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Husband has left for another woman after 20+ years together

(91 Posts)
CluelessnotShoeless Fri 06-Nov-20 14:40:15

I've lurked on the relationship boards over the years and read other people's stories about their husbands leaving after having an affair, thought how terrible it must be for them but never thought it would be me.

In August my husband told me that he was in love with someone else and clearly wanted to leave. After a few weeks at home he left for her. We have two children, one with additional needs. Although I can now see signs that he was distracted in the last few months before he told me it was a massive shock - I had no idea. I'd always felt confident in his love for me. In fact over the last few years he had acted more devoted but he now claims that he was trying to make things right in our marriage despite his feelings of unhappiness. I don't know what to believe - we've had a tough few years. It's frustrating because I also believed we got on really well but apparently it was nothing like the deep connection he has with his new girlfriend.

I have started divorce proceedings as there seems to be no other option. I am completely financially dependent on him too as gave up work a couple of years ago to focus on our youngest daughter. We are not telling the children the real reason for our splitting up. We have softened the blow to them by saying that we will still do things together as a family and I think that's the right thing for them. He has babysat for me a few times so I could meet friends.

About 12 years ago I left him as his addictions were getting out of control. He turned that around and I stayed with him but he put me through a lot and did some terrible things. I forgave him. I wish I hadn't.

I just feel terrible a lot of the time with only brief periods of thinking I'm better without him. I can't seem to think about anything else. I need to talk through my feelings obsessively and although it helps at the time, it doesn't last long before my feelings build up again. I can't reconcile who I thought he was with his actions, except I can because he has shown self-destructive tendencies in the past. I'm bored with my thoughts but can't stop them. The lockdown makes it worse as I feel so isolated.

I think what I need to hear is that it will get better and how long it will take. Please, if anyone has been in my situation, please share how you moved on and got past it.

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LemmysAceCard Fri 06-Nov-20 15:21:35

It will get better OP, it really will, but it does take time, if only feelings could be turned off like a tap, it would make things so much easier.

Just keep being kind to yourself and dont beat yourself up, this is his doing and when you split before and got back together it was because you wanted to do it at the time so dont look back with "i wish" as it will drive you to insanity.

You will get through this, you really will, sometimes with baby steps and even some steps backwards but you will get through it.

Take care OP.

PornStarOvaltini Fri 06-Nov-20 15:25:55

Want to post while you're waiting for advice from those in a similar situation. Having read this Relationships Forum, I do know it can be a benefit to record the negative things about him - the things he's done over the years that have angered or upset you and the day to day irritations or feelings of ennui. X

Sunshineandflipflops Fri 06-Nov-20 15:49:46

I was in s similar position almost 3 years ago op.

At the start of December, my husband of 13 years (together over 20) told me he wasn't happy but couldn't offer me much explanation as to why. I spent 3 awful weeks wondering what I had done to make him so unhappy and not even realise, questioning us, our marriage, everything.

His behaviour over those 3 weeks was so cold...i didn't recognise him as my husband or the father of my children. We muddles through Christmas and then a few days later when he went back to work, I found work emails that had been linked up to his ipad between him and a younger colleague at work which left me in no doubt that they were having an affair.

When he got home from work, his bag was packed. At that point is was almost a relief as I was driving myself mad trying to work out why this man could suddenly fall out of love with me and be so cold. Up until those few weeks previously we had been very happy and no signs at all that anything was amiss. Funny that his "unhappiness" coincided with starting a relationship with her.

Anyway, I was heartbroken and like you, I decided our kids didn't need to know the reason why we were separating. They were devastated as all they had even seen was us happy.

Fast forward 3 years and I'm so much better. I still mourn the end of my marriage and wish to God it could have been different but we co-parent well and I have been in a relationship with another man for 14 months and am happy.

My ex is now onto his second relationship (the affair partner didn't last past 2 years) and I wish him the best.

I self-referred for counselling as I just needed to talk to someone who didn't know me or him and that helped clear my thoughts a bit. My friends were brilliant too and knowing there is always someone to talk to is invaluable so I hope you have that.

Be kind to yourself. You are mourning and it is like a death. You wouldn't be hard on yourself for still mourning the death of someone very close after this short amount of time x

movingonup20 Fri 06-Nov-20 15:58:03

It gets better I promise

mrshonda Fri 06-Nov-20 16:29:36

It does get better, I promise you that. I have been in a similar situation to you. You will grieve and that is only natural, but keep going forward, one day at a time if need be, and don't look back over your shoulder - the past is done and gone, you need to plan for the future now. And it will be a good future.

wigglyworm002 Fri 06-Nov-20 16:39:44

There seems to be a theme with many men that when the relationship reaches 20 years, they look for a shiny new play thing!

