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Can your relationship really become stronger after your partner has an affair?(68 Posts)
I'm trying to keep information fairly vague as I think members of my family use mn so forgive lack of hard and fast detail.
I found out last year that dh of 30 years had been having an affair. The first few months post discovery were terrible, I never want to go back to the place I was in then. However, after a couple of months of talking and communicating more than we'd done in years, we set out on a "new better relationship".
For about six months I was happy. I really felt we were in a stronger and closer relationship. We talked more, our sex life was rejuvenated, we spent as much time together as possible.
Then I found out something that suggested he might have been in touch with ow again. Naturally he denied it and I have no proof either way. But suddenly all the hard work we'd done and the progress we'd made seemed to count for nothing.
Now - well now I don't actually know what sort of relationship we have. I suppose I'm on edge a lot and am obsessing over things that happened during the affair that I thought I'd put to rest. I'm so tired and confused and don't know what to do for the best. My head is constantly, and I do mean constantly, full of what happened.
If you both want this relationship to work, then you need to tell him how much his affair is still a problem and he needs to give you full disclosure of everything, allow you to see his whereabouts, his you phone messages, emails etc until you can get some of your trust and confidence back (you will probably never get all of it back). If you have no proof that he didn't contact OW, then he needs to give you that proof. After he cheated, this should be his problem to solve not yours. Why should you be worrying and obsessing over a problem he caused?
What happened in the first months could have been a bit of a honeymoon period, but now that's over, you are back to the bare bones and whatever relationship problems were there in the past will likely crop up again. Have you had any counselling? As a couple or yourself. It can help to try to think about everything that has happened.
I'll be honest.. 3 years on.. it broke me! No going back
Thank you for your reply Majestic.
We haven't had counselling, together or individually. Neither of us felt we wanted it but perhaps we should reconsider.
I'm so torn. I really felt we were back on track until this suspicion. Now I'm inclined to think that maybe this is how it'll always be - ie periods of everything being ok and then periods where the aftermath of the affair makes itself felt again.
Ah just seen your post @littlemissgrinchy. I'm
sorry you've gone through similar. How were things in the three years if you don't mind me asking?
I tried so had, we had holidays and a good times but the thoughts in my head never left me. He did that to me.. not me!! ☹️
Honestly.. I tried hard to forget, I had awful nightmares ptsd is likely the diagnosis
Did he actually take responsibility and own up to what he did, or did he mainly blame you/others for it and you both decided not to discuss it anymore so you could pretend for a while it never happened? Does he get overly angry with you for mentioning it and demands/expects you to have forgiven and moved on?
@littlemissgrinchy I'm so sorry you've been through that. I think I know just how you felt and I hope you're in a better place now.
I too have tried so hard and we've also been on holidays. He's tried hard too to give him his due but I don't know if it's just too late. I feel like a different person now - and not necessarily a nice one.
@thefourgp well he started out saying he did it because he wasn't happy with how things were between us, and apparently every time he tried to tell me this, I denied there were problems. So in effect it was my fault he'd been forced to be unfaithful . We did then get to a place where he accepted his wrong he'd been, and he was very apologetic. He does get a bit impatient with me these days with my endless questions - tbh I get impatient with myself.
Another issue for me is that I know that ow is a very different type of person to me and I keep comparing myself (in my head) unfavourably to her.
No. Certain elements may be "better" but once the trust is gone the relationship is damaged in a fundamental way. There's papering over the cracks/burying your head in the sand but for anyone with a modicum of self respect the partnership is dead in the water no matter how pretty the plaster.
I honestly don't. Particularly after a long marriage like yours.
My exH had an affair - brief fling for sex - and we separated for a time, got back together for the children and limped on for 3 years before finally giving up. By that point neither of us cared.
He made little attempt to show regret or attempt to work on the marriage. I eventually realised I had no respect left for someone who could behave as shabbily as he'd done. Once respect for someone has gone the relationship is dead. I realised he'd just shown contempt for me and my feelings, contempt for our marriage and family and it was always going to be that little bit spoilt.
Watch Emma Thompson in Love Actually. Her reaction to Alan Rickman's affair is sad and accurate...
Do you agree that your marriage was already in trouble before the affair, and that he wanted to talk to you about problems and you were refusing? You say "apparently" he tried to tell you, as if you don't accept this at all.
Was the affair mainly about sex and excitement and not really emotional?
I'm not excusing the affair but if he did feel you were stonewalling him, gaslighting him about problems, picking arguments or criticising, withholding affection/sex, etc then you may already have had big problems, you were just in denial of them. I think you need to work with him to really understand what he thought had gone so badly wrong that after so many years he was so unhappy he looked elsewhere, having been faithful (I assume) for the preceding decades. Because there is no point trying to get over the affair if underneath it there are still problems simmering - he feels he was driven to it, and you think you're the victim.
