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Advice - how to move on from H's affair?

(28 Posts)
AllmyExsLiveinTexas Tue 07-Dec-10 11:57:08

Hi, I desperately need some perspective on some stuff going on in my life and would appreciate some honest and straight-talking advice.

This is a condensed version of events (but it's still really long, sorry!).

A few weeks ago, my H confessed to a full-blown affair that had been going on for 2 or 3 months. Our relationship history is complicated, but we've been together over 20 years and have two DCs. Our sex life has been difficult for many years, but I've tried really hard to make that side of our relationship better, but it hasn't ever improved, TBH. We have always got on really well apart from that, and we rarely argue. I didn't really suspect the affair, but it came as no big surprise either, and it made me take my head out of the sand about how bad things were - admittedly a lot of it my fault, but not ALL of it.

We've had several Relate sessions, both separately and together, which have helped a bit.

All this time, my H has still been seeing the OW (but not intimately he says) and says he won't stop seeing her because he doesn't know what I really want. I have turned a blind eye to him seeing her, purely and simply out of a huge amount of guilt on my part. I thought I would like to try again with H, but I'm not sure we can get back the intimacy we once had - for various reasons, that I won't go in to for now.

So we've agreed that we will almost certainly be separating, it's just a question of when. One of our DC is in GCSE year, so I'd dearly like to wait until after they've finished exams in June next year, but not sure I can stand it much longer.

Anyway, H is going to a concert in a city a long way from where we live and is planning two nights away in a hotel with the OW. I feel quite sick about this. I'm pretty sure H is footing the bill for an expensive hotel as he tried to secretly cash in some shares which I found out about, but he said it was to pay for a surprise birthday present for me, but I'm not sure I believe him. My feeling is that, if he's still living with me and DCs as a family, why should our money pay for their dirty weekend away? Not to mention the moral aspect of it.

Anyway, what should I do? Ask him to move out now? Or immediately after Xmas? Our DCs will be devastated, but I don't feel I can pretend anymore and am beginning to feel like the world's biggest doormat. All I've done since discovery of the affair, is put everyone's feelings before my own, including the feelings of H and the OW. Obviously my DCs are the most important thing in the world to me, but my self-esteem is below zero at the moment.

My H is still sleeping (obv, nothing else going on though) in the same bed as me because the DCs don't know what's really going on, although they know we're going through a very rough patch.

Thanks for listening.

HecTheHallsWithBoughsOfHolly Tue 07-Dec-10 13:06:57

I think the relationship is clearly over and he is with this other woman. In your shoes, I think I'd want to be physically seperated as it would be less painful and allow me to begin to deal with it.

You can't carry on in this half and half life. The children will adjust.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Tue 07-Dec-10 13:18:17

Well I'd love to know what the Relate counsellor has been making of the fact that your H has continued his relationship with the OW while you have been in couples therapy. It is also a complete fantasy that he hasn't remained intimate with her, if they are now planning a weekend away and using the family budget to pay for it.

Look, let's get this straight. You and he were jointly responsible for your marriage but you were not responsible for his infidelity. There were a myriad of other choices he could have made. There is a clue to his character in that he is evidently a man who cannot be on his own, since he wants to keep the OW bubbling away on a hot plate while he pretends he is trying to work things out with you. This might make him feel better about himself, that he is ticking the boxes of going to Relate and trying to salvage his marriage, but it is in fact complete bollocks. If he's still seeing the OW, be very clear about this, he is not trying to save his marriage.

Had he been genuine in his recovery attempts, he would have severed all connections with the OW, because no-one can rebuild a relationship when a third party is still metaphorically sleeping in the marital bed.

I'm not surprised but I am saddened that despite a Relate intervention, you are still blaming yourself for your H's behaviour and have tolerated his continuing relationship. I am not surprised either that your esteem is at an all time low, after all these events.

This cannot go on. Yo are right that this cannot limp on for further months and you are already being screwed financially if he is secretly trading in shares.

If you honestly feel that you can never rebuild the marriage in terms of your feelings and sexual response to him then ask him to leave. Get some legal advice however, because it sounds like this man will cheat his family out of money when it suits him. I agree it's not ideal before GCSEs but that's not your fault and a period of peace and calm without all these parental hurt feelings might actually be better for your child, with sufficient honest explanations from you both about what has happened.

If you decide you still want to try, then he must sever this relationship and you must stop taking the blame for another's behaviour choice. There is a world of difference between understanding why your marriage became vulnerable to infidelity and taking the blame for a choice you had no control over.

