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Links to useful sites for advice on getting through/dealing with an affair please?

(43 Posts)
JemintheGraveyardwithghouls Thu 29-Oct-09 16:14:16

My sister has recently found out her DP has been having an affair.

They are trying to talk things through.
He 'cannot' give up the other woman. He admits he is in a mess. OW is 20 years his junior...he is 60! ffs...anyway...

My sister is in am absolute turmoil, trying to find her way through this. She is willing to talk, to work things out, to not give up on their life and future plans right now I guess- she found out on Monday, so is relatively recent. She is coming to spend the day with me and the kids this Saturday.

Any sites anyone found useful please?

She is a brilliant is so distressing to see her try to navigate her way through this...any sites you found useful would be greatly appreciated, thankyou.

countingto10 Thu 29-Oct-09 16:41:19

I found this site very useful

JemintheGraveyardwithghouls Thu 29-Oct-09 17:10:57

Thankyou counting.

thetattooedmagpie Thu 29-Oct-09 19:51:20

I found this useful - good if she wants to find out more about the nature of affairs and relationships. Its basic but easy to read and not too cloying:

and she might find TV explorer's blog about his affair useful to get a male perspective on infidelity. Its not a help guide as such but has contributions from all sides. I just found it readable. There's links to other affair blogs there too - not everyone's cup of tea - just depends.

StirlingNeedsAScaryName Thu 29-Oct-09 21:30:44

This Book was really useful to me after finding out about my h's affair.

It is written by an American but is understandable and very helpful.

I think at the beginning it is good to feel you are doing something to help yourself understand why it has happened. It doesn't have all the answers but it helps. smile

HappyWoman Thu 29-Oct-09 21:45:48

Give her lots of love and care. She will not be able to make a decision just yet, even though her mind will be racing trying to make sense of it all.

Until he is willing to give up the ow there is little hope - the fact that he is still talking means he is not prepared to give up his wife either which is a good sign.

I would suggest she tries and work out how she will cope with the worst case senario - him leaving her. Help her get some info about legal and financial stuff.
Once she is stronger and knows she would be able to cope things will be easier.

And expect all sorts of out of character behaviour from her too.
I came out with really foul words i didnt even think i knewblush.

JemintheGraveyardwithghouls Thu 29-Oct-09 22:09:03

Thankyou for your replies, and the links.

HappyWoman- thankyou so much for that- she is in the stage where she is completely shocked, even though she suspected he was seeing someone else. The fact that he is unwilling to give the OW up- I agree-and I agree she needs some time to come to her own conclusions and decisions about that...I love her to bits, and will just be here for her.

However I feel she will not tolerate his indecision for long-am pretty sure she will sort things through .

Obviously am not going to say to her, but have been weeping most of today just knowing how devastated she is, and I know her so well...she is really one of the loveliest people I know...she is the most honest and trustworthy person I know..ffs.

It is just shite...and he is coming out with soooo many cliches....

Anyway, thankyou for replying ladies, and I will check out those links and send them to her.

JemintheGraveyardwithghouls Thu 29-Oct-09 22:10:06

Thankyou Stirling and Tatooed smile

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 30-Oct-09 00:14:28

Jemin - you sound like a lovely sister.

This article is great:

and might give your sister some clues about why this happened. I haven't checked Stirling's link, but suspect it is about Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass. It is an absolutely brilliant book.

I would advise against counselling too early. Having said that, some counselling on his own might help at the moment. Sometimes a third party can burst the bubble about how idealised OW is for him at the moment.

I don't think there is any hope of recovery while he is still seeing OW and harbouring feelings for her. I very often think in these situations, it is best for the betraying partner to leave and get their head straight, because it will be hellish if he ends it and your sister has to witness his grief.

She will need endless support and help, as in all probability, she is suffering post-traumatic shock. Try and make sure she eats and really, you will need to mother her a bit at the moment, as her whole world will feel like it has fallen apart.

JemintheGraveyardwithghouls Fri 30-Oct-09 08:48:16

Yes you are absolutely right- she does feel like her whole world has fallen apart, and I'm aware she is still very much in shock, trying to get her head around it. I will read your link.

Brilliant replies thankyou.

geekdad Fri 30-Oct-09 08:54:05

I didn't find much on the net that was that helpful. The same was true of most books. However, two stand out from the rest. The book suggested by Stirlingneeds.., "Not Just Friends" is just fantastic and really did start me on the road to coming to terms with the situation. The other one was "Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships" It's not specifically aimed relationships affected by affairs, but is an incisive analysis of the events that lead to changes in the way couples relate to each other. Helped me immensely too.