I'm not saying you are responsible for the affair, far from it. But I've seen middle aged and older women be extremely horrible to their partners just by habit, making their lives a real misery.
And here you are now, both playing nicely on the surface, but he is still thinking of the OW he has given up, and you are sniping ag him with "constant questions" - it sounds like you are pretty determined to punish him for his infidelity over and over, rather than truly move past it and try again.
On the face of the information given, I don't think your marriage can or should survive. It sounds like it has been pushed past its natural life and you would probably both be happier if you went your separate ways. You are unlikely to fully forgive or forget the infidelity and it will haunt you, even if you can get past whatever other marital difficulties you were having. I am sorry for you both, and hope you find a way to end the relationship amicably without vindictiveness or blaming each other, and try to focus on remembering good times you had together.
Sometimes, a fresh start can be a huge relief and a new lease of life, even though it seems very scary and the actual break up can be very emotional after so long.
I think you need professional input to get past it - someone to direct you both on what to do & how to make discussions constructive.
I always find it so patronising and crass of these husbands to say they had an affair because they were unhappy in the marriage for a long time - yeah..like that makes it your fault??
He has lied to you and he has put his dick into another woman. It's disgusting and breaks all the vows he made and tramples over your feelings making you feel less of a woman somehow because he had sex with someone one else.
To answer your original question - No.
I'm so sorry you are going through this @Kringlena
My H had an affair and we're now 3.5 years on from the end of it. I stayed obviously... I was scared to face the end of the marriage. I was terrified that I would be destitute, of the impact on DD, of being alone and pitied...
I'm still with H and every day is easier than the last and I'm at a point now where it's not my first thought when I look at him. I don't spend the days mulling over how we ended up at this point... don't get me wrong, it's definitely not all sunshine and rainbows but there's good times each day, our sex life is much better than before and I feel I'm finally getting there and rebuilding the trust he took away.
My light bulb moment was relatively recent. I looked at him and the thought just occurred to me that he truly isn't the man I married 13 years ago, he's definitely no longer the knobend who betrayed me for 6 months 3.5 years ago any more, he's someone new. Someone who makes an effort, makes me smile each day, takes responsibility for his actions, puts in his time for me and our DD, works hard to contribute to our relationship, recognises if I'm struggling and asks if he can help me with it, tells me he loves me every day and makes an effort around the house. His behaviour is like night and day to before his affair.
Is it too little too late? Only time will tell I suppose but I'm hopeful that we can keep rebuilding and get more hopeful each day.
I think the odds are very very slim that your relationship can become stronger after an affair.
Affairs cause so much hurt which is unforgivable for a lot of people. It's so hard to let go of that betrayal, that it eats away at you, and like you've already said you start obsessing over things you thought you'd put to rest.
It's such a horrible feeling, sorry you're going through this
No op, I don’t believe so.
I have the utmost respect for women that leave a cheating partner.
Not from what I’ve seen in friend/neighbour’s relationships. Usually there will be another affair or two again before one of them ends it for good.
And your husband victim blaming you for his behaviour is awful. He chose to cheat, he cheated, he decided he’d rather sleep with someone else (poor guy, what a sacrifice he made) than address any issues in his marriage. No wonder you say you’ve changed and you don’t necessarily feel like yourself any more, he’s made you question everything you thought you knew about your relationship and yourself.
I think you’d be benefit from counselling on your own and NOT with him to see how you feel about everything. Why didn’t you leave him originally when it first happened? Right now it sounds like you’ve made a choice to stay with him but it’s not working for you as an individual.
In short , when someone cheats on you , it’s extremely difficult to forgive and forget . It may work for a while , when they are making an enormous amount of effort. However as life returns to a more normal everyday routine , it just takes a single thing to make you think ‘ hang on a minute ‘ or to just get that gut feeling that somethings going on,that takes you right back to how you felt when you first found out .
If , despite knowing how much it broke you the first time , he has been back in touch with ow for any reason at all , that tells you everything you need to know .
It’s the inability to find true inner peace for so many , that’s the reason that so many people can’t stay after they have found their OH cheating .
If you chose to stay , I think you would really benefit from counseling, it will help you understand and process what has happened but also put you in a good place for making decisions about how you feel and what you want moving forward . If he doesn’t want to go that’s fair enough , you do it for you
I stayed and found out 3 years later it was still going on, it was hard kicking him out as I felt I had invested so much into saving the marriage/family unit but at least I knew I had given it everything I could. It absolutely devastated me but time is a great healer and all sorts of emotional and financial abuse came to light.
I am truly sorry for what you are going through OP, my advice would be to trust your gut. I also cannot recommend counselling enough, in my case it was just me as my (not at the time) Ex was too cowardly to go in despite making the booking, actions speak louder than words!
He's worked things out to suit himself - keeping you quiet, not having to divide marital assets - with no intention of changing his ways. Can you live like that, or do you need to make changes?
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