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Anyone got any experience, on the way forwards after an emotional affair...

(54 Posts)
AboutToSelfDestruct Mon 12-Nov-12 13:41:12

Its not happened yet, but I am almost certain that I'm on the brink of things slipping into EA territory. I've been married for 7 yrs and have two wonderful DC's. Won't give all the history of our relationship but its never been easy. We've had a lot of couples counselling which has helped, but things have never been quite right.
I have been fighting my feelings for OM for a year now and hoped it was just a one sided crush. Very recently we talked and I found out that he feels the same as I do, but we are both very clear that an affair would be wrong and we are just not going there. The problem is, while i can stop a physical affair taking place its impossible to deny our feelings for each other.
I'm in the place now where finally after many many years, DH says he is here and ready to offer me everything that he has been unable to give for years and years, yet I've buit up a wall of self protection and self reliance and got so used to him being distant both physically and emotionally, that I now can't let him in. If there is any chance of us fixing this know I have to let OM go but I don't think I can do that. I can't bear the thought of loosing him. I really don't know what to do sad

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 20:49:58

Yes, I picked up on that statement too amillionyears.

IMO, we shouldn't love our romantic partners 'unconditionally' because that's not realistic and is actually quite a dangerous, romantic notion. In reality romantic love is always conditional on being treated properly, which is as it should be.

AboutToSelfDestruct Mon 12-Nov-12 21:08:37

Thank you for all your thoughtful replies.
Jamjars, can really relate to everything you've said and I am so sorry you are having a similar experience in your relationship.
To be very clear, it was only a few days ago that feelings were acknowledged and yes I accept that depending on how things pan out over the coming weeks, that could definately be the start of an emotional affair, which I agree is a betrayal. However that is why I am taking this as a huge wake up call to make the right decision very very soon. Its far from ideal but I am doing my best.
Izzy, yes very much in rl. Can't say too much but he is single with dc's.
Cogito thank you for your comments. Self esteem was always lousy but thanks to counselling has vastly improved and I now understand some of the 'patterns' that have been present in my marriage. I have been very very close to leaving on three occasions over the last few years but always decided to give things my best shot because I take my marriage seriously. I've not asked DH to 'up the game' I think he senses that after the last time I nearly walked, I've stayed distant and I am sure that deep down he knows I'm just not 'there' any more. I think its a sudden realisation that it may be too late for us.
Amillion, no I wouldn't need someone else lined up. Its more that this OM has been a catalyst for me to finally realise what has been missing all these years and to stop pretending that its ok when its not.
As for not loving DH unconditionally, Its hard to explain. Years ago I had so little self esteem that I clung onto our relationship despite there being many red flags. I now understand why I did this. I HAD to prove to myself that he would love me. Sounds crazy now! With OM if he's happy I'm happy. When he's hurting it breaks my heart. I don't feellike that bout DH and am sad and a little ashamed to say I never have.

amillionyears Mon 12-Nov-12 21:32:11

Why has your DH been distant all these years?
Was he like that when you first knew him?

I can understand from what you have written, how you're relationship has got to where it has.

JamJars80 Mon 12-Nov-12 22:21:41

Charbon, still in the relationship. Want to leave, but I can't bring myself to do it. Dh is complete opposite now to how he used to be and I'm finding this extremely suffocating. He is desperate to make amends but my heart has 'checked out' of the relationship. Like OP said, over the years I've put up barriers and now it's just too late to break through them.
I can't say exactly what's happened as I know people in RL who are on this forum, but things have happened to make us both realise how much we have let the marriage go. He's now trying too hard and I'm not trying at all anymore.
Anyway. I don't want to start going on about my sob story on OP's thread.

IslandOfTwinkles Mon 12-Nov-12 22:42:43

Oh my gosh. OP - are you me?!?!?!

I really and truly could have written practically everything you've said!

As far as my marriage is concerned, I too look back and realise that making a distant man fall in love with me and marry me was like some kind of obsession that I clung to no matter what. I used to think that my world would crumble and I would never recover if he left me.

