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Had an affair, hubby too forgiving(62 Posts)
Long story short, I had an affair a few months ago. My hubby never knew because he was OS. It lasted a few months and I finished it because I felt way too guilty, and was worried about our family. It was stupid - I did it because I was lonely and stressed looking after our son myself and the guy made me feel special and attractive and sexy at I time I was very vulnerable. I don't make excuses for it. It was a mistake, but it was a mistake that I made with my own choices.
My hubby recently found out... one of his friends mentioned they'd seen me with the guy a couple of times, he asked me about it and I confessed.
He was naturally pretty shattered by it but he said he loves me unconditionally and all he really cares about is whether I actually still want to be in the relationship any more. He said he can put the hit to his ego to one side and forgive me easily enough, but he just doesn't want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't respect him enough to be honest and faithful. He says he deserves someone who wants to be with him 100%, and right now he's not convinced that's what I want. I have told him that it is, that the affair didn't mean anything in terms of me not loving him any more, but he naturally finds it hard to believe me.
I don't really know how to react. Even at the best of times he is a pretty private guy who doesn't express himself very openly and this has made him withdraw even more. He has reacted very calmly and sensibly to the whole thing - too calmly I feel. Everything he says and does is very coldblooded and rational. He hasn't yelled or cried or insulted me or abused me.
He doesn't even really blame me - or at least he won't acknowledge it. He said he understands that it's hard with him being away, doesn't want to talk about blame - he says what's done is done and it's just about what's moving forward with what's best for us individually and for our son. He did say that even if we get through this, if it happened again our marriage would be over with no questions asked.
Everyone says he is being wonderful about this, and he is. He is even talking about applying for a compassionate discharge - giving up his career - to travel less if that is what I need. But the more wonderful he is the worse I feel. He is a beautiful, amazing man - great husband, great father - and this just makes me feel even more like I don't deserve him. I can't handle the guilt and the lack of closeness. I had managed to put the affair behind me and sort of stop thinking about it but now it's out there I am constantly thinking about how I betrayed him and I feel like dirt. Maybe I should but it is making our marriage worse and worse. I would feel so much better if he yelled and blamed me, lost his temper, reacted how I would in his situation. Vocalized the way I feel about myself. But he just continues being the same wonderful guy he always has been. Just sadder and more distant.
What can I do? I love him and I love our son and I want to keep our family together but I don't know where to start in terms of bridging the gulf that I've put between us. And I don't know how to forgive myself for hurting someone I care about so much. I feel like that the more forgiving he is the guiltier I feel and the further apart we get.
It might be because he's had an affair or fling himself and would feel fraudulent getting all het up about something he's done himself. He's controlling the conversation and that might mean he doesn't want long conflabs about it in case his own indiscretions get discovered. So in his head he's thinking you're all square and it's best to move on. Or even worse, he's now got the green light to do it again with a clearer conscience.
I think he's wrong to love you unconditionally though and from what he's said, that isn't true anyway.
Don't let his under-reaction control how you deal with this though. You let yourself down just as much as him and so you need to work on yourself, independent of what he thinks.
I don't know, it actually sounds like he's still shocked about it and possily the full implications of how he will feel, everyday when something reminds him, haven't quite revealed themselves to him.
Also how many women have you seen on here who find out about an affair go straight to - If I said yes more often to sex/dressed up/lost weight/wasn't so tired/made more time to make him feel special? Take on the aspects that are controllable because it's to much to bear to think of the other reasons and so much control of their own life and choices has been taken without their consent? He may be a strong, reserved and mature man but does that protect him from humiliation, grief and anger?
He sounds pretty usual actually. You may find a nasty surprise around the corner.
Essentially it is the same advice - you must take your lead from him. You have rationalised it in your own head and you want recriminations I suspect as proof of his love, to invoke the show of feelings that you are worth his pain and anger even after what you have done to him - because who acts with rational indifference when something they love passionately is under threat?
You want to be able to talk it out with him but he doesn't want to - I suspect this feeling too comes from a place much more centred on you than him.
