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Staying together after an affair - how do you ever get over what has happened?

(74 Posts)
Iris100 Wed 02-Apr-08 11:56:37

Four months on from the discovery that DH had an affair. It had been going on for a month and I found out.

After many weeks of heartache and almost splitting up we are still together. DH has finished things with the other woman, he has said he loves me and wants to be with me.

I am now struggling to move forward. DH does not want to talk about what has happened - he thinks we have done enough talking and we should move on. We had a bad evening last night talking about things where he accused me of wanting to drag everything up again and again and make him feel bad, when he feels terrible already.

He thinks he has done everything I have asked him to do - finished the relationship, no contact with OW. He won't go to counselling with me - he has talked about going on his own but has not actually contacted anyone yet.

I think at the root of my feelings is...he did a Bad Thing, he should be doing whatever it takes to make things right between us. Including talking about it if I need to do that. He just doesn't seem sufficiently sorry! And perhaps I don't need to understand every last detail about what happened to move on. Perhaps he is right and I am just going over old ground.

sadandtired Wed 02-Apr-08 12:07:48

No you are right.
He did do the Bad Thing, and yes he needs to do whatever it takes to help you get to where you can move on, if he is committed to repairing your marriage.
Of course he won't like talking about it - he will be feeling guilty and won't want reminding of why, but that's his fault not yours.

Hopefully Maturer will come along and phrase things is a much better way than me. I think she said that what you are needing to do is go over all the details, in order to understand, accept and move on, in the same way that people in car crashes etc do. Which is why counselling is so helpful. I didn't insist on this, and am now regretting it.

stirlingmum Wed 02-Apr-08 12:10:54

Hi Iris - Hope you are well smile

Are we married to the same person?
Maybe they are just at the same page in the manual that tells them what to do.

I think that I have come to terms with it now. I dont think my dh is ready to talk it all through yet although I am pretty sure now that all contact with ow is over.

He talked about his feelings a little bit last weekend and I got a small insight into the amount of guilt he now feels for the damage and hurt he has caused me and our relationship.

Maybe they just dont know how to deal with that guilt.

jesuswhatnext Wed 02-Apr-08 12:14:55

what did he think you were going to do, make him sit on the naughty step?

he is bloody lucky that you still want to talk to him at all!!

Iris100 Wed 02-Apr-08 12:18:06

Hello Sterling, fancy you being on my thread smileThings sound a bit more positive for you, I'm glad.

My dh has issues about being in the wrong. He finds it extremely hard to take crticism - comes from having an extremely controlling, violent, critical alpha male father.

So what do I do? Accept that things will come out slowly and that this is an ongoing process - and don't stress about the fact that often I feel my needs are coming second to his needs (ie his need not to be made to feel guilty/ like a bad person). Or do I say that my needs should come first, I am the person who did nothing wrong but is still having to go through all this?

I just don't know how to move forward.

Iris100 Wed 02-Apr-08 12:20:40

Hello Jesus (good name)
He is lucky I am still here. I nearly wasn't - he has pushed me right to the edge. I love him though and he's not in a good place right now.

stirlingmum Wed 02-Apr-08 12:32:28

I dont know why I feel so positive now.

After our last deep chat I really believe that dh really loves me and wants our marriage to work (I was so unsure about these things for so many months).

I know he still needs to talk things through, probably with the Counsellor, but I am resigned to the fact that it will happen when he is ready.

I am trying not to think of the past at the moment and just deal with what is happening now.

I am not saying that it is dealt with but that at the moment, how we are dealing with things seems right.

I remember from a previous thread that Maturer said that she and her dh didn't go to counselling together. They dealt with it seperately. Maybe that is the way to go.

Iris100 Wed 02-Apr-08 12:36:36

That's kind of where I am too sterling, but I feel that it's not enough now for him to say he is 'not ready' for counselling. I need to see that he is taking steps to sort out the mess that his head is in. For our marraige and our kids but also for himself.

stirlingmum Wed 02-Apr-08 12:41:20

Could you demand that he at least makes an appointment with a Counsellor to give it a go? Then you two can chat about how he feels afterwards and see if it helps him?

jesuswhatnext Wed 02-Apr-08 12:45:53

iris, you sound a lovely understanding person, however, he may be'in a bad place' but the selfish prat put himself in it! and then he pulled you in to it aswell!!!

he didn't have to drop his trousers, it was a choice he made, he now needs to understand that you also have choices, one of them being that you need to talk about his affair.

