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Is it EVER possible for an affair to have ZERO impact on a marriage?

(42 Posts)
LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 27-Jul-14 14:50:32

I'd really like to know whether it's possible for an affair to have zero impact on a marriage if the wife/husband doesn't know that their spouse is cheating?

Is it possible to really keep an affair and marriage completely separate and distinct? To 'compartmentalise' to such an extent that a husband/wife is maintained as the primary relationship and there is no 'crossover' of priorities, that the husband/wife continues to put their spouse first?

I think it would take the most extraordinary level of selfishness and deceit to achieve this but maybe that capacity for deceit is already there?

I have a reason for asking; my friend (whose ended affair I've mentioned) seems to have re-written it in her head and says it had no impact to his wife until she found out about it. I disagree with her.

EhricLovesTheBhrothers Sun 27-Jul-14 14:53:12

Of course not. The affair fundamentally changes the basis of the relationship, even if the cheated on spouse doesn't know it. They are having a relationship under false pretences.

EhricLovesTheBhrothers Sun 27-Jul-14 14:56:21

Plus obviously the cheater is investing time, energy, emotions and sex into someone else for the period of the affair, which cannot but impact on how they interact with their spouse during this period, and in the aftermath of the affair ending.

handfulofcottonbuds Sun 27-Jul-14 14:59:30

No, definitely not!

I have a friend who is having an affair with MM. She justifies it by saying that he treats his DW well and she knows nothing.

Yet my friend takes great joy in showing us the gifts he buys her and how it's great that she has the attention and gifts without the 'hassle' of a relationship. She has seen the impact my stbxh's affair had on me and says it's different.

handfulofcottonbuds Sun 27-Jul-14 14:59:51

....she's my friend but I feel like slapping her!

TeeManyMartoonis Sun 27-Jul-14 15:00:46

As someone who had an EA last year, I can categorically say no. My DH and i are still together but it has made me question everything. Him, apparently less so - which makes me question more.

We are good, we are over it. But I will never forget it and never really forgive myself.

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 27-Jul-14 15:05:51

No, it isn't. Not ever. Anyone who tries to justify such a vile betrayal is deluded.

LovesPeace Sun 27-Jul-14 15:08:42

No.
I knew in both my exes' cases that they were being unfaithful (or trying to be) as their behaviour towards me became stealthily nasty; they'd pick arguments deliberately, spoil special things or days for me.

And their anger/nastiness always peaked when I said or did something nice for them (guilt).

At the same time, they were both convinced that they were cunning and skilful in their deceit, and persuaded their cyberfucks that they couldn't possibly leave me because they were so utterly lovely, that I might kill myself with the loss of them. grin

They are both single, lonely, and regretful now.

ravenmum Sun 27-Jul-14 15:25:37

Here's what my husband wrote to his mistress on the subject about 4 months into their relationship, when I still believed firmly that he wasn't having an affair but was just acting weird:

"In my universe, those changes haven't been unnoticed and provoked different reactions. First of all, the confrontation, by actually wanting to talk about it. But it's less talking about it, it's more quizzing me. You know what I mean. It's like there is no winning the situation at all. Secondly, that she is actually trying harder to be nice or even giving or wanting to be loved. I told you, I can't really do that anymore, because it doesn't feel right and/or very stiff and mechanical.
...
To come to terms with not feeling wrong, I thought there must be a way of managing those feelings and make sense of it all. That�s when the idea of different universes was born. I felt, it must have something to do with the fact that there are two different universes we can live in. I was wrong of course. "

("She" is me; he had been telling his girlfriend that I didn't like sex and am a nasty bitch, of course. I love the bit about "there's no winning the situation", meaning that it was down to annoying old me that he couldn't just treat me like crap then be left alone to do his own thing.)

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 27-Jul-14 15:54:04

It is quite possible but there has to be a few things in place. The 'O' person has to have no connection with the 'M' person beyond the affair i.e they are not in the same town, social circle and they don't work together etc There must be no crossovers, no loose lips and no-one else involved in the secret. The 'M' person has to be able to compartmentalise, lie with impunity, have reasonable reasons for being away from home a lot, and show no change in behaviour towards their partner while they do all this. The 'O' person has to have no ambitions about splitting up the 'M' from their partner.

So it's possible.

ravenmum Sun 27-Jul-14 15:59:42

And you have to be able to satisfy two or more women in bed...

Agree that �t "should" be possible in theory to keep your universes separate, but I would hazard a guess that most philanderers think they are going to be better at it than they turn out to be.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 27-Jul-14 16:21:32

What I've seen is that by the time affair partners realise that they've lost control, they're in too deep and no longer able to control emotions, have invested too many feelings into the relationship... and they become miserable at the loss of control.

I can quite understand the giddy feelings at the start of it where anything seems possible and affair partners are in this 'bubble' where nobody else knows. It doesn't remain that way and the grim reality becomes horribly apparent.

I don't think that it's possible for either party to keep their feelings completely separate although I'd probably say that men have the edge. Can somebody have an affair without having any feelings for the other person in the affair?

My friend was suicidal when their affair ended; one marriage finished and one remaining - his. How his wife feels about it, I have no idea. What a mess.

WaitingForMe Sun 27-Jul-14 16:22:31

Maybe. A family friend found out her husband had a mistress and had had no idea and was happy. She only found out when he decided to leave her for OW.

I think it emerged he'd had loads of mistresses so her normal was him leading a second life. Some serious compartmentalising going on with the ex-husband.