He may feel that he can lock it down and move on and seeing what he does I suspect he will be successful for a time but it will mean things will be a facade...maybe a good and shiny one but nonethless with no solid foundation.
Echo above - get help to work on your own boundaries and issues, alone with a counsellor. I think you've hurt your husband enough and owe him the courtesy of not making him your confessor and therapist. You must forgive yourself to move on but that can only come at the price of introspection, true remorse and commitment to yourself and him. Also he may be working through it at a different pace - he will have to come to his decision in his own time.
When you get to a point in that where you can see clearly then speak to him about counselling together or alone so the focus is on him and how you can mend the damage and then move on as a couple if possible.
Essentially it boils down to this - whatever state your marriage was in with the two equally culpable adults involved who both could have done more, at the point you chose to have the affair it was you that broke it. Therefore it must be you who mends it - only once that mending is in place or in progress can you work honestly on the faults that got you there. Too soon and will be kicking the man while he's down. Too soon and it is 'I wouldn't have fucked him if you had been a better husband' to which the only answer is 'you wouldn't have if you'd been a better wife'. Unhelpful.
You don't want to lose him, he seems to want to keep your marriage - I hope it works out for you all. Just my two pen'orth btw.
I would be willing to bet my life that he has never cheated on me. Not just because I trust him, but because I know that the kind of man he is would never accept himself doing such a thing. He is the most rigidly honorable man I have ever met - even to the point where it has sometimes caused friction between us.
I am sure there are issues that he isn't telling me about but an affair is one of the most least likely explanations.
Some people just take a while to process things. Remember that you have had months living with this, for him it's only been days and it sounds like it may have come completely out of the blue for him.
It's not your dh's job to make you feel better about yourself, only you can forgive yourself for the choices you made. I second the idea of counseling, for yourself and together if your dh would be up for it. If he is a very private person he might not feel able to spill his emotional baggage to a third person, but it might be it is that privacy that has perhaps caused the problems in your relationship that made you feel so lonely and vulnerable.
When I found out my dh was having an affair I didn't scream and shout and kick him out (although I've always thought I would in that situation). It wasn't because I had or have ever even contemplated having an affair it was just how at that time I reacted.
Mostly I think you have to rebuild trust in your relationship and that takes time.
I'm confused as to why he has automatically had an affair due to his reaction?
Is there a genuine reason or just because he's a man and because OP felt shit before her affair the only possible reason is he must have been shagging about?
I will most certainly apologize fully if anything emerges but quite frankly my opinion is this poor bastard has had the shit kicked out of him by the person he is meant to be able to trust utterly. Maybe he is shocked, maybe all he can think about is saving face at the prospect of all and sundry knowing his wife was pissing all over his life and that of his child.
If one of the female posters came here and said 'I talked about it rationally, no begging, screaming, crying, no ugly scene and I laid out what I think I can do going forward, but I'm still in utter shock' then you wouldn't be able to hear yourself think for the chorus of 'well done for being dignified and strong and not giving him what he wants' much uttering of 'he's such a massive cunt'. Anyone that dared say 'when will you admit to the affair you must be having due to your calm and rational reaction' would be torn a great big new one (quite rightly). Cuts both ways I'm afraid. Or are women the only people that can feel vulnerable, confused or whatever reason is given?
There are really shitty men, really, unspeakably shitty (met them, seen them represented here and irl) but some men are not all men. In the same way some women do awful, awful things that devestate the people around them but they are not representative of all women.
Hi OP, I'm really sorry that you're going through a difficult time.
If you want your marriage to mend, you have to allow him to react and cope exactly as he needs to. Some people totally shut down when they are dealing with a lot of emotion and stress, and if you try and draw him into expressing anger or whatever else he may be feeling, it's like a sensory overload. He needs time to get his head round what you did, and you need to let him.
I'm just like you, I'd rather have a good old shout and cry, clear the air and know exactly where I stand. But we can't expect everyone to be like us!!!
