This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
My husband of 24 years has been having an affair(42 Posts)
Just after Easter, I discovered my husband had been having an affair for the past three years, thanks to an anonymous letter I received in the post. I am absolutely devastated. We have been married for 24 years, and together for 30. I thought our marriage was sound and this is a complete and profound shock. He has moved out and is renting a flat. He says he has stopped seeing the woman he was having an affair with, and that he would like to rebuild our marriage. I do now know whether to trust him as I only have his word for this. Five months on, I am still beside myself and do not know what to do. I am struggling to see how I could ever trust him again, when he has lied to me for the past three years. Yet I do not want to be the one to make the decision to break up our family, when I have devoted most of my adult life to nurturing our daughters and creating our home and family life. Part of me wants to find a way to work through this, but when I see him, I feel such hurt and anger. We had a few sessions with a Relate counsellor but this was unsuccessful. I had hoped that 5 months on, I would have worked out what to do, but I have not. I am completely financially dependent on him, and feel such a fool now for having chosen to be a stay-at-home mum when I have a phD and could have built a career for myself (I'm 53 now, and have been at home for 20 years, so am struggling to see how I could get back out into the world of work!) He owns his own small company, and had the affair with someone who works for him - she is still there and I don't get the impression she's trying to move on. I don't know who started the affair - from what he has told me, it sounds as if it was consensual. I am struggling with the fact that she is still there at work; he says he does not see her and there is nothing he can do to make her leave. I do get this and am aware of the sexual politics at play. But I cannot see how we can move on while she is still there, and I cannot believe that she will have made no attempt to make contact with him in the workplace. I am so confused; I want to save our marriage, largely for the sake of our daughters who are both at university now, but who have been devastated by what has happened and who would like to see us work things out. Another part of me wants to be strong enough to walk away; he has tainted all our family memories and trashed most of my adult lie and I do not think I could ever forgive him for deceiving me for three whole years and for the scale of his betrayal. But this is not what I expected at this age: I feel like I've been in a car crash, and as the months pass, I feel less and less able to make sense of what he has done, or to move on. Feeling paralysed by indecision, anger and pain - help, please!!!
Firstly, I will hold your hand and give you and .
I've no actual experience (there but for the grace of God!!) but one thing struck me in your post!
You are not the one choosing to end the marriage, he did that! Remember that when you make your decision.
Good luck op!
Firstly, your DD's are adults who will leave to live their own lives. Do not go back to him for them.
Secondly, you have a PhD so are clearly smart enough to do something with your life without him if necessary.
Oh my [sledge hammer and an albeit for you]
Do you have anyone in RL to lean on?
Thank you, that's really kind, but not feeling so smart after 20 plus years of being at home! Also, feeling kind of old and disconnected from the world after so very long not working!
Sorry, I meant to say I agree with the 1st 2 replies.
It's up to you, but there are 2 things I'd like to point out:
Your dds are adults now who are building their own futures. Don't sacrifice yours by feeling you need to stay in a marriage for them. They're not children and will cope.
If the marriage ends, it's HIS fault for betraying a wife who spent alot of effort on building a happy home and who supported him by running everything whilst he had a career. It will never be your fault for walking away after an affair.
You might not feel so smart now but once you get used to living independently again you will feel so much better and stronger for it. It may or may not be a long process but you can definately get there.
I've experience of this. I felt like my whole life was built on sinking sand - as though I couldn't trust my own memories. I couldn't trust my own memories - even years later I was realising things I thought had happened hadn't really happened and vice versa. It's the most horrible feeling - you literally don't know your own history.
I don't think he's done anything to make you more secure. And she isn't, either - she should have the decency to leave, given it's his business. I wouldn't tolerate any talk of him returning home given your situation.
I know it's hard for your children - it's awful - but he is to blame for this. When they have adult relationships they'll understand what it was like for you and that his 'efforts' just haven't been enough to persuade you.
Exactly how I'm feeling! I keep going over all the things we've done together and done as a family over the past three years - all the family holidays and family gatherings and meals out - and thinking that none of that was as I thought it was. Its really messed with my mind - when I thought we were having a good time or were quite close to each other, he was actually seeing someone else. How can I ever be sure he's not doing the same in the future. I feel I can't trust my judgement of character or situations any more, and that I don't know this man I've been with for 30 years! Don't know how to move forward from that really.
But the girls are coping so badly with it and I can't bear to see their pain. Also, although he has destroyed our relationship by what he has done, I would be the one who would initiate the divorce and the selling of the family home - I would be the person refusing to try and work through this and keep our family together. So torn!
Sorry, 2nd message below was reply to your message - I will get the hang of this!!! Thank you for your supportive comments!
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
You poor thing. I know exactly how you feel. My situation is the same as yours. I'm now 10 months further down the line having now files for divorce as the damage was irreparable.
I still feel very hurt, very angry as my past married life and memories, like yours, is a complete lie. I still have nights where I sit in bed, unable to sleep and just cry. But they are becoming easier to deal with and its not so all-consuming now. But I can now see a happy future for me and my boys, and that's what I am focussing on. Trying to look forward, rather than back. You too, will find the strength to move forward. Just take one day at a time as life has thrown you a bit if a curved ball.
Just think... It's his loss, more than yours!
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
My ex isn't even with the same women! The other one was married to a very rich man, so she was never going to stay with him. He's got another woman now... He was never going to be on his own long. It's got mid-life crisis written all over it. I spent years being controlled and manipulated by him. So I'm now trying to be positive about being free again... (Not always very successfully)
Op I'm sorry for what has happened. A bit of practical help radio 4 had a speaker from a company which provided return to work opportunities for (mainly) women who had taken a career break. One woman was saying she was offered three jobs at the placement company after taking the opportunity (project manager role).
I think the programme was on just before 9am late last week (Friday?) someone else may remember exactly.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
I am so sorry for your agony - I experienced it myself after 20 yrs of marriage and it was so awful, the worst sense of bereavement, hurt, loss and anger. Like my world and all my assumptions and future had collapsed into the smoke of lies and betrayal. Your own anger is good - it will help get you through and give you steel and drive to focus on what you want and need. This is the most important thing now. Don't worry about your DDs - he has done the harm to them and you will look after them come what may - with or without him. Wrap them in your love - that is enough.
Now what about you? Has your husband actually done everything in his power to ask forgiveness and earn your trust and respect - has he said how he will prove himself worthy of your love and how he will re-build your relationship? The onus is on him to prove his willingness to do that...
Ideally, IMO couples counselling is good for this dialogue - I'm sorry it didn't work for you. You really need to be get him to hear what effect his affair has had, hear your pain and hurt and anger and go over what went wrong and why he did it to think about addressing the issues and re-build the foundations of a marriage - if thats what you both want to consider. Is trying again really possible - has he got the spine, guts and humility to do it?
If you are not convinced about the couples counselling I think you should think about doing it for yourself to help you decide what you want, what will make you happy and how you can choose the future life you want. That includes what to do about work and using your obvious intelligence and skills. You have choices and looking after yourself now is the most important thing.
If you cannot go on with the marriage it will be a painful path but you will survive. Know it. You are strong and brave.
- dont try to block the pain and hurt, let yourself cry. Feel everything, the anger, bitterness, pain and hurt. It has to come out, and as it does it makes you stronger and aids your recovery
- know that one day it wont be the first thing that hits you when you wake or occupies your mind all day
- be so kind to yourself, look after your health,
- get support from friends and family and MN!t
- do the things that make you happy - start now on the little pleasures that you can look forward to - a night out with a friend, a weekend away...
- know you didn't deserve it and look at him as weak - but know you are no longer responsible in any way for his life or happiness...
- let no one, no one, judge you. Not even you. Its not your fault. Full stop.
- know that the only person who will look after you and make you have a good and happy life is you. You have a choice.
- you are free now to do as you want... watch a movie in bed, make a cuppa and have a bath in the middle of the night when you cant sleep, turn on the radio or listen to music to help you get to sleep, a lie in here and there...
