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DH had affair - can't get over the pain.

(54 Posts)
saferniche Fri 30-Aug-13 16:33:17

Five months ago, just before our 20th wedding anniversary my DH told me that he'd had an affair, which he said had happened last year. He told me it was over (it wasn't of course, they were still in contact). After some ambivalence on his part I insisted on NC - after which his attachment to the OW evaporated pretty quickly. More ambivalence towards me was solved by my visit to a divorce lawyer and the firm insistence that he commit to our relationship or leave. He seemed hugely relieved at deciding to stay.

He's feeling a great deal of shame and remorse, is mortified at how much he's hurt me and we're making our way through the process of reconciliation. He's a lovely man, a great father and I don't want to abandon the marriage after what now seems to him like a dreadful mistake. But the pain and sorrow is unending.

Thoughts please, lovely (and not so lovely) mumsnetters.

saferniche Sun 01-Sep-13 13:58:42

talking to people on here (and some thoughtful and generous advice) has helped to make me feel better today. Thank you, all smile

saferniche Sun 01-Sep-13 13:55:23

onefewernow thank you for such a frank and considered post. Of course you're right, plenty of people remarry later in life. It sounds as if this may be what happens for you when you're ready.

Your counsellor advises: 'everyone should periodically review their relationship,' and that at least is true (although you might hope with a loving and not clinical eye). We take too much for granted.

onefewernow Sun 01-Sep-13 10:56:22

Safeniche,

I am two years on, come November. H was unfaithful, mainly online, but for at least five and a half years, and with a heap of lying and gas lighting.

In some ways our relationship is better than before. It is much more open, though he will always have a reserved personality. He helps more, and is no longer subtly controlling about all sorts of issues eg how we spent time, or how much I know about his spending .

However, for me, it will never be the same. I would like to say it is better on the whole, but there will always be that crack in the vase.

I have forgiven him, so it isn't resentment, and I truly believe he won't do it again. But he will always have done what he did, it can't be undone.

Our counsellor said something helpful- we are back for a second round with him, since March. He said that everyone should periodically review their relationship, maybe even monthly if you want. You ask the question, " is this relationship still working for me?"

That gets you away from having to decide all the time whether you are right to stay. It means that if it is working enough for you to stay now, you can still decide it isn't in the future. It puts you back in control, I think.

Even though I am now over 50, I am able to say to myself that my relationship suits me well enough now, there isn't a lot of animosity, we are good company together, and it is better for the kids than living in single parent poverty. If the balance changes for the worse for any reason, I can change my mind and still move on in the future. It isn't just about scrambling out in time to find a new man. Even if I wanted one, I don't thing age is such a barrier. There are plenty of 20 plus year olds who are still failing to meet someone, it isn't just people my age.

I decided what my bottom line was in terms of having a man in my life, and I measure against that.

saferniche Sun 01-Sep-13 10:14:28

newbiefrugalgal does your dp know how you feel now?

newbiefrugalgal Sun 01-Sep-13 08:17:22

Anti mercy sorry you are going through this.
At the moment I have given my dp another chance -I feel so scared that what you have written will be me.
We are just over a year since discovery -I wish the pain would stop, I wish I would never think about ow again but she just keeps popping up. Bastard I hate you for doing this to me.

saferniche Sun 01-Sep-13 08:01:56

antimercy - it's chilling to acknowledge that you don't know if you can forgive someone when they've hurt you so badly. It's so sad.

saferniche Sun 01-Sep-13 07:55:28

'Many people who have been married for 2 decades owe more loyalty to the marriage and their spouse than you do right now.' And I bet he knows that.

The visit to the family law solicitor was enormously empowering - he gave me a great deal of advice and none of it was about money.

Thank you for the compliment smile

antimercy Sat 31-Aug-13 22:43:39

name changed
My dh had an affair four years ago, we've been together 17 years. I still don't know if I forgive him and can love him again, or trust, but said I would try.

The pain is worse (and can come on suddenly) when we're happiest and things are going well, I find. I'm quite certain I shall leave him one day. It's less raw, and I'm no longer affected by it in the way I used to be, however, which is a blessed relief.

JoinYourPlayfellows Sat 31-Aug-13 22:30:39

"But aren't we all occasionally ambivalent?"

Are we?

I'm not. And if I were, I would pay attention to it.

You have a lot of options here. Let yourself explore them now you have the opportunity.

Many people who have been married for 2 decades owe more loyalty to the marriage and their spouse than you do right now.

Best of luck, whatever you do smile

You sound an amazing woman, and I think you deserve more than a husband who only started caring because he didn't want a divorce.

I'm sure there is a lot more to your situation, but that's just how it reads to me.

He didn't fight for you. You had to fight for him.

Now the fight is over, you get to take stock and make your long-term decisions.

I'm sure he will be more than happy, as a man who truly loves you, to support you in that.

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 22:18:07

fair point. But aren't we all occasionally ambivalent? 'We love and hate the ones we love - and hate'

'Don't be one of the women who spends the rest of her life forcing herself to believe the lies she had to tell herself to make staying OK.'

That sounds a darn sight harder than leaving! I wouldn't have the energy.

