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On behalf of friend - DH in love with another woman but not having an affair

(55 Posts)
SignYourName Tue 19-Aug-14 15:15:22

I’m writing this on behalf of my friend with her knowledge and permission who for her own reasons doesn’t want to join MN but is desperate for some outside perspective as she doesn’t know what to think. The level of detail has been approved by her.

She has been with her DH for 10 years and they have one DC. Before he met her, he had a comparatively short but apparently very intense relationship with a woman he met when they started working together, which ended due to circumstances outside their control (I don’t know the details) but which I understand was a “reluctant” parting rather than the relationship fizzling out or one treating the other badly. I knew my friend back then and can remember when she met him and he certainly was quite angry – not violent or even angry at my friend in particular, more at the world in general. TBH I didn’t like him very much when they first got together; she was one of a succession of rebound relationships from what I could see and I didn’t think he appreciated her enough for what she was.

My friend got pregnant accidentally not long after they started seeing each other. Their relationship was quite rocky for a while and there were spells when it looked as though she would be a single parent. She had a very traumatic and painful birth and extremely bad PND, and to be fair he absolutely grew up and stepped up. Once the baby was here he seemed to fall in love with being a dad and he was extremely supportive of and caring towards my friend and it seemed to strengthen their relationship quite significantly. They ended up getting married about a year later.

Shortly after they married, his ex (who was still working for the same employer albeit at a different site) made contact as she was in a position to rekindle their relationship. My friend says that was quite a difficult time as her DH obviously still had feelings for his ex, but to be fair again, it seems that as soon as the latter knew he was married now she backed off. She started seeing someone some time later.

Meanwhile he and his ex were both making good careers for themselves in their related fields. Their area of expertise is quite specialised so over time – starting about 5/6 years ago – they have had to work together on various projects. My friend made a point of meeting her and ensuring she (friend) was included in any socialising if the ex was seconded to the DH’s branch and says she is actually a genuinely nice person. Friend’s DH and ex have kept in touch ever since the first joint project, and have remained in touch despite ex having left the original company to run her own consultancy. The DH has never been possessive about his phone or tried to hide their regular but not excessively frequent contact or anything like that. My friend has seen some of their emails over the years and they seem to be just chatty and often mostly about work or former colleagues etc. She has been engaged as consultant by friend’s DH’s sister company and they are going to be working on a project again starting soon for three months, and she will be staying in a hotel near where my friend lives. So far, so similar, friend had no concerns other than knowing the ex is now single, but given her previous respect for their marriage even that wasn’t a real issue.

At the weekend, my friend found (she wasn’t snooping – she was looking for something she’d put away in a safe place) what turned out to be a sort of journal/diary of her DH’s. She knows she was wrong to do so but she read it, and it is what she described to me as “a paean of love” for his ex. It spans several months up to very recently so she is fairly sure it is still in use and practically every entry apparently reads as a variation of him yearning for his ex – analysing their contact, commenting on her appearance in Facebook pictures, noting how certain songs or poems remind him of her etc. She read enough to satisfy herself that they are not having an affair, nor does he appear to be actively planning one, and it doesn’t even look as though the ex knows the extent of his feelings; there is no evidence to suggest any contact my friend doesn't know about or any complicity on the part of the ex. Nevertheless he is investing a huge amount of emotional energy on another woman but, bizarrely, without her apparent knowledge either. My friend understandably feels knocked for six but unsure of what, if anything, to do. She feels upset and angry but she doesn’t know if that’s unreasonable when it’s because of feelings that he isn’t acting upon. I feel quite helpless to advise her as I can see her point – ideally he wouldn’t be thinking about his ex romantically at all (and certainly not spending time writing it all down!) but from what she says about the things he has written, he genuinely doesn’t seem to have any intention of acting on his feelings. He just seems to have cast himself in the part of tragic star-crossed lover stoically making the best of life in his own little private fantasy. But it feels very wrong to me on a basic level and I'd be devastated if I found anything similar by my own DH.

Help, wise women of Mumsnet…

AMessageToYouRudie Tue 19-Aug-14 15:34:59

I wondered is it a place to just write his thoughts down to prevent him acting upon these feelings... It could be the whole what if scenario, trouble is whilst he deals with this his own way, his marriage and life are passing him by. If I were your friend I would admit and apologise for snooping and then talk it through and get to the bottom of it, because secrets like this generally implode if not. Good luck to them both smile

badbaldingballerina123 Tue 19-Aug-14 17:14:51

There needs to be a conversation about this , particularly as they're going to be working together soon. It sounds like he's had unnecessary contact with this woman over the years. Despite what your friend has read it would be unusual for someone to have these sort of strong feelings and not act on them , or have plans to do so.

I would feel hugely disrespected and betrayed by this. If he's got all these strong feelings for this woman , what is left over for your friend ?

