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healing after an affair

(121 Posts)
gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 13:20:29

I hope someone here can help, I am feeling pretty low right now.

Short summary. Husband (of 23 years and father of my three boys 10 - 15) had an major emotional affair with young (he was 47 she was 26) woman at work. This developed into a physical affair. He told me Easter 2008.

He left for about 8 months (went to live with his mother) and came home when she finally decided she would not leave her husband. We do not have enough money for two homes in this really quite expensive town, he wanted to be with his sons, his sons wanted him to be with them and I thought I still loved him and believed he still loved me. Bot sure why - he had told me often enough that he didn't, that he had not loved me for years etc etc - she was his soul mate.

Fast forward another 6 months and he is still here. Sometimes he tries really hard with our relationship and sometimes he can't be bothered. He is back to sport etc. I am so hurt and struggling to heal. I can't get out of mind the words he said to me, the words she said to me and the emails etc they exchanged. (Yes I know but I did turn into a pretty gifted cyberstalker!).

I cause upset a few nights/days a week 9better than when it was every day). I cry I rant and I make him feel so so guilty and bad. These are times when he says he loves me (I sometimes wonder if I am like a toddler trying to get attention).

This relationship is mutually destructive but I think we both want it to work just cant see how.

I feel as though this is my fault -0 it is way past time to forgive and let go. I am stuck. Crisis last night - he said earlier in week when I was crying that he would take me out Friday night. This is a big deal because it is always me that arranges babysitting etc etc. Guess what last night he said not, no money. Most of all I think he forgot. Yep I was pretty upset. Today he says he will take me out early eve and has checked with eldest son if he will be ok babysitting (he and ,middle son fight - alot). Now I don't feel like going. What is the point of dressing up. He has told me I am too fat, he has told her she is wonderful, what is the point in dressing up and sitting there knowing he wanted to be with her. He choose her, not me and the boys.

Btw he does not want to do Relate or similar.

Nancy66 Fri 25-Sep-09 13:26:05

You sound very wounded - understandably so.

Of course i don't know either of you but my honest answer after reading your post is that this is probably beyond salvage.

Realistically he only returned because the other woman chickened out. It sounds like you don't enjoy each other's company, that you don't trust him and that the house is full of bad feeling and tense atmospheres.

I couldn't live like that.

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 13:28:45

Oh fuck I cant be without him eietehr

fifilabelle Fri 25-Sep-09 13:52:54

Hey, pretty rough times huh? Sounds like you need to cut all pretence at having a realationship with this man and take stock of what your needs are. Remember that no one can make you feel bad about yourself, only you allow those feelings so rise above and sort out this horrible situation. I feel that once the habit of being with this character has passed you will become much more positive and stable which in istelf can only be an empowering thing for you and for your children.
Sounds like this relationship is terminal and becoming more toxic each day. Get out of it now while you can. He will always be part of your (and the kids) lives but show great strength and make the right decision (which I think you know anyway) amd remove yourself from this destructive set up.
Of course this is easier said than done but when you look back on your life what would you rather see. a strong, independant and assertive woman or a woman who gave her best years to a no win situation? Take it in baby steps so its not so overwhelming. Find out where you stand legally and financially, sometimes even these small gestures can improve your feeling of self worth substantially. Good luck.

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 13:55:11

But I love him so much. And I so wanted my boys to have happy home i really really did. I have failed so badly. Let everyone down.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 25-Sep-09 13:57:09

Gonna - the thing that nobody tells you about affairs is how bloody hard it is to stay. No-one tells you about how altered you become as a person when you are on the receiving end of this. How you managed to be perfectly sane, reasonable and optimistic about life before this happened - and yet have turned into someone who obsesses over every detail for "what that really meant" and how this previously happy woman has been turned into an obsessive nutcase at times, constantly picking at the wound and constantly punishing herself and her H for doing this to her.

I suspect you berate yourself frequently for letting him come back and if you are like most of us on here, replay the "discovery" scene over and over again, but with a different ending - the one where you stand proud and ask him never to darken your door again.

Recovery from an affair is near-on impossible even when the betraying partner is overwhelmed with contrition and will do anything to atone for the great injury he has inflicted. Recovery when that isn't happening - and when it was not even his choice to re-commit to your marriage - is my definition of an impossible task. It might help you to acknowledge therefore that the task you set yourself (getting over this) was unrealistic and impossible. Liken it to trying to climb a mountain with no food or water to sustain you on the journey. Your husband hasn't nourished your sense of self and esteem, both of which are essential requirements.

You are wise to be concerned about the destructive nature of your relationship. Believe me, even couples who are healing go through this too. If your boys are picking up on this (chances are they are) then I think it is decision time.