FourJays Wed 02-Apr-08 12:57:06

My gran used to say that you never get over some things - but you forgive and learn to live with them.

stirlingmum Wed 02-Apr-08 17:45:27

I think that you can learn to live with them but forgiving is another matter altogether.

Just because you can rebuild your marriage and learn to love someone again after an affair, you may NEVER trust or forgive them.

overdraft Wed 02-Apr-08 17:57:00

We are three years on from dh affair, this year.

Your Dh does need to talk about it as much as you need too. I bring dh,s affair up from time to time even as recent as last night. Not in a 'I want to punish you way' but I am feeling very down right now.

Your Dh can't expect you to carry the pain around with you and not support you, when you need it. He needs to understand that.Of course he will be feeling guilty and ashamed right now.

We went to relate and it helped a great deal.

I don't think you will ever get over it. I know I won't. It dosen't make me feel sad every day now. When it first happened,and was discovered it consumed my every thought. It does get easier. I promise.

You are only four months down the line.

Finbar Wed 02-Apr-08 17:59:53

Message withdrawn

ladylush Wed 02-Apr-08 21:38:05

Hi Iris. I found out on Valentines Day this year that dh had an affair for about a year (they had sex about 6 times). My whole world crashed. I didn't eat or sleep for about 2 weeks. I then had to make a decision. Throwing him out was the easy choice, but we have a 3 yr old who adores his dad so I decided to try to work things out. We have been together 18 years. No adultery beforehand (as far as I am aware). How do I start again after that long and do I actually want to....etc? I do still love him. That said, I do frequently feel like telling him to go. I told him I can't make any promises at this stage. It is a day by day thing. The difference between our stories is that dh was very willing to do everything it takes to help the situation e.g. counselling, support groups etc. He has been very honest in the counselling sessions. I think if your dh wants you to stay with him, he should do absolutely everything it takes to win back your trust. Even though my dh is doing this, I can't offer him any guarantee as I have been so badly betrayed. It's good that you have some understanding about his insecurities etc. but you need to think about you right now. Sometimes making concessions for people is not the best thing - they need firm boundaries at times. I think this is one of those times. He also needs to develop his own sense of self-criticism/reflection as running away from this responsibility will not give you the reassurance you need that it won't happen again. I wish you all the best.

stuffitllama Wed 02-Apr-08 21:48:15

Has he told you why he had an affair?

He says he loves you and wants to stay with you, and knows he did a terrible thing. That is why he doesn't want to talk about it. Do you believe him?

I understand why he doesn't want to talk about it and I understand why you do.

Do you want to move on? Ask yourself if you know what you want from him. Ask yourself if it is achievable.

If I were you I would say to him, I need to talk about it but am happy to do it once a week in a "home counselling" session. Writing things down, each having x amount of time to say things, and so on. Then you can get through each day knowing that you will be able to talk about it every -- say -- Thursday night.

You may be able to move on, slowly, slowly, a little bit each week. If you think it is possible for him to feel more guilty, and that he should, then you can keep talking to him about it all the time even when he doesn't want to, but will have to be realistic and accept that this may not be helpful to moving on.

I'm very sorry to hear that you have been through this and that you are feeling so dreadful.

littlewoman Wed 02-Apr-08 22:59:23

I think you're very brave to try to make it work. Get some counselling on your own, if nothing else. They change your perspective, which can help so much when you can't see the wood for the trees.

stirlingmum Thu 03-Apr-08 20:18:59

Are you there tonight Iris?
How are you today? smile

maturer Thu 03-Apr-08 22:29:45

Hi Iris, stirlingmum and a big hello- how you doing-to overdraft!