My DW couldn't give up the OM either. Your sister will have to decide how she deals with this, but she and her DP can still move forward. I gave my DW space to decide what she wanted. I didn't want her to stay with me just because of the kids. That said, after a year of ups and downs we are separating, but then every relationship is different. We realised that the affair was just a symptom of our broken marriage. I hope things work out for your sister. She's lucky to have you to support her.

Mumfun Fri 30-Oct-09 08:58:29

I found these Frequently Asked Questions useful:

geekdad Fri 30-Oct-09 09:37:31

Just wanted to add to what WhenwillIfeelnormal said about the likely consequences of your sister's DP ending the relationship with the OW. When I found out about the affair I insisted that my DW end it with the OM. At the time, I didn't realise how much in love with him she was. I thought it was just about the sex! She did so, and she went into mourning that same day. It was terrible. She was essentially non-functional; confined to her bed. So bad that in the end I relented and let her see him again (yes, I known - doormat). To this day, although I have truly got over the affair, I still hugely resent how she behaved. But, I can also understand how she felt and why she was grieving so much. Your sisters DP will need a support network too, if they're to get through this, no matter how unpalatable this may seem.

thetattooedmagpie Fri 30-Oct-09 10:02:27

Now you see, I'm going to have to be the voice of descent ( sp ) here. I've read lots of threads on here about the aftermath of affairs and they all seem to be tied up with what people should be feeling and not what people actually are feeling. I really feel if you are going to move on and get over things you have to get it all on the table - good, bad and ugly.

If the DH or DW has feelings for the OM or OW then sending them away to get over it seems to be me a way of not confronting, acknowledging or dealing with the full range of emotions involved on all sides. Its like the wronged spouse is allowed to feel whatever they like and this is fully accepted or acknowledged, but the spouse involved in the affair is expected to hide and surpress their feelings because they are the ' bad ' one - I just can't see it being good or healthy in the long run.

I am still upset about the OM six months on and am fully expecting to be upset in a further 6 months time - would it have helped to cast me out for a year ? For longer ? What's the cut off point ?

Better get down to the bones of it however painful and distressing - at least you know you are rebuilding from something real.

JemintheGraveyardwithghouls Fri 30-Oct-09 13:06:42

Geekdad- he has stated that he 'cannot' give the OW up- I don't think my sis wants to give an ultimatum right now - they have been talking every night, getting everything out- which has been incredibly painful for her but I think she does genuinely at this stage want to try and sort things out if it is possible, and is prepared to sacrifice a number of things if it means that eventually they can work through it.
She knows this means getting everything out on the table , as TatooedMagpie said- there is no point in not being honest now and she is willing to hear him talk about things that I don't think I could cope with- how he feels about the OW etc.

However it does sound that he for now doesn't really know how to be honest- even to himself.

She is really taking it all on the chin so to speak- but he is coming out with some real cliches about the OW. He doesn't want to hurt her any more than necessary- yet he wants to stay over with OW on Sat night.

I think also another reason my sis hasn't told anyone else yet is as Tatooed pointed out- friends often tell you what you SHOULD be doing- and she doesn't need to feel judged right now.

I certainly know I'm not as brave or compassionate as she is- her initial reaction to him when he admitted it was 'come on let's sit down and try to talk through this'.

Really, he has only known OW for around 4 months- things got physical a few weeks ago. Sis thought something was going on. OW is 20 years younger than him. She knows my sis, first met them as a couple.

Just hope they sort it out...well, I hope he comes to his senses really...

All your replies have really helped- she is spending the day here tomorrow with me and I know my role is just to support and listen basically, but it has helped to read through the info in the various links, and she may find it helpful too.

JemintheGraveyardwithghouls Fri 30-Oct-09 13:08:53

Geekdad- that must have been so incredibly difficult- I know someone in rl who supported his DW after her affair came to an end...i always thought he must have been a bloody saint.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 30-Oct-09 13:17:44

Tattoed - I find your posts really insightful and think you have been really brave posting your story on here in recent weeks - it is always helpful to see things from the other sides of the affair triangle.