Now I am the one thinking of leaving him. It's like I have finally grown up and seen the light. Not sure exactly what's done this. Is it having children? Is it going back to work and being 'me' again? Is it just age and maturity? Or is it seeing for myself the kind of affection that another man can offer me?

So, to answer your question about moving on from an EA. I went slightly further down the road you are on. We kissed several times, we were very close friends, we kept in touch by text or e-mail all day every day for almost a year.

He showed me more affection in that time than dh ever has and quite frankly I would love the chance to get to sleep with him.

He feels more guilty than I do though (I am assuming because he has a better marriage than I do) and he decided about a month ago that we should cut the contact.

He's right of course. I respect that and I have left him alone.

So now here I am wondering whether my marriage has already ended. The little bit of closeness we ever had in our marriage was all driven by me. This last year, I have withdrawn all that and now we hardly ever touch each other or have a 'proper' conversation at all.

That said, I am in no position to leave and so I am using this time to put my life back together, so to speak. Focussing on work, friendships, and other outside interests. Keeping busy is my advice for filling the void. As for more long term decision making, I'll let you know when I get there!!

Not sure any of that will have helped at all actually, but I suppose there may be some comfort in knowing that other people go through similar problems. I wonder just how many actually? It's not something you can really talk a lot about in real life, is it?

AboutToSelfDestruct Mon 12-Nov-12 22:58:31

Amillion, yes, always been like it on and off but mostly on. At first I think it was a chellenge. I was young and niave.

Jamjars, please please join in. I could have writen everything you just said. Obviously its horrid to know others are feeling this, but equally reassuring to know that I'm not going mad.

Island, yep thats what I did at first. Clung on. I've done things the other way around. I've spent the best part of the last year and a half filling the void to try and make life full and happy without it all being about DH. I hope this works for you. Sadly it didn't for me. I just came close to burning out, and the love and tenderness was still noticable in its absence. Its on'y now that I've 'checked out' that its being offered but I just can't do it. Have you talked to your DH about any of this? Does he know about OM? What makes you feel you are in no poition to leave? I'm thinking that the constant reminder of what is absence in our relationship must be worse than actually being on my own, but again, I could be being niave. Its the effects on the children that are bothering me most. I'm certain I would have gone by now if it wasn't for them.

amillionyears Mon 12-Nov-12 23:11:18

Can I ask how old you and your DH are?
And how old the OM is?

And a bit of a strange question
At the beginning of your relationship with your DH, if he had shown that he loved you a lot easier, would you have run away from him then? Because you would have proved to yourself that he loved you?

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 23:19:40

I think it's a fruitless activity trying to get an emotionally unavailable man to love you and as you've now found out, belately winning his commitment and affection was never the prize you thought it would be.

You say it's the effects on the children that are keeping you in your marriage, but is that completely true? As it's taken the prospect of another relationship to galvanise you into action, are there are any fears about being single and co-parenting the children from two homes?

If you're only staying for the children and you'd cope emotionally on your own, it really is better to separate as amicably as possible. I often wish more people would leave for the children - not stay for them - because an emotionally arid marriage and one parent whose emotional space is occupied by an affair is not the best environment to raise children or give them models of healthy relationships.

IslandOfTwinkles Mon 12-Nov-12 23:22:45

Burn out! Ha ha! Yes, I think that is exactly where I'm heading. After spending years with small children being desparate for some time alone with dh, I am now keeping myself out of the house and busy as much as possible.

And no, it's not working for me either. But it's a distraction whilst I feel that I have no other option.

I'm not scared of being alone relationship-wise. I couldn't possibly be anymore lonely than I am in this marriage anyway. But I am scared of being alone, and skint with 2 children. I've got no-one else that will help with the kids, and I fail to see how that life could be any better for any of us than what we have now.