First of all, you CAN live without him. You might think you can't, but you have far more strength than you think.

Saying he doesn't do relate doesn't cut it, I'm afraid. In your position, I would want to make it abundantly clear that you will not continue with the marriage unless he goes to counselling.

This man looks in serious danger of having no-one. His OW doesn't want him - if he doesn't shape up, I hope that you won't want him either.

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 14:04:10

He is trying. Most days he texts me. and nearly every day he comes in form work and finds me a hugs me. I cold shoulder him because I know he is just playing to a script. Going through the motions. But sometimes it really feels like he is back in his body, the man I loved and trusted, perhaps too much. I took him for granted I know that. He cant live like this with someone like me. He says he wants to but I am so horrid.

Oh god I am crying buckets and have yet again done no work today. Need to put some slap on for school run I think.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 25-Sep-09 14:07:45

Does he tell you that you're horrid? Does he still tell you that you're fat and that he hadn't loved you for years?

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 14:18:30

He does not tell me I am horrid, that is just what I am. He has told me I am fat and he has not loved me for years, but not for months now. Now he says he finds me attractive and loves me. Now is is just going through the motions to keep everything stable. He feels so guilty. But I don't feel loved, I don't feel lovable. I know he just feels sorry for me.

purplepeony Fri 25-Sep-09 14:37:44

Gonna- you have to get some outside help to work on your self esteem- if you think you are horrid, then you are not opening up to anyone else loving you.

If you are fat- your H is cruel telling you- but if you are, then do something about it- plenty of help out there. Take charge of your life.

If he comes home and wants to hug you- accept him.

But youhave to really ask, as you are, if he is home because he was rejected, or home because heloves you.

I have had an affair- I know you can love 2 people in totally different ways. You can't be what the OW was, and should't try to be.

He either wants to come back and do all he can- such as counselling- or he doesn't.

You are giving him too much choice in it- lay down some conditions upon which you can build your marrriage.

DrunkenDaisy Fri 25-Sep-09 14:40:24

Oh god you poor thing. I really think you should split up and live separately. My ex made me feel fat and awful - i forgot how awful it was until your posts reminded me.

You can be happy and in love and feel beautiful with someone else, I'm sure of it. Life's too short to feel like shit. yuor boys won't be getting anything out of your sacrifices either.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 25-Sep-09 14:52:36

Okay. There are some things I'm going to advise you to do.

Ask him outright whether he is fully committed to being with YOU and not the whole marriage with kids shebang.

Insist on couples counselling. What ever happens between you two, you are going to need to manage this with love and care for your boys and counselling can help you part well - it's not just for rescuing relationships.

If he won't go for counselling, then go yourself. It will help you with the rages and the behaviour you're describing.

And stop, please stop blaming yourself for all this. My God woman, I bet he took you for granted too, but you didn't have an affair did you? That was his choice. Secondly, you've tried your best and one of the most erroneous things is that it's best for the children to stay together. It bloody isn't if it means that one or both parents are going through hell. To be honest, I knew pretty much straight away that I wasn't letting him stay for the kids' sake - it was for my sake.

Your boys will understand that you tried your best but that this was beyond you. There's a reason why adultery is grounds for divorce you know - there is no legal or societal expectation that the marriage has to continue once that's happened.

Being horrid is normal. Feeling like you do is normal. But you do need some help, with him or without him. Don't turn him into a victim here. If he's worth staying with, he'll understand. That is not to say this can continue as it is though....mainly because you aren't healing. Get some help to heal love and be kind to yourself for once.

Oh and just another little warning bell that went off earlier - why does he need to "take you out"? Why not go out yourself with friends? Doesn't have to be expensive. You said he promised to take you out when he saw you crying - I sincerely hope he doesn't think that the sticking plaster of a night out with him is going to heal your wounds.

Aussieng Fri 25-Sep-09 14:53:15

If he will not go to Relate then I think that YOU need to get some counselling. Try and work out (through counselling) if you are capable (I don't mean that in a nasty way) of can forgiving him. If you can't - then you need to move on for both your sakes and your DC. If you decide that you can then you can start to work on what is needed to fix things which may (as suggested above) include insisting on joint counselling.

There is little that your H can do to try and help you get over this if you are still very focussed on the affair and things he said to you previously and not allowing the nice things he is saying to you and doing now to penetrate and have the same level of impact. I'm not saying (by a long stretch) that him being nice (intermittently) now makes what he did before OK but all you can fix is your own attitude.

Punishing yourself by reinforcing all of these negative thoughts in your mind about yourself and why DH is acting the way he is (playing a script) when he is making an effort will destroy your self esteem and make it very difficult for you to move on either with or without your DH.