I completely agree that in these situations, it is never healthy or helpful for one person (in this case the betraying partner) to suppress their feelings or needs - which is why I was suggesting counselling for the OP's BIL. That then becomes his "protected space" when he can grieve openly about his losses - which won't be just relating to the loss of the affair partner. He will need to come to terms with lots of losses in the future. OP's SIL will never see him in the same light again and if they are to rebuild, this means a period of grief for the loss of the "old" relationship.

However, although your DP sounds like the most magnanimous, caring person I think I've ever heard about - it must be unbelievably painful for him seeing you grieve like this. I wonder whether he is somehow suppressing his own needs in this situation? When someone has an affair, the betrayed partner's self-esteem is usually in tatters as a result. That self-esteem is going to be further eroded by the knowledge that, in your case, you would have left him if OM hadn't got cold feet. I do often wonder how your DP is really doing - or whether he is suppressing all his own grief and esteem needs in order to keep the relationship going and care for you?

For most people, I suspect they feel like GeekDad - to be able to hang around and witness their partner grieving and hurting about someone else would be a bridge too far. In my case, when I found out about DH's affair, he had wanted to end it with OW anyway and therefore, it was no sacrifice whatsoever to end the relationship with her. I know my own limits though and I know I couldn't have coped with seeing him grieve, if that had been the case. It was hard enough for me (and him) to restore my self esteem as it was, without that additional burden.

In the OP's case, we have a "shock" situation as well going on, which from what I recall from your earlier posts, was not the case with you. Your DP had already been told you were leaving - and then when OM called it off - your DP had the chance of you staying. I imagine that's why he didn't ask you to leave at that point, but I'm not sure how good it can have been for his own mental health and esteem to witness your grief like this.

And perhaps you will tell me I'm stating the obvious, but I still get the impression from your posts that you have got loving, positive feelings for OM - and apart from your huge respect and gratitude for the way your DP has cared for you since, it doesn't sound like you are in love with him.

I hope you will read this in the way it's intended - the value as always of Mumsnet is that there's always a new angle on these painful situations.

Thanks Geekdad for your posts too - it's interesting that you acknowledge now that the path you chose caused even more hurt to you, but probably like Tattoed's partner, you couldn't bring yourself to do anything different at the time.

JemintheGraveyardwithghouls Fri 30-Oct-09 13:23:29

wow- what a really thoughtful post WhenWill, I wonder whether I should show my sis this the contributors have been through what she is going through right now, and everyone has an important insight.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 30-Oct-09 14:07:04

Thanks Jemin. Also wanted to say that your sis is wise not to tell others about it at this stage. Others' views can be really unhelpful. No-one knows what it's really like inside someone's marriage and also, people who haven't been through this tend to project what they think they would do in this situation. Unfortunately, this is one of those where no-one really knows until it happens to them. You are doing all the right things - being non-judgemental and supporting her in what ever action she takes. This is essential right now.

Also, I'm interested in the cliches he's coming out with. When someone has been lying and deceiving for this long (even 4 months is long enough to form a habit), being honest and straightforward is difficult. People in your BIL's situation get used to a web of lies - and many of those lies are to himself. If he has generally been an honest, straightforward person in the past, it will still take a while for him to start being REALLY honest and truthful.

Your sis should watch out for these lies - he will say a lot of things that don't really stack up. Some of his lies will be self-presevation and not wanting to burn his bridges back to your sis - some of them will be so as not to hurt her any more than she is - some of them will be to minimise some of the awful things he has done/said with OW - and some of them will be extraordinary lies he's been telling himself. Sometimes if someone tells a lie frequently enough too, they become truths to the person - but they are what I call "learned memories".

He owes it to her to be really honest - anything else is denying her choices for the future.

Something else you can do to help her esteem at the moment is to praise her as you have done here - and also praise her powerful instincts, as she suspected something was up. I always think it must be so much more difficult for people who genuinely didn't suspect a thing, as you'd be forever mistrusting your own judgement afterwards.

I agree it would be helpful to show her this thread. I wish I had known about Mumsnet when my own crisis happened. I wanted all the information I could get and stumbled across this by accident a few months down the line.

geekdad Fri 30-Oct-09 14:58:56

Jemin - it was difficult to deal with, but at the time I was reeling around and didn't know my arse from my elbow. It took me some weeks before I could start to think clearly, as WhenWill correctly surmised. By the way, WhenWill - you consistently have written thoughtful and insightful posts: you remind me of my SIL (that's a complement - she has a mind like a steel-trap when it comes to relationships).