OP your story could have been mine. One of my children has additional needs but ex husband brushes this aside.

It's been a nightmare to be honest, mainly due the fact that the ex will not engage with me at all so messages have to go via our lawyers. It's like dealing with a petulant 14 year old and it's draining.

Although I still mourn the end of marriage and deep down I"m still seething, I have to put things into perspective and realise that although I loved him, we just didn't have fun together. Dinners out were dull and over in 40 mins. Holidays were often cut short. We shared not mutual friends or common interests and when I think back, I can't remember ever really laughing with him.

I"m still single after 4 years but have dated and laughed and felt attractive and interesting..... so there is hope!

Muchadoaboutlife Fri 06-Nov-20 17:03:43

The best thing you can do is get yourself a therapist who does zoom calls so you’ve got somebody to talk to. Also get yourself out and about after lockdown but start thinking about what you can do to improve your life. You are no longer tied down.

willowmelangell Fri 06-Nov-20 17:54:17

How can you distract yourself from the over talking and over thinking?
I can get lost in a book or tv series. A pet? Cooking something new, a hobby you haven't had time to really get into. Write a book. Music lessons.
Anything that doesn't leave your mind drifting into the habit of thinking about him.
Re-arrange furniture and colour schemes to make your space more your own.
You were a great partner when he needed you. You can hold your head up high there.
It has been such a short time, I think getting past the first Christmas apart will be the turning point.

CluelessnotShoeless Fri 06-Nov-20 17:56:05

Thank you all. I just hate the thought that I may still be unhappy in 5 years when H has moved on and probably remarried to the OW who will want to see my children!

I find it all very strange sometimes as we can still get on well but there is a new awkwardness that I have never felt before. We’ve had a few chats since and, while I concede some of his points, it’s like we were in two different marriages. Some of what he’s said are just completely wrong.

The pandemic doesn’t help of course but also I’m new to the area, incredibly shy and a SAHM. No local friends.

The other issue is that I still love him but he clearly stopped loving me some time ago - at least a year since the emotional part of the affair began.

OP’s posts: |
CluelessnotShoeless Fri 06-Nov-20 18:00:19

Forgot to say I speak to Relate but it’s only every two weeks. It helps as counsellor tells me everything I feel is normal. I’m on a waiting list for another counselling service. I know I need to change to make a new life for myself but not sure quite how to do it.

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MollyButton Fri 06-Nov-20 18:06:58

Look out for threads here and on the internet on "The Script". It is highly likely that what he is "saying" now doesn't chime with reality.

I would also suggest that you look into making friends, looking for a job, reconnect with old friends etc. Even in lockdown it is possible - make sure you are on the local Whatsapp group etc.
And I'd try to keep him out of your house - make that your safe place and haven. And don't totally shield the DC from the reality. (They may even secretly think its their fault.)

MikeUniformMike Fri 06-Nov-20 18:46:24

Good advice MollyButton.

Just to nitpick, your husband does not babysit, he needs to pull his weight.

CluelessnotShoeless Fri 06-Nov-20 20:23:05

Having read loads of stuff about affairs since this happened I know that H is rewriting some of the marriage history to justify to himself what he’s done; but it still hurts him to describe our relationship as transactional & superficial.

My children are young as we had them late. They are definitely too young to be told the truth. Maybe when the eldest is older if he asks the right questions but not now.

I agree that babysitting was the wrong term but at the moment it suits me for him to come to the house, not least because it gives me a temporary lift followed by a crash the next day. At some point things will change and they are already.

I’ve actually seen old friends more often than usual since this happened but don’t have anyone local. Since this happened I’ve tried to have stuff in the diary but lockdown changes that.

I just never saw this coming. I really thought I’d found a good one who I would grow old with. Everyone who knows us is shocked too.

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CluelessnotShoeless Fri 06-Nov-20 20:23:52

Forgot to add I think his affair is an exit affair - done to end the marriage.

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CluelessnotShoeless Fri 06-Nov-20 20:30:31

My post of 20.23 doesn’t make sense. It suits me to have H look after children at the house but it does make me struggle emotionally afterwards. I believe I am struggling to let go though.

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MikeUniformMike Fri 06-Nov-20 20:30:58

The babysitting bit was me being nitpicky, but I'm glad you see what I mean. If he's bailing out of the marriage, he's going to need to pull his weight with the parenting.

