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DH had affair - can't get over the pain.

(54 Posts)
saferniche Fri 30-Aug-13 16:33:17

Five months ago, just before our 20th wedding anniversary my DH told me that he'd had an affair, which he said had happened last year. He told me it was over (it wasn't of course, they were still in contact). After some ambivalence on his part I insisted on NC - after which his attachment to the OW evaporated pretty quickly. More ambivalence towards me was solved by my visit to a divorce lawyer and the firm insistence that he commit to our relationship or leave. He seemed hugely relieved at deciding to stay.

He's feeling a great deal of shame and remorse, is mortified at how much he's hurt me and we're making our way through the process of reconciliation. He's a lovely man, a great father and I don't want to abandon the marriage after what now seems to him like a dreadful mistake. But the pain and sorrow is unending.

Thoughts please, lovely (and not so lovely) mumsnetters.

Idespair Fri 30-Aug-13 16:38:32

You need at least 2 years to feel reasonably ok about things. 5 months isn't a long time, it's all still pretty raw. Sorry for your situation, I know how painful it is unfortunately having been through it. I am still with my dh, it's been 3.5 years since his affair (after 10yrs marriage) and we are doing quite well now.

PrincessKitKat Fri 30-Aug-13 16:40:51

I can't really help OP but I would think after 20 years of marriage such a deep, hurtful & personal betrayal (and the subsequent lies) are going to take a long, long time to heal and I suspect if it was me, they might never heal completely.
Are you 100% sure he's worth the heartache and second/third chance? What parts of him or the relationship don't you want to let go?

saferniche Fri 30-Aug-13 16:41:53

so glad you're ok Idespair. It's early days, I realise.

saferniche Fri 30-Aug-13 16:45:45

PrincessKitKat yes - it's the lies that really hurt - and out of character too.

That's a good question. Can you be sure 100%? He's very dear to me, I suppose, as a friend as well as a DH. He hasn't let me (and our family) down before.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 30-Aug-13 16:49:59

Why do you think he is with you?

From the way you describe what happened, it sounds as though you did all the fighting for the relationship and he just didn't want to get divorced when he had nothing better to leave for.

Do you think he really loves you? Or that he just wanted to keep his family together and his pleasant wifey onside?

I'm not sure I could get over my husband being so ambivalent about me and our relationship for such a long time.

Love isn't something you switch on and off.

saferniche Fri 30-Aug-13 17:02:21

I know - the ambivalence was hell. And I did feel I was fighting something (even more than fighting for something). I was confident that he loved me, otherwise I couldn't have done it. That may seem crazy in the circumstances.

It's now I can stop fighting, when he is being very loving, that I feel so sad.

worsestershiresauce Fri 30-Aug-13 17:05:37

I predict you'll get a lot of responses on here about how it'll never work. Mainly from people who didn't want to or couldn't make it work for them. That's their experience. What you are going through is yours. Just something to bear in mind.

I've been through similar - affair last Spring, separated, started a divorce, stalled the divorce, reconciled, cancelled the divorce, now together and with a baby added into the mix. It's been a roller coaster of a year, and not one I'd re-live in a hurry.

The questions you need to ask yourself:

Have you cleared up all the old hurt, misunderstandings and issues in your marriage? We all have them. Are there still things that bother you that have been swept under the carpet?

Why have you stayed? Dig deep and be honest. Why?

Has he changed? Really fundamentally changed? Anyone can say sorry. It means fk all unless they follow up with actions?

Do you know you'd be ok on your own or are you clinging on because the future seems too frightening if you don't?

What does he do when you are having a 'bad day'? I still have bad days! Show me someone in our position who doesn't and I'll show you someone hiding from reality.

If you can answer those and the answers suggest you are happy, then I reckon you can make it work.

As for the pain and the sorrow, well no, it doesn't go. I should keep off the relationships board really because reading other women's hurt exposes my own. But, in my case it has faded to bearable, due to the simple fact my DH does absolutely everything he possibly can to alleviate it. It doesn't sweet talk, he acts. I largely ignore words as he lied with the best of them at the time. I judge him on his actions.

I hope you make it work in whatever way is best for you. Never settle for second best. Follow your heart and be happy. That might be with him, or it might not.... but never settle.

saferniche Fri 30-Aug-13 17:10:33

worsestershiresauce thank you so much. I'm sorry to remind you.

These are all very good questions. I don't know if I have all the answers yet.

saferniche Fri 30-Aug-13 17:13:30

'I judge him on his actions.'

I think so too.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 30-Aug-13 18:10:26

His actions post-revelation have been positive with the big exception of breaking off with OW when he told you he had. And the fact you had to lay down the law about no contact. And you had to visit a lawyer before he was taking you seriously.

It was just five months' ago so a large proportion of that you were probably in shock. It doesn't sound like you gave him marching orders or demanded breathing space. Did this ever get aired with families or friends? Did he really understand what he jeopardised or was he anxious not to lose home and hearth and family life?

I was on one Relationships thread this week in which a poster very coherently described how she and her H had worked at their marriage following his affair. They're still together. The emphasis was on his hard work at fulfilling her stipulations. I'll PM you the specific one as MN forbids direct quotes from other threads.

