Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

rebuilding with DH after affair

(127 Posts)
HollieHelen Thu 15-Aug-13 13:05:36

DH and I are going through some really tough times after I (stupidly and unforgivably) got involved with high-school sweetheart from 18 years ago.
This is now all over, OM and I are not in touch any more, DH and I have talked everything through. I know he is hurting badly, but I am struggling as to how to acknowledge his hurt on a daily basis whilst also trying to keep up a semblance of normality for DC.
Also, I am really struggling reconnecting with DH physically. Bottom line, I am not attracted to him. I was before I allowed myself to look elsewhere so I know I need to rediscover that for his sake but not sure how??
DH wants us to have more couple time and for everything not to revolve around DC. I want this too and we are going to move house to be closer to family for more help with this, but in the short term what can I do – do at home date nights work?!

HH xx

HollieHelen Wed 18-Sep-13 09:40:40

Wedding anniversary yesterday. Really glad to have had that talk with DH the night before and cleared the air a bit. I suggested relationship counselling, but he would rather work through things ourselves for now.

Also saw GP who prescribed a new and stronger cream for my soreness issues, which seems to be working (miracle, after 18+ months suffering with this!!!). Am literally sending GP a thank you card today, I'm so grateful.

Looking forward to moving forward ...

westcoastmum33 Tue 17-Sep-13 05:21:28

I think it might be helpful to realise that your DH is in mourning for a relationship that he valued and has lost. Your relationship will never be the same. I think you now need to help hold carry his pain, just as you two have endured the hard parts of parenting and found joy in the best parts. So next time he opens up to you, maybe try to not apologise and just listen and sit through the pain with him. He needs to feel like he's connected and that you two can be a team again so be courageous and mourn the loss of the relationship you two once had with him so you can clear the ground for a new relationship.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 22:29:59

Had long conversation with DH. He didn't actually want to know many details, though was glad I offered to tell him. Apparently he's been worrying I've been reminiscing about OM and wishing I was with him. Nothing could be further from reality so I'm really glad to have been able to set his mind at ease about that.

ownbrand Mon 16-Sep-13 19:08:07

I wont check phones either . I just wont go there and its hard to explain why .

OP i may be way off the mark but are you wanting your H to call you on some of this stuff ? Do you want him to be passionateley enraged about it all ?

I may be mistaken , but did you initially tell your H that you were in contact with Om and he was Ok about it ? If so , how do you feel about that now? Deep down did you want him to put his foot down about it and "Man Up " and fight for you ?

There is a reason you told him while the affair was ongoing. I think sometimes there is some testing going on when people have affairs.

AnyFucker Mon 16-Sep-13 18:38:12

Have you suggested relationship counselling ?

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 18:00:46

I'm trying to punish myself because I feel like I deserve it!! And because DH hasn't punished me at all and I feel like he should have. I don't want to feel like I got away with this.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 17:59:07

It's so difficult to convey what's really going on ... I have told DH he can check my phone anytime. He said he didn't want to. I have tried leaving it on the kitchen counter / on the table between us. It just made him jumpy every time it went off, even if I told him who each message was from. I decided to leave it in another room as that's what DH himself does with his ...

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 15:57:39

It doesn't seem petty, HH. I know you feel beat up, I'm sorry, I;m honestly trying to get you to see, to help you, that you are in desperate need to 'do the right thing' and 'say the right thing' and that actually that's not what any of this is about. You are surprised that DH asked you if you were back in touch with OM because you'd had a lovely day out. That doesn't preclude that at all. In fact it could spark it. He will be thinking that all the time. Why don't you bring up your contact (or lack thereof) with OM? Why don't you tell him he can access your phone any time he likes, wherever, and that it doesn't make him weak or paranoid if it helps, and it will make you feel better too?

When you label these negative qualities you seem to want to call them and point them out as a way to distance yourself from them. Of course you're not 'trying to be a martry about your phone' Why would you try to be a martyr? You are feeling discomfort as a result of DH's feelings and that's interfering in other areas of your life and your solutions are to do things which make you more private, more punished, more segregated. You're not looking at yourself or your behaviour in your relationship as a whole yet.

it's not inappropriate to want to be a teenager again and be married and a mum. It's normal. It's fine. It's how and why you go about doing that that makes the difference. The flagellation is, ironically, a protective armour you're wearing. By attacking your former self you are implying you've changed, but have you? Can you? Can any of us?

