try. Really really try. Counselling, date nights-the lot. If he doesn't, stop it now or you will tear yourself apart. And you are worth so much more than that.

BrunoBrookesDinedAlone Sat 10-May-14 14:10:06

But - to follow on from eatmydust above - if you have to ASK someone to try (especially in circumstances like this!) then it's meaningless. They aren't trying. A big part of the definition of trying is WANTING to. Forced/encouraged trying means less than nothing. It's actually humiliating and partonising. 'Just tell me what you want to do and I'll do it!' = 'Can you do the work for me? I want the outcome, I just don't want to have to do the thinking. I mean, you're not worth THAT much! Make it easy for me, willya?'

Fairenuff Sat 10-May-14 15:36:39

I would not be buying him a card or present. I would not be celebrating his birthday at all. That just sends a message that everything is fine, all back to normal, and that's not true.

There needs to be a lot more honesty between you and a heck of a lot more talking.

NewNameForSpring Sat 10-May-14 18:24:04

JonestheSteam I think your post will be very helpful for many people reading this thread. I havent' been in your situation but thank you for sharing that with us all it offered a lot of insight.

SirRaymondClench Sat 10-May-14 20:39:19

That list that Jonesthesteam wrote, that's what your 'D'H should be doing.
I absolutely believe that a marriage can survive an affair if the cheating party is truly sorry and does the majority of the work to make things better.
In the case of my first marriage that didn't happen. It was me that did all the work while my XH whined about how miserable he felt and how he couldn't "make it go away" ('it' being his feelings for OW).
I wish I'd had Mumsnet then.
I had no-one really to turn to and turned myself inside out trying to make my marriage work.
Ultimately I discovered it was still going on and I kicked his lying, cheating arse out.
I'm telling you this Op because I felt like you do.
I was baffled as to why XH wasn't doing enough or much of anything to prove his contrition to me. He wasn't, because he was still seeing his OW.
When I kicked him out there was utter elation that I no longer needed to try. Or worry about where he was. Or who just texted him. Or why he lay there with his eyes open in the mornings and then shut them quickly when I looked at him. Or why I was doing all the work while he let me, like the limp, useless rag he was.
You deserve more than this Op.

FolkGirl Sun 11-May-14 07:07:36

He could make up for it by moving out and never darkening your door again.

That's what worked for me.

I'm happier now than I've ever been!

siblingrevelryagain Sun 11-May-14 08:09:36

Thank you again for taking time to reply.

I pushed him to talk last night, and the reality is far harder than I imagined!

The facts of my relationship, in a brief summary, are this:

He was/is in love with someone else but has had no contact since he told her they couldn't. Admitted he missed her but wants to make our marriage work.

He has avoided talking because he doesn't want reminding if what he's done (admitted he's weak and selfish).

Wants us to stay together and work on our marriage in the good that the love will grow again (he doesn't love me).

Either way my brilliant life is a shit-storm and I'm devastated. I've got three beautiful, contented children under 7 who will potentially have their lives ripped apart, completely out of the blue. On the other hand, how can I resign myself, at 38, to allowing him to stay in the hope he'll love me again? Even as I type it sounds pathetic!

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