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My wife had an affair and cheated. My heart is broken and I feel horrible.


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Hey everyone,

I never thought I'd be posting on an internet forum, but I guess life has a way of throwing curveballs when you least expect them. I'm Gregor, 47 years old, and I'm struggling to make sense of my life right now. My wife, who I've been married to for 22 years, just confessed to having an affair. I'm not sure where else to turn, so here I am, seeking advice, support, or maybe just a place to vent. We've had our ups and downs like any couple, but I always believed we had a strong bond. Our kids are grown up and off to college, and I thought we were entering a new phase of our life together. We even planned a trip to Italy for our 25th anniversary in a few years. It all seemed so perfect. But then, two weeks ago, she sat me down in the living room and told me she's been seeing someone else for the past six months. A colleague from work. Someone I've met before and shaken hands with. The betrayal cuts so deep and it hurts my whole body, my heart. The man is almost ten years younger than us. I feel like a fool. I've been walking around in a daze since then, barely sleeping, barely eating. I keep replaying every moment, every sign I might have missed. She says it was a mistake, that she loves me and wants to make things right, but how can I ever trust her again? How do I even start to rebuild after something like this?

It's strange, the things that go through your mind in times like this. I found myself staring at our wedding photos last night, wondering if it was all a lie. Did she ever really love me, or was I just convenient? I keep thinking about the little things, the nights we'd stay up talking about our dreams, the times we held each other through tough situations. Were those moments real, or was it all just a facade? I can't talk to my kids about this because they're dealing with their own lives and don't need this burden. I feel sadness and anger and even wanted to go and beat up that colleague from work. My friends try to be supportive, but they don't really get it. They say things like, "You'll get through this" or "You're better off without her," but it's not that simple. I feel like my whole identity has been shattered. I'm lost. I don't know how to move forward. Part of me wants to forgive her, to believe that we can fix this, but another part of me is screaming that I deserve better. That I shouldn't settle for someone who could betray me so deeply. But then the thought of starting over at my age is terrifying. How do you even begin to date again after being married for so long? If anyone has been through something similar, or if you have any advice, I'd really appreciate it. I feel so alone right now and could use some guidance. Thanks for listening.

Sincerely, Gregor

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Hi Greg. I haven't been though this myself, but some of it reminds me of what happened to my parents. They had been married for about 25 years. They essentially raised me and two other boys from my mom's previous relationships. Once I (the baby in the family) got into college my mother was left searching for something in her life. She no longer had the children that needed her and she felt a missing spark in her marriage. She met a guy. I don't believe there was a physical affair as much as he give her attention she felt she wasn't getting otherwise. This lead to her asking for a divorce. 

Looking at it from my father's eyes, I'm sure he felt just like you. I'm sure he saw it as a betrayal. I'm sure there was sadness and anger. Outwardly he blamed her. But inwardly I could tell he was doubting himself. 

To be fair, my parents had a load of issues on both sides. Splitting up was probably best for them. They weren't willing to work on their problems and it wasn't really healthy for anybody. Good news is, that doesn't have to be you.

I'm wondering if your wife was experiencing similar feelings of being lost as my mom did. You married at 25 and have been together 22 years. She's spent almost all of that time as a mother raising children. That is almost half of her life. Perhaps a part of her was yearning for something new and different. Perhaps she wanted to relive her younger days (why she went for a youger man?). Maybe she was lonely from not having all the responsibilites of being a mom caring for her children at home. Whatever she was missing or felt she needed, this person sparked it in her. And yes, it was wrong. But there might have been a reason for it.

Even though it happened, it doesn't mean she doesn't love you. She could have kept it from you longer. She could be continuing it right now without you ever knowing. But she confessed. Some part of her felt it was wrong and she finally got the courage to stop. She admits it was a mistake and feels bad about hurting you. The fact that your love is real, that you have had all those moments together, is why she wants to work it out. My parents didn't feel strongly enough for each to even want to try. She on the other hand, feels deeply enough for you to want to atone for her mistake.

Right now you are in shock. You are still processing everything. It's natural to feel everything you are feeling, to question the entire relationship. What you need to decide is how much you still love her. Is this something unforgivable that he don't see yourself ever getting past? Then set each other free. But if you still love her enough to want to try, then talk with her. Figure out what went wrong and why this happened. Both sides need to be brutally honest and ready to hear what the other person thinks, no judgments. It may require facing hard truths. Find counseling if you think you might need help. It still might not work out. But I believe there is a chance it still can.

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6 hours ago, Greg5911 said:

She says it was a mistake, that she loves me and wants to make things right

That is because other side probably wont have sex with her again. He had some fun with older married woman and moved on. While he promised her how he would take care of her and while she complained how you dont take care of her weather its just attention or even sex. 

I am telling you this so you would know what you are dealing with here. And how your wife betrayed your trust, probably even had fantasies of divorcing you and going for a younger model. But now after that fell apart, "she loves you and wants to make things right". While for 6 months, she probably plotted to leave you. Dont be the fool and take her back. Your kids are older and in college, you can just divorce her and split assets without alimony deals. So I suggest you do just that. Because you do deserve better then somebody who is a liar and a cheater.