I'm not sure about not telling others. That's fine as long as your sister feels that she has enough people to lean on. I didn't tell my closest friends, or even my mum for weeks. My self-esteem was so low that I somehow felt ashamed. Being cuckolded can have that effect I think. I wish that I had told more people because once I had and could talk it over with my friends and relatives, things started to improve. On the other hand if people are going to judge your DP then that is not really going to be helpful to either of you. I found it surprising which of my friends turned out to be helpful and which were just interested in apportioning blame.

thetattooedmagpie Fri 30-Oct-09 16:05:37

before I start, can I just say to geekdad - nothing I said in my last post was meant as a criticism of how you or anyone else handles things - just a personal reflection on my experience.

When Will - thanks. TBH I do feel vunerable posting but hope it does help someone, somewhere to share. I realise that I do tend to post in a one dimensional way and focus on recovery from being dumped rather than on the more positive aspects of my life - so maybe I've come across as a bit self absorbed and ungrateful ! I've never been brave enough to do my own OP and give all the story.

Anyway, to address some of the points you raised. Physically and emotionally there was no way I could have surpressed my feeling of grief in the early days. Counselling did help but it took a while for the appointments to come through and they were only for an hour a week - my grief was 24/7. So although I got some 'protected' space to talk abut my feelings, they couldn't be contained in that time and space.

I never meant to rub my DPs nose in it - but it was out of my control and I think that was obvious to him. I was never playing games or trying to play the sympathy card. I was just reacting and in free fall. He saw this and realised it would be futile to try to ask me not to.

DP did discover the affair - but I didn't keep him hanging. I told him I was planning to leave more or less straight away. But then, of course OM had a change of heart and ended it.

I've not posted about it before, but DP went through all the expected emotions on discovery - anger, pain, grief etc. We both cried a lot and talked endlessly. So in terms of expressing how he feels, he has talked a lot and is in counselling. I do worry that he hasn't worked it through enough and that one day it will hit him, but there are no signs so far.

I asked him about those early days when Gonna was posting about her situation. He's a practical man and he just did the sums - he looked at all my good points and what he got out of our relationship and compared them against the bad thing I had done and decided on balance that he wanted us to stay together. Once he's decided this, he made a decision to forgive me and, if he was going to forgive me, he had to forgive me as I was ( ie : heartbroken and grieving ) not as he wanted me to be. And that's what he did. No point in pretending I was okay when I quite clearly wasn't - but if he was going to forgive, then that is what he had to forgive not an idealised picture of me.

I expect my pain and grief did( and do ) cause him pain. I have asked him many times if he wants me to leave or minds me talking about it - he always says what's the point in burying ,just talk it through and I'll help you get over it.

With regards to the OM. Yes, it would be a lie to say I don't have any positive or loving feelings towards him - he's been in my life for nearly 30 years and I always imagined at some point we would end up together so its a really big thing to get over - that our friendship is over for ever and that I will never be able to speak to him or see him again. I understand that I am in a period of bereavement and that it will take time to work through and I would happily accept DPs criticism if I was mooning about being sorry for myself - but I am trying everything I can to work through it - counselling, self improvement, rebuilding life with DP, making plans for the future. I don't know what else I can do other than keep trying and let nature take its course. What's the alternative - get myself on Prozac and just lie if he asked me if I'm okay ? I can't do that.

With regards to my feelings to DP - the irony is that I never stopped loving DP, but thought in the years that ran up to the affair that he had stopped loving me and wanted out. He didn't cope well when the DCs arrived and became more and more distant despite me desperatley trying to hold it all together. In the end I just concluded that he was doing that crap bloke thing, where they want out but want you to do it so they look like the good guy and you look like the bad girl. And that's obviously when the affair happened - I know I didn't react well but at the time it seemed like a good option and had an inevitability about it.

What I do know is that without the affair, our relationship would have eroded into a ball of resentment - it was heading that way - and I expect we would have split eventually in unpleasant cirumstances. As it is, the affair has given us a second chance - I honestly don't know if we will make it in the long run as I think its still too early, but at least we have cleared the old crap out of the relationship. The challenge now is to make a new one that fullfils us both.

If I've given the impression that I don't love DP then that is wrong - I love him very, very much. I just needed him to show me more in actions than words. But I never stopped loving him - I just thought he no longer loved or wanted me and that I should move on. I know I cocked it up big time and I have to live with that.

thetattooedmagpie Fri 30-Oct-09 16:26:43

Really sorry for the hijack by the way.