By trying to find a solution that punishes you in some way you are at risk of making the problem worse. By deliberately not having the phone in a room with you when with DH you are still 'playing' him, controlling him and yourself. There is still a secret agenda in your mind that he is not part of, even if it is 'for his benefit'. It would be a much better sign if you had the phone right between you, openly on the table, in the long run. Have you discussed this phone tactic with him? Why not? By not talking to your friends at the weekend you will build a resentment however subconsciously in you towards him and your DH will be further separated from your life, not combined into it. I'm not sure why you are trying to find solutions which involve you alone, and not you two together. Why not discuss it with him? Ask his advice? Does he want the weekend to be a phone free zone? Or does he just want to know who you are contacting and why? Does he not even want that but just want to feel a certain thing from you that you are not giving emotionally and then he wouldn't be paranoid or triggered so much? To be active would be you doing the running here, he is embarrassed and humiliated and asking for these out of nowhere will be too much for any man.

I know you will say that you are trying to shoulder the burdens of rebuilding the relationship alone but I call different. By managing all the problems and consequences alone and self-punishingly you are still maintaining a wall between you and your DH and keeping control for yourself and a compartmentalised life for yourself too.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 15:14:05

Yes, totally immature! The whole thing with OM was completely immature - I was kidding myself I could be a teenager again which was totally inappropriate given that I am married and a mum. During the whole thing I was really selfish and irresponsible.

I'm not trying to be a martyr about my phone - I can see that what I wrote probably sounded petty. Like you said though, it's a symbol of secrecy, so I think for the next few weeks / months I need to be aware of how I use it and maybe have weekends as phone-free time. I know my friends (not new, but old and recently renewed) will understand that.

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 15:00:19

You wanted your DH to do something about it. You wanted to tell him and for his response to somehow end the chaos and guilt and give you some clarity as to what you should do.

Do you see that's passive? Do you see it's also a bit immature? That it's like a child bringing something it's broken towards its parents and tremulously waiting for a response, for something bigger to make it all okay again or punish or whatever, but just take it out of their hands?

Similarly, when you come to us saying, I guess I'll just have not to be in touch with my new friends at the weekends anymore because I don't want it to be at the expense of DH's peace of mind, can you see the sliver of martyrdom and bottom lip in that? You must know that if you put it to DH like that he wouldn't want you to forego friendships on his account. What would he suggest? Better yet, what would you suggest? Are they mutual friends? If not, why not? If so, why not do cc'd emails and involve him? You have the power to step up and see these as opportunities not problems.

It's most likely, OP, like everyone else, you are in need of both stability AND emotional excitement. That's life. When you get one, we run towards the other.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 14:31:15

I definitely didn't want DH to leave when I told him. I don't really know what I was thinking - maybe I wanted him to know how bad things had become between us? I wasn't looking for a way to end the marriage, though I know DH would have been justified in ending it after what I did ...

I really am learning things about myself from everything that's happened. It seems I am a lot more in need of emotional excitement than I realised before - before all this happened I would have said I was looking for stability. Also I like having things to look forward to - the meetings with OM had that function, which I know was the wrong way to go, but it means I need to build in regular things to work towards. Also I wanted to prove something to myself about OM in particular (as in, I don't think I would have got into this situation with anyone else), as when he left me years ago he made me feel so unwanted / unattractive / unspecial, that him seeing me as desirable now seemed like it was healing that wound. Obviously it wasn't as at the same time I didn't respect him ... Very twisted sad

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 14:19:59

When I say 'look at' your character and actions, OP, I don't just mean notice them and see that they are bad and say sorry for them. I mean actually really look at them. For you, not us here or even him. It may be that they are parts of who you are. It may be you can trace back why. It may be they are unchangeable. There's a tendency to see wrongdoing and then say 'I see that was wrong' and think somehow that helps. Actually it may be that by nature you are in need of male attention and approval (for example, I'm not saying this) and that's always going to be there. You then need to order your life around this, realising that is a central part of you, and fit it into your life in a way you can be peaceful with. Not just that you need to feel ashamed, say sorry, then push it under the carpet as if that solves it. That's what you and others are at risk of doing with the affair in general if you don't run towards the discomfort. And trust me, it never ever works.

ownbrand Mon 16-Sep-13 14:19:16

My mistake Op.

Is there a possibility that when you told your H you wanted him to leave?
Was this potentially a way out of the marriage for you ?

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 14:14:43

Great, I understand why you told him, just as you understand that the motivations for that were desperate, unclear and selfish. it's good that you did but obviously it would have been different if you had, say, ended things firmly and actively with OM, and then told DH about it in the context of 'I am telling you this because I am deeply ashamed and sorry and I want to be with you in complete honesty and I will never contact this man again.' I know you can see that. you must look at why you didn't, rather than wishing you had. You must look at your own feelings of self-worth, control, fear and anxiety that mean you couldn't stand up and do what was right and what you wanted (presumably).
Your own ambivalence and yes, passivity (see how you were persuaded by OM?) This could be an opportunity for really growing into an autonymous adult for you. I'd be interested how you framed it when you did contact DH from the train and what role you play with him in such difficult situations. I wonder if you are more used to being the one who needs reassurance, attention and emotional solidity. It's time now for you to provide that. It could be the making of you.

Don't forget that DH could be imagining much much WORSE than the truth regarding your affair, so if you really truly are honest with him, it might not only be a breakdown in the barriers you've been up between you, and an introduction of who your really ARE in the relationship (rather than the perspective you want him to have of you) but also a relief for him.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 14:09:45

Ownbrand - I obviously phrased things wrongly! We weren't on a family day out and I would definitely not have been texting friends if we were! We were just at home. DD and I were doing some cooking and while the bits were in the oven I was texting. DH was wandering in and out getting stuff ready for work.

When DH and I are just the two of us I am making a point of not having the phone in the same room with me.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 14:07:35

Why did I initially tell DH? You're right, I'm not totally sure. When we were talking that night and he asked if I had feelings for someone else, I couldn't lie. I did just want the deception to end as the guilt and concealment were eating me up (this may sound like a selfish motivation). At that point I wasn't thinking about what OM would do. When he freaked out, I think I knew it was all over. I just wish I had ended it before. After the last time we met up, I had a complete meltdown and tried to end everything as I knew it wasn't sustainable. I then let OM persuade me to carry on ... I know that was weak. I wish I had called time on it.

I did contact DH from the train, and I really am trying to reassure him as much as I can on a daily basis, and to apologise for hurting him. Of course I asked him what was wrong when he was crying, and offered to talk about things, but he just said he didn't know.

The conversation about the details of the affair ... yes, I have been running away from that because it will be uncomfortable. But if it will make things better for DH overall then I need to do it.

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 14:04:16

There is a Kirshenbaum book called 'I Love you but I don't Trust you' which I think is worth looking at. It has a good chapter on the temptation to return to safe denial after a betrayal, for both partners. It feels good because you both don't have to face the horror of what happened, but it is essentially a very dangerous, false state of affairs to get caught in because it actually creates distance, despite it feeling safe. If you truth safety over honest and connection, you will never move through this and the relationship will fall apart slowly and coolly.

ownbrand Mon 16-Sep-13 13:59:40

Tessa is spot on , you need to do exactly that .You both sound very distant from each other.

My P regularly asks me how im feeling , and im nearly two years on .He knows when im thinking about it and will immediateley hug me and apologize . It helps immenseley and if he didnt do this i dont think id still be here .

The phone .That would annoy me .If your on a family day out i dont see the need to be texting your freinds, i think thats quite rude in any event and considering the circumstances its asking for trouble.When your with your H you need to be present .

I bet you didnt spend your time with Om texting freinds and your H will be aware of that . I would find the whole phone thing very very hurtfull. Om was worthy of your undivided attention but your H is not . Thats how he will see it . Its obvious its a problem and he shouldnt have to tell you , you just shouldnt do it .

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 13:57:08

I know you don't, HH. I'm sorry that they seem critical as words. You are not passive overall, you told your DH about the affair for example. But you didn't do that with an active goal in mind, necessarily. I'm not sure you can be completely certain why you did it at all. The truth is that OM hightailed it out of the situation and made a very cowardly but active choice to run away. You were left stranded and hurt. You know you are going to stay because you don't like the alternative which is essentially a passive choice, however active you are within it.

Being more active and honest would be only a minor modification, but it's a very scary one. Rather than sitting on the train fretting you could contact DH (you may well have done) to say, 'my train is stuck at such and such, I'm freaking out because I'm worried a delay will make you feel suspicious or hurt but there is nothing to feel suspicious about. I know it's my fault that you feel that way, I just want to reassure you and make sure I'm not constantly feeling anxious and scared about your responses and any conflict.'

Equally it's your responsibility to bring up the affair and how things are going and his crying. I know you 'know' you're not a victim of his behavior but I think, subconsciously, you're most comfortable feeling in control and safe and actually you need to run towards what's uncomfortable right now, face it and own it, despite the risks and fear. That's active.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 13:36:16

I'm struggling a bit with the idea that I'm being passive and a victim ... If that's how I come across then obviously that gives an insight into something I'm not happy with. I don't want to be passive - I am trying to be active and take action to save / rebuild our marriage. I definitely have no illusions that I'm a victim of DH's behaviour - absolutely the other way round. That's why I feel like I should do everything I can to fix this.

