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Bewildered, DH openly admitted infidelity, what do I do now?(122 Posts)
This is going to be long and complicated, apologies. I have been reading this forum since this happened, and many posts have rung true with me - but I've now got to the point where I don't know what to do, and would appreciate any thoughts the collective minds of Mumsnet might have.
So, I have been with DH for 14 years, married for 12, we have 4 kids aged 1-7. DH was in the Forces, and has deployed three times, for 6-7 months each time. The last time was when our youngest was 3 months old. He's now left the Forces.
Just before Christmas, he told me that he'd been offered another overseas job, but this time it was in a safe European City (rather than a war zone) and so we could all go. That is something we have always talked about, and so I was quite excited about it - a chance for us to go and have an adventure as a family rather than him going away and us being left behind all the time.
At the same time, things hadn't been right between us since he came back from the last deployment - we couldn't seem to reconnect emotionally or physically. One of the hallmarks of our relationship from the start had been fun and silliness, and we did manage to keep an element of this even when the kids turned up, but it suddenly seemed to be gone. Sex was very different - he was rougher and less considerate with me, and I felt like I could have been anyone to him.
This time was complicated because we had moved house while he was away - unfortunately didn't manage to exchange before he went away so I did that on my own. It must have been very strange for him, coming back to a new house where we were all settled and he didn't know where anything was. I thought partly it was just taking us longer to readjust than previously, combined with the usual fatigue and stress that goes along with 4 young kids.
Christmas was nice, and then it all went wrong. He told me that he'd had an affair with a colleague during the last deployment - she had a long term BF, and they mutually agreed to end it after a few weeks. DH says that it 'meant something' but can't clarify what that means. On further questioning, they tried to remain friends, meeting up a number of times for coffee after they got back to the UK. Eventually in November they decided they couldn't be friends and he said that they didn't see each other again.
Then I asked him if it had happened before that, and he said he'd had 2 one night stands with 2 different women. The first was while he was living away from me on Base before we had kids (but while we were actively trying for a baby and had had 2 miscarriages. I was also very low during this time due to career choice and not knowing what I wanted to do). The second was 3 years later while on a residential course. The first he basically went on a date (was invited to a woman's house for dinner on his own and one thing led to another) and the second was following a drunken evening.
So it appears that all 3 happened in quite different circumstances, and DH says that the reasons he did it include him never having a relationship before he met me, us both being young when we got married, being apart so much (we've worked out that we've been apart more than we've been together for the last 7 years), lack of intimacy between us, him feeling guilty about wanting more/different sex from me.
I told him to leave, and he lived with his sister for a couple of months, coming back often to see the kids, and we've both had individual counselling and been to couples counselling too. I've been through various stages - not believing it, sadness, and now am mostly very angry that he would do this to me and us and the kids. We talked a lot, and decided that he should take this overseas job for 6 months and come back every weekend to see if we could gently get to know each other again. I feel like we had something really good, and if I don't try to rebuild then I will always regret it. That's partly for the kids, but mostly for me.
But I just don't know how to have a 'new relationship with the same person' as the books say. I would be walking open eyed into a relationship with someone who I know is a cheat. There is no mystery or excitement - he's seen me giving birth, I've squeezed spots on his bum etc etc. We are surrounded by physical memories of our past relationship - the kids, photos, all the stuff in our house that we've collected over the years, that were our wedding presents. Hes also tainted my good memories of our time together because now i can only think "was this before or after? Was he acting? Pretending to be happy? How did i not notice?" How do we create something new out of that when we have very little time together as a family and even less as a couple - basically 3 hours on a Saturday night when he's home.
And how do I, personally, get past the anger to forgiveness? No matter how many times he says sorry, it can't undo what he's done. And I also have to make the leap of faith to trust him when he says it's never going to happen again, even when he's working away from home and travelling lots.