It doesn't sound to me like he's cheated. An apparent lack of emotional response doesn't automatically signal guilt. It also doesn't mean he isn't feeling very strong emotions right now. He just isn't showing them.
Your DH sounds awesome. You have a 2nd chance to spend the rest of your life with this awesome man! You obviously deserve it, or he wouldn't have offered it.
I don't know what you think about (ahem) <<whispers>> self help books but...
I can recommend a fascinating book called The Successful Self, by Dorothy Rowe. It explains a lot about why people can sometimes struggle with relating to each other's introvert/extrovert ways of dealing with the same situation. It's not new, so some of it might sound a bit dated, I read it a good few years ago now. But I still refer back to a lot of her ideas and explanations in my every-day life. It's not a flighty, fashionable self-help book - it really digs to the heart of what motivates us.
I hope you'll soon be looking back on all of this as a wobble and nothing more!
Well, this is hypothetical, but I do think that my husband would find an affair easier to forgive than I would.
I think that he could look at the big picture & rationalise it as just sex and decide that everything we have together wouldn´t be worth losing for that.
I, on the other hand would likely see it as an absolute betrayal, doubt that I could forgive and would probably make life miserable for all of us.
It could still be the utter shock as well & it hasn´t yet sunk in-I don´t think that it necessarily indicates an affair.
OP I dont think he's had an affair himself either. He sounds just like my DH. In the same situation I would think my DH would react the same.
To be blunt though, his reaction shouldn't be about making it easier for YOU to deal with. You made your bed... Help to support him coming to terms with it. The shouting may or may not come in time, but that's up to him and how HE deals with it.
I think the man is probably in shock and his default setting - you say he isn't the emotional type - is to withdraw and internalise. If he has low self-esteem - and the comments about being difficult to live with are significant - he may feel he deserves what happened & blames himself. Men traditionally have a lot more to lose than women if a marriage breaks up so, if he asked you to leave, he's probably frightened that he'd lose your DS at the same time. I have one friend that would love to leave his wife but thinks he'd never see his kids again if he did.
All of the above is speculation as to motivation for his current behaviour. What happens next is entirely up to him but don't be surprised if he cracks at some point.
To those who are saying his reaction must be because he's guilty of an affair himself, the op's username gives a clue as to why he's overseas.
Op, I would say that given your DH is in the US marine corps and is overseas, would it be fair to assume he's in Afghanistan? If so then I would think he'd have more on his mind than being too upset at the moment, things like staying alive etc. Once he's home he may very well have a different reaction to the one you've received already.
I also think you're unbelievably selfish to have told him, while in Afghan that you've been having an affair. He needs his wits about him and certainly didn't need to be told something which could have waited until he was home.
(I'm happy to be corrected if he's not in a war zone)
Thanks for the kind and honest words, and caboodles for the book recommendation. To address a couple of things...
I think IllageVidiot hit the nail on the head when she said I want him to show emotion to reassure me that he still loves me. OTOH I recognize that this is his way of dealing with it and I have no right to expect him to act in a way that suits me.
I don't think he is has poor self-esteem. He is just a very self-contained guy. I certainly don't think he will bend over backwards to keep me if he doesn't think I am doing the right thing. He hasn't said so outright, but I think if he is not satisfied that I really love him and want to be with him and can recommit to an honest relationship then he will ask me to leave. This is what really scares me, even if maybe I deserve it.
I am not sure how much at fault he is for all this. I have always struggled a bit with him being so reserved - not really being as outwardly affectionate as I would perhaps ideally like - but we were always pretty happy. He has always been a very dedicated family man. But deployments have always been hard and this one was really tough because we were living on a new base and I was alone and looking after DS by myself without really knowing anyone that well (we were near family at our last station). I was very lonely and stressed and I cracked and made some very bad decisions.
I do think he blames himself for not being around - he is very dedicated to his career but he is a family man and it is not like we are the first couple in his unit for this to happen to.
Sorry for the long rambling posts. It just helps to write it down. I know it is my problem to fix and I am just hoping that I can do it.
Gritmonkey - just to clarify, all this has come out since he came back from deployment.
