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Post-affair marriage or divorce?

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
It's 5 months after my husband confessed that he had a 2-month-long affair with an 18-year old at his work, which started when I was 9 months pregnant with our 2nd child. I actually discovered it the day before our daughter was born, and we hashed it out and started to begin anew and he was so sorry and didn't know how he could do such a thing... and then he was home with us for 2 weeks from work and it really did feel like we were "starting over." But then the day he went back to work, the affair started all over again. And the 2nd time, it was serious. The 1st part of the affair was talking and kissing, but the 2nd part was sex, no protection, lying to me all the time, watching me fall into the pit of postnatal depression, and still being with her. He confessed when our daughter was 6 weeks old, and it's been insane. On some days I don't think I can ever forgive him, and on other days I know in my heart that I want to be with him and that we love each other and he's been so emotionally crippled that he could do this, but that he does love me and wants to work it out. It's a rollercoaster, and I never know how I"m going to feel from one day to the next.

I'm wondering... have any of your marriages survived an affair? And if you broke up because he had an affair, do you regret not working it out?

If I could never see him again, I would be much more open to separation. But we have 2 kids together, which means we'll see each other for the rest of our lives, even if we're not together. So, I feel like I should try everything I can to make it work. The whole thing friggin sucks. I never thought he would do this to me. One of our friends cheated on his wife many years ago, and my husband always had such an attitude about him and never could get close to him because he "couldn't understand how anyone could do that to his wife." So, I always thought I was safe with him. I'm a Taurus, I can be jealous and possessive, but I've never been that way with him--I've always felt safe and loved. And now this has thrown me for a loop. I don't know what love is anymore. I don't know if I can feel safe with him again. I don't feel loved. He tells me all the time that he loves me, that he's sorry, that he feels so stupid, that he doesn't love her (even though when he confessed he told me that he told her he was falling in love with her).

I do love him. We're a family. But I feel seriously jipped and confused.

I would love to hear your stories of your relationships surviving or not surviving an affair.

Thanks.
post #2 of 57
My story isn't the best to judge by. I was married when i was 17 and divorced by 19. My ex cheated on me with a girl he worked with. I found out...the affaird stopped. We were doing fine in our relationship after that. Then a month after he broke it off with her she came to him and told him she was preggo. He came to me and told me. We talked about it and i told him that we could handle this. He did it...i accepted that and we would do the best we could. He ended up leaving me and running from her that weekend. He moved back home with his mother and filed for divorce. To this day i have no reason for it other than he was running from fatherhood.

If my current DH cheated on me i honestly don't know what i would do. Trust is so much more an issue with us than it was with my ex. He is a truck driver and is gone the vast majority of the time...so if i can't trust him to be out there on the road and be faithful then i can't trust him at all with anything.

You have to do what is best for you and your family. Don't just give up and then regret it later....and don't just keep trying when you don't want to or have no desire to make it work.
post #3 of 57
hi my ex husband cheated on me when i was pregnant with our second. we attempted to try and reconcile our marriage but i knew his heart wasn't in it and it was just too hard and it wasn't hurting only me but also the kids. so, i ended up saying i'd had enough. i too remember the roller coaster feelings and never knowing which way was up.

i don't regret leaving, i think that once you take that step, go through the grieving process and rebuilding your life, you see things alot more clearly. i don't believe that the moment you take a step to leave that you are 100% sure of that decision much of the time, but i just did it because i couldn't stand the emotional pain anymore and i knew my kids and i deserved a life without that stress. don't get me wrong, it was very difficult and painful time, but 6 years later i am remarried, have 2 more beautiful children and i am very much in love with my new husband and he treats me the way i deserve. looking back i know it was one of the most life changing moments for me, i would never wish it on anyone but for me it was a good thing in the end.

yes, you have to deal with him afterwards, but it does get easier over time, the feelings you have do go away and although it's not ideal, it can be done.

i hope you find the answers you need, you certainly deserve much better!
by the way, if my current dh ever cheated on me, he'd be out the door with his clothes that night and i'd be at the lawyers the next day, or that day if possible.

mandi
post #4 of 57


I have no experience to share, just wanted to give you moral support.
post #5 of 57
Haven't BTDT but wanted to send you a hug and wish you good luck (no matter what you decide).

Imagining myself in your situation I would leave/make H leave but it's so easy to say and probably a lot harder to actually do.
post #6 of 57
Mandi, for a minute I thought I had forgotten and had already posted on this thread.

I found out my husband cheated on me in the fall of 97. We'd been married since 1989 and had three children together. I stayed in the marriage, thinking that 1) we could work it out, or 2) if we couldn't, I'd leave him when my youngest (3.5 at the time) entered kindergarten.

