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Please help. I've had an affair and told my husband - I now realise I want to work things out

(115 Posts)
onanightlikethis Thu 06-Sep-12 11:08:32

We have been married for 11 years, together 15. I'm 40, he's 42. We have 2 kids 7 and 8.
I love my husband but as is probably normal we have got stuck in a rut, taken each other for granted and fallen out of love bit. He's not the most demostative person.but I know that he loves me and our family.
Stupidly, I let my head be turned by someone else, who gave me the things my husband did not. I told my husband 8 weeks ago that I needed him to change - be more affectionate, do more to help me, interact with the kids more. He has tried to change and I can see that. On Sunday a conversation eviolved around buying furntiture and spending money on the house. That led to me saying I didn't want to stay. We didn't argue or fight- he said it's clear I can't be who u need. We discussed separation. He has now run with this, taking practical steps to make this happen. He's moved into the spare room. I confessed to an emotional affair with someone else- he knew this person and could pinpoint the night it happened.
I know I have hurt him terribly. I have apologised. My difficulty is that I can't stop crying and I wonder if this means I have got it all wrong.
I spoke to him last night saying I can't reconcile why I am so upset if this is what I wanted, and I had been blaming him, but maybe a lot of it was in my head and I had issues I needed to work out. I asked him if it was saveable- with counselling- even if the outcome of counselling was that we would separate, at least we would be able to say we had tried everything. I feel massive guilt.he said I had broken him.
Has anyone been through this and how do I know if I'm sad at the loss of our marriage and the guilt, or if I'm sad because I want him and our marriage to work?
I know if I commit to stay I have to be over 100% sure it's for the right reasons.
Any advice appreciated.

SoleSource Thu 06-Sep-12 11:13:55

When I was cheated on I ended the relationship. That is all he deserved.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 06-Sep-12 11:20:41

It's pretty normal to take something so much for granted that you only want it after it looks like it'll be taken away. Your DH has been told in fairly rapid succession a) he needs to change, b) you're leaving and c) you've had a fling.... you may have done all of these things to get a reaction out of him but if he calls your bluff and says it's over, that would be entirely understandable. Marriages can come back from 'I'm leaving' but they rarely recover from 'I've had an affair'. Big mistake telling him.

onanightlikethis Thu 06-Sep-12 11:24:12

Thank you for your comments. If we want to move forward it has to be on an honest platform. And I need to look at why I did it.

QuintessentialShadows Thu 06-Sep-12 11:26:12

It seems pretty clear that instead of working on your relationship when your marriage started seeming a bit stale, you started working on a new relationship. Not sure there is a comeback from that. Your husband is naturally very hurt. You need to let him decide and set the pace.

onanightlikethis Thu 06-Sep-12 11:30:40

He's hurt about the affair I know that. I'm hurt I hurt him. And I know I should have thought about that before I started it.

Charbon Thu 06-Sep-12 11:39:04

I agree with you that honesty is best and admire you for it. I know lots of marriages that have not only recovered from an affair, they've got better - but none that have improved for there being secrets as massive as that one.

What might help is to be extremely honest with yourself and your husband about your satisfaction levels with your marriage before you laid eyes on the OM. Did you want to end your marriage before that, truly?

If not, it's far more likely that the affair has caused the dissatisfaction in your marriage and not the other way around. Also, if the affair was already underway in any shape or form when you told your husband to shape up 8 weeks ago, you need to acknowledge that in that conversation, you were actually setting him up to fail, because if your mind and body were elsewhere then, nothing he did could have altered your position.

Your husband is likely to be shocked and hurt and so what he says now might not be what he actually wants. From his point of view too, he would be mad to agree to try again with a partner who was herself ambivalent about what she wanted, so he's protecting himself in the way we would all advise a woman in his position.

You need to take some time on your own working out what you really want and being very honest about your own motivations. Don't ask to try again if you're really not sure yet, but you might ask your husband to take a bit of time before enacting difficult-to-reverse decisions, which is also what I'd advise a woman in his position too. Decisions taken when hurt, angry and pride is dented are rarely sound ones.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 06-Sep-12 11:44:27

You're sad because it's over and you're sad because you've hurt him. Your version of an honest platform so far is simply to dump your guilty secrets. This may have made you feel better but you have destroyed him in the process. I think you do need to look at what's gone wrong but from separate locations. He can't make any kind of rational decision with you still around.

onanightlikethis Thu 06-Sep-12 11:48:47

Lovely post charbon. Thanks
I have spoken to friends over the years about how I didn't feel he was right for me- I like risks and he's steady. We did speak together 4 years ago about this, so it's just not a result of the OM. That is possibly the catalyst for now. Did I want to end it truly? Possibly not judging on how I feel now.