MrBusterIPresume Tue 19-Aug-14 17:35:19

SignYourName I could have written that post, except that my DH's fantasy OW was not an ex but a work colleague. He too was casting himself in the role of stoical doomed lover. I discovered that he had written 90-odd pages of poetry about her, much of it written after he had made her a big declaration (under the guise of explaining why they couldn't work together any more hmm) and been knocked back.

Quite frankly, it is fucking pathetic behaviour. Mooning around after an OW like some love-sick puppy, your friend's DH has been emotionally absent from their marriage and treated your friend with enormous disrespect. Such behaviour also suggests strongly to me that he hasn't grown up at all, but is still stuck in self-absorbed teenager mode. Grown-ups can't help the odd crush, but recognise it's inappropriate and take steps to knock it on the head, not indulge it with long obsessive diary posts angry.

(And breathe.)

Swingball Tue 19-Aug-14 18:11:54

Yes, frustrated poet stuck in mooning teenage phase. Why would you write all that shit down where your wife could easily find it? Did he want her to find it?

What does your friend say about it? I would have to confront this, I couldn't sit on it. And I would, like Mr Buster, think it was totally pathetic if it was my dh and it would probably put me right off him affair or not.

SignYourName Tue 19-Aug-14 18:13:43

Thank you all on behalf of my friend. MrBuster I think you've articulated why I find it so inappropriate. Sorry you've had to go through something similar.

CalamityKate1 Tue 19-Aug-14 18:25:28

Honestly? I'd tell him to fuck right off.

I'd be utterly furious that he'd been mooning over someone else. I'd tell him what I'd found, I'd find a way to contact HER and tell he what I'd found too. Not in a confrontational way but in a "oh by the way, my husbands been mooning over you for months; I've told him to fuck off. Best of luck to you" way. I would make it my business to embarrass him as much as possible.

I wouldn't want anything more to do with him but if your friend has any wish to get over this it needs to be exposed. He needs to be made painfully aware that he isn't the star of a romantic film, but a pathetic arse who risks losing everything if he doesn't grow the fuck up.

Sabellassweatyforehead Tue 19-Aug-14 18:49:13

Some people prefer living in a fantasy world to reality. If his wife left him over this, I bet the diary entries would quickly change to be about her, his long lost wife.

Egghead68 Tue 19-Aug-14 19:47:29

This would be a deal-breaker for me. I wouldn't want to be with someone who was emotionally invested in someone else.

simontowers2 Tue 19-Aug-14 20:04:13

Well he hasnt done anything wrong in the sense that, is this actually any different to somebody having regular fantasies in their head about somebody else? The only difference being, this dingbat has written his down. It all comes down to the individual - ie is your friend happy to know that she is probably second choice (but that this is the case doesnt necessarily mean her marriage is in danger)? I personally wouldnt be able to live with that knowledge but maybe some people can; and dont see a reason to break a family unit up for a fantasy which, by the looks of what you have said, will never be acted upon.

Quitelikely Tue 19-Aug-14 20:37:44

I don't think this is acceptable, for the simple reason that he is with one woman but yearning for another. How can that be right?

I wonder if the other woman has told him in no uncertain terms that whilst he is settled with dc then she is off limits - so he knows not to even go there and try. But if she dropped her guard, I think he might give in to his temptation.

I don't think there is any going back from this. Those are his true feelings and I just couldn't turn a blind eye.

expatinscotland Tue 19-Aug-14 20:44:07

I would need to get this out in the open with him.

doziedoozie Tue 19-Aug-14 21:59:56

They should move to the other end of the country and make a fresh start. Whilst the ex is in his life, and he knows they are going to be working together soon (if I understand the OP correctly) he will be involved with her in his mind.

Imagine that he was most unlikely to ever see her again, I think that would knock it on the head.

V difficult for friend to ignore this and convince herself it doesn't matter regardless of what he says.

SignYourName Wed 20-Aug-14 06:20:35

Thanks everyone. I spoke to my friend late last night, she'd read your responses and is very grateful for your thoughts. She's still not sure what she's going to do; understandably I think she's still in a state of shock. At the moment she is swinging from minimising to wanting to throw him out and back again.

Part of the problem is she knows she was "second choice" (as simontowers says) back in the beginning. Realistically she knows it's unlikely they would have stayed together long-term without the catalyst of her becoming pregnant, because he was stuck in his self-destructive, woe-is-me I-can't-be-with-the-woman-I-love phase when they met and more focussed on himself than on the women he slept with while on the rebound. She did honesly believe that after the wobble around the ex's original reappearance, he must have got over it all and reached a place where he could just think of his ex as a friend, as she seems to have managed to do with him so far as my friend can tell. So this discovery has reawakened all her old insecurities on that score.

dozie Unfortunately I don't think moving would be the answer. Both the DH and his ex are experts in their own very specialised narrow field with complimentary skills, so even if one lived in Lands End and the other John O'Groats, the likelihood is they'd be required to work together at some point in the future.

doziedoozie Wed 20-Aug-14 07:35:13

He doesn't sound a great catch from the description in the OP. Quite an angry man.

And it's easy to believe that what might have been would have been so much better than what you have now, but really, that is seldom the case. Most of us have a mad crush on someone but looking back can see it for what it is. Or that it was never going to be reciprocated so move on.

I can't see your DF being able to move on until she has called his bluff. And if he can't give up his 'true' love then she should perhaps be prepared to call it a day.

Having a partner who is forever pining for someone else is not good for either of them.

SignYourName Wed 20-Aug-14 08:01:34

To be fair to him, and trying to take my own prejudice out of the equation, he was going through an "angry phase" when they met but is not an "angry man" in general IYSWIM. He has boundless patience with their son and comes across as quite easy-going and laid back. If my friend wants to do something and he's not initially keen, he'll do it to make her happy and there's no sulking or sense of being on sufferance about it.

I didn't like him when they first met because I felt that to him, at that time, my friend could have been anyone, her defining characteristic was that she was "Not-Ex" and she's worth more than that and that he was behaving a bit immaturely (ha!) and I'm pissed off with him beyond belief now for hurting my friend, but I am trying to be fair and I don't want to paint him as some devil incarnatewoth no redeeming features whatsoever. I get on - or did, before this - pretty well with him now, he comes across as ordinary nice guy/family man who pulls his weight, dotes on his son and seemed to make my friend happy.

SignYourName Wed 20-Aug-14 08:02:21

incarnate with

aurynne Wed 20-Aug-14 08:09:54

I personally couldn't be with someone who loves someone else. No matter how much I loved him, I would tell him I had read his diary and that he is free to go with the one he loves. It would be too much heartache to have to live with him knowing he had someone else in his heart.

QuintessentiallyQS Wed 20-Aug-14 08:19:03

What aurynne said. Agree with most other posters that this is a deal breaker.

Solasum Wed 20-Aug-14 08:34:36

Hmm. Difficult. But, it seems to me that this was always going to happen. Sad as it is for your friend, she made the decision to stay and raise a child with a man she knew was in love with someone else. While I am sure that H loves your friend, life with your friend is the reality and mundane. Ex represents not just the great love of his youth, but also his pre-child life I think.

It seems to me that your friend knew everything she has now read already but was ignoring it. Fro Making a big move to the other end of the country or wherever is not going to turn off H's feelings. You say yourself that he stepped up and is a good husband and father. It sounds like ex has morals.

I think your friend has to decide whether to stay, in which case there seems to be no point in confronting H, as she would need to relearn how to accept that she is not his True Love, but that he loves her.

Or, she can go and see if she meets someone who loves only her. In which instance she has to be prepared for H and ex to get together, and look after DC. Maybe even have more DC of their own.

There is no guarantee she will meet someone else though, and TBH most people come with some baggage.

H has stayed in the face of unexpected pregnancy, and the trials of life with a LO. He could have left years ago, but he didn't. That has to be worth something?

TaliZorahVasNormandy Wed 20-Aug-14 08:44:10

Oh jeez this could be my ex, although he never wrote poetry <boak> about his fantasy woman, I know he mooned over her since she got back in contact with him, once I actually heard him tell her over the phone that he loved her. He dumped me and 2 other women for this fantasy, guess what, they still arent together as she is married.

But she likes to keep him on tap, you know, just in case, its fucking pathetic that grown up act like that.

Your Friend needs to find her self respect and put him out, I stupidly stayed with my ex 2 months after I heard him tell her he loved her. It's like a constant stabbed every day.

Your friend is worth so much more than being second best to a ridiculous man child.

VodkaJelly Wed 20-Aug-14 08:45:56

Like aurynne said, I could never be with someone who loved another. Knowing that they are pining over them, wishing their life was different, it would eat me up with jealousy and would probably destroy my self esteem.

My first response would be to kick him out, but, its not that simple. He has been a good husband and father over the years to her, would you throw something away for feelings that wont be acted on.

Hmm I really wouldnt know what to do, I think for the sake of my sanity and self esteem I would leave. A difficult one.

AppleAndMelon Wed 20-Aug-14 09:25:13

I couldn't live like that personally but your friend knew she was second choice to begin with. Good luck to her - poor woman.

patienceisvirtuous Wed 20-Aug-14 09:31:07

Absolute dealbreaker. How could your friend ever be happy knowing her husband would rather be with someone else.

I don't think it will work anyway now she knows...

I would tell him to fuck off to his soulmate and leave myself open to meeting someone who only had eyes for me...

doziedoozie Wed 20-Aug-14 09:46:16

It's his generosity of spirit that would get on my goat.

How manly and upright of him to push his true feelings to one side and bravely 'put up' with a life not of his choosing, being a DH to someone who is not his true choice and kindly caring for his DS regardless.

How very impressive ............NOT

Because it is possibly not the life of his choosing because the relationship he imagines with the OW is a fantasy, maybe she doesn't want him! Maybe the blissful romantic relationship he imagines with her doesn't turn out that way, who can know?

I would call his bluff (after first researching how and where I would go). You can still be good DPs and care for DS together even though you have split. But perhaps he won't want to when faced with reality.

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