If you decide to try again, I would ask for another counsellor, incidentally.

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Tue 07-Dec-10 14:30:58

Many thanks for the responses.

HectheHalls – you are absolutely right about not living the half and half life, I needed to hear exactly that from someone who doesn’t know me, as I’m still in a state of denial. Incidentally, I haven’t told anyone about this in real life as I don’t know I anyone can trust to not gossip.

WWIFN, I was hoping you’d be along soon…. I knew you’d have some wise words for me.

Re: the Relate counsellor, I went to the first couple of sessions on my own, and explained to her that H is still seeing OW. And she replied “oh, you can’t have that hanging over you”. Then, after my H had a session or two with her, on his own, she changed her tune and didn’t mention it again. This is the main reason why I’ve stopped going, because Relate don’t give any actual advice apart from trying to help us with reaching a decision and then give emotional support. My H has gone to Relate today on his own to see another counsellor – he knows that when we go together, they are more likely to sympathise with me (but they actually never say so!). I remember one occasion when I said to H, in front of the counsellor, “you’re treating me like crap”, and she looked visibly shocked and close to tears, but she still didn’t frigging say anything!! At £50 an hour, that’s just not value for money.

You are also correct in that he is a man who cannot be on his own. He can’t bear the thought of leaving the marital home and he feels justified in ‘hedging his bets’ because he feels that it was my coldness and lack of intimacy that caused the affair. He does accept that there is no excuse for his actions, but he thinks his choices are “understandable”. Even though he knows it’s over, he still acts like we’re a happy family. I think we are both guilty of trying not to upset the DCs, and not being able to go through with breaking the bad news to them. I know it must be done however.

Regarding our assets, I’ve told H that if he tries to hide anything from me, then I’ll go loopy. I don’t think he’ll try and screw me over, but it was the discovery of a small share sale that made me paranoid. He has sworn that he’ll be honest about that stuff when the time comes. I also take on board your advice to get a solicitor.

You’re right about me not taking the blame about his behaviour choice, but when I try to rationally discuss this with H, he manages to make me think it’s my fault and so therefore it’s OK to have his cake and eat it. In his defence, he did ask me to go to counselling about a year ago, but I didn’t think we had that much of a problem and I admit I couldn’t face it. So he uses that as a valid reason for this actions as well.

Incidentally, he has NEVER once seriously said he’ll consider severing connections with the OW apart from that they weren’t being intimate anymore. If the Relate counsellor was worth anything, she should have pointed out that little fact to me, if nothing else.

I’m trying to paint my H as ‘not too much of a bad guy’, because he’s a great dad and provider and our DC adore him. Over the years we've had a great relationship, in the main, and I don't hate him or resent or regret anything; I just feel enough’s enough.

Thanks again. I have a lot of thinking to do.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Tue 07-Dec-10 14:41:42

Divorce him.

Ring a solicitor today and start the ball rolling immediately.

Do not trust him to have your financial security at the forefront of his mind...he has form as you have caught him out once already. He is also doing a pretty good job of making you blame yourself...not such a "nice guy" really, is he ?

Please stop being a doormat and keeping the home fires burning while he spends family money on taking OW for a shagfest.

Seriously, this man needs to know that he has made his decision and so do you

You are right, enough is enough. Relate is crap...I would actually stop throwing good money after bad, tbh.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Tue 07-Dec-10 14:44:15

Do you have absolute certainty (an exact date) of when he had first contact (not first meeting if this was later) with the OW?

undermyskin Tue 07-Dec-10 14:47:28

I am sorry for the positon you are in.

I will leave it to those much wiser than me to comment on much of what you have written, but as I was in a situation very similar to you I can say something about 'holding it all together' until a DC's exams are over.

My exP of 17 years kept returning to OW while we were trying to work out if we could move on together. DC's (10) very competitive secondary school entrance exams were just 6 weeks away when I knew the situation was no longer tenable. To even attempt to hold it together for a few more weeks in the interest of DC I felt be impossible to sustain, and the tension of the situation probably the more unsettling. You can only pretend so much and for so long. Obviously I have no control, but DC did very well. I think they are always more resilient than we think they will be, and you have a bit of time stabilize the new set up if you split.