NormaStanleyFletcher Thu 06-Sep-12 11:52:45

Get the shirly glass book 'just good friends'. In fact get two so you can both read it

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 06-Sep-12 11:56:49

Doesn't matter whether you really wanted it to end in the past or not. You've put your chips down, lobbed the metaphorical ball into the roulette wheel and you have no control now over where it stops. All you can do is wait for the outcome.

QuintessentialShadows Thu 06-Sep-12 11:56:52

Just dont go and dump your hurt over what you have done, on him too. Spare him that.

Tell him you are upset it came to this, but dont put him in a position where he feels he has to support you and help you feel better.

Dahlen Thu 06-Sep-12 11:58:21

I'm not excusing your behaviour at all because ultimately you made a choice and that's on your shoulders, but I find it quite telling that the reasons you gave were lack of affection, lack of help round the house and, lack of interaction with the children. Marriages have ended for less, even without the double whammy of an affair, and I don't think it's unreasonable for you to have been unhappy in your relationship because of these factors. If your DH decides to forgive you and work on your marriage, he is going to have to address these factors.

When he's the injured party, I don't know how willing he is going to be to accept responsibility for these failings as it may well feel to him that you are trying to deflect blame onto him. If you really want him to change this, you are going to need to work extra hard at taking responsibility for the fact that you had an affair rather than working through your issues or ending the relationship, which in turn he could use to avoid changing his behaviour at all. You are both going to need to be really committed to this to make it work, and given recent history I think it's unlikely you could do that without professional help.

whitewineinthesun Thu 06-Sep-12 12:02:54

your story sounds similar to mine, Digbert. i was never convinced that H was 'right' for me, and i eventually had an affair. the marriage ended - not because of the affair, but because i realised i couldn't live with H knowing i was capable of loving someone else (the affair had ended w'out H finding out at the time).
i very much regret the affair, and i'm not entirely sure that i did the right thing in pushing to end the marriage. i think perhaps i just got bored, like everyone does at times.
i think that in your case you need a separation for a while. i agree wth others that the ball is in your DH's court now, and he will need space to decide what he wants to do.
i'm sure you've realised that affairs don't solve anything, and showing genuine remorse would help your husband.

Charbon Thu 06-Sep-12 12:03:32

If you look at this from the OP's husband's point of view, in some ways it might have been a relief that the cause of the trouble in his marriage and his wife's distance and strange behaviour was because of an affair and not because he has suddenly become a terrible husband who's not worthy of staying with. IMO it's much worse when partners drop bombshells about wanting to leave, without admitting that there is someone else influencing events. An affair always massively skews the picture in terms of the judgements people make when they are involved in them and because of that, the perceived 'problems in the marriage' are nearly always capable of remedy.

This is why honesty is the only way to save a marriage, but it needs to start with the partners being honest with themselves first.

OP I think you need to work out whether your husband and marriage has become more appealing because you're not in control any longer. If you've always had a script that you 'settled' and that you had the power in the relationship, try to work out whether it's the loss of him that is troubling you, or the loss of power and control.

Charbon Thu 06-Sep-12 12:13:00

I'd also be a bit circumspect about the complaints about the husband not being affectionate, doing more around the house and interacting more with the children. If these were raised after the OP had met the OM, they are very unlikely to be the reason the marriage was in such trouble, or indeed why she had an affair in the first place. The OP also says that after this discussion, the husband made positive changes. What he didn't know then I suspect was that nothing he could have done would restore him in the eyes of his wife - and it wasn't a level playing field at all.

OliveandJim Thu 06-Sep-12 12:15:05

Agree with Charbon.
OP my parents have overcome several cheating eposiodes. DF was the one doing the offences and he didn't want to divorce either. I have to say that it has been very difficult at times and as kids we never fully understood why my mum would take him back each time. She claimed she loved him too much to let him go with someone else. Long story short, they are close to their 70s and are blissfully happy as a couple. But my parents live in France and in France an affair is not the end of a marriage, it rarely is. Even when Mitterand (a french President from the 80s) came out about having an illegitimate daughter no one blinked an eye lid...
So from my own experience I would say a marriage is salvageable despite an affair. An affair is not necessarily the end of love. Being very different people is not necessarily a sign that you are not compatible. Like ying and yang each one can bring something different into each others life. DP is mostly quiet and reserved whereas I'm bringing energy and initiative onto the table.
Your DH is very hurt but agree with him not taking any rash decision when he is feeling like that. I also agree you have first to work out what it is that you want. Can you try and buy time? Is it worth it?
People do make terrible mistakes (you are not the first and certainly not the last), does your DH have it in him to forgive you and give you another chance? Before he answers this question you will need to find out if this is what you want. Ther eis nothing worse than asking someone to forgive you and then stating actually, no you're right, it isn't worth it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 06-Sep-12 13:40:14

@OliveandJim. The difference is that your mum wanted the relationship to continue in spite of a repeatedly cheating partner. This is completely the other way around.

