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Is it possible to move on from an affair?

(83 Posts)
mrscraig Thu 03-Oct-13 16:09:03

I found out just over 4 months ago that my husband had been having an affair with a much younger colleague. To say it came as a huge shock is something of an under statement- I've known him for most of my life and thought I knew him better than anyone.

At the time he moved out and, after a lot of soul searching, I decided to try again. Over the last few months though I have uncovered the depth of the affair. Including details of how many times they had sex, initially he swore that hadn't happened.
I have two daughters and feel wretched for them. I also really deeply love my husband - this in itself makes me feel weak and desperate. How pathetic am I??!
He is entrenched in my history and I never imagined being in this situation. He is trying to make amends but we are so uneasy with each other. If feels like we take one step forward and two back all the time.
To write down the extent of my excruciating pain would take forever. A million thoughts, ideas and images trawl through my mind constantly.
I read a lot of threads on here by women in my position. I know I'm not alone.
I read on another thread yesterday about how you should have a 'bottom line' of what you will not accept. In truth, what he has done falls below that bottom line. I feel so torn though- I feel I should give things more time and not make a hasty decision. But I am just so do tired and exhausted of feeling so utterly bewildered.
I'm also aware though that divorce on grounds of adultery you have a 6 month window- if we do divorce I bloody well want the truth on that certificate!!!!
I'm sorry for the ramble. Do i make any sense????
I suppose what I really want to know is can you ever really recover? Or am I going to live with this haunting us and never able to truly move on? My heart is just broken and I feel so so sad.

Mrscraig so sorry for your pain.

In my very humble opinion, as someone who has not been in this situation, I think in the long run it is a question of whether you want to stay with him and him with you, if the answer is yes then can you forgive him and can you trust him?

I hope you will work out what is best for you.

The other woman has caused you immense pain, yet I feel that it is your husband you are really mad at, and yet as you love him you cannot fully blame him. He is to blame but he can be forgiven.

If you choose to forgive him, it is something that will take time. I do not speak from experience so maybe I should not say, but I have seen the result of not being able to forgive or trust in a relationship after unfaithfulness, and that is corrosive.

I have also seen the turmoil of someone who wanted her husband back but he did not want to come back. If you want him back and he wants to stay with you, can you rebuilt your life together? Only you two know if you can rebuilt. Maybe it will not be the same, maybe it will be different. But will it be better or worse than being with someone else or being alone.? Again, only you know.

So if you do stay together please find some way to forgive and move on for your own sanity, and if you do part ways, equally please forgive and move on. What he has done is very very hurtful, but he did not do it to hurt you. So many men in the world (and some women) purposely hurt those closest to themselves. So even if there is nothing else good you can find in your heart at the moment it was maybe a very foolish mistake and not a deliberate act. But I don't know the circumstances so all I can really say is wishing you all the best for your future whatever it holds.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 17:12:33

blush Some people do come back after affairs but I think it requires a hell of a lot of compromise, ability to suppress quite visceral feelings and, worryingly, for the injured party to believe that they were somehow a contributory factor. The subsequent relationship - and this is my observation from what I've read here where people tend to be quite honest - sounds like it never regains that 'easy', naturally trusting quality that makes for a good relationship IYKWIM. It always sounds rather self-conscious.

maleview70 Thu 03-Oct-13 17:14:52

The minute he swore on your children's lives that he wasn't lying and then you found out he was would have been the bottom line for me.

You can make history again with someone new in time. Maybe someone better.....

mrscraig Thu 03-Oct-13 17:20:34

Myboils - great name!!!
I know you are right and am grateful. I can be truly honest on here. Wanting that revenge is in my deepest darkest thoughts. Today is a deep dark day.
Thanks for all your contributions. I think I would be in a much worse place if it were not for mm.

mrscraig Thu 03-Oct-13 17:21:29

You're right- swearing on the children's lives is unforgivable.
He knows it too.

moonfacebaby Thu 03-Oct-13 17:26:56

Swearing on the childrens lives is common - my STBEXH did this.

I'm divorcing him on the grounds of adultery. We limped on for 5 m

MyBoilsAreFab Thu 03-Oct-13 17:32:54

It is my Halloween name (usually MyBoys!). That is the great thing about MN - you can vent away anonymously, which can in itself be cathartic enough to let you see the way forward. And also you can get a bit of humour too, which never goes amiss.

moonfacebaby Thu 03-Oct-13 17:34:02

Sorry, I always press the wrong button on my phone...

We limped on for 5 months & I'd had enough by then. He wanted to sweep it under the carpet & blame our marriage for making him do it. I had no idea he was supposedly unhappy so I was blindsided by his affair.