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Tue 07-Dec-10 15:16:16

AF, I was hoping you’d be along too! Thanks for your brutal honesty. As you say, taking the OW for a shagfest (potentially paid for with family assets) does not sit easy with me. Not only that, it’s my birthday a few days after they get back from the weekend away, and I just wish he wasn’t coming to the meal out we have planned with other family members, but if he’s not there, it’ll destroy the DCs. Not only that, I don’t want the DCs to know about the OW yet, or he might tell them WHY he felt the need to run in to her arms. It’s just a complete mess.

WWIFN, I don’t know the exact date of the affair starting or indeed first contact – he’s been fairly vague about that. I’m guessing around June 2010 but possibly much earlier. This date fits in with some odd and grumpy behaviour starting. There is an added complication in that the OW has a teenage daughter who thinks they are boyfriend/girlfriend. He’s worried about explaining that to her and our DCs somewhere down the line, but I’m not overly bothered (I know I probably should be), it’s his problem - he’ll have to say they were just friends or something. The timeline is becoming a complete nightmare, which is another reason we need to get it over with.

Undermyskin – thank you for sharing your experience. I think it’s made me realise that getting through Xmas will be a miracle and I need to forget any ideas of waiting until June next year. Sorry you had this horrible situation as well, but pleased your DS did well in the exams!

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Tue 07-Dec-10 15:56:12

look, him holding this over your head "he might tell the DC's" is completely out of order

you may say he hasn't actually threatened it verbally, but it is obviously a worry to you...so why is it ?

you are going to have to tell the children at some point..it is not fair to tell them outright lies...they won't thank you for it later

I think your husband is being a complete and utter shit, and the sooner you realise that and start accepting he isn't the man you married, the better, IMO

"does not sit easy" ??? Where is your anger ? where is your self-respect ? I hope you find it very, very soon. x

prh47bridge Tue 07-Dec-10 16:11:44

To defend Relate briefly, relationship counsellors aren't supposed to take sides, regardless of how obvious it seems that one party is in the wrong. If you go in expecting them to say that you are right and your partner needs to mend their ways you will always be disappointed. Their role is to try and help the couple sort things out for themselves. They cannot do that if they are seen to take sides.

Having got that off my chest, you need to start divorce proceedings immediately. He is treating you with no respect at all. Continuing to see the OW "because he doesn't know what you really want" is completely unacceptable and guarantees that any attempt at reconciliation will fail. Now he is going away for 2 nights with the OW. Regardless of whether or not he was selling shares to pay for it, that is also unacceptable. The only way your marriage can have a future is if he cuts off all contact with the OW immediately and permanently. From what you say I don't think he will do that.

The legal advice would be that you should continue to share a house until the divorce and financial settlement are finalised. That will obviously be difficult for you in this situation. Getting him to move out is the next best option. Whatever you do, don't move out yourself.

Stop being a doormat and take action. Tell your children yourself so that he doesn't have that hold over you, but keep it as neutral as possible - it is going to be hard enough for them without you and your husband trying to make each other look bad. I wouldn't mention the OW to your children personally - too much detail. But whatever you do, I agree with AF that you need to get angry and find some self respect.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Tue 07-Dec-10 16:30:52

OP, I bet he is "being vague" about when this first started, but it might astonish you to consider that by the time he suggested Relate, he'd already got this woman lined up as a suitable affair partner and he had detached from the marriage some time before. An affair doesn't just start when they first have physical contact.

If you've been reading threads in recent weeks, you will see that there are 2 other stages before that; the friendship/mirroring stage and the pre-affair permission-giving stage. What often happens in all 3 stages is that the detached partner "sets you up to fail." Hence, he knew that you would be reluctant to go to Relate and didn't much want to himself, so he made a request that he knew you wouldn't comply with and this helped in his justification process.

How did they meet, you must know that?

I understand what prh47 is saying about Relate's remit, but I don't think observing that a marriage cannot recover while an extra-marital relationship persists is apportioning blame. And counsellors have to know how to deal with anger and not look shocked and "close to tears" when it is expressed in the therapy room. Anger is a great emotion, as long as it is discharged safely and doesn't harm ourselves or others. I think your observation at therapy that he was treating you like crap was on the money, OP.

He still is treating you like crap and is persevering with the "you made me do it" stance about his infidelity. Don't let him pursue this any longer.

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Tue 07-Dec-10 16:33:45

I am angry, believe me. I'm just trying not to blame him for absolutely everything. I take some responsibility for the breakdown because I've been cold and lacking in affection towards him for some time. There are deep-seated reasons for that, which I can't really go in to at the moment.

I needed to tell my story on here because I wanted someone to tell me to get a grip, and you all have. So thank you for that.