JoinYourPlayfellows Sat 31-Aug-13 22:12:25

How can I be certain?

I just think you should explore all your options.

This only happened to you 5 months ago.

Don't be one of the women who spends the rest of her life forcing herself to believe the lies she had to tell herself to make staying OK.

Staying might well turn out to be OK. The pain might end.

You might eventually have no ambivalence.

But right now, you sometimes do.

Maybe making a fresh start somewhere else would be the best decision of your life?

This is the time to really consider it.

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 22:04:18

thank you mammadiggingdeep I hope you're in a happier place now xx

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 22:01:41

JoinYourPlayfellows you seem very certain!

My occasional ambivalence reflects pondering what it would be like to go, be somewhere else, make a fresh start... even though I love him.

mammadiggingdeep Sat 31-Aug-13 21:49:49

I admire your determination to give him another chance. I mean that genuinely. When I found out I was being cheated on I asked him to leave, within tje first few weeks I just knew I'd never be happy with him again. I knew that every day I'd feel second best and a bit 'tarnished'. The sadness you describe is so understandable. I knew that they'd be a lot of sadness and hurt whether I stayed with him or whether we split. I felt, for me, that tje sadness after sitting would eventually lead me to a happier place. I was so humiliated and hurt that I felt the sadness if I stayed with him would never fade completely.
I hope he works really hard to make you happy and contented with him again. I really hope your sadness fades completely xx

JoinYourPlayfellows Sat 31-Aug-13 21:16:42

"But I don't believe people necessarily stop loving their dh or dw"

I don't either.

But it would appear that your husband stopped loving you.

Which, now that you've won and he's decided he wants to stay with you after all, is why you're feeling ambivalent yourself.

I think you owe it to yourself to explore your ambivalence.

He was quite happy to indulge his own until you forced his hand.

You don't have to put up with sorrow and pain that is unending.

If it won't end for you, you don't owe him sticking around just because that is what he has belatedly decided suits him.

You've done your fighting.

If he's as good a man as you say, you should be able to explore your own feelings about this and see if your ambivalence will give way to the same kind of certainty as his did.

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 21:04:35

littlebunnyfriend you're gorgeous smile Can I stroke your bunny ears?

littlebunnyfriend Sat 31-Aug-13 20:52:42

You know what? This might not be helpful at all, but you sound like a really lovely person. And the love that you have for your DH comes shining out in every post. I hope that your DH is the good man who made a mistake that you are making him out to be, and that your marriage keeps going from strength to strength. As long as you believe in the two of you, long term, I think you can make it. xxxx

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 20:44:18

hi Upnotdown

Thank you for the confessional smile

Did you work out why you'd withdrawn from your dh before?

I'm sure there are similarities, long marriages are difficult. I'm not by any means faultless.

'She tried to take me to court.' She did WHAT? I have to ask on what grounds (though you don't have to tell me).

I will try to take your advice.

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 20:28:02

JoinYourPlayfellows he hasn't mentioned love - he was attached to her or at least to something about the experience. I've no idea what she felt about him but she's certainly not pursued him (or me). She was divorced btw.

'Where was his love for YOU during all of this time.'? Good question. But I don't believe people necessarily stop loving their dh or dw - whatever they say to the op (or themselves). Ambivalence means mixed, contradictory feelings - hardly helpful when on the receiving end but in its extreme form temporary, especially when real loss is threatened. I should think he was confused about what he was feeling, what it meant, what he should do. He's no longer ambivalent in that way. I am though, occasionally.

Btw psychoanalyst Adam Phillips says: 'Everyone has to deal with ambivalence' - and if this idea interests people (it interests me) this is worth watching and not irrelevant to the themes of a thread like this: www.inter-actions.biz/blog/-adam-phillips-on-pleasure-frustration-and-ambivalence

I may sound glib but it was hell, partly because it was so sudden and I'd had no idea this was happening. You can't make a decision based on fear. I read a lot online, like most people, but when things were uncertain the best book I found was called 'Fear' by Thich Nhat Hanh, which is about mindfulness. I felt as if this kind man held my hand through the worst moments.

Upnotdown Sat 31-Aug-13 15:15:19

Hi OP. I found out just over a year ago that my DP of 17 years was having an affair that had gone on for 18 months.

Our situation is probably completely different to yours. I withdrew from the relationship prior to the affair starting, didn't want intimacy/friendship etc and was used to him being bothered about it, asking me why, trying to talk. This is where I take responsibility (partially) for the state of the relationship.

I first started noticing something had shifted when he appeared less bothered. That gradually turned into resentment, shouting, blaming me continually for everything, staying out for the night because 'his friend needed him', to me holding the door open for him and asking him to stay away half the week as I couldn't put up with his moods. Eventually, I had an anonymous phone call from a man telling me what had been going on.

DP walked in about 3 hours later, completely oblivious. I confronted him, he denied it for hours.Then it came out. I shouted, screamed and kicked him out. Changed the locks, kids were in bits (they luckily had stayed in their nan's the night before so didn't witness any of this). He never said he wanted to go, never said he found her more anything than me. Just kept saying sorry, he was lonely, needed someone, nothing serious.

I spoke to her - she saw things differently. Said they were getting married, pretty much. He has always maintained that it wasn't 'real'.

I found out all sorts of things that I never thought he was capable of.

But after living apart for a month (he didn't move in with her although I know he stayed with her for one night, a day after I threw him out), and lots of talking we got back together.

It's been hard at times - the pain is incomparable to anything I've ever known. But we're over a year on and things are great. We didn't have counselling, we've had a few dark days where the pressure was through the roof (I sometimes asked for answers that he cant give) but the love we have for each other is real and was worth saving to both of us. His apologies, actions and remorse have helped.

At this point, I don't wake up or go to sleep thinking about it. He does everything he can to keep me feeling loved and re-assured.

The low point after he came back was the OW acting like a crazy. I contacted her boss. She tried to take me to court. He arranged to meet her behind my back TWICE to appeal to her better nature and ask her not to. He told me afterwards but I wasn't happy to say the least. And she still tried to take me to court - went on for 6 months before she stopped trying (she didn't have a leg to stand on but her solicitor was clearly making a fortune out of her - I didn't even instruct one, it was that stupid).

Sorry for the hour-long confessional - other peoples experiences help/helped me through a very difficult time. If you're both committed, it can work. And (unlike me) try and keep resentment towards OW out of your head - it only really hurts you, doesn't solve anything

JoinYourPlayfellows Sat 31-Aug-13 13:24:54

"I'm not as worried by the ambivalence as I would be if I didn't remember in my 20s getting involved with unsuitable people, convincing myself it was lurve and getting over the attraction surprisingly quickly."

But even after he got over his love for her, he was still ambivalent about you.

Where was his love for YOU during all of this time.

You seem to be OK with a husband who can feel nothing for you at all, even in the absence of a distracting more attractive option.

But it's hard to square his ambivalence towards you until you were planning to divorce him with someone who really loved you all along.

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 11:54:03

Whatelseisthere quite took my breath away - five years!

'the experience has forced me to confront my demons and I am at peace with myself and my marriage.' Cool beans, as a friend of mine says. Good luck to you both. I'll repeat some more of your post because I want to read it again:

'You have to look forward and have faith, along with all sorts of other qualities; the key is that you can both trust and forgive. Honesty and the ability to laugh and be vulnerable will help too.

It can be done. I wish you all the love and luck in the world. Tell him how you feel. He is with you. Show him how not to blow his second chance'

thank you smile

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 10:54:12

AspieGran thank you for your post. I don't have all those doubts - fortunately. But I have sometimes felt it would be easier to leave, even exciting to move on (this is the risk people take when they make the decision to have an affair). It's reassuring though to hear how you've come through your experience.

saferniche Sat 31-Aug-13 10:40:10

ageofgrandillusion asks: 'Why can't people just be honest'? And you're right. But sometimes it takes a while to be honest with yourself about just how stupid you were. That it was a very ordinary stupidity.

worsestershiresauce 'The only people who know though are those going through it.' Absolutely. People in RL have been supportive, positive. But I supported a friend in telling her H to go, a few years ago - he was a repeat adulterer who felt in all honesty she should just accept him the way he is, however nasty he was to her. I watched him storm away from her lawyer's office after realising she would get the lion's share of their assets. It was a fine moment. I wouldn't hesitate to act if I felt it was the right decision, or if it were a case of 'guilt or obligation' or biding time before another 'adventure'.

I wanted to reflect more on SawofftheOW's post. I feel so sad that your confidence has been knocked, that he felt the need to tell you she had a 'body to die for' and he'd 'never known love like it'. Reading that I thought poor bugger, she pretty much killed everything he cared about. I'm sure he is mortified. You should be very proud of your courage and strength, the fact that you're not unpleasant and vengeful, or cruel and selfish. And I'm glad you can laugh about it together at times. You deserve many thanks

I'm not as worried by the ambivalence as I would be if I didn't remember in my 20s getting involved with unsuitable people, convincing myself it was lurve and getting over the attraction surprisingly quickly. Not that my dh has said he was in love with the ow. I find it perplexing, but I suspect it's just depressingly commonplace. What I do think is hard though is facing up to your mistakes and taking on the work of repairing the marriage. You have to decide to do that work, which he has consciously and willingly decided to do. I bet in his position I too might have wanted to run away - not that he would go when I told him to.

Age don't worry, I don't take anything personally on here any more, as we're all individuals with individual circumstances, individual experiences etc. I've never been to counselling, nor has DH. His affair wasn't about getting his leg over and unfortunately getting caught. We as a couple were in a mess, both unhappy, seemingly in a dead end. I think we both wanted to get out somehow. I thought about divorce all the time before it happened, and we never talked.

I guess that kind of mess is easier to recover from than one where someone is simply caught up in the thrill of an affair, and wants that as well as the wife. He wanted out, and he was a coward about it.

Some of the stories I read on here I think LTB. Others I think, hang on, there are reasons behind this, it could work out if you want it to. The only people who know though are those going through it.

If you love someone let them go. It's actually a good basis. Who'd want to be with a partner who was only there out of guilt or obligation. It'd be no life.

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