It didn't work out that way. This sounds so hokey but in March of 1998 I saw the movie Titanic and it really broke down the emotional barriers I had built to protect myself from my own emotional pain. I realized that I'd rather be alone, and have at least a CHANCE of finding someone that REALLY loved me and treated me the way I needed, than to stay with my husband.

It wasn't easy. As I said, we had 3 children. I had no car, no job, and no work experience. But I got myself back on my feet, met a WONDERFUL man who loved me enough to also take on my three children, and have been married to him for over 3 years and we have a 15 month old son together.

I've never regretted it, except for one brief time, right after my second marriage, when my ex was in a terrible car crash and almost died. But that was just reaction to the stress of the time I think. I didn't and don't love him now, or really have any feeling towards him at all. We have a polite, even pleasant relationship and we both love our kids. I've even loaned him money on occasion, and still loan him books because that was something we have in common, the books we read (my new hubbie doesn't read fiction).

I wish you the best of luck. Truly I think you would be better off with someone who cherished you. A man who can't keep his pants zipped isn't a man worth having IMO.
post #7 of 57
My husband had an affair that started before I was pregnant with our second baby. I found a note from the girl when I was about six months pregnant.
She was seventeen I understand the feelings you describe. It was honestly the most traumatic thing I have ever been through in my life (and I've had my share of trauma!).
Well, he told me he would end it with her and I wanted so badly to have the safety of our family back together. We started working it out. He was at the birth of our baby. About 6 weeks after the baby was born, he told me he was still seeing her. After that, we split for good.
I still love him and I always will. Love does not mean accepting crap in your life. You can still love him and not be with him. I do not regret splitting up with him. I'm even over wishing it didn't happen in the first place.
Once we were broken up, I did a lot of soul searching and also gained a valuable perspective on our relationship. I saw there were many problems I was not even aware of (denial??) while we were together. It's not just the cheating. It's the lying and the fact that he could keep such a thing away from me. It's the fact that he doesn't seem to realize the AWSOME beauty of motherhood and how sacred that should be. It's the fact that she is 17 and I am a grown woman with a mother's beautiful body.
It's the things he did because he was feeling guilty that have affected the communication between us.
It has been a little over two years since we split up and it has been an amazing journey for me. I have discovered what love and forgiveness really mean. Neither have to do with anybody but ourselves.
I have also taken time to really explore anger. What the heck do you do with it? Where do you put it? You will find the answers.
The fact is, he will most likely do it again. Do you want that for yourself? I mean, some people do have open relationships. But in order for those to work there needs to be honesty and trust. If you want to be with someone who will cheat on you, stay with him. If you don't, leave. Neither choice is easy to follow through with but they are your choices to make.
post #8 of 57
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your comments and stories everyone.

It truly is shocking to find out how common it is for husbands to cheat when their wives are pregnant. What's a shame is that they seem to cheat not because they find their wives unattractive, but that they are freaking out about their new responsibilities, and this seems to be a way they "deal." So, it's a shame that instead of going to their wives (or friends) and being honest about how they feel, they turn to an escape in a cute package. It friggin' sucks. And it sucks that probably even if there was more support for freaking-out husbands, they wouldn't even seek that support, because so many men just don't feel comfortable with seeking support.

Mamajama, I'm so sorry to hear that you've been through this as well. But I have to say that I don't think it's fair for you to say "If you want to be with someone who will cheat on you, stay with him. If you don't, leave." I didn't post this thread to have anyone make assumptions about my future, or making judgments about who my husband is--I just wanted to hear other people's stories. I don't think it's right for anyone on any of these threads to make judgments, because none of us can know what is really going on, based on a few paragraphs. Perhaps one may think I'm being foolish or in denial, but that is not for anyone to judge... or at least not for anyone who doesn't know me or my husband. But thank you for the rest of your response, and I'm glad to hear that you're in a good place since you left your husband.

I have a girlfriend whose marriage survived an affair, and I just spoke to another girlfriend yesterday whose marriage didn't survive... it's good to hear both sides. My mother (whose marriage didn't survive it, but she tried for 2 years to make it work) said that it's too early to know how I feel, and that I should take it one day at a time. For now, that sounds like sane advice.