Just thought of something else. Counsellor asked DP how he was coping yesterday and he said he does still have moments when it hits him - there are a lot of trigger points around now - but said he allows himself a wallow and maybe a few tears but then thinks, I can't change it, its happened, its in the past and I am not going to allow it to ruin my future and then he pushes it out of his mind and thinks about something bright and cheerful and nice we have done.
He's a pretty simple bloke really - I'm the anxious one who over thinks everything.

Right I really will go now. Jen - good luck to your sister

WhenwillIfeelnormal Fri 30-Oct-09 18:38:51

Also sorry for the hijack. Tattoed - as usual I really appreciate what you have had to say this afternoon. It can't have been easy at all.

I understand a bit more about your situation now. I wondered whether a few insights of mine might help?

When I started reading about infidelity, I read that affairs with old flames are indeed the most dangerous of all. It's to do with projecting our younger selves on to the current relationship and we are all capable of deluding ourselves that if things had been different all those years ago, we would have had a much happier life with the ex. I imagine that this must have been particularly true if you felt that your DP had withdrawn from your relationship.

It's great that you and DP can agree on why you were so vulnerable to an affair. This sounds like it has been a great opportunity for you to finally get the relationship you want and need with DP - and I do think that both parties need to agree on how they can make their relationship affair-proof in the future.

I understand how an hour a week of counselling wouldn't have touched the sides on your grief. It's good he's having counselling too. I did the same sort of sums as him actually. My DH had at that point given me 23 years of complete fidelity and love - and he behaved like an arse once. Since discovery, he's been the husband I always dreamed of having too and like you, our relationship is now immeasurably better.

I wish I could switch from negative thoughts as well as your DP seems to. I think you're really wise to keep checking if he's really okay too. Sometimes these things have a habit of crashing down on someone at a later date.

And I understand fully that you never stopped loving your DP and that if anything, you love him more now. But are you "in love" with him too?

I also applaud your "warts and all" approach to this and your reluctance to grab at external crutches like Prozac. I think it's better to live through the pain than anaesthetise ourselves.

I have often wanted to ask you what feelings you have towards OM's wife? What do you now believe were his true feelings towards her - and how do you view her decision to stay with him?

Jem - sorry for the hijack again, but hope you have a good day with your sister tomorrow. Do let us know how she is doing and whether we can help at all.

thetattooedmagpie Sat 31-Oct-09 08:47:12

Sorry this is a bit rushed

I think its very true what you say about old flames being the most dangerous - because it harks back to an earlier age, the ' unfinished business ' element and that as you have history the trust is already there - you think you know what you are getting.

I accepted things he said as truth while I would have been sceptical of some random chancer who I had met through work. I'm actually very untrusting and cynical - which is why I think this has hit me so hard.

I'm not sure how I feel about OMs wife. On one side he obviously told me his marriage was over and that he would wait for me until I was ready and able to leave. He was sure that this was what he wanted and he wished we'd stuck it out with me more first time round. ( This all tied in with what I knew about him from our previous relationship - he adored me, but I thought we were too young to get serious ). We also have many mutual friends and he has told them he is unhappy in his marriage. And he'd been unfaithful before. So all this would suggest that he wasn't very happy in his primary relationship.

After it ended he told that he thought me and him being togther was what he wanted but faced with the reality he wasn't able to go through with it and give up on his marriage. He wanted to try again.

So I can only assume that he still loves his wife and is happy in that relationship - or at least happy enough to give it another try. He also told me is family and her family had put a lot of pressure on him to try again. I honestly don't know how much detail his wife knows about the affair. I know she thinks I'm nothing and unimportant.

I do feel a certain amount of guilt towards her now I know the truth - if I'd known that he still had feelings towards her I wouldn't have got involved.

Could probably type more but got to get on

thetattooedmagpie Sat 31-Oct-09 09:16:44

Just wanted to add something - I know it sounds like I've been incredibly thick and naive. In fact, I probably have been but there comes a point when someone tells you something every day for 6 months, it ties in with all you already know about them and they also tell their friends and your friends that they want to leave their wife to be with you, that in the end you think 'actually, it might be true'.

I've stopped beating myself up about trying to find ' the truth ' in all this - I'll never know the truth about his marriage versus our relationship now so all I can do is accept it for what it was and how it felt and try to move on.

right really am off now

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