You could have slammed the door and bolted it OP now your H has to be very clear the door can swing back open and be locked forever if there's any repetition.

ageofgrandillusion Fri 30-Aug-13 18:17:31

The ambivalence would be the killer for me. That's all really. But each to their own I guess.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 30-Aug-13 18:42:09

The fact that after the affair was uncovered and he wasn't in love with his girlfriend anymore he still didn't love you says a lot.

You don't suddenly realise you love someone just because they see a lawyer.

You realise you don't want a divorce.

That's not the same.

The fact that he felt relief at his decision to stay is really quite depressing.

It sounds like he stayed for safety and comfort and the safety of the status quo.

Why were you so confident he loved you?

What kind of love feels such complete lack of interest in their lover?

SawofftheOW Fri 30-Aug-13 18:57:50

worsestershiresauce hits the nail on the head. We are into our third year post-discovery and I still have bad days and pain - the jealousy and hurt at his emotional intimacy with someone who is not you is agonising, never mind the sexual betrayal. But the bad days are getting fewer, although I have 'triggers'. I still find it hard to watch stuff on TV or films where there is an affair involved and it is all painted as very glamorous, the 'OK' thing to do and entirely devoid of any pain for the betrayed partner, or the DCs. The OW was incredibly attractive (physically - she proved to have a scarily unpleasant and vengeful character once denied 'her' man), and I still struggle with how I look, my body etc, despite my DH's repeated assurances that he finds me attractive. He had told her she had a body to die for - the usual shit - but it has had a profound and lasting impact on my personal self-confidence.

He too displayed the same ambiguity towards me for some time and I know how completely agonising that is but reading Shirley Glass's book and Andrew Marshall's advice at that time and subsequently on how, when someone is in the affair 'bubble', they disengage emotionally from their spouse/partner made me realise he was not unique in his responses to me. He didn't do what I expected him to do when I found out - he didn't beg for my forgiveness and plead with me not to end our marriage - instead he told me he had 'never known love like it' as that he had found with the OW. I can not begin to explain how profound my shock was at those words; my world shifted in its universe and everything seemed utterly distorted and without any solid foundations any more.

Like you NC and profound heart-searching on both our parts enabled us to make A START on repairing our marriage. He moved jobs and ultimately we moved house after her harassment - after he finally ended it for real - became too intolerable (that's another and longer story). He too is genuinely sorry, utterly mortified and would do anything, anything to turn back time and never have done it. And like you, I stayed with him because I too believed that he still loved me, somewhere deep inside, in those early hellish months, despite his (secretly) continuing with the OW. Most of my friends said LTB. But I didn't want to. If he wanted to go and leave our DC and me, it was him that had to make the decision - I was not prepared to give him the luxury of making it for him. I know many others on this site don't believe this is the right approach, but for me, for us, our DC, it was. It is bloody, bloody hard. The hardest thing I have ever done and still do, but I don't regret it. Yes, I sometimes rage at myself for not kicking him out at the time and making him beg to come back, so that perhaps it would have kicked that early ambiguity into touch and therefore reduced my and the DCs suffering - but for me, despite being very far from a walk-over - it was not what I wanted. I am glad we are still together. I love him with all my heart and I believe that he feels the same about me. Someone wrote on this site that I was 'polishing a turd of a relationship'. They couldn't be more wrong.

Good luck, OP - more posters and lurkers than you can imagine have done what you have done. I admire the strength and courage of all those who have chosen the alternative path, equally I take off my hat to all those who grit their teeth and try and make it work (if given the opportunity and their DH/DP is sincere in his commitment). Thinking of you. Five months is nothing, nothing. You are still in shock and bereaved. You have lost what you thought you had and now have something different. But that doesn't mean that - ultimately - you won't find a peace with it. Thinking of you. x

saferniche Fri 30-Aug-13 19:25:35


You are wonderful. Thank you.

I need to read your post again and comment more fully and will be back later.

But thank you x

SawofftheOW Fri 30-Aug-13 19:56:58

Oh sweetheart. Believe me, I have walked many, many miles in your shoes and know absolutely what you are going through. The pain is like nothing on earth; my three very difficult labours were as nothing compared to the physical and emotional agony I went through and still go through.

However, and I know I will be flamed by some for this, I DO believe that it is possible to have a better marriage in many senses after. Not the same, never the same -the innocence has gone for ever - but coming so close to losing EACH OTHER can have a salutary and binding effect. We are thankful that WE hung on through the hell he and she put me/the DC through. I'm kinder to him, he's kinder to me - yes, we still row about it. But much less often. And do you know, sometimes we can laugh about it as well - I will throw back at him a remark she made to me or he made about her in his texts/emails if we are arguing - and suddenly we are laughing at the crassness of it all. It wasn't crass when I first discovered it, but time really does take the edge off the pain. It becomes fuzzier around the edges, and now I can go a day without thinking about it. Believe me, that's progress. You'll get there. Truly. Read Andrew Marshall. Read Shirley Glass. Holding your hand thanks. x

Whatelseisthere Fri 30-Aug-13 20:17:46

I've NC for this.