If the OP's DH was posting that they'd been told they weren't good enough, then been dumped, then an affair..... and only once the knife had been plunged deep into his heart, twisted around several times and she'd had the satisfaction of seeing him slump to the ground, bereft of life she'd said...'I'm not sure if I've done the right thing now, maybe we should make a go of it'... we'd be telling what's left of him to get a good lawyer so that she couldn't add yet more insult to injury.

expatinscotland Thu 06-Sep-12 13:42:36

But you never even shagged the other bloke?

Charbon Thu 06-Sep-12 14:02:02

I wouldn't be advising the DH to dump his marriage just yet.

I'd be advising him to take his time coming to a decision - and to work out what he truly wants, which is the same advice I've often given to women in this situation.

Whether an affair is kept secret or not, it's still happened and it's still had an impact on the marriage. At least the DH in this case knows the reason for the impact he's been feeling, rather than the fate of many unsuspecting partners who know that something's not right in their marriages, but have no honesty from their partners about why that is. Had the OP not been honest about the affair, he might have been at a loss to understand why when she raised her grievances and he made changes accordingly, she still wanted to leave him.

Right now this man is probably in shock and that's not the best platform for life-changing decisions. But hopefully now at least he's got the truth and can make those decisions with all the information he needs.

I think he needs time and lots more honesty from the OP, not exhortations to make knee-jerk decisions.

onanightlikethis Thu 06-Sep-12 14:38:57

Thank you again. I had said years ago and again more recently- before I met the OM that I felt things weren't right. - I felt like his sister or mum.
Nothing sexual happened- I know an emotional affair is as bad if not worse than a sexual one- where sex is all it is about.
Once I realised that another man could make me feel alive in a way dh didn't- I stopped contact. But that led me to more deep thinking about why I could be tempted. I have admitted to dh that I was at fault- perhaps blaming him for things that I thought were wrong, when really it was me that was wrong. Doesn't help either that my parents are close by and have been chipping away at him/us our marriage for the past 6 years. They have always felt he was a bit cold and didn't "approve" of the way we ran our lives. So because of toxic parenting and being an only child I began to believe what they were saying. Telling mr o leave and he wasn't right.
One of the big things I have realised is that I thought we never touched each other, but since we have stopped I have realised that we did- a lot.
I accept that he will need to ome to terms with what has happened and I can't influence his actions following my behaviour.
Really what I'm wanting- and I know I have no rights really to WANT anything, is for us to seek counselling to work out if we can move forward - either to a separation/ divorce, or we can change things around .to do that we both need to address our issues and I'm not sure we can do that alone, as he's not a great communicator.

OliveandJim Thu 06-Sep-12 14:42:33

Cogito, how do you know how her DH is feeling or what he wants? I'm sorry but I gave the same type of advice to Orm when she was the one cheated on...
When you're in shock it is not the best time to take a life changing decision to paraphrase someone else on this thread. And Some poeple do think that saving the marriage is more important than saving face or pride.
However, it is unclear how much OP wants to save her marriage or for what reasons. i just thought that if she asks her DH for more time she needs to be sure it is worth it. He'd be double insulted if she were to say I'm not sure I want a divorce to then a few weeks later conceed that after all there is nothing left to save. If you ask for a second chance you have to mean it.

onanightlikethis Thu 06-Sep-12 14:51:15

I realise that olive- which is why I want space in counselling to explore our marriage, our roles in it and the reasons I did what I did.

Charbon Thu 06-Sep-12 14:52:48

He might not be a good verbal communicator, but communication is bigger than that isn't it? If he was so in tune with you that he even knew the night the affair started, he's very aware of his own feelings and has got highly-developed senses, hasn't he? You also say that he was more affectionate in reality than you'd told yourself he was, so this affection is a form of communication too.

I'd suggest you ask him to give it some time before giving up on you just yet and I'd also suggest that rather than couples counselling just yet, you both have your own individual therapy - or at least the opportunity to talk to someone who will be objective and who cares for you both.

Much depends though on whether in your eyes, he can ever be restored to romantic, equal partner status. It sounds as though you have allowed others to chip away at the respect you've had for him and the affair was a symptom of that, as well as what were probably earthier reasons on your part i.e. the opportunity for a sexual adventure and an ego boost.

MissBoPeep Thu 06-Sep-12 15:31:30

You had an emotional affair- was that really that much of a betrayal? Just talking?

Some affairs, or close friendships I'd call them, can call time on your main relationship- they are a symptom.

You have to choose if you want to revive your marriage - if your DH does- or you are now clinging onto something you didn't want before, but now seems appealing because the control has been taken away from you.

Counselling maybe?

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