God I am not sure whether laugh or cry.
I suspect he has reacted this way because the op (due to him not being around much and her own issues) likes drama. Look at the reasons she had an affair.
He probably knows she wants a big dramatic scene and is not willing to give her that. He has told her hr will forgive but, quite rightly, will not be with someone who disrespects him and his vows.
The OP wants a big declaration of 'please don't leave me' and ' you bitch, how could you do this'. To make her feel better and the dramatics will make her feel loved.
Its not going to happen.
And him reacting the right way is not an indicator he has had an affair. Ots a sign he is not bowing down to the OPs attempt to get attention. Ur has however offered to do it the right way, is have some leave and reduce travel. I think he has handled it perfectly.
I am not sure how much at fault he is for all this.
I know how much, none.
The affair is all on you.
Basically - you were in the wrong.
You have to deal with things the way he wants.
The default setting here is "You are a cowardly cheater; you have risked your husband's and children's happiness". If he's willing to rebuild this, take it at his pace.
If you wanted an affair, you should have left.
As to trusting you again... well, he'll know how that worked out.
On the positive side, he hasn't kicked you to the curb and he sounds like a nice man, so maybe you will get a further chance. Good luck.
I am not defending what I did but I think it is a bit unfair to characterize me as being a drama queen without having experienced the loneliness and isolation of being a military wife with a deployed husband and young kids.
I don't think I am being dramatic to say it is very tough on every couple who goes through it. Unfortunately I was weak and handled it the wrong way. Now I am paying for that.
Not wanting to sound rude op, but surely you knew his job before you married him and had a child?
It's easier to deal with guilt when the person gets angry with you and shouts and argues. It's a distraction. The fact is he's done nothing wrong and you've done something awful. And he's being lovely about it and trying to do everything he can - even offering to quit his job so you're not alone anymore - if you want to stay in the relationship. It makes you feel even guiltier for betraying such a nice person.
actually I KNOW how tough it is, although it was a long time ago and slightly different. Also my brother died in afgan 2 years ago. I know the forces life very well. And I said that was a contribution.
But, imo, your post sounds like someone screaming for attention. And being a forces wife is part of it.
But he is right not to feed it.
Iamjezabel - perhaps my post here comes off as a bit dramatic but I am upset and trying to work through in my own mind a problem I have created and have no idea how to salvage.
It's cool if you hate on me for cheating. I deserve that. But saying I love drama I think does a disservice to the problem. I knew what I signed up for, I made it through his last deployment fine, and I never would have thought I would be the kind of person to cheat. But I did.
It's not about drama. I just want to forgive myself and do what little I can to try and mend things with my husband. Period.
See I am not hating on you. Do you see how dramatic you are making it sound?
I am giving my opinion on his reaction, which is not 'he has cheated on you'.
You need to find away to forgive yourself that doesn't depend on your dh and or his reaction. He is saying he will forgive you if you are 100% committed. Forgiving yourself depends on you and will, I suspect, take a lot longer.
You want him to shout to make you feel better. His reaction is his and is not there to make you feel better.
Just picking up one point here, as you have had good advice already
You are actually a drama queen in the way you have acted. You flaunted your affair, didn't you. Went to places where you would be seen with the OM. You got found out very easily, by a "friend" seeing you in a public place.
Now I am not going to make a comment on whether that is better than sneaking around in Travel Lodges and hiding away, but you certainly acted like someone who wanted to get caught. This is further evidenced (IMO) by your disappointment that you haven't had the full-on dramatics from your H when he found out.
Reading is fundamental. I didn't say you were hating on me - merely that if you did because I cheated I wouldn't hold it against you. I also didn't say that my way to forgive myself depended on his reaction. It seems to me that you are the one drawing out things that are not there.
I said it would make me feel better if he yelled at me. It would. But I have also said numerous times I do not expect him to.
I have said from my very first post that I acknowledge it is my problem to solve, not his. This thread is merely a way for me to try and understand myself and him, and help work out the path I have to take.
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