Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Have you recovered from infidelity?

(79 Posts)
catwalker Sun 28-Mar-10 15:08:04

Is there anyone out there who has recovered their relationship with their husband/wife after infidelity? For so many people infidelity seems to mark the beginning of the end. But what if neither of you wants it to be?

Briefly, my husband had sex with another woman, who is also married, about 18 months ago. They were flirting with each other for a few months beforehand and eventually had a couple of hours in a hotel together. I believe him when he says it didn't happen again, but he carried on responding to her texts afterwards. His explanation for this is that the OW was obsessed with him and, as we see her socially, he wanted to try and 'normalise' their relationship in case she decided to spill the beans or got upset and aroused suspicions. ('Oh yeah' I hear you say) From the things she's done and said since I found out, I do believe she was/is obsessed with him and do believe my husband has no feelings for her and that he loves me very much. He says he was flattered by her attentions initially and enjoyed the excitement, but then came to his senses.

I believe he loves me; we have always been very good together; I trust him never to do this again ('fool' I hear you all shout)and I want to believe our future relationship will be stronger than ever. Or am I just deluding myself? But at the moment I'm finding it impossible to get past the hurt and pain he has caused me and our children, and above all the sheer disbelief that my lovely, thoughtful, considerate lover and best friend could do this thing. The last thing I want to do is set myself up for more hurt. Anyone gone through something similar?

countingto10 Sun 28-Mar-10 15:11:34

Why is he worried she will spill the beans as you already know about her - or is there more to know ?????

catwalker Sun 28-Mar-10 15:17:31

He hasn't texted her since I found out. His explanation is that, as we know her socially, he was trying to get the relationship with her back on a normal footing.

Scrudd Sun 28-Mar-10 15:18:19

I'm sorry you're hurting.

I have to say that I find it somewhat hilarious that he thought that he could 'normalise' their relationship by having sex with her, lol! Sorry, I know it's not a laughing matter for you, but try to see it from an outsider's point of view.

catwalker Sun 28-Mar-10 15:22:15

Scrudd - you've completely misunderstood. I'm obviously not explaining myself properly. He had sex, realised it was a mistake, because we see her socially and he felt she was obsessed/unstable, he responded to her subsequent texts to try and normalise their relationship so nobody would suspect.

Scrudd Sun 28-Mar-10 15:23:24

Oh, ok. Sorry

How did you find out about it, btw? did he tell you out of the blue, or did you find texts/emails?

countingto10 Sun 28-Mar-10 15:23:46

Why does he/you need a relationship with her ? In most cases, it is better that all contact with OW ceases. My DH finished with OW but kept in contact for about 3 weeks afterwards (to soften the blow hmm as he felt she was a potential bunny boiler). All contact after that ceased, 2nd mobile disposed of, facebook a/c closed, email address closed. TBH I would really struggle if we had to deal with her socially, it's not really fair on you.

Yes you can recover from infidelity, about a year down the line for me but we had a hell of a lot of counselling (at Relate), DH has done a lot of self analysis and changed. It's about them and their issues, flaws, etc.

Get yourself the book "Not Just Friends" by Shirley Glas, it helps to understand why and is very useful in rebuilding the marriage.

Good luck.

catwalker Sun 28-Mar-10 15:28:00

Scrudd - her husband told me. My husband admits he was never going to tell me if he could have got away with it.

Scrudd Sun 28-Mar-10 15:32:16

Ah, I see. Actually, I'm probably in a minority in that I think that if a person has a one off incident like this, then they shouldn't tell their partner if they have no intention of it continuing, or leaving for the OW. Sharing that kind of information with your partner only really seems to serve to make the cheat feel better and the person cheated on feel like shit. So I would have to say that I quite admire the fact that he kept it to himself for so long.

The OW's husband has told you because he doesn't want to be the only person feeling like crap and he doesn't want your husband to get away with it.

Anyway, that doesn't help you now.

I think relationships often recover from infidelity, and once the infidelity has been discovered then there has to be a lot of honesty and straight talking. It sounds like you're doing this already.

The trust has to be rebuilt, which isn't going to happen overnight, and he's going to have to be open with you about his every move for a while until you're comfortable again.