I do believe that he's told me everything, which might sound weird - he had nothing to gain from telling me about the one night stands. The reason he told me is because when he saw how excited I was getting about us all going away as a family, it broke his heart that I was preparing to do that without knowing what he'd done - he wanted me to have the facts in order to make the right decision for me. I think he's immature and naive, a people pleaser and a risk taker, and these things have all combined together. He seems to hate himself for what he's done, although he is also emotionally blunted - he says he can't feel anything. He's not cried, no matter what hurtful thing I say to him he responds with a very measured, reasonable voice, which is infuriating. However, he's also not saying that he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me - he says he doesn't know and wants to have time getting to know each other again so that we can decide that together.
I'm not even sure if I've got a question to ask you all - my situation doesn't seem to fit many of the other ones on this board where people have caught their OHs out rather than the OH admitting it out of the blue but not actually having a OW.
Any thoughts would be very gratefully received. I'm so confused.
1plus3, my heart goes out to you. It sounds to me like you know this is over. You are very aware of how you feel, and how you view things differently now. He is also not mending things.
I think that you've both been honest, and that maybe this relationship has run its course. That's not a terrible thing.
You have parented alone for a long time, so you know what that is like. There are no surprises in that.
If it was me? I couldn't stay with someone unfaithful. Especially if it had happened more than once, including a longer term affair. I could never trust that person again (and I'd be right not to).
Work on building a co-parenting relationship and find someone who truly values and respects you.
However, he's also not saying that he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me - he says he doesn't know and wants to have time getting to know each other again so that we can decide that together.
This is what rings alarm bells at me from your post. He's had the affairs, he doesn't really get to call the shots about what happens now, plus he isn't even sure what he wants, doesn't even tell you he loves you, so you'd be going into the relationship 'afresh' but knowing he's a cheat who doesn't know what he wants and is a bit lukewarm in his feelings towards you!! I think trying to build a healthy co-parenting relationship sounds like a better idea too.
from me too, what a horrid situation. He is a serial cheat, and that can't be brushed away. But I'm sure there are lots of good things within your 12 year and 4 child marriage that also can't be brushed away easily.
In your place I would want to make it work. If I loved him I would try and work through this together like you are doing. However, that could only happen if HE wanted - really wanted - to give it a good go too. Does he? He sounds very non committal from your post.
In your counselling and chats has it been made clear to him that unless he is prepared to fight for his marriage and family this is a non starter?
So his answer to having multiple affairs whilst away from you is to take a job in another country!?
Wow. That's some weird logic right there.
He's checked out already and I don't think you will ever truly forgive.
I know I couldn't but we are all very different.
I'd send him packing to be honest.
He doesn't even know if he loves or wants you.
I'd not be putting up with that shite!
I know, that is the bit that really hurts.
He says that if he was effusively telling me he loves me, making big gestures, that I wouldn't believe he was being sincere. I can't really work that out, because if he really care he'd be trying absolutely everything to convince me to take him back, right? But he's not.
if he really care he'd be trying absolutely everything to convince me to take him back, right? But he's not.
I'm afraid I think you have your answer here.
No he's not. There's no reason he wouldn't be saying that he loves you. That would be a normal thing to do.
It sounds like he's checked out of the relationship in lots of ways already.
Is this what you want?
I do believe that he's told me everything, which might sound weird - he had nothing to gain from telling me about the one night stands
This is what women always say but he has everything to gain from minimsing and only confessing to a couple of misdeeds.
From the details in the OP, I think it quite likely that he's been doing ons for the whole of your relationship when he was away. I guess he told you now because he wants out but he wants you to be the one who ends it. Seems like the affair with the colleague was the catalyst.
Realistically you cannot trust him working away with his track record. You could drive yourself round the twist trying.
I think the problem is that if he won't say he wants you back and loves you then this feels a bit like you're having to prove yourself when HE is the one who cheated.
If he's not completely sure; if you don't have a secure foundation to be working on forgiving him then if it were me I don't think I could be bothered to try. He has to be the one working harder, because he's the one who betrayed the relationship.
I'm so sorry, it must hurt like hell.
I am reeling from the unfairness of it.