There's nothing bad in our relationship. Dh is a perfectly calm, kind, supportive man. But his emotional closedness has gradually killed off my love for him. I never even saw any emotion from him when our children were born. In 15 years together, I have NEVER seen him cry EVER.

And of course now, for the first time in my life, I have realised that not all men are like this. I think that has been the nail in the coffin for me really.

Brutal honesty - if OM wanted to continue our relationship I would happily get my love and affection from him without breaking apart our day-to-day family life. Dh doesn't really seem bothered what I do.

He knows that I have had a very close friendship with a man from work, and he knows that I don't see him anymore and that I miss him a lot. He's even seen me cry over him FFS, but he asks no questions & shows no feelings.

Charbon Mon 12-Nov-12 23:41:15

I think a lot of the relationships I read about on this site and see in RL are just stories about bad couple-fit. People who were never going to bring out the best in one another but who as individuals could have been happier with other people, capable of making someone else happy or happier alone.

I've seen several men in RL whose apparent 'emotional unavailability' was confined to the relationships they were in and several women whose depression and mental health challenges turned out to be situational and because of romantic unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

It seems a terrible trade-off to put financial security and a level of personal comfort above freedom and personal growth - and an awful relationship legacy to give to children who would always prefer their parents to be happy and fulfilled. That's why I genuinely query whether people really are staying in relationships for the children, or whether they are staying for their own interests. Because these stagnant, unhappy relationships aren't good for children at all.

GoodGirlGoneBad74 Tue 13-Nov-12 15:47:22

Hey guys...I posted yesterday if anyone remembers and am ALSO in this kind of situation :-((
My hubby wants desperately to win me back and I have to let him try and also make the effort´s the right thing to do and if it works, best for the whole family.
He has been madly scouring the internet and has diagnosed me! (and I think all of you lot too...haha!) We have "Walk Away Wife Syndrome" !! Yes, those Americans will come up with this stuff, won´t they??
Anyway, google it, it´s quite typical.
The question is, whether we can be saved! The hard part is convincing yourself that you WANT to be saved!!
I broke ties with my EA was SO hard, even I was shocked at how bad it felt. I´m 38 and I think it´s the 1st time my heart has been broken. I´ve been in secret tears for 2d but I know it´s the right thing to do....if I don´t try this one last time with the man who does love me, (he just hasn´t known HOW to love me )and who says he´ll do anything to try and make it work, then I´ll always be the baddy, the homewrecker and the selfish cow who walked away and broke 3 people´s hearts (my DH and my 2 sons)
I don´t know if it´s too late....I hope not!

amillionyears Tue 13-Nov-12 15:49:43

Good luck GoodGirl.

LouMacca Tue 13-Nov-12 16:31:31

Great post Charbon you are spot on..........

AboutToSelfDestruct Tue 13-Nov-12 19:03:36

Charbon definately spot on and this relates to me very much so "several women whose depression and mental health challenges turned out to be situational and because of romantic unhappiness and dissatisfaction."

Good girl, I will google that! Hope you're bearing up ok.

Its been a crazy 24hrs for me. More confirmation of how OM and I feel about each other...still nothing physical, but the increasing emotional bond combined with the attraction was loud and clear. I decided last night to end things with DH as even if things never came to anything with OM I really couldn't bear the thought of loosing him, and loosing him is the only way I can attempt to salvage anything from my marriage.

I had plans in my mind about how to tackle things, but this morning I was put on the spot by DH who is rightly feeling very confused at the moment and was looking for reassurance that I couldn't give. It lead to a big heart to heart and I was totally honest about everything.

DC now here so will have to finish off later...

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Tue 13-Nov-12 19:34:19

So sorry to hear this, OP. I think you're very strong to make this decision.

I wanted to ask Charbon and anybody else really... if someone is having an affair - emotional or otherwise - does it AWAYS mean that their primary relationships suffer or are some people sufficiently able to compartmentalise the affair and never give it a thought when at home.

I think this CAN'T possibly be the case, that - man or woman - the person having the affair kids themself that they're being all things to all people but is that the case generally?

