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Can a marriage survive an affair?(57 Posts)
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!
'Survival' is relative. Having tried to forgive an affair at one time my experience was that we briefly survived but that the relationship was fundamentally damaged in the process. The betrayal, hurt and subsequent lack of trust soured years of love and eventually turned into resentment. Also, the process of forgiveness did nothing except shatter what was left of my self-esteem. Sorry to disappoint. Sitting with the truth (if that's what you've had) for a time isn't a bad plan ... but would suggest you remove your partner from the frame for a while so that you can think clearly rather than feeling pressured by the 'genuine remorse'.
That is helpful, thank you. I just left to tidy up a bit and was thinking that I might ask him to go a live at his parents' for a bit (maybe a month or so) so we can have a bit of distance and see how it feels.
Yes- it took time. A lot of time.
You are right it is shades of grey. My husband was unfaithful but he is a great dad(better patent than me), even in the depths of awfulness we still made each other laughand enjoyed each others company. I couldn' t imagine my life without him. He was very contrite. He had slept with other girls prior to me. It didn't feel right to split up. It made me sit up and notice me.
I can't advise on how you go about fixing your relationship, but it is possible.
A month apart considering your next move achieves at least a couple of things. First, it lets him know that what has happened is very serious, makes his life uncomfortable and shows him what he stands to lose. Second, it allows you the chance to properly experience independence, gather your thoughts and work out - in an unrushed way - whether you actually want this person back in your life and, if so, on what terms.
Thank you. Now that he's being honest, he is more relaxed and kind (no longer carrying the guilt which turned him into a horrible person) and like you said we are laughing together at things and enjoying parenting together. It's very surreal and not shouting and throwing things you see on TV. I have only just found out though, so maybe the rage will come. For now it's sort of relief that everything that's been happening makes sense and it wasn't me after all!
My dh and I are still together 6 years after his affair. Forgiving him was so hard and I'm not sure if we have the same relationship as we did before but with 3dc I felt I had to give a 2nd chance. He is a wonderful dad and he really regretted his affair, he is a better husband than before and will do everything possible to be kind to me i.e weekends away, presents etc. he never did this before. But I do look at him differently and I love him but not as much as I did before. I don't think I would have taken him back if we didn't have children together. He moved in with his mum for 6 weeks so I had space and this definitely helped. It's a crappy time i know, hope you have lots of family & friend support.
Cogito, I agree entirely.
I found the anger came in waves. Even now I can feel anger about it.
Thank you Tommy, I'm worried about telling too many people in case it works out and they hate him forever
I guess it depends how you feel about it, for me finding out 5-6 weeks ago was all about anger, betrayal, humiliation.
I don't see any way back from that, he lied better than I had ever thought him capable of, looked me in the eye and lied repeatedly, how do you ever get over that ?
My mum and sister knew and that helped for someone to talk to. You right though, I never told friends, i didn't want everyone to hate him.
He's been 'a horrible person'... so he confesses to an affair, selfishly unburdens himself , he's a nice person again, all contrition, and the danger is that you are so relieved that he is back to being nice that you'll forgive him anything. I don't like the way that has played out at all. It sounds rather manipulative and calculated. A loving man would have ended the affair, sorted out his behaviour independently and treated you properly of his own volition... not shatter your marriage with confessions
I do get a bit angry about the fact that I was looking after his toddler and baby and hadn't slept properly for 15 months and was working part time and he was working away and staying in nice hotels and his head was turned by a woman in 'work mode' (which would certainly have been more attractive that my 'home mode' at that time). I do feel hard done by.
If you want to work it out with him the Shirley Glass book "just good friends" comes highly recommended. For both if you to read. He needs to work out why he gave himself permission to stray, and that book will help.
You also need to realise that rushing to forgive can actually damage your relationship.
Cogito- I found out entirely by accident. He was never going to tell me. Is that better or worse??
By not telling anyone, you're protecting him and taking the responsibility/guilt on yourself. That is potentially very harmful to your self-worth... keeping secrets and suppressing truth to protect someone else's reputation will eat away at you and can be damaging. Every time someone compliments you on what a great guy he is you'll know it's a lie.... Please look out for #1 in this situation.
It's equally bad that you found out by accident. A man confessing to an affair just to make himself feel a bit better is despicable. A man caught on the back foot will say anything to get himself out of trouble. Very convenient that he ended it....
Please send him away and properly locate your anger. It's missing at the moment and that's not going to do you any favours
Just found the book on Amazon, will bear in mind, thank you.
Cogito-she had ended it. He's not coming out of this very well
The only thing i'd be doing with that book is smacking myself up side the head with it to bring myself to my senses.
He'll do this again.
Mosman- I trusted him so completely! I never in a million years thought he was capable of doing something like that.
My marriage not only survived an affair, it got better.