I feel like I've worked so bloody hard over the past few years to hold things together, on top of working 3 days a week (while not on mat leave!) and have ended up feeling like a massive mug that I've enabled him to do this.
The horrible irony is that with our youngest now sleeping through, and starting to see the end of nappies and buggies and restrictive routines, I thought now would be the start of a new, more fun phase of our relationship - being able to take the kids out and explore the world together. Instead, I've had the ground pulled from under my feet and am questioning absolutely everything about our relationship and my own wishes - am I such a pushover?
I think the difficulty here is that he isn't showing you he wants to make it work and that he can focus on your family and making things right with you. He shouldn't be leaving the country for work right now, he should be focused on his family.
My dh is in the army and its scary how many affairs happen, how many one night stands. I live in married quarters and it seems that every month there's another couple splitting up or having time apart due to infidelity. You will know that deployments can change a person, they see things and do things that we at home can't imagine or will never know, but that can never excuse his behaviour.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all better for you, I can feel the pain coming through in your posts.
You need to decide what YOU want. And then set the rules and the boundaries. You need to talk openly and honestly with your dh.
Oh lovely, so sorry this has happened to you.
I don't know how you can get past it, tbh - and I would find it immensely hard to trust him again, as he seems like an opportunistic cheater, so how is he going to resist next time an opportunity arises, especially as he's NOT saying that he loves you to bits, would never do it again and wants to spend the rest of his life with you.
I think I would think twice about relocating with him for starters.
My heart goes out to you, it's heartbreaking reading your post. It's so beautifully written and my heart just breaks for you.
I think you have tried very hard to work at forgiveness, or seeing a way through this (you are a far better lady than me) with the couples counselling and individual counselling - and a few months in, and I echo what other people have said, it sounds like you know this has run its course.
He doesn't sound like he is trying very hard at regaining your trust, the six months away (it sounds like he may have had a choice? I'm sorry if I have that wrong) would be it for me, if I had got that far as I would find myself wondering...does he just want the best of both worlds because as you say he is not telling you (and men are very direct, and generally you know when they want something) that he wants you back, that he loves you - has he said sorry? And said he will do whatever it takes to regain your trust and respect. In my very humble opinion he told you to unburden himself not to make things better in your relationship it was not just "once" it was multiple times including a two week period with one woman exclusively, that is not just a stupid mistake that is a calculated action.
I think you must be an incredibly strong lady to do what you have done for so many years on your own, and to deal with this with such dignity it is incredibly unfair that he has done this to you - to do what you have done is amazing and I honestly think you can do better and be with someone who deserves you - but it is a choice you have to make, but do make your decision about you and what's best for you.
I really hope that whatever you decide to do you look back in a few years and think that was the right decision, I'm really happy now.
Keep strong and sending you big virtual hugs x
Hi op sorry your going through this
The bit that stands out for me though is the rough sex, and then him saying not being able to have the kind of sex he really wants?
With out the cheating history, I would say no he hasn't told you everything, I don't think he has truly told you what he wants, especially sexually.
One of the big motivations for him going overseas was so we could keep up the pretence for the kids. I feel really strongly that to say to them that Mummy and Daddy are arguing about something (they are too young to hear the truth) but not be able to give them a final outcome (either we are staying together or we are splitting up) would make them feel very insecure. We wanted to be able to tell them once we knew one way or the other.
Ironically, they have coped very well precisely because they are so used to him being away. That makes me sad on the one hand, but on the other confident that if I end up on my own with them that we will be a very strong little unit, and they will be fine. He's a very good dad when he's here, just not here very much.
He's 36, I'm 35, kids are 7, 5, 3 and 20 months.
The thing is that if he was absolutely remorseful and couldn't believe what he'd done and loved you to bits and had a job where you saw him all the time etc then that would be one thing, though it would be very, very hard to forgive.
However, that's not the case, is it? None of those things is happening. So he's going to work away, not sure if he loves you, a history of cheating etc and you are expected to put up with that?