You know what they say, first time is his stupidity, second time it's yours.

Best of luck

catwalker Sun 28-Mar-10 15:45:11

Scrudd - that helps a lot thank you. I thought he should have told me rather than try and spare me any thought. He says it's actually a huge relief that I now know so I guess it was harder for him not to tell me.

Of course the ow's husband wanted to hurt me. He was violent, aggressive and didn't care that my kids could hear him. I was as traumatised by him and his violence and threats towards our entire family as I was by what he was saying.

I do love my husband very much and I guess I just want someone to tell me I'm not being a fool.

overmydeadbody Sun 28-Mar-10 15:45:59

How did her husband find out? Did she tell him?

If your relationship is strong enough it is possible to rebuild trust, over time, but it will take a great deal of work from both of you.

You sound very strong.

overmydeadbody Sun 28-Mar-10 15:47:50

oh gosh catwalker her husband was violent and aggressive towards you?shock

That must have been very traumatic, especially in front of your children. No wonder they have also suffered due to your DH's infidelity.

Scrudd Sun 28-Mar-10 16:01:35

I don't think you're being a fool at all. It sounds like you have a strong mature relationship and truly believe it was a one off.

I personally feel it's fairly unrealistic to expect to stay married to someone for an entire adult lifetime and things like this to not get in the way from time to time. I'm definitely not advocating that married people should be going round having affairs, but you're bound to come across people that you find attractive. What he did wrong was to act on it, but he does sound like he's sorry for what he did and has learned a valuable lesson.

It's all about the rebuilding now. The conversations are going to be horrible, uncomfortable and you need to figure out exactly how much detail you either want to hear, or can handle, and he's going to have to tell you exactly the amount you want.

I would have thought that if you're struggling to rebuild after a set amount of time, you should call a relationship counsellor. That's what they're there for!

WhenwillIfeelnormal Sun 28-Mar-10 16:07:53

Catwalker - first of all, you can recover a relationship after infidelity and often it is in fact a far better one in the wake of it.

Some questions first. How long have you been together/married? How long is it since you discovered it? What has your H done to get to the bottom of why he did this?

What were the circumstances of the affair - how did it start and how did it end? Do you still see the OW and have you spoken to her yourself, ot had any corroboration of your H's account?

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sun 28-Mar-10 16:15:48

Strong sense of relief that WWIFN has arrived grin. You are in safe hands.

IfYoureHappyAndYouKnowIt Sun 28-Mar-10 16:16:45

Other advice was good too btw - just nice to see the "expert"

catwalker Sun 28-Mar-10 16:38:33

WWIFN - together 18 years; 5 weeks since I found out. It started with the ow helping my husband with some work; dropping hints into her routine texts; him going along with it; as I said he was flattered and excited. Resisted for a while then went along with it once. Then realisation hit. Told her it wasn't going to happen again and it didn't (I believe). But he did keep responding to her chatty/work-related texts. These would then turn obsessive and he would respond along the lines of it wasn't going to happen. She would stop for a while, then start again. Of course he should have ignored her texts but his reason is that he was trying to make her see sense and get things back to normal. Stupid, I know. It ended when her husband started looking through her phone.

We have seen a counsellor twice. First session was good; second session was awful, damaging and completely counterproductive.

PositiveAttitude Sun 28-Mar-10 16:42:32

Catwalker, I am 10 years + down the line here from something similar-ish.

I have to admit, it was not the easiest thing I've ever done, to forgive him and put this all behind us. It took a lot of effort from BOTH of us. He had to prove to me that I could trust him, especially when he was working away. However, we do have a very strong marriage now and I am so glad that I did not give it all up.

I had always been someone who said - no second chance. You mess, you are OUT! But, we have worked at it and I would encourage someone in a similar situation to do the same.

Only the once, mind. I would not let him do anything like it again and expect me to forgive him again. wink

I set out exactly what I expected from him right from the start. I didn't expect him to jump through hoops, just sensible steps to help us work through that time together.

Good luck. If you work together, you can get through this, and be stronger afterwards. Keep communication going. That is vital, even if you are not saying what he wants to hear, or hearing something hard. It is so important.