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 14:55:09

Oh you guys are so kind, although most of you if not all are not telling me what I want to hear. That is in itself food for thought tho.

I am a size 14 not slim by any means (5'5'') not fat more plump! Much of this has built up over past few years. I had a substantial period when I could not walk, lost loads of weight when he left but then it came back with more. You know the type of thing. I am fitter than I have been for years, I walk every day with the dog. But yes I do need to take control and lose weight. I would feel so much better about myself.

But - how do I get over this anger/feeling sorry for myself/etc and stop making his life, and that of my boys a misery. I want him to know he is ok that he need not feel bad. Most of all i want to be able to control myself and not react so badly to very little slight.

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 14:58:25

Aussieng - you are spot on.

Did the counselling route - you know how doctors are the worst medical patients? Three guesses what I do for a living. Yep just finishing (or trying to) a PhD in Psychology....kids tho. But my counselor was crap. he clearly saw me as a downtrodden wife. Little mutual respect there i think.

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 15:00:52

He has just emailed he is coming home - he does not feel right - do you think this is it. Have I finally pushed him away. Oh god too tired for this

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 25-Sep-09 15:01:53

Go for some counselling on your own. Lose weight if that's what you want to (doesn't sound like much btw) but only if YOU want to. Do things for YOU.

Nothing can erase the past. All we can change is our reaction to it. If you can't - well fair enough. Most of us are having trouble with that one!

What was it you were wanting to hear btw?

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 25-Sep-09 15:03:43

Sorry, cross-posted. Try a different counsellor. Don't give up on counselling because of one bad experience. Do let us know how it goes with H tonight.

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 15:16:12

Have put some slap on - and going to pick up son. Guess I am not sure what I want, no I am I want to feel like I did. Best for boys if we can bumble along together, least until he has something he wants to go to.

purplepeony Fri 25-Sep-09 15:43:26

Gonna- your post above seems to be putting your H's needs above your own "until he has something.."? what does that mean?

I think you need to ask
* do you want him back?
*can you forgive him- deep down?
* does he want to be back or is it just an easy option?
* can you both imagine another 40 years together?
*does he make you feel rubbish, or do you feel rubbish about you anyway?

Aussieng Fri 25-Sep-09 15:53:22

Putting slap on always makes things seem brighter smile

All great questions from purple

Did you do the counselling route after the affair? I know it is difficult - you lay yourself open and it is very hard to try that again when you have a negative experience. But it might just have been a bad fit with you and your counsellor - agree with WhenwillIfeelnormal.

If you had a substantial period when you could not walk leading to you putting on a lot of weight then that must have put a lot of strain in your marriage in a lot of ways let alone the self esteem issues if that caused you to put on weight. Difficult for both of you to deal with...

The weight thing is a difficult one. I've only been married to DH for a year and I pray (not in an on my knees to God way or anything) that I learned from the mistakes that I made in my previous marriage. I lost the ability to "see" my first husband. We were together for so long (much longer than we should have been) that I just didn't see him any more. He was a good looking man but not to me. He was just.....there. It is very difficult to explain and I'm doing a terrible job of it. The thing is, I doubt your husband really saw you as fat because often, people do take how their partners look for granted. More likely your being unable to walk had affected your relationship/dynamic and your self esteem, you felt fat and he used that against you. He was acting in a bad way and then through guilt tried to hurt you and used something that he knew would get to you - and clearly it has. But probably only because it was reflecting back something which already bothered you.

When ExH and I split up I was a size 12-14 and our marriage had been pretty crap and I felt quite down, failure at marriage, a bit overweight etc (I'm shorter than you). By background, I should say that our marriage ended when he had an affair but it is far to simplistic to say that is why our marriage ended. I had a really good support network and used it to get out and about and take my mind of things and I very quickly felt younger, more confident and more attractive (I did not rush in to any relationships or anything like that I just had a nice time, treated myself well and got comfortable in my own skin. At the time I would have said that my Ex had destroyed my confidence in myself and my ability to feel like that and it was a revelation to me (and very empowering) to suddenly feel that…well... by my own doing.

DH now is fantastic – he calls me “gorgeous” all the time which can be damned embarrassing because I am so NOT - and is very tactile and tell me he loves me a lot and demonstrates quite often that he thinks about me through the day. Things which your DH is trying to do. He is not however responsible for my self esteem – I gained that when I was on my own - but he does however (lovely man) reinforce it.

