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If you tried to repair your marriage after an affair, did it work?

(61 Posts)
SantasLittleMonkeyButler Mon 15-Feb-16 17:40:49

Just over 3 weeks ago, I found Whatsapp messages from another woman (a work colleague) on H's phone. VERY sexually explicit messages - on both parts - discussing what they would like to do to each other in graphic detail.

I posted about it at the time & was/am very grateful for the kindness and support that you all gave me at the time. Not to mention the excellent advice.

Well, fast forward 3 weeks and the "relationship" between H & his OW is well and truly over. I have had plenty of contact with both H, the OW (who still seems to see it all as "harmless fun") and her DP (who strangely didn't see the "fun" in it).

H & I are currently waiting for Relate sessions - they are heavily oversubscribed in our town apparently - and have spent quite a bit of time together talking things through.

H is adamant (and, more fool me maybe, I believe him) that he is now completely ashamed of what he did, loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life proving that he can be trusted. He says he "fell into" the sexting without really thinking about what he was doing - it started with gentle flirting in the office, then moved to flirty texts and eventually Whatsapp messages - all getting more and more full on over the course of roughly 6 weeks. He (and she, although why would I believe her?) both say that they were flattered by the attention, enjoyed feeling "wanted" sexually by someone but ultimately wouldn't have gone through with actual physical sex at the end of the day. I'm not sure how much I believe that part TBH, but I guess I'll never know that.

So, the situation now is that we are still separated but I still love him like mad and do actually see how he could have felt unloved/unwanted sexually by me. I admit I have had a rough few years, one way and another, and have taken quite a bit of it out on H - because I had no-one else to get angry with. H has always wanted to hug me, kiss me, hold my hand etc. I've been pushing him away on that sort of thing for quite some time.

I'm not blaming myself entirely, I would never ever have cheated myself (I just couldn't) and have always loved him utterly and completely. But I haven't always shown it.

So, really, after all that I'm asking whether anyone has ever been in a similar situation and actually managed to make the marriage work again?

Can you ever trust again? Do you ever really forgive? Do you ever get to the point where the things they said to each other aren't permanently in your mind?


SantasLittleMonkeyButler Mon 15-Feb-16 18:28:19


NK346f2849X127d8bca260 Mon 15-Feb-16 18:43:19

It is really early days for you, have you got any idea of when your counselling sessions will start?
I still can't forgive and it is two years down the line for me, the thought of what has happened is in my head every single day...I think my mistake is that I have had no counselling.

JonesTheSteam Mon 15-Feb-16 18:45:40

I'm two years on from discovering my DH's affair with a colleague.

Would say we're still working on it rather than it 'has worked', but our relationship is much better and very different from the one we had before the affair.

It's taken an enormous amount of hard work by DH, a lot of honest talking, and some counselling (with Relate, but individual rather than couple counselling).

I'm not sure when we'll get to the it's worked stage, but the fact I believe it's 'when' rather than 'if', means I'm happy I've made the right decision for me. And for 'us'.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Mon 15-Feb-16 18:49:24

Thank you both. No appointment date yet - I was told I would get a phonecall when they could offer us an appointment.

Have you stayed with your H NK? Or did you split?

Jones - would you say you are generally happy now? Or is every day still full of pain & distrust?

cruusshed Mon 15-Feb-16 18:51:26

It is called "rebuilding" - it is hard work, takes a long time.

The cheater has to take full and sole responsibility and this manual by a MC expert with 30 years experience -- outlines the 15 steps that the cheater needs to embrace if there is to be any chance of recovery.

I suspect you are in shock/ numb and have not yet found your anger as it is very early days. It takes a long time to get through this and your emotions eill eveolve over time. gets worse before it gets better.

JonesTheSteam Mon 15-Feb-16 18:53:16

Very happy.

There's still the odd moment of feeling sad about what has happened.

But I trust him and he hasn't given me any reason to mistrust him since the affair.

Bellie99 Mon 15-Feb-16 18:56:55

No, but then exh did not take any responsibility. We tried (or with hindsight I tried) but almost exactly one year on he left for good.
He blamed the birth of our wonderful children that changed me and therefore he looked elsewhere.

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Mon 15-Feb-16 19:01:53

Thank you all.

Thanks for the link cruusshed. That's very helpful.

Jones - that does give me hope, but also sadness that I may not ever really "get over" it. If you don't mind me asking, was your DH's affair a physical one, as opposed to emotional/sexting?

Bellie99 - H does seem to be taking full responsibility and trying his best to make amends. I'm just not sure if that will be enough or not.

JonesTheSteam Mon 15-Feb-16 19:39:10

I think expecting to 'get over it' in two years is very unrealistic. confused

I think I will completely in the fullness of time.

But in some ways it's like a bereavement. I think I will always think of it occasionally, just like I think about my gran dying.

And as I said our relationship is much better, more honest, and we are both happier and far more loving towards each other. I'd actually rather be in the relationship I'm in now, despite how we've got here, than drifting along in the way a lot of marriages do when young children are involved. It brought in to sharp focus how we feel about each other.

It was a physical affair. I posted about it when it happened (under this name if you feel like searching.)

Flanks Mon 15-Feb-16 20:02:41

Hi OP, sorry for your situation!

I do believe that people can make honest mistakes by making a series of poor decisions, including situations like this. What matters, in my opinion, is if you see it as a genuine mistake or genuine intent.

If it was a mistake then you can move past it, because everyone makes mistakes. Admittedly, some mistakes are bigger than others, but they are still mistakes. If you guys can reach a place where you accept it was a mistake, and you are willing to draw a line under it, then that is the threshold. If it becomes something you return to in every argument or discussion etc, then it will always be something which keeps you apart.

decomm18 Mon 15-Feb-16 21:05:02

Posting to say that I'm also at the 'wondering if it'll work' stage. My husband of 28 years has been living with his OW for seven months now, and we've been working through our 'issues' at counselling for most of that time, with no way forward yet. I'm still stupidly in love with him despite his having an affair with this OW for three years - and I half-knew that he was cheating, and chose to ignore for the sake of our three children who were all at important stages of their educations. He's a good man, a nice, funny man who can turn me to water still without even trying, and he's done nothing wrong except be dreadfully weak, and use my (genuine) neglect of him as an excuse to cheat on me.

I'm no angel myself, and did some things early in our marriage (not cheating however, or anything like cheating) which I'm still ashamed of, twenty years down the line. Because of this I'm disposed to forgive him for his transgression, because I'm so imperfect myself. I'm not even that angry with him - really I just want him back home with me and our children. but part of me wonders whether I'm storing problems up for the future. So I want to hear people saying that yes, it was all erasable in the end. Lots of the responses on here are in the 'leave the bastard' camp, and I do understand that. But sometimes, staying together has to be OK in the end, surely? Or am I just clutching at straws?

cruusshed Mon 15-Feb-16 21:48:51

I am a year on post D-Day.

The link I posted above gave me a clear structure of what specifically needed to happen (and also not happen) if we were to come through this.

It therefore anchored the recovery/rebuilding process in tangible behaviours & expectations during a very turbulent time.

It also spelt out exactly to my DH what was required of him if he wanted to save his marriage as directed by a MC of many years standing.

It is a tough read, but he mostly adhered and we are hanging in there.

decomm18 I am so sorry for your situation but I struggle to see how you are 'staying together' if he is living with the OW?

decomm18 Mon 15-Feb-16 22:19:33

Crusshed, he's with her, but still saying he's gonna come back home, if I'll have him, and if he can be convinced that it's going to work. So we're both in a quite bad undecided place, and tbh I think the gilt's wearing off the gingerbread with his OW. We're both difficult people, who in a way deserve one another (not in a good way), but we've been mostly-happy together until about the last five years, when my elderly mother and teenage kids began to be all-consuming of my attention, and I stopped supporting my DH through a difficult period of his own. Very much like the OP! He says he loves me, and I do love him. But there's been some evil stuff articulated on both sides, the past seven months, we've had no physical relationship to speak of for several years - and uncertainty is stopping us both from deciding what we should do about our futures together or not.

Sorry for hijacking OP's thread - will start my own perhaps - but I too am looking for success stories to hold onto. I can't find, in all of Mumsnet, someone who's in quite the same bad place as we seem to be, and even our counsellor appears to be at a loss to advise us as to what we should be doing. The trouble is, we're both looking for certainty as to which course of action guarantees future happiness - and there can be no certainty, or at least not at this point!

Marilynsbigsister Mon 15-Feb-16 22:31:31

Sorry for derail op but it's just so sad to see someone in such complete and utter denial..
Decomm18. Please wake up and smell the coffee. He has left you for another woman, who he has been living with for 7 months !!. If he really wanted to get back with you, but wasn't 'sure' . He would be living on his own a working on his relationship with you. He isn't. It's over. Please start your own thread, you will get so much support to help you move on and restart your life.

JonesTheSteam Mon 15-Feb-16 22:34:22


Sad to say, but I totally agree.

He is living with her and basically using you as 'back up'.


MajesticWhine Mon 15-Feb-16 22:42:27

I am several years post an affair by DH. I discovered it similarly by reading phone messages. I forgave him a long time ago, and we are in better shape now than we were back then. A bit like a previous poster said, I have made a few transgressions myself (big ones, pre-DC) and this made it easier to forgive.

I don't think I have ever completely 100% trusted him since his affair, but I don't find this a dealbreaker, which may be weird. But I personally find that a tiny bit of doubt and worry about a relationship, whilst not ideal, is tolerable. That's just my experience. Although it was devastating, the affair and the aftermath offered a chance to make some improvements in the relationship and it could be better than before. It's really tough though, and it might take a long time for you to feel ok about it. Taking a bit of the responsibility and understanding what went wrong in your relationship is a healthy approach in my opinion, and will help you get over it. But obviously however difficult things were, he shouldn't have cheated. Even so, if you understand what went wrong, you can both work on putting it right.

30somethingandticking Mon 15-Feb-16 22:43:22

It can be done. Know personally how painful it can be but it can be done. Seven years on and stronger. In this relationship the guilty party was the woman, not man. He forgave, worked on strengthening a weak marriage and has never brought it up again. I am sure it still hurts him but in a decent place now.

decomm18 Mon 15-Feb-16 22:45:44

Oh dear, I fear you may both be right :-(. But I want him back so f***ing much, I just can't bring myself to do the final ultimatum bit. And the counsellor hasn't helped very much, as I have a sneaking suspicion that she's got some (coughs) religious angle that is unrevealed thus far making her favour the flogging of a dead (marital) horse. That's the perils of pulling someone out of yellow pages I guess.

Will start own thread once I feel strong enough to stand the tidal wave of people telling me to LTB. Or whatever the equivalent is when he's already gone.

cruusshed Mon 15-Feb-16 22:54:15

decomm18 - does the OW know that your DH attends MC with you in an effort to rebuild your marriage - whilst living with him...?

Millliii Mon 15-Feb-16 22:57:08

decomm maybe the best thing you could actually do is tell him you want no contact for at least a month so that you can decide how you feel. Tell him that unless he leaves the OW and then there is nothing to build upon. You will soon see if he does as you ask and bothers fighting for you. Him being with the OW really is having the bloody cake and eating it too!!

decomm18 Mon 15-Feb-16 23:06:44

Crusshed - no, he's not telling her anything. His reports of their 'relationship' make my hair stand on end, and I almost feel sorry for her being deceived just as he was deceiving me (and she's come out of an abusive marriage, so my DH is in full-on protective mode. He's always been a soft touch for lame ducks).

Ugh, my head is so muddled, I have no idea what I should be doing. Demanding & stressful job, carer for live-in dementia-mother, three teenagers all upset about their father's desertion = way too much. I've made one decision anyway, and that's dumping the counsellor, who I (now) think made things worse not better.

Still, keep the 'success from jaws of defeat' stories coming - the OP and I both want to hear them ;-).

Millliii Mon 15-Feb-16 23:12:22

OP yes marriages can be rebuilt and they can and often are stronger and even better than they were before. When you both go through something that totally rocks your world it makes you realise what you could have lost. We are 12 years on and since the moment we decided to try again, it has continually got better and better. As someone else said earlier, in a way it was a wake up call and the relationship we have now is far more honest, caring loving and nuturing than the one we had before.

Rainbowlou1 Mon 15-Feb-16 23:12:40

I am in a very similar H had an EA nearly 6 months ago now that only stopped because I found out(it's that bit that hurts the most....he didn't come clean I caught him)
I have good-even great days-with him and I have days when I hate him and resent him being happy with me and our kids.
I have told Him that at the moment that yes we are in a relationship but our 'marriage' means nothing anymore..our vows meant so much to me and he couldn't keep his promise to me, I think he is hurt by this and I have taken my wedding ring off for the time being.
I used to take for granted we would be together forever but now I just don't know!
I'm sure many would think I should walk but it's not that easy for me at the moment.
It's early days for you (and for me I think?) and you shouldn't put a time scale on it-you call the shots now and he needs to prove he can be trusted-my downfall is I am too willing to make suggestions and be the 'forthcoming' one, I have always been the more emotional one in the relationship so I have to make the effort to step back and make him take the initiative.. I hope you find a solution that makes you happy xx

cruusshed Mon 15-Feb-16 23:17:39

decomm18 - read the link I posted - it is a short online book - there are specific references to men like your DH who get embroiled with OW from traumatic relationships - "the white knight" - the book will spell out to him where his loyalties should lie.

But, sadly I suspect he is playing you both...what do you think he tells her about you and your marriage?

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