I had the affair. I left DH and moved in with OM.

He said that he would never stop loving me but that I had to do what made me happy.

The OM was abusive; I needed to get my shit together and break free of all kinds of issues caused by my horrible upbringing.

I left OM and had some intensive counselling.

After almost five years apart, DH and I are back together. I regret my behaviour every day, but the experience has forced me to confront my demons and I am at peace with myself and my marriage.

My DH's pain must have been unbearable. I wil regret that till I die. His forgiveness has been my salvation and we are both happier than we ever thought possible.

You have to look forward and have faith, along with all sorts of other qualities; the key is that you can both trust and forgive. Honesty and the ability to laugh and be vulnerable will help too.

It can be done. I wish you all the love and luck in the world. Tell him how you feel. He is with you. Show him how not to blow his second chance

People can change. Not everyone who cheats is in league with the devil.

worsestershiresauce Fri 30-Aug-13 20:33:24

'polishing a turd of a relationship'

God some of the people on here are revolting. To say that to someone who is already hurting..... hmm

One of the reasons I come on threads like this is because when I was going through hell, and needed help and hand holding the extreme right LTB brigade jumped on my thread and utterly destroyed me. The little shard of self esteem I had left after my DH's revelation was well and truly shattered by the time they had finished with me. I want to be there for other people who like me don't hate their DHs, don't believe the only way is to lock the doors and refuse to communicate, and do want to reach an amicable conclusion. I don't think all relationships can survive an affair, because sometimes they really are an indication that a relationship is over. I do however believe that some (like mine and Sawofs) can, and do end up better, stronger and kinder as a result.

Both parties have to 100% want a future together for it to work, and be 100% committed to making it work.

cronullansw Fri 30-Aug-13 22:24:10

An affair disrupted my marriage some 10 years ago. I was the adulterer, it took a couple of years to get back to normal, but it happened and we are still together.

Personally, I really dislike the LTB brigade on here. How can a 3 month affair, yes, with lies, deceit, loss of trust, sex and all the other bits that go with it, possibly overrule a 10 or 20 year marriage...... It's very easy being a keyboard warrior offering mock advice and making caustic comments and fake sympathy - 'I'm here for you love' - when who knows what state their own lives are in.

Everyone makes mistakes. That is how life works.

Good luck, you'll be fine - if you both want to be fine. smile

ageofgrandillusion Fri 30-Aug-13 22:45:11

Cronull - it is all well and good moaning about the LTB brigade. But an affair is an affair. There are some of us who believe that, in many cases, an affair, especially one that goes on for a while, renders a whole marriage meaningless. It is such a cowardly thing to do, the lowest of the low. What makes it even worse is the pathetic excuses that people on MN keep offering up for doing it. And then that old chestnut - "i had an affair but then had counselling and worked through my issues" bullshit. Why cant people just be honest - they thought they could get their legover without getting caught. If you truly loved and respected somebody - the bare minimum for a marriage surely - then it is something you wouldnt do, end of.

FrancescaBell Fri 30-Aug-13 22:45:52

Yours is a version of an 'open relationship' though isn't cronullansw?

I've often seen posts of yours where you admit that you continue to have dalliances with other women and you suspect your wife does the same with other men, but you never talk about it as a couple?

The advice from worcester seems more apposite to you OP.

No personal advice as never been through this, but I've had the misfortune to see the fall-out from lots of affairs in my time. Most of the time it's got nothing to do with whether these people love their partners or the quality of their marriages. I've seen a lot of foolish people who love their wives/husbands and really don't want to end their marriages, get involved with people who are equally stupid but who are good at stroking their egoes.

So it's got more to do with opportunity and truly shocking selfishness, than anything else.

The initial ambivalence is the worrying thing here.

Never known a couple to survive this without the unfaithful one going to therapy on his/her own and making wholesale and fundamental attitude and behaviour changes.

Has he done any of that yet?

What prompted his confession?

ageofgrandillusion Fri 30-Aug-13 22:52:44

Cronul - if yours is indeed an open marriage then your comment in this thread is, frankly, irrelevant.

cronullansw Fri 30-Aug-13 23:10:55

Incorrect Francesca; I've said we were open in the past but that in the last decade I've been entirely faithful.

You don't need to apologise.

Whatelseisthere Fri 30-Aug-13 23:12:19

And then that old chestnut - "i had an affair but then had counselling and worked through my issues" bullshit. Why cant people just be honest

I wrote my post in good and honest faith to give another opinion to the OP.

I'm wondering who you think you are to decide that my experience is 'bullshit.'

I would not dream of dismissing someone else's experience of their marriage.

Perhaps you are omnipotent or psychic?

Or perhaps so very closed-minded that an experience you cannot accept must be dismissed as 'bullshit.'

FrancescaBell Fri 30-Aug-13 23:18:44

I know I don't need to apologise- and won't because I think you are being highly disingenuous cronullansw.

However this thread is for advice to the OP and I'm sure she's more than capable of using Advanced Search if she needs to check out the credentials of people posting on her thread.

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