Charbon Wed 14-Nov-12 00:18:18

Oh yes, some people can compartmentalise, but it's quite unusual.

IME, people often think they are compartmentalising until the truth comes out - and they are often horrified when their partner recalls incidents and behaviour that hurt very much at the time and seemed bewildering and out of character. At that point, they start to remember various incidents such as poor sleep and vivid dreams, arguments with others, the feelings that everything was out of control - and conclude that they weren't compartmentalising at all.

It's not always to do with what you might think either; conflicted feelings for two people. Sometimes just the stress of a generally honest person being deceitful for a short time, causes the lack of compartmentalisation and 'hitting out' at home and at work. For people who are essentially kind and honest, it's very hard to live with a split-self. It's especially difficult for people whose marriages/relationships were good before the affair and understandably the changed behaviour is much more noticeable in a couple who had always been close.

But there are people who can compartmentalise successfully. IME these are usually people who have always had quite tight boundaries around different areas of their lives e.g. have never discussed work or introduced a partner to colleagues, always had very separate friendships/hobbies, work away from home a lot. As characters, compartmentalisers always come across as closed books and tend to be very controlled.

OP good luck and glad that you have brought things out into the open. I only hope you've been honest with your husband about this other relationship though, because his hurt will be greater if he finds this out later down the line.

You sound switched on enough not to put too many hopes in this new relationship and I'm sure you're probably aware of the poor success rate for relationships that start as affairs, but if you're convinced you and your family would be happier if you and your husband separated, regardless of the other man, it sounds like this was the best option. I admire you for bringing things to a head before prolonging any deceit - that takes courage and guts.

AboutToSelfDestruct Wed 14-Nov-12 12:43:17

Thanks LWITW and Charbon. The last 24 hrs have been crazy and feel like a lifetime. I have told DH everything and have agreed readily to cut contact with OM while we see if there is anything to salvage from this. Good girl, I'm with you. I feel like my heart is breaking, and its a bit more complicated as I am also very close to his DC's so I feel like I'm letting them down so much. We are also going back to our counsellor as soon as possible to talk things through.

There has been so much talking and crying already. I'm not sure if its just a reaction but DH's response has been so unlike what I was a good way. Its like this really has been the most massive wake up call for him and all of a sudden he says he can see life so clearly and realises he's had his priorities all wrong and he so so badly wants to make this work.

I feel totally numb right now. Its all so surreal. Good girl, how are you doing?

The one thing I am so pleased about its that I didn't let the deceit continue. Feelings that are kind of obvious, but kept in your head are one thing, but as soon as they were acknowleged as mutual I have held my hands up and am trying to sort things out. I can't imagine the hurt and mess that would have been caused otherwise and I think that the chances of a happy outcome with either scenario would have been low.

Charbon Wed 14-Nov-12 16:00:32

Your husband might well need to address his responsibility to your marriage About but he is not responsible for you forming an attachment to someone else. If you are now on a path of rescuing your marriage, one of the things I'd suggest you face up to as a couple is how you individually resolved your dissatisfactions within it. His response to his own dissatisfactions might have been to withdraw and with-hold and your response might have been to try, give up and then punish. Both of those approaches are acts of sabotage towards yourselves and your relationship, with the additional factor that another person is now involved in the hurt created.

I think if you take a one-sided approach to this where your husband takes the blame for your affair and the state of your marriage, you will both be missing an opportunity to resolve your individual unhelpful character traits as well as the opportunity to realise the potential in your relationship.