But while arguably there was no impact until the end, she felt their life had been a lie. I think it's almost better if the spouse does change - at least you don't wonder if you'd been living with a sociopath.

andsmile Sun 27-Jul-14 16:29:34

Of course it bloody does because the unfaithful party changes their behaviour towards their spouse. This in turn prompts a response from them and so on - the interaction between the two in the primary relationship.

Sometimes this is characterised by an increased effort on the unfaitful partners side to over compensate because of guilt or a detachment of sorts or outright nastiness as they 'justify' their own behaviour.

Either way it does because everytime the unfaitful person puts time into planning. communicating and attending to the their other person outide the primary relationship detracts away from their spouse. either directly or indirectly. This latter can be also be true for partners who have hobbies that take them away from tending to their primary relationship too.

Sabellassweatyforehead Sun 27-Jul-14 17:10:15

I think it is possible. I have known two men capable of doing this. They were both: very rich and very clever.

I think ultimately it means they were the most unbelievable selfish pigs, but in the basis of your question - their DWs did not notice a change in the way they were treated when a new woman/women came on the scene.

Make of that what you will - maybe those relationships were founded on gift giving etc, or love via "stuff." But one of them I knew had strict times for each woman carved out in his life. One travelled with him for work, the wife shared a home life with him. Weekends and weekday nights when he was not working we're the wive's. lunch times and after work drinks were the mistresses.

Sabellassweatyforehead Sun 27-Jul-14 17:12:07

Just to add - when the wives were confronted by several people telling them the truth, they just could not believe it.

He was always home when he said he would be, he was consistent and predictable, he spent time with the family - how could he possibly be having an affair?

andsmile Sun 27-Jul-14 18:22:10

Is there an argument for the wives int he situations you describe Sabelass that the wives did not ever 'have' them if they never noticed a difference?

My marriage has survived an EA and DH was decidedly detached and increasingly nasty in the lead up to him leaving. We worked it out. We are hapy now. I wonder if some people are really capable of splitting themselves in half like this.

Wrapdress Sun 27-Jul-14 19:00:20

I believe a purely physical affair can have no negative impact on a marriage (especially with super successful men).

At the other extreme, just simply a MM's crush on a unsuspecting woman can totally ruin a relationship between a MM and his wife.

belagh Sun 27-Jul-14 20:53:53

Purely physical affairs do have negative impact.
It's the detachment, time and guilt. True there isn't the emotional side but there is still a huge emotional cost to a relationship

HoneyNectar Sun 27-Jul-14 20:54:05

I'm quite interested in Cogito's scenario above.

I imagine in today's world of both partners working, and often commuting to work somewhere a fair instance away from home, that this scenario is actually quite possible.

D'you think there would really be no subtle changes in behaviour at home at all though? If so, d'you think this is sustainable over a long affair, or maybe just possible for a short fling situation?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 27-Jul-14 21:08:09

I'm so interested in everybody's response, thanks.

Is there such a thing as a purely physical affair? What about kissing? That's really personal. So many things that are physical are personal also - holding hands/each other before/after. Is it so mechanical as knickers off, DTD and then back on? confused

I don't really understand how a physical affair could exist without emotions, I mean - you would ring somebody, speak to them, ask about them, tell them things. To me, it would just be the same as dating but without the full-time availability of the other partner.

It would be wrong to say that I admire somebody who could detach to such an extent but hat's off to them if they can be emotionless to the extent that they don't think of the person ever when they're not with them.

You'd think that visiting a prostitute would be a better bet if it's just about sex.

Lighthousekeeping Sun 27-Jul-14 21:19:02

Is it a wealth thing though? I know afew blokes who have been successful and rich. Had very lovely wives and children. Fantastic houses in the country where they would and probably still do spend idyllic Summers. The nature of the job took them away several times a year. That was a fact so, why would the wives question it? OW would be when they were on the job and family at home. The two things completed separated. One was my father. My mother never had a clue for thirty years. It actually can be done.

HoneyNectar Sun 27-Jul-14 21:31:27

I think I'm with LWITW on this.

Can't imagine an affair with no emotions involved at all.

I would think that the type of man who really is just after pure sex wouldn't bother with all the wooing and 'building a relationship' side of things (which generally comes before the sex, especially if a work based affair). Somebody that 'cold' about just wanting sex probably would have no qualms about going to a prostitute for it (a 'high class' one maybe, but still a prostitute!).

andsmile Sun 27-Jul-14 22:05:44

My DH did not go beyond flirting atbest an ego boost, at worst developing a real attraction - I had his blackberry and FB msgs and yes this was in response to his behaviour it made me suspicious.

We seperated and he did not pursue this women and he easily could have as we started divorce proceedings. So I do think it was a sympton of what a number of things that were so very wrong in our marriage.

I class it as an EA and he accepts this as he started to have fun flirty feelings for someone else. he started to shut down any positive feelings for me.

chantico Sun 27-Jul-14 22:14:20

I'm not sure that trying to separate a physical only affair is useful in this. Even if the wandering souse inks that their marriage is still good enough, they are not making a comparison to what it would be like if the sexy text message was sent to the spouse, of it if was the spouse they met for lunch, or played hookey from the office for a couple of hours to meet somewhere where sex is possible (doing it in secluded car park or whatever).

The marriage could have been so much better if the affair energy went into it. And the wandering spouse doesn't usually realise that until it's too late.

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