Even now, he blames me & I see him as the weak, selfish man he is.

I think it's very hard to come back from infidelity. Trust is imperative in a relationship & very, very hard to rebuild. The devastation of an affair is horrendous - I have never experienced pain quite like it. The sense that you just don't know them - who are they? - is disorientating to the extreme.

I couldn't live looking over my shoulder like that. We all deserve to be loved by someone who respects us & an affair shows enormous disrespect & the kind of character flaws that I can't tolerate - I'd like to think that I'd never do that to someone.

Good luck Op & look after yourself x

mrscraig Thu 03-Oct-13 17:34:21

I'm so dazed, didn't register Halloween! Told you I'm naive.

I'm afraid the continuing of lying even after the initial discovery would put the boot in for me.

I'm sorry he let you down so badly.

mrscraig Thu 03-Oct-13 17:40:33

Thank you moon face.
My head agrees. Know it sounds so corny (but its truth) my heart says differently.
I wholeheartedly agree about bring faced with a stranger. If I had a list if potential cheaters he would be down the bottom. Actually he wouldn't have been on it. We both come from parents who have divorced. Through infidelity. We BOTH know the carnage and pain from the fallout. It's not like he didn't know what could happen. We both swore to each other time and time again wed never put our kids in this position too. Even as an adult it impacts on you. It's truly truly shit. This knowledge doesn't help me, I never wanted my children to be in the same boat as me. I know he's caused this but I feel it's my decision that will do this to them. I have a choice not to. It's fucking horrible horrible horrible.

mrscraig Thu 03-Oct-13 17:41:27

Sorry for typos. Hard to be accurate with your face buried in an ice cream.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 17:49:42

It's not a choice though, is it? You didn't choose any of this. I think that's the cold hard truth of this kind of thing. You're left with no realistic options and yet this other person - the one you can't trust - is the one that actually made the decision.

Viviennemary Thu 03-Oct-13 17:49:50

I think it is very much down to the individual. I like to think I could try again if this happened to me. But certainly not the forgive and forget bit. Because I wouldn't do either of these things entirely. But not sure what would happen in reality. People do survive this though. And can be happy. Because I've known it happen.

familyscapegoat Thu 03-Oct-13 17:54:11

It's the nature of the beast that people project their own break-ups or flourishing relationships on to the advice that they give, but as someone who forgave her husband's affair many years ago now (and have often posted on threads like this), I do take issue with some of these observations.

I suppressed no feelings, made no compromises and neither my husband nor I ever believed that my actions were a contributory factor. I've seen other posters say much the same, so I do wonder where these observations come from.

After the first year or so, our relationship stopped being 'self conscious' but I acknowledge that it was in the months after D day. I think that's natural.

The things that made the world of difference to our success in building a new relationship were the following:

- He didn't lie about the major details. He minimised his culpability for it, but soon stopped when I was having none of it.
- He recognised himself that this had come about because he had always been quite selfish and lazy. We'd had a very good relationship on the whole in the 20 or so years prevously, but his lack of matched contribution had been a source of conflict many times.
- He took total responsibility for his actions.
- He set about a programme of transformation and the changes he made got embedded quickly and remain, all these years later.
- We both had great individual therapists.
- He read everything there was to read on the subject of infidelity.
- He was willing to talk about what happened and eventually got into the habit of starting those conversations too.

My interpretation of your situation is that because you've uncovered a major lie only 6 weeks ago, you are not 4 months on from this at all. I summise you'll be constantly fearful that fresh shocks and discoveries await.

It's impossible to forgive when you don't know what there is to forgive. If there is any hope of getting past this, your husband needs to tell the whole truth. You then need to take your own time processing all that information.

I post very infrequently and wasn't on Mumsnet when this happened to me. Often I'm very grateful for that when I see some of these posts! I know I wouldn't have had the objectivity to work out that posters project their own stories on to threads and unusually for someone with very high self-esteem, I might have felt very small and belittled.

When I come on to Mumsnet now, it doesn't personally affect me that there are these posts, because I know my situation is so different to what is described. I worry about others though and it saddens me that ever time I come here, there is a new thread like this. Infidelity isn't a rare occurrence and I'm always sorry to see another person going through it.

headinhands Thu 03-Oct-13 17:55:57

I think so if it happened because you were ignoring a bigger problem. But not if they just don't get commitment.

Whatnext074 Thu 03-Oct-13 17:56:26

mrscraig - you might have seen my own post and I just wanted to say that my heart goes out to you.