GoodGirlGoneBad74 Wed 14-Nov-12 21:27:35

Hey, SelfDestruct!
We are living parallel lives! That is exactly what happened with me! I was fervently hoping my DH would admit he felt the same and we would just amicably stay together till our lives were on track to split in a civilised manner! (haha...yeah right, dream on!)
I am still missing the other guy like hell and finding it so hard to stay away (ie no Facebook, Twitter, e-mails, etc)...have managed so far - about 36h that is!
Just hoping that in time, I will start to feel a lot less for the EA guy and see that rekindling things with DH is what I truly want.
It´s just so hard when you´ve had that excitement of thinking of being with someone else and telling yourself, "no, never again, this is the guy you are with till death do you part!"
I´m trying to tell myself to grow up and stop being a twit but I feel like a drug addict suffering withdrawal (well, I imagine it´s similar !)
Hoping time will heal all....we must keep in touch and support each other if´s great to feel less alone (I have absolutely NOBODY I can tell this to sad
I´ll check in with you tomorrow.
Stay stong xx

GoodGirlGoneBad74 Wed 14-Nov-12 21:30:14

Errr, make that "Stay Strong"
oops grin

AboutToSelfDestruct Wed 14-Nov-12 22:33:50

Absolutely are! Been about 36hrs here too. The fb / twitter / text thing is just so accessable it makes it so hard. DH and I still not stopped talking which is good, but I can only process our relationship with him and need to pull apart why I ended up where I did and examine my feelings for OM if we can move on from this. I have to do that one by myself. Although I am also talking to loads of friends about this. Is there anyone at all in RL you can confide in?
Its all about small steps. We are doing really well and doing the right thing. I so believe in fate and whats meant to be will be. Feel free to PM if you want to talk more, but will check back in tomorrow smile

GoodGirlGoneBad74 Thu 15-Nov-12 14:32:55

Thanks,SelfDestruct :-)
I will PM you no doubt at some stage and you too feel free!
I too believe in fate and my EA´s parting words were, "until we meet again"...he thinks we are meant to be, which is so lovely but not at all helpful as part of me is now clinging to that...urghhhhh...STOP IT!!
I wish I could talk to somebody but my closest friends and family are really far away (I live abroad) and I can´t think of anyone who has come close to an affair yet (well nobody has ever even hinted at it...who knows?) All my friends seem to be real goody-goodies!! (Like most Mumsnetters, apparently too! Haha)
Hubby is being so sweet and lovely and so easy to live with...makes me feel all the worse for hankering after a man who, on paper, is nowhere near as good a "catch" and is even 8 yrs older...jeez! Wondering if this is a midlife crisis female-version!!
But hey, we ARE doing the right thing. Marriage is a committment and you have to pull out all the stops before you walk away.
Just not sure I believe in it anymore the way I did when I made my vows....think I´m a different person now :-(

GoodGirlGoneBad74 Fri 16-Nov-12 10:13:16

Oh poop! He texted me last so close to falling off the waggon now....heeeeelp!
And my DH is being Mr Perfect as just feels like it´s too late and my heart has moved on...oh boo bloody hoooooooo
I think my nickname is more apt than intended....I am an evil woman...somebody tell me to be a good catholic girl again- quick!!

LouMacca Fri 16-Nov-12 13:09:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AboutToSelfDestruct Fri 16-Nov-12 14:44:53

Well you are doing better than me then. I caved last night and sent a text. It was just killing me as there was no goodbye. The last contact before this all kicked off had a VERY different feel to it. Had a lovely reply that made me even sadder as he is just such a wonderful, sensible guy, who obviously really cares about me. I will now do my very very best not to contact and ride it out.
Goodgirl, everything you said about hubby being so lovely and the age gap and the "on paper" and the wondering if having a mid life crisis is all very very true for me too! All I can think right now is that DH feels he has really changed. His words and actions show that he really has changed, so if I don't at least try then I may well end up with regrets, and I don't want that as divorce is so painful. I also feel like its too late and that my heart has very much moved on but who knows? I'm going to give it 5 or 6 months as thats how long my heart has been gone. If things can't come back then at least I know I tried, and if OM is the person I should be with then we stand a far better chance if I have this sorted first. Do you think some counselling would help for you and DH? I don't think I would get anywhere without it right now, as I've got nothing left to give. The counselling for me is definately last chance saloon. Good luck in staying strong, and hand holding smile

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