The reason I don't want to tell the DCs about the OW yet, is because I/we need them to NOT take sides (as much as possible). I wasn't planning to tell them outright lies, but just try and keep it simple for now. There is no bad atmosphere in the house, so they are going to be completely shocked whatever we decide to tell them, and we are definitely NOT going to try and make the other look bad. Besides, my H has been a great dad to them and he deserves to maintain a good and healthy relationship with them, more for their sake than anything else.

I know Relate are not meant to take sides, I just expected a bit more from them that I actually got - not sure exactly what I was expecting, too much possibly.

I'm not moving out. We have discussed this quite a bit, and hopefully I can keep the family home until DCs go to Uni (or whatever). I think OW has her own place anyway, so he can go there. TBH, I don't know very much about her and don't really want to.

No, you're right, he's not planning on cutting contact with OW anytime soon, he never was.

Thanks again.

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Tue 07-Dec-10 16:35:44

WWIFN - will reply to your post ASAP - need to go offline for a bit.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Tue 07-Dec-10 16:42:21

I wasn't advocating you tell the DC's that their father is a faithless fucker.

I would of course agree that they need an age-friendly and above-all fair version of events.

But if he is taking OW away on jollies, they are going to find out sooner rather than later (depending on their age). Best they get it from you (both)

Don't fool yourself they haven't picked up on anything either.

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Tue 07-Dec-10 20:33:50

WWIFN – your intuition and knowledge amazes me.

Several months ago, perhaps nearer the beginning of 2010, H and I had a heart-to-heart (one of many) about the state of our marriage, lack of sex, intimacy, etc. It ended with me jokingly saying to him “you should have an affair”, we both laughed at the time. He’s now saying that he wonders if I was giving him the Green Light. I told him that’s not what I meant and he knew it.

I’m not exactly sure how or exactly when they met, I think through H’s work, although I know they don’t actually work together. I’ve deliberately avoided finding out too much about her as I’m fairly sure she’s much younger than me, although H did once say that I had a better figure than her, which makes me feel slightly better.

I also would not be surprised if their connection with each other went back further than he’s admitted to. I prefer to not know, because it only reinforces me foolishly not spotting the signs, which with hindsight, were there in multitude.

AF - I hear what you’re saying and don’t necessarily disagree. At this moment, I don’t know exactly what we’re planning on telling our DCs, I wish I did.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Tue 07-Dec-10 20:38:36

WWIFN is best to take over here.

I wish you all the best x

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Tue 07-Dec-10 21:11:59

Thanks AF.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Wed 08-Dec-10 16:17:09

Late back to this OP, but the first thing to say is that I'm glad you have concluded that this situation is untenable and of course, the DCs should be told and since you've agreed that he will move out, he should do so immediately.

I wouldn't take your approach about not wanting to know, all there is to know. I think rather than beating yourself up for not recognising the signs, you might forgive yourself instead, because there is absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent his infidelity. By the time he had given himself permission to have an affair (2nd stage above) nothing would have dissuaded him from this path.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if when you had the chat you refer to, when he interpreted your affair joke as a "green light" hmm he was already having an affair. It's possible it wasn't sexual yet, but emotional affairs start much earlier, as you know.

So you could have turned into a porn star overnight and he would have still pursued this affair. Now if that were me, I would want to know all that, because I expect you have got yourself locked into a very familiar script of blaming yourself for your husband's behaviour choice of infidelity. Worse still, he is blaming you too.

It's actually very liberating to reject that erroneous blame and realise that this was outside your control. It allows you to forgive yourself and say:

"He had other choices. My choices were denied because I was being deceived. I can't take responsibility for decisions I made, when someone was hiding the most salient pieces of information that would have helped me make them. I can forgive myself therefore because had I known he had under-invested so much that he was having an affair, I would have responded differently. When he first met the OW, he could have come to me and told me that things had reached crisis point and that he was at a tipping point. He didn't do that and so I cannot take responsibility for that action."

You know what was happening in your marriage best and you know how long the sex and intimacy problems existed. However, I have often found that problems like this, that are being framed as causative in an affair occurring, turn out to be response behaviours because of a spouse who already had one foot out of the door. This is why I always urge couples to timeline events.

You might feel that it really doesn't matter, but IMO, even if you separate, you need to understand what happened here and I have a healthy suspicion that you are being sold a crock of shite by your blaming and justifying husband.