Thanks.
post #9 of 57
mamasiobhan,
I'm so sorry if that statement I made came off as harsh. I guess Maybe I did mean it to sound blunt----definitely not hurtful. Of course you must follow your heart and your instincts. Things like this make us step back and take a good look at the relationship we have. For me, that meant splitting up. Not to say that is right for anyone else. I was amazed at how much I learned about my relationship with my ex. when I had a good perspective. I should have rephrased my statement without the word "you". I should have said, "what it came down to was me asking myself 'do I want to be with someone that lies and cheats?' the answer for me was no." I had no reason to believe that he wouldn't do it again, despite his assurances. Why would I when he assured me before, and lied and cheated on me before? It's hard. The hardest thing I have ever done. Sometimes being blunt is the only way to say what you mean.
post #10 of 57
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Mamajama.

On some days I hate my husband more than I love him, and on others I love him more than I hate him. Perhaps that will change at some point. My friend whose marriage split up said, "You'll feel that way for about a year." So, I'm kind of in "wait-and-see" mode. I don't know yet if I will forgive him. My grandma said I am being tested for my ability to be merciful. We'll see. I was betrayed twice, like you, so it's hard to imagine forgiving him. But it's also hard to imagine him doing this again, now that she is out of his life, and he realized that he could lose me. A lot has happened in these 5 months since he confessed, so I do have reasons to believe that this was a huge f-up that he won't repeat. There's no way to know, really, but I feel fairly secure that he won't do it again. I think she popped into his life at the wrong time and the wrong place, and that time and that place has changed (new job, new part of town, knowing he could lose me, etc.) But I'm not so secure that I can forgive him for doing it in the first place. Humans can be so weak, so I'm hoping I can be Godlike and forgive him. I've done some f-ed up things in the past, so I"m no angel, but that was another lifetime--it was before I met him. To me, it meant the world that we stood up in front of our friends and family and made those vows.

Thanks.
Peace.
post #11 of 57
Please be encouraged that marriages can survive. The last three years it seems like it was some new thing each year. But after I decided that we were going to make it work and he vowed that he was going to change, things have improved. I think the key to rebuilding from that destruction and lack of trust is that HE does have to prove to you that he is willing and working on change. That proof will be different in each marriage. For me, part of that was that he had to take the steps to get us some marriage counseling. And he had to be willing to account for his time and give me access to his email and online history. He has to take the steps to help you begin to feel secure. In my case that has been a huge source of healing, I believe him because he is willing to be transparent to help me feel safe.

I have to say that now I do feel like our marriage is really much stronger and better than before. I hope this is an encouragement to you. Please know that I am not encouraging denial or pushing through no matter what, there must be proof that he is truly repentant and wants to change and fix the problem, otherwise you may just be setting yourself up to have it happen again. Also, I did let dh know that my trust was fragile and he better make sure that he didn't harm it again or I was out. Three years now and so far it is only getting better.
post #12 of 57
It's been five years since my husband admitted not one but two infidelities. It's been a rough and painfull road for both of us. We've come a long way and we both are glad we stayed together. While it was horribly painfull to go through we are definately closer and more commited. We are proud of ourselves for getting through it together. Your husband absolutely has to be commited to helping you deal with your grief and anger. And like calgonmoment said, being transparent. It wouldn't of worked for us if my husband hadn't wanted it to work. My husband went through a difficult time in his life during those years and he has experienced alot of growth and maturity over time. He is a wonderful husband now and he thanks me often for giving him a second chance. I think back to how close we were to divorce, I seriously thought our marriage was over at one point. I can honestly say that I'm happy I decided to stay. I love him more now than ever. So just know that it is possible to work through infidelity, it will just take an incredible commitment from both of you. Best of luck to you
post #13 of 57
Thread Starter 
It's so nice to hear that some of you worked through it and are glad you did. That gives me hope, and it also squashes my fears of being an idiot for trying to make it work.

Thanks so much.
post #14 of 57
i agree with the other moms whose relationship has survived an affair. i think the cheating partner has to be the one who earns back your trust, who does anything in their power to help you trust them again, who will put the work it requires to go through marriage counselling and who is truly sorry, not just word sorry. my ex lacked all those qualities, and i knew i was just staying in denial if i stayed with him in hopes of improving our marriage. only you know if your husband is able to make the commitment to taking those incredible steps towards repairing the hurt. i hope that is your husband.

and you are not an idiot for staying , it is a difficult painful process and i think people who have not been through a situation like that have a hard time understanding why women stay and want to work through it. please be sure to take care of yourself,
mandi
post #15 of 57
Thread Starter 
Thanks Mandi.

Yes, it is hard for anyone to understand this kind of situation if they haven't been through it. Women generally say that they wouldn't put up with an affair, they would leave. And when I found out about the 1st part of his affair, I told my midwife that if I found out there was more to it than just kissing, I don't think I could tolerate that, and it would mean divorce. But here I am, months after finding out it was MUCH worse than kissing, and I'm still with him.

I think that if we didn't have kids, he would have been out the door already. But then again, if we didn't have kids, the pressures that lead him to stray in the first place wouldn't have been there.

I grew up with a single mother (my dad cheated on my Mum when she was pregnant with my brother), and I've been so excited for my girls that they have a father around. Not that that is a reason to let him stay, but in some moments when I'm hating him and thinking I can't forgive him, I think about my beautiful girls and how much he loves them and how much they love him, and I decide for that moment to keep trying.

Other times, it's for me that I want to keep trying.

Thanks y'all.
post #16 of 57
I just heard the Sunscreen Song on the radio today (One-hit Wonder Wednesday). Remember the Sunscreen Song? Remember this line?

"Don't be reckless with other peoples' hearts; don't put up with people who are reckless with yours."

It is true. You are better than that. You will find someone who deserves to be with you.

P.S. Here's a link to the lyrics:
http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~songhurs/every.htm
post #17 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamasiobhan
I think that if we didn't have kids, he would have been out the door already. But then again, if we didn't have kids, the pressures that lead him to stray in the first place wouldn't have been there.
But you being pregnant didn't force him to sleep with an 18-year-old from work. He made that choice himself.
post #18 of 57
I have been reading this thread with great interest. As far as I know, my first husband did not have any affairs- he did, however, make a point of reminding me, again and again , how the changes in my body during and after pregnancy, were not to his liking, and how he was * dying to go screw * some unidentified young nymph.....this had a very deep negative influence on my self image, since I was still unfortunately so emotionally dependent on him and his every word. In my mind, he already was "cheating " because he was flat out saying how he wanted to - he saw it as being open and honest with me. I saw it as a manipulative tool and just plain cruel. He actually expected me to remain as he met me at age 18, despite pregnancies, years gone by, etc etc... ( btw , he made NO effort to practice what he preached as far as physical goes) In the end I divorced him, for many reasons, and today I am very strong, empowered and happy. I am in a relationship with a man who loves me -body and mind. Most of all, I truely love myself . I hope you work through your situation in whatever way suits you best. I wish I had had such a great place, like this forum, when I was in pain and confused.. but I am glad I have it now
post #19 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by julie128
It is true. You are better than that. You will find someone who deserves to be with you.
I can't decide to leave him based on "I will find someone who deserves to be with me." Because, as tempting as that may be, that is not a good reason for me. Because really, I may not end up with anyone else. None of the single mothers I know are partnered again, but all of their ex-husbands are, because they don't live with their kids. I have to examine whether or not I will ever be able to trust ANYONE again--not just my husband. If I decide I don't want to be with him, it has to be because I'm realizing I won't be happy with him--not because I might find someone better. I'm only setting myself up for potential misery if I live my life hoping for someone better. Not to sound pessimistic--I just don't want to live my life waiting for a great guy. I thought I had one--I thought he would never do anything like this, because he always prided himself on not being One of Those Kinds of Guys. He has a lot of self-hatred (thanks, Mother-in-Law) and lack of confidence, and the fact that he did this has just made those qualities harder for him and for us. I don't know if I would be able to trust anyone else again, because I really felt secure that I had a great guy who would never do this to me.

Sometimes I feel like, "I've done so much work in this marriage and with him, that I might as well just stick with him instead of starting all over with someone else." But other times I think that's crazy. Some days I truly believe that he did this because he's emotionally damaged, and he hates himself for it more than I hate him for it. But other days I think he's the biggest Ahole, and that's why he did it.

Only time will tell, I think. I just can't believe I'm having to go through this. I"m trying to just have faith in the Universe and that I will be a stronger person once I'm through all of this. I just never thought I'd have to be THIS strong...
post #20 of 57
My first marriage was to someone who ended up cheating on me.

It was with someone he worked with. We had a 4 year old and an infant. After I found out and confronted him, and he finally came clean about how far the relationship went, he said he was torn and couldn't decide wether he wanted to be married to me or not. I chose to try to work it out, and he gave me every indication that he was trying ernestly to work out what he wanted, but he left after we got a chunk of money. Through it all, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach, it was truly awful.

If nothing else, I can honestly say I did everything I could to allow reconciliation. It also gave me the time to mull over my choice and figure out how to move on, if that's what was going to happen.

Things got really bad for a while after he left, then I started to rebuild my life and myself. I took a good, hard look at things I wanted to change, and how I wanted my life to be. I chose to work on my own issues, even though I knew I wasn't responsible for the choice he made.

My life is really good now. I met and married my soul mate and I am truly blessed. It wouldn't have happened had I not gone through what I did.
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