Oh, yes... and my dh didn't own up to me either. One day I just came out and asked him "have you slept with anyone else since we have been married?" Never expected the "Yes" that I got!!! I felt sick!!!!

WhenwillIfeelnormal Sun 28-Mar-10 17:23:38

Thanks Catwalker - this is a long, difficult journey ahead, but if you love each other enough, it will be worth it.

I went through a similar experience and discovered a one-off affair (two assignations though) 18 months ago, after 24 years of marriage. Mine was also an accidental discovery via text messages on an old phone.

You might be going to counselling too early, or you might have found a bad counsellor. If your H is telling you - and this accords with your view - that his affair had nothing to do with your marriage or his feelings for you, seeing a counsellor who is insistent that these things cannot happen if a marriage is happy is going to be counter-productive and make you feel worse.

Affairs like your husband's are all about him. After 18 years of what has probably been a perfectly happy marriage, along came someone who reminded him of what it felt like to be desired intensely. I would imagine your husband became addicted to the feelings this affair induced - and not the affair partner. It is really important for you both to understand this - and will explain to you why he was able to give her up relatively easily and also why he continued to text her afterwards.

I completely understand why he wanted to normalise things. Having realised with horror what he had just done, he would have been at pains to try to end this relationship with the least amount of negative feeling. This was rather naive of him, but I can understand it. However, there was probably also a part of him that was addicted to the buzz of being chased and so he needs to think about what he was also getting from the continued contact.

I also imagine he believed that there was no point hurting you with an admission about something that in the great scheme of things, meant nothing to him. This is completely flawed thinking, because secrets like this always damage intimacy in relationships and therefore yet again, I can understand his relief that this is now out in the open.

That you know about this is a great gift - your mantra together now needs to be no more secrets.

The path we took was by talking and talking about what had happened. However, my H was in a bit of denial about his motivations and so after 2 months, booked himself in for some counselling. This was really productive for him and made him examine his character in greater depth. Throughout all these months, we have reviewed our entire relationship and my H has made the most enormous changes to his character and behaviour.

It was an opportunity to get the marriage and the husband I always wanted and our marriage is infinitely more rewarding for all that work.

Does he still work with the OW? That's going to be difficult for you, as there are 18 months of contact that you will need to know about. Continuing to work with an affair partner is always a mistake.

I would really recommend a book called Not Just Friends by Dr. Shirley Glass. This will help you make sense of this affair and it will certainly help you when she explains the "prevention myth" - that is that there was nothing you could have done to prevent your H's infidelity. Only he could have prevented it.

Some of the difficult questions that might be going through your mind (and will need answering) are - was this the first time in your marriage that he was presented with a cast-iron opportunity? If yes, this will lead to some uncomfortable self-analysis on his part about whether he would have said "yes" at any other time too. You might both need to face an uncomfotable truth that the fidelity in your marriage was preserved only because of the absence of opportunity, as he might not have ever been the sort of person who would have courted an affair.

In the coming weeks, you need to talk about your attitudes to temptation, secrets and infidelity. You will also need to examine who has been the over-benefitted one in the relationship. One of the common myths about affairs is that a partner strays when they weren't "getting enough" when it nearly always emerges that actually they weren't "giving enough" and that their needs were being met pretty well.

I also want you to do the maths. and weigh up how your husband has behaved towards you in the past 18 years. If you can see that this awful event and its aftermath was an isolated blip in someone who has on the whole been loving, kind and nurturing of you and your relationship, it is easier to have hope for the future.

Your H needs to understand above all that there can be no "going back to normal". You will feel hurt and betrayed for a long time to come and he really cannot talk enough about what this meant and why. There can be no brushing this under the carpet and "moving on" for a long time. You will see various timescales, but in situations like this, it can take up to 2-3 years for the betrayed person to feel a sense of order in their world again.

The good news is that there are lots of us on these boards who can really help you. What ever you are feeling, I guarantee one of us (or even all of us) has felt too. Do keep posting - it really helps to write down what you are feeling.

lifeistough Sun 28-Mar-10 17:36:54

Catwalker I too am in an almost identical situation to yours, found out DH was having an affair on the night of his 40th birthday party ( 5 weeks ago) with his friends ex girlfriend.