- find attention elsewhere, of course you wont be able now but later allow yourself. There's never one man, one story, one path. There are new paths and adventures to be had. Once you are through the bereavement.
Best of luck, sympathy, kindness.
I cried when I read your last post for the first time. Your advice will help me too. I've left my STBEXH after 20 years, due to lies, cheating, manipulation, mental abuse. He ended the marriage when I was able to prove one of his affairs, so I left last Nov with our two boys. And you're right, it is a bereavement... A loss of not just the future you thought you'd have, but I also lost the past too. My whole marriage has turned out to be a sham of lies that I never knew about. It has left me feeling foolish, worthless and ashamed. But I carry on day to day, taking my boys to school, going to work, all the usual stuff. This keeps me going... But sleeping and eating can still be hard. Thank you for your advice about having a bath when you can't sleep... A small thing, but it's the little things that help but by bit, if you know what I mean. The middle of the night is the hardest bit for me. Nothing to distract me, nothing to stop me giving the past a post mortem.
I'm starting to feel up to meeting with close friends for a coffee - although I do feel incredibly anxious about bumping in to STBEXH with his latest girlfriend. (This, I know would floor me. I wish I didn't bother me but it does.) I'm know my future can be happy. I've got my boys. Just need to stop feeling so hurt. Hearing that other people have got through a similar trauma and stayed in one piece, and moved on to be happy gives me hope.
Did the affair only end once you found out?
I don't see that a 3 year affair will end just like that. So many times the affair just goes underground.
I suggest you read a bit on
It's a great insight into the world of infidelity and they're are so many in your position.
The deception is enormous. The trust is shattered and you don't know if anything he says is true.
You do know you'd be entitled to spousal support if you divorced. Plus you could get some of his pension too.
See a solicitor and find out what a divorce would look like for you financially.
You haven't worked in a while, but if your husband dropped dead, you'd manage.
Dear OP, please hang in. take the time to see what YOU want for yourself, not what your grown daughters or cheating husband want. Remember, he is a grown man who had the option at any time to say NO. I am/have been where you are - the feeling that all the family memories are tainted, that you've given up your education (i've essentially quit my phd and too embarrassed to go back) to be a sahm for nothing, etc etc. these are all normal feelings. It does take time to get past that and through to your true needs and wants underneath - a lot of time. i've read on a few places that average time for resolution one way or another is something like 2 years. 5 months is nothing - 16 months on i still have all those same feelings you describe but time has lessened the edge a bit.
You don't need to/shouldn't rush into a decision unless you're sure. some people need extra time to make sure they won't regret not trying ... others know immediately they can't ever forgive and work it out.
Have you considered individual counselling for yourself to help you decide what's best for you?
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Thank you so much for all this support and advice. I've decided I'm going to go for counselling on my own to try and sort out what I want. He did only end the affair because I found out, and I will never know what would have happened if I hadn't. He swears he has ended it, that she has made a couple of attempts to contact him but that he has not replied to her calls. But I've only got his word for this, and all my trust in my him has been destroyed, so I don't know. That seems to me to be the problem - how do you even start to rebuild the trust? I feel that in his head he can make sense of what he did in terms of the old my-wife-didn't-understand me cliche, and that the affair was just symptomatic of an unhappy marriage - just wish he'd had the decency to tell me he thought it was unhappy! I don't buy this excuse. He says he wants to get back together, but that we'll both have to work on making the marriage open and honest (!) He isn't particularly humbled by what has happened, and I don't think he will be much changed by it, although I don't think he'd have another affair in a hurry - but I don't know. Still feeling angry and confused. I think it will take as long as it takes to work this out - I just wish I knew where I was heading! Can't plan my day atm, let alone our future! Deep down, am terrified of a future alone, but do not want to live the rest of my life feeling I've been walked all over. If I take too long to decide, am I just giving him the opportunity to get used to being on his own, and perhaps to meet someone else so that he won't want to come back, even if i decide I want him to? Cannot seem to make any decisions! But very, very grateful for support here - makes so much difference to know I'm not the only one to have gone through this!
Please login first.