What I am trying to say (in a long winded way blush) is that positive reinforcement is all your DH can do. The core of feeling good about yourself has to come from within. That may be about dieting and actually losing weight or it may be about finding a way to just feel good about you as you are through friends and accomplishments etc. What could you do in your life to give you that? Do you go out much (another poster asked why you needed your DH to take you out on a Friday night – if you need a night out just go!) etc etc. You have (nearly) your PhD which is a massive accomplishment but clearly something is missing or you would not rely on DH so much for the self-esteem boost. It might be that you need some time on your own - not in the rush and emotion of the discovery of an affair but a calmer period of reflection to decide what you want and can live with and try to get comfortable in your own skin and learn to be self reliant for happiness - then what you get from someone else is a bonus not a necessity.

Bumbling along together waiting to see if he finds something better to go to will do noting for your self esteem or peace of mind and is not a stable environment for kids. You are trying to push him away, testing him perhaps with your behaviour. I totally understand why you might want/need to do that but even knowing that you have driven him away could crush you if that does happen, given how fragile you are in this respect.

My parents stayed together for the sake of the kid(s) - whole 'nother story Believe me - it is not always the best thing.

gonnabehappy Fri 25-Sep-09 16:21:12

Am lost for words...this is the most typing I have done for days ()not good when I should be writing!), but feel frozen. I texted him to ask if he knew what he wanted to do (I had sent a long email earlier). He just said he would be home shortly.

I am debating on whether to show him this thread. Quite funny really one of the things his girlfriend did was to post on dearcupid pretending she was me and asking for advice. She described herself, the OW in the story she wrote, as 'little miss perfect'! Everyone there told her (pretending to be me) to chuck him out.

abedelia Fri 25-Sep-09 17:32:43

Gonnabe - it seems like you have got yourself really wound up over this. So: 1. Him having an affair was not your fault. Look yourself in the eye in the mirror every morning and tell yourself that it was a result of HIS shortcomings as a husband and father, not because you are fat / ugly / boring / whatever stick you are using to beat yourself with (and it's easily done!)

2. He knew that you would be angry, sad, would throw all this in his face and it would take a lot of work for you to even be able to bear to look at him when he came home - BUT he chose to nevertheless. If he really was that indifferent to you he would have chosen to be alone or resparked his affair once her husband had gone quiet.

3. Bit harsh, but being angry and paranoid is not attractive and will make it hard to be around you - he is probably afraid of you now because you are so volatile. I know it is hard not to feel like that but find things that make you feel better - he and his every tiny action should not have sole responsibility for your daily / hourly mood and feelings of self worth. Do something for yourself and develop a life of your own, not one hinged on him and every little thing he says or doesn't say. I think you are setting the barrier so high that unless he says and does exactly what you want you are disappointed and flare up / hate yourself, but you have to relax a bit... I have been there and done that and it is emotionally exhausting.

So -have a good, calm chat about whether he is truly committed to you and not just the kids (remind him, they will be gone in however many years and so it will be just the two of you. Does he want that? If not he owes it to both of you to be able to be free to make a new life while you are still young). If he says it's you he wants then you have to try to accept it at face value and give a little back - set a goal of being cheery for a day and make physical contact (hand on the arm, whatever) with him say twice. See what the reaction is and whether it makes YOU happy, too. It is very, very hard I know - good luck and hope this helps?

purplepeony Fri 25-Sep-09 17:59:57

Just slow down...

emailing nad texting are not the ways to end/carry on a marriage, are they?

You keep asking your H what he wants- what do you want?

Sounds like he had a mid life crisis- younger woman, been married to you for yonks, OW kicks him out, and now what?

You both need to talk calmly, ideally with a counsellor. Don't get hung up on your appearance- that is not the reason he left.

But if you keep beating yourself up and have such a low opinion of yourself, why would any man want to be with you? Men like confident, together women.
You need to come out fighting- for what YOU want- forget what he might want.

I think once he has got over the shock of being dumped he will want to stay and realise he's been a prize prick- but then you have to start rebuilding your marriage and finding out why he went off in the first place- if this is what you want.

abedelia Fri 25-Sep-09 18:44:06

I bet he already feels like a prize dog's breakfast... finds young woman, has fling, decides the exciting teenage feelings mean a relationship with her will feel like ths every day for the rest of forever, then everyone else finds out, and she decides she'd rather have sexy young husband than hairy arsed old git who will be drawing his pension just as she hits her sexual peak...

The thing about affairs is that they are NOT real, and all the stuff that is said is not the product of reality but of flying hormones. He doesn't have to see her washing his socks or picking up the hairball the cat coughed up on the carpet - it's a fantasy, she's fantasy. That's why so many relationships that are the products of affairs fall on their backside in a few months. he flattered her ego but as soon as she was asked to follow through on what she promised him she was off like a shot. He's probably just coming to terms with this like a slap in the chops.

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