My Dh gives exactly the same reasons as your dh and says he was physically sick after the one time that he slept with the OW when the realisation set in of what he had done, the relationship continued but his heart wasn't in it and he didn't sleep with her again. I found out when my son overheard him argueing with the OW on the phone and told me and I confronted my DH with it and he admitted it and said it was like a weight being lifted off him.

My Dh is trying so hard and has done everything right so far to make me feel better, the betrayal by someone you trusted so much is the hardest part, I don't think I will ever truly trust him again and am struggling with the feeling of being a stupid fool and not seeing what was going on! I was always the sort to say no way would I stay with someone who had cheated on me but my DH is such a lovely man and great father I can't imagine life without him, he knows there will never be any more chances and one toe out of line and it's not too late for me to change my mind about him leaving.

So I guess we are probably feeling very much the same at the moment, it's early days and we have to take it slowly and expect some bad times along our road to recovery, I just hope our DHs have both learn't their lessons and appreciate what they very nearly lost.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Sun 28-Mar-10 17:48:09

Both of you - bear in mind that these early days in the wake of discovery are actually quite energising. Something awful like this "wakes us up" and in a sense, we go into "fight" mode. You might feel that all your senses are on high alert just now. You might also be going through something that has been described as "hysterical bonding" whereby your physical relationship with your H is very intense and that you are having sex much more frequently than hitherto. This is normal - just as for others, not wanting any physical contact is normal for them.

There comes a time though, when all the drama is over, that you may hit a "wall" which feels like a sort of depression. You might feel quite hopeless, tearful and lethargic at this time. Expect it and at that point, choose a counsellor very carefully (who understands affairs) and get yourself some help.

There will be highs and lows for now - do please come on here and ask if others felt the same way - just hearing that someone else had that feeling normalises it for you and can be incredibly helpful.

catwalker Sun 28-Mar-10 19:51:57

WWIFN - My husband and I have both read your posts and taken huge comfort from them. Your comment about an intense physical relationship is spot on and I am comforted by your understanding of his attempts to 'normalise' his relationship with the ow, which I have found very difficult to come to terms with. The comment on 'highs and lows' is spot on. I feel like I am on an emotional rollercoaster and don't know from one hour to the next whether I am going to be overwhelmed by love or overwhelmed by despair/horror/disgust.

I am clinging on to the fact that I know we both love each other immensely. Ironically, we had both felt that our relationship was getting even stronger over the last couple of years. DH says this is because what he did made him face up to what he had and what he really wanted. The problem for me is that, whereas he has had a long time to come to terms with what he did, I have had 5 weeks and I still can't. I have found myself becoming obsessed with detail - what the kids and I were doing when he was in the hotel etc etc. I've had times over the last few weeks when I have been an absolute monster - putting my husband through the third degree and trying to make him share my pain.

I posted on here half expecting to be told to kick him out. I've read so many posts on other threads from people who've said, 'once is enough, no second chances'. I am hugely comforted by the responses which make me feel that, far from everything being ruined, we may emerge from this disaster closer and stronger. I know we were both taking each other for granted, not making enough time for our relationship - easy to do with kids, jobs etc etc. If this gives us the wake up call we both needed, and if we can reach the closer, more honest, more understanding and appreciative relationship that is being dangled in front of us, well, I can't bring myself to say I am glad this has happened, but maybe some good will come of this after all.

PS - how do you find a 'good' counsellor?!

AnyFucker Sun 28-Mar-10 20:10:34

cat...wwifn gives excellent advice and always has time to follow-up too

I have to admit, I am often in the "kick-em-out" camp

but only if it is completely obvious that the bloke is a cock and takes no responsibility for bad behaviour (and it often is, believe me)

you will see wwifn also see straight through the bad'uns too...she pulls no punches in some cases smile

I hate controlling men, and I hate abusive men

your dh does not sound like that

all the best x

countingto10 Sun 28-Mar-10 20:18:00

Catwalker, the mantra our counsellor kept using during the early days was "patience and tolerance" on both sides. It is so difficult because of the rollercoaster of emotions going on. One minute you want to kill him for what he's done to you and the DC and the next you are desperately trying to repair/keep the marriage for everyones sake.

