Anze43 (original poster new member #83896) posted at 4:51 AM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
I've been married 25 years and recently found out that my husband had a brief affair 20 years ago with a married coworker. We were going through difficult times and were pretty ugly toward each other and even threw out in our arguments that we should divorce if this was how we were going to be. But I truly never thought it would get to that point as neither of us believed in divorce and I truly hoped we would grow up and out of this difficult stage. I found out about the affair because the husband contacted us last month. It started out as chatting, then flirting then meeting up one day. Both knew immediately it was a mistake and ended it the next day as they knew they went too far. We made it through those early years and have built a good life and family. Until I found out about the affair. He wants to make this work. He is extremely remorseful. He has wanted to tell me about it but knew it would be the end of our marriage. We've had lots of conversations and I thought I wanted to work through this. But something small will trigger the anger and pain. I agree with him we are not the same people we were then and we have both grown and matured and worked on our relationship. But I've always believed infidelity is unforgivable. He chose to go outside the marriage when he thought we were over but, bottom line, we were still married. I'm at a loss. I'm constantly sick to my stomach, I can't eat, I don't sleep well and our kids know something is wrong but I don't want to share this with them. I want the husband to suffer for the pain he had caused me. I know that's wrong but I am so hurt and betrayed. It feels like our marriage has been a lie.
[This message edited by SI Staff at 10:22 PM, Thursday, December 7th]
leafields ( Guide #63517) posted at 5:45 AM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
Welcome to SI and so sorry you had to find us. Please read the pinned posts at the top of the forum. The Healing Library has a lot of great information and includes the list of acronyms we use.
The A (affair) was not a mistake. A mistake is forgetting to grab a gallon of milk at the store. An A takes many conscious decisions to betray you. If he thought the M was over, he should have divorced before looking for other relationships.
BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21
The1stWife ( Guide #58832) posted at 3:32 PM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
I understand about wanting your husband to feel your pain.
Do you think having your own professional counselor would help you? I know that the person I met with saved my sanity AND showed me that reconciliation is possible.
Like you, I was ready to D my husband after his last affair.
I understand your feelings of betrayal and all that goes with it. It’s a tough thing to accept and process. Keep posting here and you will receive support and good advice too.
Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled. 10 years out from Dday. Reconciliation takes two committed people to be successful.
HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 3:59 PM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
I agree. He's lied to you,every day,for 20 years. He stole your agency.
He said he did it because he thought the marriage was over? As a SAHM, at the time of the affair, I assume you were cooking him meals, doing his laundry,caring for him,having sex with him,loving him,and he was saying he loved you too? And,of course he didn't bother to inform you that the marriage was over,right?
It's bullshit. And,after 20 years, one would think, if he were actually remorseful, that he would have dug a little deeper,to figure out why he really cheated.
I would be careful to label his feelings as remorse. Regret,most likely. If he were truly remorseful, he would have been the one to tell you. He chose to keep quiet for himself.
What are your requirements for attempting reconciliation? At minimum, they should include..
A full,written, timeline of the affair.
He answers all of your questions without anger or defensiveness.
Full transparency. You get full access to all accounts and the phone. Passwords included.
He dumps any friends who knew of the affair.
He goes to IC to figure out how he could do this. The affair,and the lying for 20 years.
And, I'd consider a polygraph, to make sure you have the truth. Very rarely do cheating spouses, who weren't caught,stop at one affair.
Watch his actions. He should be doing the heavy lifting, and doing the work to become a safe. Your job is to take care of yourself, and watch his actions. His words mean absolutely nothing. He's proven he has zero problem lying to you.
[This message edited by HellFire at 4:00 PM, Wednesday, September 20th]
I will be everywhere you look,but nowhere to be found. And that will be my revenge.
Anze43 (original poster new member #83896) posted at 6:17 PM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
Perhaps I should have been more clear but the previous post was already quite long. We were not getting along at the time. Regardless, he was married and it never should have happened. He knew he was going to tell me but as time went on, it became more difficult and he knew that was wrong, too. As mentioned, we have had NUMEROUS conversations after this came to light and he has been open and forthright in answering questions and giving me the timeline and what transpired. He has never once blamed me for his actions. He takes full responsibility and is disgusted with himself for allowing it to happen. He says he is going to fight for our relationship because we are not the same people we were 20 years ago. I truly believe he has not done anything like this since. I am in NO WAY defending his actions but I am trying to see things from his perspective.
[This message edited by Anze43 at 4:41 AM, Wednesday, November 1st]
Anze43 (original poster new member #83896) posted at 6:21 PM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
@The1stWife, thank you for your words of encouragement. I appreciate what you said.
forestfirepine ( new member #82479) posted at 6:56 PM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
I just wanted to chime in and say that I understand the hurt and betrayal that comes with finding out years later. I think, of course, finding out "in the moment" is horrible too and comes with its own pain and challenges. That said, the sting of having your agency taken from you for years is a certain kind of pain that is really, really intense. Also, even though it happened years ago, you have experienced a CURRENT trauma. With trauma comes anger and irritability and the reexperiencing of strong emotions. It is totally normal and understandable and it isn’t a reason to stay OR leave the marriage. Betrayal trauma is no joke and it’s about one of the most difficult things a person can go through. I am about 10 months out from disclosure and these triggers are lessening, but they still happen. I am in therapy, my husband is in therapy, and we are also doing pretty well in MC. I love him and we are working on reconciling. But I insisted the wedding rings come off until I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am truly married. Do what works for you and know that all the pain is, unfortunately, all a part of betrayal trauma. Do all the things that are recommended on here for self care … they really can make a difference. You are not alone.
Lefty ( new member #54060) posted at 7:39 PM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
Hi Anze43! I had exactly the same thing happen to me. I found about my husbands 2 affairs, 40 years after they happened. And one of them was with my best friend who stayed in our life for years after the affair ended.
It is so devastating to find out years later. I feel like I have been married to a stranger. What was true in my life, what was a lie?
Scroll down the forums and click on the one called "I Can Relate" forum, and in that forum there is one called "For those who Found out years later".
Reading thru that forum helped me understand that the trauma I was feeling was normal. That I was not losing my mind.
This forum does not get a lot of traffic, but the insights in it are wonderful.
HouseOfPlane ( member #45739) posted at 10:30 PM on Wednesday, September 20th, 2023
Oh man, we invest so much of our lives in building some kind of narrative, telling a story. The early years, the middle, the roads leading to today. The narrative defines us. You just found out it’s all a sham, or at least feels that way, like The Truman Show.
I want the husband to suffer for the pain he had caused me.
The best way to do that is to stay married and make him suffer every.single.day. If you so choose.
You’ll find that if you pay attention and introspect, the questions you are asking about his actions are really about yourself. Constructing a new history, figuring out who you are. When you are aware of this, it reframes your current actions. You ask better questions.
Sorry you are in such pain, @Anze43
DDay 1986: R'd, it was hard, hard work.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver
Anze43 (original poster new member #83896) posted at 8:09 PM on Friday, September 22nd, 2023
I'm still navigating through this site and trying to figure it out. I'm looking for a forum where the situation is similar to mine. Would love to hear how others worked through it, whether it was D or reconciliation. Can someone point me in the right direction? Thanks for the help.
HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 8:30 PM on Friday, September 22nd, 2023
In the I Can Relate forum, there is a thread for those who found out years later.
Your situation is different than some here, but we've all been betrayed,and the feelings and healing are basically the same.
I will be everywhere you look,but nowhere to be found. And that will be my revenge.
Stillconfused2022 ( member #82457) posted at 9:56 PM on Friday, September 22nd, 2023
The found out years later forum is really good and I found it especially helpful when I first found out. It had been 7 and a half years at that point. Your agency was stolen and the years of lying cause a lot of pain. You could have made different choices back then if you had known.
More difficult still is the fact that on a certain level I think they (WSs in this situation) somehow think that because of the elapsed time your reaction should somehow be less. Like by cheating you out of the truth you deserved they should be rewarded by a more subdued response. It is baloney but I would be shocked if you don’t at some point here « it was 20 years ago… » as some sort of attempt to make you feel better. Ignore that—the purpose is to make them feel better. My husband firmly held the line that he didn’t tell me to protect me, then with time he admitted it was to protect himself. He probably treated the AP differently over the years because they shared that secretly. The sharing of the secret is a painful thought. You do not owe him a subdued response and if he says « it was 20 years ago… » you can remind him that HE doesn’t get to tell you that. If you want to tell yourself that or your therapist wants to say it thats fine. But he doesn’t get to say that. It will NOT make you feel better coming from him. The upside of the passage of time is you aren’t in a place where you fear this AP swooping in and blowing up your recovery. I guess thats a good thing. You are still going to think about this ALOT. When you look at pictures from that time they will seem utterly tainted. A year post discovery I am just starting to be able to look at those pictures with a small amount of the joy they once held. People frequently talk about feeling their whole life was a lie. I didn’t really feel that way but I do feel our interactions all those years were fundamentally tainted. Also you get the fun of him not being able to remember exactly what happened. You will become a neurologist or anthropologist trying to figure out whether the average person would remember this or that thing that you want to know. He definitely remembers a lot but he wont want to remember so that will be frustrating. You may need him to do certain things (send that lady a letter telling her she is pond scum, or whatever). These are symbolic acts and they helped me a lot. It can feel weird because everything is so beside the point after all these years. But if there is something you need then ask for it. You deserve the process you were entitled to 20 years ago. It doesn’t matter if it seems weird to him the AP, the OBS or anyone.
Mostly, I’m just so sorry. I think a lot of questions will arise for you with time. Try to let yourself feel your anger and express it to him. Even if he’s a really good guy now. You might sometimes have to pretend in your mind you are talking to the him from 20 years ago that did these things.
trustedg ( member #44465) posted at 9:22 PM on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023
I've been there, found out 25 years later. It doesn't matter how long ago it happened, the day you find out the hurt starts, it is fresh to you.
Reconciliation is hard, even if both are all in. Get "How to help your spouse heal from your affair". Read it and give it to him. Get IC, individual counseling, if the first one doesn't seem a fit, try another.
There will be triggers, tears, anger, rage, sadness. A rollercoaster, not an easy ride. It is your decision to make and it won't be easy. Stay engaged with friends, hobbies, get out of the house. You can never "get back" at him. There is no way to recreate the pain he caused, it is the ultimate betrayal. Some learn to accept, some forgive, but you never forget.
Best to you, I hope you find peace whatever your decision is.
Me BWHim WH DDay 12/2012Married a long time, in R
Anze43 (original poster new member #83896) posted at 7:23 PM on Monday, October 2nd, 2023
@trustedg, thank you for your words of encouragement. I really feel you understand what I am going through. I did look up the book to purchase but there are several different authors for the same title. Do you have a recommendation on which author? Thank you, again.
leafields ( Guide #63517) posted at 8:30 PM on Monday, October 2nd, 2023
How To Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair by Linda MacDonald. It's a little over 100 pages and is a really good resource.
BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21
shackleton ( new member #83961) posted at 7:07 PM on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023
Anze43. Hellfires post is totally toxic and totally unwarranted and totally not the way to go. Clearly there are other issues going on there for that person who posted such vitriol. Only you can decide what is right for you. I dont agree that infidelity is unforgivable and I say that not to disagree but perhaps give you some thought about what happens after you have punished him by ending your marriage or kicking him out for an affair he carried out when he thought the marriage was over be it technically over or just emotionally over. I think you should take time, think of your life as a divorced woman of your age and wonder will your life be better with him gone or not and I am going to suggest to you that it will not be better but quite a bit worse provided your marriage is ok now today. There are many people who regret divorcing after the fact, after they thought the pain of betrayal was too much and indeed it is but perhaps it is right now but not in 12 months. What about if you try and think of the affair he had as been the segment of his life that was a lie and not the last 20 years of your marriage? 20 years seems a very long time ago to me and the affair was at a very difficult time for you both with both of you discussing a divorce at the time and perhaps he just found some comfort from someone else and grabbed that stupid opportunity which is very hurtful for sure but there is nothing fantastic waiting for you in divorce either I can promise you that. Its hard going unless you are financially very well off and you may get complete support from your children if and when you tell them or its possible you could get the reaction of " geez mum that was two decades ago" and lasted all of a wet week. People make mistakes, hurt those they should not and its as much a part of been human as it is been married and I think you should let more time pass. If in a year you cant forgive as is your right then you have at least given it the time that such a decision deserves and the time for your husband to gain back your trust.
Anze43 (original poster new member #83896) posted at 8:10 PM on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023
Thank you for your input, Shackleton. I truly appreciate your words of encouragement and enlightenment. This is definitely a struggle.
TheEnd ( member #72213) posted at 9:23 PM on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023
Sorry you are here Anze.
Betrayal is betrayal and it hurts in all situations.
Everything you are feeling is normal. It's a shock and a type of trauma so it causes enormous pain and crisis within the betrayed and within the marriage.
Those horrible feelings can make you feel hopeless. But there is always hope. In fact, there is an excellent chance that with the proper tools and time, you will heal from this. Read these boards. People heal.
Now your healing does not mean your marriage survives. That is step 2 and that requires both you and your husband to be all in and working towards growth together.
You can get there if that is what you want. You absolutely can. But first - healing. See a therapist if you need help. See your doctor if you're having trouble sleeping. Take good care of yourself and treat yourself like you would a sick friend or child. Rest when you need it. Feed yourself. Find small ways, for now, to bring yourself little bits of joy.
The feeling that the last 20 years are lie is normal too. But I highly doubt your husband thought every day for 20 years "yes! this con I'm pulling on her is working!" He most likely buried his horrific betrayal as deep as he could and tried to never, ever think about it. Completely unfair to you? Yes. Malicious intent to harm you? I'm not seeing that with what you've described. He didn't reoffend. He's been, per you, a good husband since. If that counts for you, take some time to recover from the shock and keep talking to your husband.
survrus ( member #67698) posted at 10:14 PM on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023
Please inform the OWH or SO so he can make an decision about his marriage, he likely already knows something was wrong but got lie after lie from his WW.
Do him that kindness.
TheEnd ( member #72213) posted at 11:25 PM on Wednesday, November 1st, 2023