I wouldn't worry too much about the 6 month thing for divorce, it sounds like you need time and like in my position, you can divorce under unreasonable behaviour too. My understanding anyway is that you would need to be separated for 6 months after the initial discovery of infidelity.

As you are now together at the moment, is he offering you any reassurances or security that he is repentant or has he just settled back in? My guess is it's not working if you are crying on the way to work, I really feel for you.

Also, please don't feel bad or weak for still deeply loving your husband, that is perfectly natural. I'm not sure myself if my H asked to come back to me whether I would turn him away. We just believe our vows were forever - some of us do anyway.

headinhands Thu 03-Oct-13 17:58:31

Sorry op I just fired off a reply without reading your post. I am so sorry he did this to you sad

familyscapegoat Thu 03-Oct-13 17:58:36

Re. it being your decision regarding divorce and the impact on the children, we never looked at it that way. Right from the start, it was acknowledged by both of us that if we divorced, it would be because of my husband's choices, not mine.

mrscraig Thu 03-Oct-13 18:13:11

Have seen your thread what next. Am truly sorry. There is nothing quite like this pain is there. Sounds cruel but I could have coped with him being hit by a bus better.
Thank you for reminding me its still early days. It doesn't feel like it though. Am so desperate to not feel like this. I'm exhausted.

Whatnext074 Thu 03-Oct-13 18:28:50

mrscraig - I felt/feel the same way I could cope better if he had passed away because then I would be left only with our happy memories and knowing he truly loved me, rather than the horrible feelings that have ensued.

The pain of discovery is too much to bear, particularly as you found out after you took him back and 6 weeks is no time to get over anything like that or deal with thinking of a divorce when you still deeply love him. Have you tried couples counselling?

You said to write down the extent of your excruciating pain would take forever. A million thoughts, ideas and images trawl through your mind constantly - - - have you told him exactly how you feel? Even if you don't go to couples counselling, it might help you to see a counsellor to talk through your feelings.

Distrustinggirlnow Thu 03-Oct-13 18:29:17

Mrs C, I feel your pain. I too have cried on the way to work. And then when I was trying to recover,the road would remind me why I cried and I'd cry again. blush

It is not a journey for the faint hearted. I said to my H several times that the easy option would be for me to walk away metaphorically as I'd never leave my house and DC

I now have total transparency and support from him. He does everything he can. At the moment I'm happy with that.

Do I trust him, you know that absolutely blind trusting that you don't even have to think about.....? I'm not sure, because I think that a little piece of me died and although we live a charmed life with lots of laughter and family times I can tell you that if I ever, ever got a sniff of something was not right, then I would be gone without even so much as a glance over my shoulder.

I've given him another chance. Even after the lies etc. I've given him a chance. He knows this. He appreciates how difficult it was/is for me and does everything to help. He is genuinely sorry. Is your H? Does he answer all questions over and over and over again without getting arsy, or impatient.

You can do it Mrs C if you think he deserves another chance. I have. We all have different things that are deal breakers. My H had very personal and simply horrific reasons for what he did. They had nothing to do with me. Altho the end result was that I got hurt.

Without that back story I'm not sure that I /we would've recovered.

Sorry if I've waffled! It's such a hard subject to articulate when it's caused so much pain.
Keep talking to him. thanks

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 03-Oct-13 18:32:01

"if I ever, ever got a sniff of something was not right, then I would be gone without even so much as a glance over my shoulder. "

Do you find that stressful? Are you particularly conscious of being on the look-out (sniff-out?) for the something that isn't right? Has the power-balance in your relationship shifted?

moonfacebaby Thu 03-Oct-13 18:34:36

Familyscapegoat is spot on.

If your H is approaching it in the way she describes, maybe it is possible to get over it.My exH didn't & it was pointless to continue.

Op, as for your H not seeming the type - mine wasn't either. Always abhorred affairs & was so honest & loyal. Everyone was so shocked that he'd had an affair. The thing is, there isn't a type. Sometimes the only indicator is a pattern of selfish behaviour. It's only with space & distance that I can see how my exH was selfish - sexually, domestically, all sorts. Yet I was always labelled as selfish & unreasonable for challenging him.

I have to say that he's done me some damage - such a personality change & subsequent constant blaming causes you to really doubt your judgement. That's on the bad days but generally, counselling has helped me unpick it all & realise that I will never understand why he did it.

I'm not sure if you've mentioned counselling. If not, I'd recommend individual counselling for you. It helps enormously.

AnyFucker Thu 03-Oct-13 18:45:50

How did you find out he had lied about having sex with her, OP ?

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