I wouldn't. I've forgiven cheating in the past and it always, always happened again. That was with expressions of regret and devotion and all that.
I would back off from this marriage now, I'm afraid. I'm really sorry you're in this horrible position.
This overseas job is his dream job, the one everything else has been leading to. He says it's a basic tension in him that he should have to choose between job and family - he believes it should be possible to have both.
The irony is, that if he hadn't cheated, we would be there with him now and he wouldn't be having to choose - we could both have had everything we always talked about.
His mum said to me that he has a vocation and that he therefore shouldn't be expected to turn the job down. Helpful.
You're not a mug. You had a right to expect him to live up to fidelity while you looked after your family and worked at home. You've done everything right here.
I wonder whether he specifically needs support around his emotional numbness. The lack of feeling makes me wonder whether he needs to address the effects of his deployments on him. I'm guessing he wasn't anywhere good and probably saw some pretty dark stuff.
You want to make it work. That's really admirable. He isn't sure. You can't do all the work here by yourself and he should be doing more of it. Is it worth asking him to get some specialist support around his emotional functioning while he's working away?
If I were you, I think I'd consider asking for a month or so of very little contact with him (can you ask other people to do contact handovers for you with the kids if he's back at weekends?). I would want to see if him really understanding what it is he's giving up might help him work out where he wants to be.
But it sounds like there's not much more you can do and it might be time to consider this marriage being over...
Are you certain you know how you personally feel about him 'cheating'?
Society has and MN have a very fixed black and white take on this, but individuals may not actually be as 'devastated' about cheating as they feel they should be.
It is also possible that he always wanted to be honest with you and only held back on the earlier extra-marital sex because of societal perceptions?
If you are personally devastated about his cheating, and would be devastated if it happened again, then you really have only one option.
But you don't have to be - and you don't have to feel you are a mug just because other people cast you in that role either.
Just check you know your own mind rather than adopting the average perception of events.
It sounds like he just went with the flow in his younger years vis a vis marrying and having children and now as middle age creeps toward him, is realizing he likes being a player. Too bad he chose to father four children before figuring that out.
If this job is his best chance of earning a livelihood to take care of the kids I wouldn't stand in the way of it, to try to preserve a very shaky relationship. One way or the other it doesn't sound like he'll be in the children's lives on a daily basis going forward.
To look at it cold-bloodedly: You are still at an age where you have a decent chance of meeting someone else and forging a more meaningful and satisfying relationship, if that is going to be important to you. Though four children is going to make that a tough row to hoe. But limp along with him for another 5 or 10 years and if you then find yourself single, pickings are going to be a lot more slim. Also it sounds like you will need to establish or re-establish a way to earn your own living. Putting your energies into that might be the best use of your time in the foreseeable future rather than gyrating around trying to make him work on the marriage. As someone else wisely said, it may be that this youthful relationship has just run its course, as many do.
Good luck with whatever you decide.
His mums response tells you a lot about why this cheat feels so entitled.
You've had to make so many sacrifices for your family so why shouldn't he now?
Oh yeah - it's because he's a man and we all must please our man <face plant>
However, he's also not saying that he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me - he says he doesn't know and wants to have time getting to know each other again so that we can decide that together.
This really does seem to be the crux of the problem. He's trying to create a new start from a false premise. If this was a new relationship and you were just 'getting to know each other' then you would run for the hills because he is a cheat and a liar. The only reason, you are even considering staying is because of the shared history. Taking it at face value if at the start of a new relationship someone told you they 'were habitually unfaithful and a liar and they didn't know if they really wanted to commit to you or not', you would tell them to leave. Yet that's all he's giving you.
I'm so sorry that he has treated you this badly. You deserve to have a life that fulfils you. His needs don't trump your's whether it's his need to follow his vocation; suddenly revealing his infidelity or his attempt to draw a new starting point. I'd be very suspicious about why he told you now because from here (and I am only a stranger on the internet so could be completely wrong) he told you because he didn't want to have this dream job and move with you and your DCs. He wanted you to bail. And if I were you, I would.
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