What you are feeling is what all of us who've been there have felt. I reckon my dh took the best part of a year to truely "come back to me" ie emotinally. In the first few months he could not be totally honest with me or himself for that matter so the very few couples conselling sessions we did were a waste of time and I realised that - I knew he wasn't being himself yet and was holding back!
So I went alone to my own counsellor and that really helped me be strong and work through the emotions and quite frankly stop them being so destructive to me- I was able to make decisions more clearly (did a lot of crying and spilling my guts!)it helped me realise I was a strong person and could surrvive without him- but I chose not to!

He at first couldn't talk about it- he did what they all do he tried to turn it on me....the- talking it over and over stops us moving on arguement, holds us back etc etc......HELLO...the sleeping with someone else,lying and decieving is holding us back not the talking about it!!!!

It is I believe all part of the denial process they go through- after all to talk about it, face up to all the details makes him face just what a deceiptful, cheating B****D he's been and that's not a nice thing to dwell on.

However he's had his time for it to be just about him- it's your turn and he needs to realise that talking about it is what you need to do- not to punish but to make some sort of sense of it and if he wants it to work he's got to go with it.....he made choices as an adult now he has to live with the consiquences and this is one of them

You will eventually get to a stage where you don't want to talk about it all the time, but you set the pace not him!!It's your turn to make the choices and if he truely wants to make it work he has to go with you.

My dh did go to counselling by himself.....it was probably 6mths in to "recovery" he now can say that at the time he was afraid to face upto what he'd become and counselling let him understand a bit why and how he'd got to where he'd got.

As for forgiveness? well 1 thing i did take from counselling was that you don't have to forgive...some things in life are unforgivable.....but you do have to make some sort of sense of it and some sort of peace with it which only comes by trying to understand so knowing all the details!!!

I also read an article at the time that made sense to me. It said women have a stronger emotional memory than men (generally)so the feelings stay with you longer- men can blot them out, switch them off easier.Also that coping with an affair is like coping with witnessing or being involved in a horrific accident...after, you have to keep running the details through your head and asking questions- including the what if questions so that you can make sens of what happened....it made perfect sense to me!ust have to make the men realise that it's not only normal it's healthy and necessary before healing can take place.

My mantra became "no more secrets" and " all demonds-no matter how painful)out in the open"

Hope it helps!

helpmehelpme Fri 04-Apr-08 05:25:58

Iris, lots of empathy to you. I know how you feel from my own experience.

This is one of the biggest threats a relationship can face and there is no escaping how painful and anguish ridden you will feel maybe for quite a long time. The loss of trust can be agony. This is why so many relationships fall at this hurdle.

But if you can get through this, then the relationship can grow stronger despite what has happened and because of what has happened.

The stats show that a large % of men are unfaithful. So if you rebuild and are realistic, honestly you could end up with a better relationship then you had before.

I feel our relationship's strong foundations were built when we chose to stay together after an infidelity. It was one of the hardest thing I've ever gone though but I"m so so glad I did.

I had no idea how painful it would be (my f was a philanderer) but in a way our society doesn't prepare us for how incredibly difficult it can be to build and maintain a strong marriage!

Take care and good luck it's hard but worth it if you can keep it together.

Also read something like Men are from Mars. It's schmaltzy but does explain how main don't need to talk as much as him, he may need a break, you may need to talk to someone else. too much talk will drive him away maybe. You may need to hold some of the pain and process it yourself. Sorry to sound brutal! All the best.

helpmehelpme Fri 04-Apr-08 05:27:36

sorry, how men don't need to talk as much as us!

gravity Fri 04-Apr-08 05:46:01

Hello to my dear friends on Mumsnet who got me through without a doubt the hardest time of my life. Dear Maturer and Overdraft. Hello girls.

Iris - How do you get through?

One day at a time babe. one long hard day at a time.

I'm the same as Overdraft, 3 years on from my partner breaking my heart. But I have now honestly forgiven. Not that I had to forgive. Not completely forgotton nor ever will. There were many contributing factors and they are all out of his life now. He did what he did for his own reasons. It was never my fault nor the cause of anything I did. He once believed I was a contributing factor and I let him make me think I was. But they were his own demons which caused him to stray.

That stabbing pain that rips at your heart will get less I promise. The wanting to be sick everytime you imagine what he did will get less. Don't expect this to be any time soon. Just slowly less. Do whatever YOU NEED to to get through this.