CoventryCarole Wed 08-Dec-10 16:33:02

I agree with everything the others have said, and that it doesn't sound like you have a marriage anymore. He obviously isn't that bothered about saving it, if he is still seeing the OW.

However, I would say, if you can, PLEASE leave it until after your child's GCSEs. I have seen several children go completely off the rails (albeit temporarily) when their parents separate, and it really does impact schoolwork. I know that's not what you want to hear, but those GCSEs will be on their CV forever and universities and employers do look at them. It could have a lasting impact. It's only 6 months. You can take that time to get legal advice, financial affairs in order etc. so the DC don't know before they need to.

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Thu 09-Dec-10 13:31:34

Sorry, not had a chance to come online as I can’t risk my DCs seeing anything.

WWIFN – again you are probably spot on. I think he was having the affair (or being tempted by an affair, at least) at the time of the Green Light comment, and it was another sign that I didn’t pick up on. I still don’t want to know the gory details about the OW – H has said that, if it was me having the affair, he’d “be puking”.

Firstly, I should say that the sex and intimacy problems have been going on for many, many years, which is why it's so hard for me to not blame myself. The root cause (which have only surfaced through sessions at Relate) is probably to do with me taking on a 'Carer/Motherly' role towards H many years ago when his mother died. There are other factors also, but that seems to be the main problem. I don't think I have the energy or the desire to try and fix that now.

We had another emotionally charged discussion yesterday, and H has said that he knows he’s “being a selfish twat” but he’s not willing to give up what he calls his Plan B (even though there is only ONE outcome now, it’s a WHEN not an IF) because he’s desperate to be loved and wanted by someone. He is also still taking OW away, but they’re staying in a PremierInn now hmm which she’s offered to pay for. I told him that when we look back on all this, that day would be the moment it was over – even though we both know our relationship was dead in the water long ago.

What hurts me most is that when I ask H, why did OW have to choose a married man, he always defends her choices? He says that he told her from Day One that he was attached, but she still chose to pursue him? I just don’t get it. They are both very needy people, OW is on ADs and has had a nervous breakdown, plus her marriage ending was very painful. I think H feels he can’t put her through another trauma – so clearly her feelings are more important that mine. On the other hand, I don’t think I can ever love him again, so I'm relieved, in a way, to let him go.

Finally, thank you so much for that paragraph of wisdom regarding me letting go of the erroneous blame. It has helped enormously, and I’m going to print that out and read it when I start to self-doubt. I may show it to H, in fact, I may let him read the whole thread, but I don’t really want to blow my cover!

CoventryCarole, your advice gave me another perspective re GCSE timing, which I really appreciate. I think we are going to try and limp on until end June next year (which has the added benefit of pissing off the OW, but I know I shouldn't say that). The child we have doing GCSE’s is the more sensitive out of our two DCs, and I will never forgive myself if they do badly because of the split. Also, DC is very keen to go to Uni eventually and, as you rightly say, every GCSE grade will count.

tb Thu 09-Dec-10 17:05:32

Allmy, nothing of value really, just to wish you all the best. If you exh doesn't move out before your dc's exams, is there any chance he could be 'working away' for a while before, it might make things easier for you.

The only other thing I can think of it to suggest that you start getting together a portfolio of documents to show family assets, including shares, accounts etc, just as insurance for the future when you get to talking about financial arrangements.

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Thu 09-Dec-10 18:46:50

tb, that's a good suggestion about 'working away' and we've already discussed H doing just that as part of a gentle phasing-out process. As far as everyday life goes, we were never particularly touchy-feely, so the DCs will not notice much difference there. We rarely argue or disagree about anything (in front of DCs), it would almost be easier from him to leave if we did, TBH.

Re finances, etc, that's another good idea. We are extremely fortunate in that our mortgage is almost paid off and we have a reasonable amount of savings. H has a well paid job, so the DCs will get a decent amount of maintenance from him.

Things could be a lot worse, that's for sure.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Thu 09-Dec-10 19:02:51

hi again

I am reassured to see your latest posts (not that you have to make me feel better, btw smile)

I am glad to see you have both accepted your marriage is over. Some of your earlier comments seemd to suggest that you would try to hang on to it.

So however way you work it out now (to separate) is whatever is best for your family, and only you know that.

AllmyExsLiveinTexas Thu 09-Dec-10 19:17:38

I see where you're coming from - some of my wording has been a bit wishy-washy.

I think I was just trying to hang on to the family unit, and not my exH. I realise that can't happen now.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Thu 09-Dec-10 19:40:17

good luck to you x

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