So sorry you're going through this.

Worriedwombat2015 Fri 06-Nov-20 20:51:50

I wrote. I had a notebook under my bed. And I wrote and wrote and wrote. About anything that came into my head. My thoughts, my feelings, my utter sense of "fuck you then" I was utterly distraught.

It wasnt for someone to see or read, or even for me to look back on, just a method for me to get my innermost thoughts and feelings out before I went to sleep. I was so angry and so upset. My whole life thrown under the bus.Everything, every little thing i disliked about him, everything i hoped for the future, it all got wrote down. it helped just to get it out.

Slowly i wrote less and less, until i didnt need to write at all because i didnt give a shit anymore! I came out the other side and I truly know now my life is better without him. It's sad, and I'm sad for DC, but it's better now

CluelessnotShoeless Fri 06-Nov-20 20:58:36

@Worriedwombat2015 - when did it feel better?

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Muchadoaboutlife Fri 06-Nov-20 21:17:43

You say you’re new to the area? When did you move? After he started the affair? What about moving back home to where you have a support system

Vodkatonic8 Fri 06-Nov-20 21:22:10

Only time will make you feel better. It’s that simple. For him, the marriage was probably over a while ago in his head. For you it’s very raw. An OW doesn’t help either as it adds to the pain. It doesn’t matter about scripts, rewriting history. His guilt is for him to deal with. The top and bottom of it is that whatever his reasons, he has gone and the first step in the process for you is grief. Recovery is only possible when you are through that stage. It may take a year, maybe two. Just focus on yourself, the kids and make sure he does his fair share to enable you to have some time off. You can’t just switch off love, it happens over a long time period. For him that has probably been going on for a few years.

karma1979 Fri 06-Nov-20 21:38:31

So sorry you've been let down. Totally what @Worriedwombat2015 said. Get a notebook and write. I did that too. A 19 year marriage which wasn't brilliant but ok. It's just the person you thought you knew changing so quickly overnight
At the end of the day he's not worried about you because he wouldn't have treated you this way so grieve the marriage but not losing him. Time really does help. The first 3 months were hard. Take up running if you can! Things will be ok. And if you are financially much weaker you will need to be compensated. Get some free legal advice in first instance. Oh and I've also met a new guy - have a boyfriend of 3 months now and very happy. Ex on the other hand always seems miserable - even though lives with ow. "If another woman can take your man she's doing you a favour".

Anordinarymum Fri 06-Nov-20 21:47:04


Forgot to say I speak to Relate but it’s only every two weeks. It helps as counsellor tells me everything I feel is normal. I’m on a waiting list for another counselling service. I know I need to change to make a new life for myself but not sure quite how to do it.

I think one of your issues is that you have invested yourself in a relationship and stuck with it despite his failings and it still has not worked out, but what is worse is that it has taken twenty years for it to end.

You have nothing to reproach yourself for. You did your best and you raised two lovely children. I think you are a good person and deserve better than this.
He's selfish isn't he ?
You will emerge stronger and happier without him in your life. He has shown himself to be disloyal and has not valued you, putting his own needs above his family's.
I wonder if he will live to regret this

CluelessnotShoeless Sat 07-Nov-20 16:59:02

Thank you. I do write a journal now but I’m not sure if it helps as there is no one talking back. I did actually feel calmer after writing and getting responses here. Today I am very down again as he has taken the children away for the day. I used to love having child free time but today I hate it.

@Vodkatonic8 I think what you write is harsh but true - he’s been falling out of love with me for years; it’s the only explanation. But I don’t know how I didn’t know. I truly felt that he loved me and I trusted him completely. We even used to talk about men who left their families & how ridiculous & selfish they were.

As to his general character I wouldn’t say he’s selfish on a day to day basis. He’s actually quite considerate, even now he makes kind gestures to me but they are partly motivated by guilt. Anyway the more time passes the more he moves away from me (& doesn’t want to spend time with me) I know it’s to be expected but it’s like I’ve lost my best friend as well as my husband.

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CluelessnotShoeless Sat 07-Nov-20 19:01:13

Of course what he has done is the most selfish thing anyone can do to their partner. I think he wants to be a good person but is too weak to see it through. If he’d told me he was unhappy earlier we could have maybe fixed it or at least parted in a more dignified way.

It just seems crazy that 3 months ago I was struggling through lockdown confident that a better future awaited me.

I can see that perhaps I took the marriage for granted but then I think you should be able to rely on your partner when things are tough in the rest of your life. I cannot express how shocked I was and how I had no idea.

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