Like I said I will suggest to DH about having that conversation tonight as it would be lovely to be able to clear the air a bit before our wedding anniversary tomorrow.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 13:19:50

I am literally memorising what to say to DH - I do know we have to sit down and have that conversation. Though don't get me wrong, we haven't totally been isolating ourselves, we have been talking about lots of things together, including about our relationship. It's just the details of what happened with OM that DH hasn't wanted to talk about - he's asked me a lot about what I was feeling.

With the texting, it's more difficult ... The two friends concerned are overseas, one is in a different timezone (Arizona!), which makes calling difficult. But yes, I will suggest chatting on the phone in front of DH. Definitely a good idea!

Thank you x

tessa6 Mon 16-Sep-13 13:11:44

I think you still haven't broken through a vital stage to proper renewal of a relationship, HH. Still things feel furtive, cowardly, passive. You are aware that the phone is a trigger to your DH. It is a literal, physical example of someone having a private, discreet relationship with someone they can't see right under their nose. It is symbolic of your affair.

Of course you are sympathetic to him but again, here, you are framing yourself as passive and faintly victimy in this. You are suggesting very subtly and quietly that his paranoia is preventing you from now having healthy relationships with your friends. You are claiming that you do not want to tell him about sleeping with OM and the details because you don't want to hurt him.

I have no doubt these things are true but I'm afraid you might need to step up a little more and work out what actually the problem is and take responsibility for solving it.

Your DH wakes up in the night crying, he is set off by you using your phone, he is unable to ask you questions about the details because he is so pained and afraid of what he might find out.

The solution to this isn't to just say to your DH, by the way I slept with OM those last two times i met him etc etc. And the solution isn't to never speak of it again. That's safe for you because you don't want to feel bad about yourself. But it's incredibly cruel for him, to always feel he must be the one that brings it up, to live alone with it in his own head, imagining the worst, making connections suddenly and horribly.

You need to have the courage to sit down with him and say, I can feel how much this is hurting you and I feel ashamed and take responsibility for that. I think the only way we get through this is to be closer and more honest with each other, and I think if we go into a denial stage and deal with our reactions separately, we'll be putting more distance between us. I think we should have a drink and put some time aside to talk about what happened and what's happening now and you can ask me anything you want, safe in the knowledge I love you and I want to be with you and I wonder if that might help.'

As for the phone, I know most of us communicate in text a lot these days, but it is, even in friendships, a shallow, lazy, very controlling way to talk. Why not use this as an opportunity to actually engage properly with your friends and if you actually have something to say, call them in front of DH, in case of quietly texting? You might be surprised how all your relationships start improving if you approach them whole-heartedly.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 13:00:37

Totally agree Tess and Charbon have been brilliant! I have found this so helpful.

I just really don't want to bring up the information if DH isn't asking about anything ... I'm like you if it happened to me I would want to know everything in minute detail, but I would also ask for that and if I was in his shoes I would question DH mercilessly.

I don't know how to start that conversation as I don't want DH to think I am looking for an outlet / want to talk about it / want to rub it in ...

ofmiceandmen Mon 16-Sep-13 12:56:42

I think Tess and Charbon have been brilliant on this thread. Re read their answers the doubts creep in.

There are different schools of thought on the 'tell vs do not tell" argument but I would want to know everything.

Affairs are about secrets and controlling who knows what when and how. Its the secret that keeps most affairs going, or at least the excitement/buzz/power that comes from keeping it hidden.

By keeping a hold of information and secrets you are denying your partner the ability to understand what he is forgiving, so although he will forgive new information will just get him to fall back to square one - and he has to muster the strength to forgive the new bit of information.

This is now time to lay it all out there. can you really accept it is forgiven when you know he doesn't know all the facts? You've got a 'get out of jail card' ... use it! else this will erode everything you have worked hard to rebuild and protect.

HollieHelen Mon 16-Sep-13 12:38:09

DH does know when, where and how often we met because I would say when I was going to see OM, and we were meeting as just friends until March this year. So there were 5 times, March, April, May, June and July, when we did anything other than meet up and talk. The last 2 times we slept together.

Should I tell DH this? Would it help him? I don't like to bring up OM as I don't want DH to think that I'm thinking about him any more than necessary ...

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now