It provided the catalyst for substantial change in my husband that has been sustained for years now. He knew that there was no way I'd stay unless he faced up to the low-level selfishness that had been there for years previously. So he walked the talk, took himself off the counselling on his own while I had mine on my own.
I only stayed with him because I loved him. I wouldn't have stayed with him for any other reason.
I've noticed when I pop on to threads like these that you get different responses from posters who had a choice about saving their marriage, than you do from those who did not. It's easy to say you'd have ditched your marriage even if it had been your decision to make, but no-one can say what they would have done if the future hadn't been taken out of their hands and the husband had given up his relationship with the OW. Do bear that in mind.
Just like you need to be certain that if the OW hadn't ended the affair, your husband would have chosen life with you. Never be second-best.
A period of separation is a good idea, as is focusing on you and what you want.
Yes, but it takes a willingness on both sides to work at it. We spent months with a Relate counsellor talking it all through and had to make some major changes to our relationship, especially about how we communicate.
Three years we are stronger than ever, and happier than we've ever been.
I have the choice, it's still an option but tbh I choose a life without having to look over my shoulder all the time.
I think I'm worth more than that.
"no longer carrying the guilt which turned him into a horrible person"
"Guilt" didn't turn him into a horrible person.
He was horrible to you because he wanted to be. Because shagging another woman behind your back made him despise you.
It was not guilt.
If he felt so guilty, why didn't he end it
Why wasn't he nicer to you?
That he is making such self-serving, self-aggrandising excuses for his deliberate, continual choices to treat you like shit, and you are accepting them shows that his remorse is false and you are still too shocked to deal with the reality of what has happened.
He had a relationship with another women behind your back.
He lied to you and treated you like a fool.
He treated you badly while he had another love interest he preferred.
He got dumped and so he is still with you.
He never planned to tell you that your marriage was a sham.
This is not just about a good man making a tiny little mistake and then being a little bit mean because, being such a wonderful guy, the guilt was too much.
This is about a selfish, dishonest liar who has ripped your family apart because he fancied a shag.
Maybe you can forgive him. But not until you both face the reality of what he has done. And not until he is truly sorry.
"Just like you need to be certain that if the OW hadn't ended the affair, your husband would have chosen life with you"
The DH's choice on this occasion wasn't an either/or decision, it was a both/and.... cake and eating it. What worries me is that he was quite happy to do all of this and be 'a horrible person' with the OP while it carried on. He didn't end it voluntarily, got dumped and caught out... so he's now scrabbling to retain the last woman he's got left. Wouldn't fill me with confidence...
I stayed with mine because I honestly love him. He's also sorry for what he did, though he's not the sort to talk about it much and I can't pretend I don't wonder if he'll do it again
Unfortunately your marriage can never be the same again, the trust has been broken and you'll be looking over your shoulder now, worried about things which are probably quite innocent and wondering what his every mood is leading to. I didn't know about Mumsnet when it happened to me, and the idea about making them leave for a spell - I wish I had, I think it would have helped
There will be days you'll be so happy you're still together and others where you really think you hate and hardly know him. Take your time, be kind to yourself and above all remember that you don't have to make any decisions until you're good and ready
My ex 'chose' me over OW, agreed to start counselling and eventually stopped the hobby where they met and kept meeting.
He was not contrite, he only seemed sorry to have been caught and for a couple of months I endured living with an adult sulking like a 5 year old who had had his favourite toy confiscated. I was never truly at ease when he was in the study/on the loo with his phone glued to him and grew to hate what I had become due to his actions so I left him.
The peace of mind I have had since then is priceless. We are now divorced and when I feel those pangs of missing the family unit and the future I thought we would share I remember the constant fretting and suspicion gnawing away at the back of my mind and I know that leaving was the right choice.
I know you asked for success stories but at the point where you are now I was convinced we would be a success story but his non-stop lies during the affair combined with his expectation of instant forgiveness shifted the sands too much for me to ultimately forgive him. Be prepared for a tough ride, I actually think staying and making the marriage work properly is harder than leaving.
Yes if your really honest about why it happened & your do is remorseful/willing to change.
You will never be the same after this. I'm worried you seem to think that this man is remorseful. He is not. He is sorry that he was caught. He is a liar who will conveniently lie his way out of this and tell you what you want to hear. He probably can't believe his luck that you're so forgiving of the way he's wiped his feet on your self-esteem.And from now on, you would have given him permission to do it again.
He sounds very manipulative and I really hope that you will get really really angry and make it known that you will not be treated with contempt like this ever again. His cheating was unexpected so he might do it again unexpectedly. You will always be highly alert and anxious as he can't be trusted. If you accept these things, then yes you can make it work
but only by forgetting about your ego/self-esteem/self worth entirely.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
"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?
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.
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?
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.
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 .
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.
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
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...
Sorry, typos, meant to say, 'and dumped him'!
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,
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 ).
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.
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'.
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?
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.
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. 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... 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.
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.
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...
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