A year down the line for me and I still have bad days when all I can think about is how could you do this to us. These thoughts normally tie in with tiredness, time of the month etc. When I'm ok with things, I can have a rational, balanced conversation with DH about the affair, the ins and outs of it etc. In the early days it was very difficult to hear the details without having a meltdown which in turn didn't make him want to open up about it. I had a horrible image pop into my head the other day when we were making love, he knew something was wrong and I told him. ATM I'm not sure knowing everything they got up to sexually would help and would actually put more horrible images in my head IYSWIM.

We are better at discussing things now, he knows now how to respond when I'm having a flashback. We are now in the first anniversaries of everything and I keep thinking back to his behaviour at the time etc.

We also acknowledge that if he hadn't had the affair would we have such honesty, intimacy etc in the marriage. His affair was the catalyst for change in both of us.

Look after yourself primarily, give yourself some TLC, treat yourself to some new clothes etc. it does help when feeling down.

Take care.

WhenwillIfeelnormal Sun 28-Mar-10 23:16:58

catwalker glad it helped. You are not being "monstrous" - you will have felt anger like you've never felt before and this is normal. It is also entirely normal to try to timeline everything. It was a great relief when I read Not Just Friends to see that my painstaking work with our diaries/my H's mobile phone bills was a perfectly normal thing to do.

One of the things that an analytical person particularly is compelled to do is to know everything - and timeline every event. Luckily, I am possessed of a very good memory and this helped me to frame some of my questions and to see what was really happening in the period concerned. It actually helped me tremendously to make sense of some of my H's behaviour at that time. Had I not known timelines for the whole period - the pre-affair build-up and the affair itself, there would still be so many questions.

One of the difficulties you might face after such a long time is that your H might not remember enough detail to satisfy some of the questions you might have.

In these early stages it is also nearly always the case that your H will be sanitising various events and there might be a tendency to "blame" the OW for being predatory and obsessive, thereby minimising his own culpability. While I have no doubt that the OW has behaved badly in your case, don't fall into the trap of demonising her and letting your husband delude himself and you about his own part in events.

In the early weeks, many lies are told. Your H will be lying to himself and lying to you - and many of these will be well-intended and designed to avoid hurting you more. Often, what ever you are obsessing about, the well-intentioned lie will follow. This is a mistake, because information that is drip-fed causes far more harm further down the line. It also takes a very accomplished liar to remember exactly what he said last time and so if he is lying about anything now, you will find it hugely frustrating if you hear several different versions of what happened. The truth is however easy to remember for most people.

WRT choosing a good counsellor, I would suggest that your H goes on his own first, before you go down the couples route. Whoever he, you or both see, I would ask them what experience they have of treating infidelity and I would ask them if they have read the work of Dr. Shirley Glass and Dr. Frank Pittman. Google these two for some instant help. They really understand affairs and eschew a lot of the old-fashioned views that exist.

Unfortunately, too many counsellors in this country seem to favour a "neutral" approach to infidelity which may be helpful for other client issues, but rarely works for infidelity. Since the vast majority of counsellors are in relationships themselves, it is very difficult for them to see some of the truths about infidelity - that it cannot be "prevented" by anyone other than the person tempted. Lots of people in relationships invest in the prevention myth because then they can reassure themselves that it will never happen to them....

While it is good to understand how your marriage became vulnerable to an affair - and indeed this is an essential step in affair-proofing your future marriage - your H needs to understand why he was vulnerable to the attentions of this woman. Most long marriages go through child or work-centric periods, but not everyone is unfaithful.

Infidelity is always about the person practising it - their moral code, their response to an opportunity and their sense of entitlement. That is not to say that your husband is a bad person. Good people do bad things, but the secret is to learn from that experience and become the sort of person who would never deceive others ever again.

It is possible that after all this time, your H had forgiven himself for his indiscretion - and is aghast at the pain his actions have caused you and your DCs. You are however on a different page - and the shock waves are still resounding.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: