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Please help. Struggling with DH’s lies and historic infidelity

(148 Posts)
CoconutMice Fri 08-Nov-19 22:08:49

This is my first post and I’m very nervous. DH and I are in our late 40s, married for over 20 years and have teenage DCs.

DH always puts work first: he works all the hours he can, has no energy or attention left for us and has become increasingly detached from us over the years. I’ve looked after him and supported him as best I can. It’s been hard work and lonely. I do have very close and loving relationships with my DCs, although teenagers bring their own challenges, which I deal with, of course, alone. I’ve often thought back wistfully to what good company DH used to be when he was younger, how much I loved him then and (I thought) he loved me. Now even that has been turned upside down.

Recently, while very drunk, DH suddenly confessed to what he called a “fling”. I was shocked to the core. In all the years I’ve known him, I have never seen him ogle another woman and I believed he had always been faithful to me, just as I have to him. In fact there was absolutely no need for him to tell me about it, because I had no suspicions. While howling and screaming inside, outwardly I managed to remain calm in order to get as much information as possible. DH said he had met with this (much younger) woman for professional reasons, and they were having a nice chat over a bottle of wine or two when she came on to him and he was surprised and flattered. They went to a hotel room where they spent the night and were very intimate but stopped short of doing the full deed. Of course I can’t be sure he is telling the truth, especially as the details of the story have changed four or five times.

(I don’t think anyone ever deserves to be betrayed like this, but in case you are wondering, DH had no reason to cheat – we still have sex, I’m slim and attractive for my (OUR) age, I didn’t neglect him because of the DCs, I listen to him etc. etc. If anyone had a reason for cheating it was me.)

A fortnight later, while I was processing this and the pain was still very raw, DH made another unprompted drunken confession. I had thought his recent infidelity was a one-off mid-life mistake. Now he told me that he had sex with dozens of other women throughout our relationship before we were married, and at least five times after we got married as well. I questioned him calmly, and as he listed them, I just sat there with my mouth hanging open.

At first DH seemed to think that what he did wasn’t that bad (??!!!). This is how he minimises his behaviour:

- “it was meaningless” – most of the encounters were ONSs, many while he was abroad, there was never any emotion involved. Afterwards he forgot them and felt no guilt.

- “it just happened” (what utter bollocks!): he never set out to pursue anyone, but if an attractive woman hit on him, he would not turn the opportunity down. And he said most men would have done the same!

- “I was only a young man”. Well, if his need to sow some wild oats was so strong, surely he could have been honest with me about it at the time – but no, he couldn’t because I would have finished with him and he loved me. (This argument is blown out of the water by the fact that he carried on doing it well into his 30s.)

- “it was such a long time ago” – apart from the recent incident, the last time was 15 years ago and he promises it will never happen again.

Oh yes, and he always used a condom (apparently you can get them from the concierge – who knew?), and he always made sure they came! What a lovely guy. “I like women, you see. I don’t just use them like some men do.” No, I answered, I think you like women’s bodies. Actually having a relationship with a woman is too much effort, unless she’s exceptionally nice like me.

Am I supposed to be not upset because it happened a long time ago? Well, our whole past life together now looks completely different. All this time I’ve believed that he loved me. He insists that he did (?!) and still does. But like a dog in the manger, he had me there waiting faithfully for him (DH is the only man I have slept with) while he could go off and shag random women who weren’t wife material.

I can’t comprehend the extent of the compartmentalisation he’s capable of. He could put all this casual sex into a separate box and call it meaningless, whereas sex with me is apparently “different” (presumably meaningful?) because he loves me! This is not my idea of love.

Why didn’t he tell me the first or second time it “happened”? I would have been heartbroken, but I would have got over him and almost certainly gone on to meet someone who would love me the way I deserve. I have considerably fewer options now.

But equally, why has he suddenly told me now? Does he subconsciously want me to divorce him? He denies this, saying he’s very sorry he was so stupid (he always says it was “stupid”, not wrong), he doesn’t want to leave although he will if I ask him to, it didn’t mean anything and can we just forget about it.

You would expect this revelation to be the final nail in the coffin for our marriage (which was still standing only because it was being propped up by me). But hard as this is to believe, it’s actually made everything more complicated. Because DH has had to be honest and talk about his feelings for once, because he now feels regret (although he may only be regretting that he told me) and is making huge efforts to be nice, I feel closer to him than I have in years. There has been a lot of hysterical bonding which, while seemingly loving, leaves me feeling profoundly confused.

Now my head is messed up with intrusive thoughts of DH being intimate with all these other women (not just the sex, but all the build-up – the dinner and drinks together, the flirtatious conversation, the mounting excitement) while my beautiful younger self was waiting patiently at home, unwanted and stupidly trusting. I’m raging on her behalf. What was wrong with her? Why wasn’t she enough for him?

The pain is indescribably intense, physical as well as mental, I feel sick, I’m exhausted from having to pretend everything’s all right to my family and friends. But what I hate most is not being able to think clearly. I can’t settle to anything, I struggle to concentrate on even the simplest things. I’m so tired of feeling muddled all the time. How can I get past this?

Interestedwoman Fri 08-Nov-19 22:18:42

OMFG!

So, some of these confessions have been after he's had a drink. Is he drinking more and/or more often? Perhaps he's having some sort of mental health blip?(Not that that's any excuse.) I don't see why else he'd come out with this now- unless he's feeling nostalgic sad

Either way, so sorry you're going through this. What a wanker! I think I would find it unforgiveable. Hugs xxxx

MoreProseccoNow Fri 08-Nov-19 22:20:22

So sorry you're going through this.

I just had it confirmed 2-3 weeks ago that my partner of 15 years had a "fling" with a woman for 2 weeks as he was "drunk", about 10 years ago when we had a bad patch. I had suspected something at the time & he's denied it. He's totally minimised things & not taken responsibility. He didn't even say sorry FFS.

It was only when I told him recently that I was unhappy did other reasons, and pressed him about the past, that he finally admitted it.

He is also a selfish work & sport obsessed type, putting himself first & not pulling his weight at home.

After the initial shock wore off, I now have some clarity.

I can't spend the rest of my days with a liar, a cheat, who is selfish & puts his own needs first.

I'm done & am making plans to leave.

Interestedwoman Fri 08-Nov-19 22:25:13

@MoreProseccoNow Thumbs up! More prosecco for you smile

FabbyChix Fri 08-Nov-19 22:34:35

Why stay with him. He isn’t who you thought you was with. You only get one life don’t get old and look back to years of staying when you would be happier alone knowing your not being treated badly

CoconutMice Fri 08-Nov-19 22:57:04

Thank you. Yes, DH does drink too much although I wouldn't say he's dependent on it - it's something I've been trying to help him with.

EKGEMS Fri 08-Nov-19 22:59:07

Oh dear God divorce him and kick his cheating ass out! Get a shit hot lawyer and get as much as you can.

EKGEMS Fri 08-Nov-19 23:00:14

You cannot "help" someone with a drinking problem they have to want to change themselves-you sound like his mother not his spouse

DidntLikeRugbyAnyway Fri 08-Nov-19 23:01:06

I don’t see how you can get past this. It’s too big. Your whole relationship has been a lie. Of course you can’t forget about it. How convenient for him that he wants you to. You will never trust him.

Branster Fri 08-Nov-19 23:02:15

I’m really sorry you are going through this OP, how awful...
Could it be that as he’s getting older, his level of attractiveness is getting lower and lower (regardless of how high or low it was to star with and doesn’t include physical traits only). Combine this with his ability to hold a drink which is also getting worse.
You end up with the drunk pseudo philosopher who chose the wrong audience.
Utterly disrespectful to you, disregard for other women and there are no excuses under the sun for what he did. I suspect there’s a lot more you will never hear about.
You need to leave him in order to start the process of overcoming all these deep emotions you are experiencing now. He is not the man you thought he was.

YankeeSocks Fri 08-Nov-19 23:12:17

Fuck!!!! So sorry OP. I cannot believe what I have read.

Get the best solicitor and get rid. That is not normal, someone who loves you would not do that..... I would discuss maybe mental health. Is he addicted to sex?

Savingforarainyday Fri 08-Nov-19 23:14:14

You still have ample prospects

FineWordsForAPorcupine Fri 08-Nov-19 23:18:10

I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this, OP. It's not fair and you deserve much, much better.

Honestly, I think that wondering WHY he is telling you now is a distraction. An understandable one, but still - I think you need to break the habit of always treating his thoughts and feelings as more important than your own.

Is this man acceptable to you? A man who cheats if he thinks he can find a loophole that means it somehow "doesn't count"? A man who thinks that, as long as he's nice to your face, it doesn't matter what he does behind your back?

Regardless of if he's sorry, or has a ready justification, or wants your absolution, or thinks it's no big deal? Who cares what he thinks - what do you think?

RhinoskinhaveI Fri 08-Nov-19 23:24:16

I wonder what he would say if you decided to fess up and tell him about your 'romantic liaisons'... Of course I get that there aren't any but I wonder how he would respond if the tables were turned.....??
Sauce for the goose and all that!

PermanentTemporary Fri 08-Nov-19 23:32:19

I don't think that looks anything like sex addiction. Attention addiction, probably. He was perhaps in an industry where this was rife, and instead of developing his own moral compass, took the innuendos of his boss and colleagues as being what 'everybody did'? (I'm guessing).

Look, I'll be honest, for me it wouldn't necessarily be the end in itself, but it seems you also see the act of confession as quite aggressive - it's not as if he broke down and begged your forgiveness, he just kind of dropped it in your lap because he's pissed, almost like a self-harm /harmful challenge to you. I don't like the way he did that. He's made himself hard to admire, hard to like, hard to love. And it's hard enough after a long marriage to do any of those things.

HypatiaCade Sat 09-Nov-19 03:09:04

Hmm, the cynic in me would guess that he is being put under pressure to tell you, either by a friend who has found out, blackmailer, or there is a child out there somewhere and he's been asked to supply DNA for maintenance....

Divorce his cheating arse NOW while he's in a higher paying job, and you have children to support financially. Take the arsehole to the cleaner. Do your want to spend the rest of your life feeling inadequate, and wondering when he's going to cheat next?

samb80 Sat 09-Nov-19 03:24:24

In ten years what would you tell your beautiful self today....?
You keep referring to yourself as beautiful before, you are beautiful now inside and out.
You are deserving of so much more, what your husband has done is awful and a complete head fuck.
I hope you find the strength to get through this and follow your gut instincts xx

MsDogLady Sat 09-Nov-19 03:26:45

OP, I am very sorry. Your husband’s massive betrayals may be old news to him, but they are deep, fresh wounds for you.

His sleaziness, lack of integrity, and abuse of your trust and consent are truly beyond the pale.

I would never forgive my husband if he degraded and made an utter mockery of my love and devotion the way yours has.

MsDogLady Sat 09-Nov-19 04:15:05

..my beautiful younger self. What was wrong with her? Why wasn’t she enough for him?

OP, his promiscuous behavior has nothing to do with you. He has a weak character and a huge sense of entitlement to seek illicit sex/ego boosts. He will not change.

Why would you stay with this despicable excuse for a husband and father? Is this the relationship model you want to show your children?

Prioritize your self-respect and well-being. You feel tormented and muddled, but you will not regain your balance as long as your H is there. I would send him away while you weigh your options. Stop protecting him and pretending with your loved ones.

Aquamarine1029 Sat 09-Nov-19 04:58:32

Why would you want to get past this? That means sacrificing your well-being and making excuses for his unforgivable behaviour. Your life is not over, your future can be anything you wish it to be, and staying with him would be madness. Pick yourself up and toss this piece of shit to the kerb.

Soulstirring Sat 09-Nov-19 05:16:00

I’m often puzzled why we think we should remain with people who treat us badly. If you break it down is it him you want to stay with or to maintain a status quo in your life? The latter is understandable.

No matter how hard things get, they will always get better. I love the phrase ‘this too shall pass’ because it’s true

Personally, I’d leave him and rebuild because he doesn’t deserve your forgiveness and faith.

You are not old! There is still a fabulous future out there for you.

dottydolly72 Sat 09-Nov-19 06:04:03

I'm so sorry OP this must be an awful shock for you. Sadly the story isn't dissimilar to my own after 10 yrs of marriage. Just like @MoreProseccoNow I'm trying to find my way out. It's wrong plain and simple, you deserve better and he deserves no more of your time. I know the head games well, I spend hours thinking about all those lovely dinner dates, holidays and passionate nights of sex and I feel sick to think the man I married could do this to me. Be kind to yourself, stop trying to fix him and think about how you can help yourself. xx

daisychain01 Sat 09-Nov-19 06:16:05

I can't advise you how to get past it because the way you describe your DH doesn't make him the ideal partner ( put politely), and I couldn't get past that sort of revelation.

He probably thinks he can tell you anything and you'll just take it, because you've always been supportive of him.

Could it be the straw that broke the camel's back?......

He's shown you many times over who he is. I'd use it as the impetus to plan the next phase of your life, with him out of the picture!

Theresa45 Sat 09-Nov-19 07:07:21

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

NoNoNoOohmaybe Sat 09-Nov-19 07:10:42

It sounds like he can't say no. So the opportunities may get less as he gets older and you're less happy about him staying out/away on his own, but if presented with the option he'll still take it. He just probably wouldn't tell you again.

You need to decide how you feel about that.

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