Do the men ever want to talk about it? No. I am sure its their guilt and the pain that they see they have caused. It took about 14 months for us to move forward even slightly. During deep chats he still wont open up about what happened. But now I really dont want to bring it up that much as there is a dull pain which is still buried away somewhere deep inside.

Do you have a passion? Something for you? Something that makes you the happiest you can be? Something to make your heart and soul feel better which doesnt need to have anything to do with HIM?

I left Mumsnet quite sometime ago when I needed some time to be me again. All the advice I received from these absolutely wonderful ladies here was no doubt how I made it through each day. But then I woke up one day and grasped onto what I had and I decided I would go back to the core of my happiness. What had made me happy as a child.

I started horseriding and showing horses again. I was lucky that financially after 12 years off riding I could start again. Now I have my daughter riding also. Between Mumsnet and my horse riding I am me again. Not the same me as before the horrible day I found out what he did, but a newer stronger harder me. My life no longer resolves around the one person who nearly destroyed me. I still love him with all my heart and I'm glad we made it through especially for our children. It made us a stronger couple.

Keep talking and don't bottle anything up.

Iris100 Fri 04-Apr-08 13:34:18

Oh thanks so much everyone who posted here. I feel less raw today and able to post again with a bit of perspective.

I made a list yesterday of all the reasons he has given me over the past few weeks for why he did what he did. It was really therapeutic. It helped me to see that he has been working through it himself - I don't think he has realised why he did it yet. He needs to do that and he has accepted this now - he has agreed that he will see a counsellor. He knows I need to talk and has asked me if we can make it a gradual process rather than keep trying to 'have it all out'. He has told me that he finds it difficult when I need him emotionally, when I break down. He needs me to be the strong person and becomes frightened and defensive when I am needy. He knows he has to support me through this but finds it hard - and I understand this. Just talking about this has helped.

Llama I like your idea of a fixed time every week where I can say what I need to and ask what I want.

On the plus side I have been feeling more trusting this week. I do believe it is over with the ow. I think he loves me and wants to be with me. Helpme I know what you mean about being stronger for what has happened. I feel that if we do make it through this I really will know that we both want to be together.

maturer Fri 04-Apr-08 15:32:59

gravity- lovely to hear from you and that you sound so positive and happy again.

We did all get each other through those first months and I know we all are grateful for the support we gave each other. I remeber being desperate to talk to someone who'd been in the same situation and I found them here.......our shared experiences although all different in some ways had lots of threads the same especially I'd say in the way our dh's acted and their attirude at the time to how we tried to deal with it....it was so good to know I was "normal" I was not losing it!(as you do start to doubt yourself)

I can second overdrafts and gravitys long term experience that it is a slow healing process but you can come out of it closer and stronger as a couple and as an individual!

Iris/stirlingmum and all recently facing this trauma......I believe it's very much like a grieving process...stages of shock, anger, disbelief saddness and overwhelming (at times) sorrow!!! Just like the grief for a lost loved one it wont get better overnight..time and circumstances will slowly very slowly move you on. Just like grief things will "ambush" you prompt your emotions and you get days where you feel like it just happened all over again. I still very very occassionally get them even 4 years on....but they are less and less and the pain is fading into the past.

The very fact that you have chosen to try and make a go of it shows you are strong women.....stronger than those weak men.....make the changes YOU want and move on at YOUR pace. Soon you'll start focusing ob the now and the future and less on the painful past!

helpmehelpme Fri 04-Apr-08 15:36:01

Iris, ime, this is a slow slow slow process, it's not going to happen nearly as quickly as you'd like probably! But it sounds like you have a great relationship from what you say. Countless couples have got over this kind of thing and many have found themselves stronger for it.
Good luck for all the hard work and when you have something so good it really is worth the pain, patience, heartache etc.

A friend said to me once. We can't afford to walk away from a house that 'breaks' in some way. We have to buckle down and face the grimness and sort it out. When are children are in trouble we have to face it too. For some reason our society seems to tell us that infidelity means we should press eject on a relationship! I'm not saying we should never do so, but it wouldn't be the starting point imo! Particularly as it's so common.

I think we expect our dh's to be listeners when that's not what they want to be.

All the best

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