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I'd find out why it ended.  Get to the truth of that.  I'm so very sorry you're in this situation.  I've been married 15 years and my husband travels all the time and works a lot so he is constantly with female colleagues.  Before we were married I was in a similar job situation.  I don't worry. I trust him.  I don't worry about me either -I know myself and I know I behave appropriately and want to behave appropriately -I love and am committed to him.

About 10 years ago I had a friend who lived downstairs from us and had kids close in age to our son.  I went to her apartment a lot for playdates.  She was in sales and her husband was in a corporate position where they each traveled two weeks out of the month.  She was gorgeous and he was handsome.  One day she said to me -in a joking but pointed way -that given how much they traveled it would be so easy to have an affair and keep it secret and she said she'd seen examples of that.

About 5 years later she discovered her husband was having an affair and it was happening on particular business trips or trips he referred to as business.  Thing is she'd cheated once in the recent past with a coworker.  So first he discovered her affair (phone left open on a hotel table where the family was staying.  Then she later discovered his.  So yes they divorced and it was pretty ugly because of other issues -by that point they'd been married over 10 years.  For them there was no going back because there were other serious issues but I've also seen couples come back from an affair depending on the situation. 

I raise this story because I think in many workplaces it is easy like that to have an affair and say "it just happened" especially if you work long hours in close quarters but to me it's never about the situation - a person who is committed to their marriage and loves their partner can have temptation inadvertently thrown in their faces (meaning they don't affirmatively play with fire) and it is -meaningless - or like an annoying fly.  Your wife has to explain why this happened, why it ended and how she is sure it will never happen again and please don't give into lame excuses.

Again I am very sorry -maybe go to Italy solo?? It's so amazing there.

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First off, don't put pressure on yourself to make any immediate decisions whether to stay or go. I'll just say that if there is any chance of the marriage surviving, I'd attend marriage counseling. Doesn't mean that you will ultimately decide to stay together and that will be fine if you feel like things can never be good again. But at least you might feel more confident about any decision you make moving forward.

Everybody's different. Some people stay and work on their marriage. I'm the type who has zero tolerance and there would not be any second chance.

I do believe in second chances for oneself, however. In my first marriage, I was married as long as you were and divorced at age 45. Not because of cheating. Other major issues. Tough dating experiences? Sure. But ultimately I found my second husband and am a million times happier. It's never too late to start over. I know numerous people--friends, relatives, co-workers--who are living happy lives with a new spouse after their first marriage ended.

Anyway, I'm very sorry this devastating thing happened to you. Please keep us updated on how you're doing.

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If it helps, apparently around half of relationships experience infidelity. I'm seeing a statistic saying 60-75% of couples actually stay together. Other studies show 20-25% of marriages contain infidelity. So you aren't alone as this sadly happens often.

The determining factor on what happens isn't so much the cheating, it's on the couple's willingness to work together through whatever issues caused it in the first place. Those who actually try to make things last, usually with couples therapy, are quite often likely to succeed. Those who give up, never will.

It's always going to be a personal decision based on the individual. But infidelity doesn't have to be the end. Once a cheater doesn't mean always a cheater. If both sides are willing to put in the time and work to get back the love and trust that was luck, you can come out of it stronger then before.

https://couplesacademy.org/what-percentage-of-marriages-survive-infidelity/#:~:text=Divorce magazine also conducted some,and the 60-75%%3F

https://www.divorcemag.com/articles/frequently-asked-questions-about-infidelity

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Greg,

 I will give you one guess how I found myself on this forum all those years ago.  Yup, my wife of 20 years cheated.  What you are experiencing is perfectly normal.  No appetite, mind will not let you sleep or rest and you  walk around on auto pilot just trying make sense out of all of it.

  Mine was different than yours as I caught her but in the end it matters little.  First and foremost I want you to know this was not your fault and do not take any blame for her lying, betrayal and disrespect of your life together and marriage.  This is totally on her. She  is a selfish person that did not think of you and how much damage and hurt her selfish cheating would cause.

 The first thing to remember is that cheaters lie and then lie some more.  They always sprinkle some truth into their lies to make them believable. I am not saying don't listen to her words, what I am saying is don't trust her words.

 I thought I was a fool as well but neither of us was a fool. We trusted the woman we loved with all our hearts and that is not foolish, it is the way it is supposed to be.  I to wanted to try and repair our marriage/bond and gave her 3 chances.  I did it because I was afraid like you.  Our disabled son was 8 years old at the time staring down several major surgeries and I didn't want to loose what we had as a family.  The problem with making decisions from a place of fear is once the fear is gone you are stuck with the choice and like any choice made in duress they are rarely good ones.  In the end my wife chose her loser bf because they were soulmates and it was fate they met blah blah blah.  That was 16 years ago and I could not be happier and don't tell her this but she did me a huge favor.

 This is not a DIY kind of thing and there is no reason to make any decisions right now.  What you need is a therapist or counselor with experience with cheaters.  Sitting with someone while all this gets unpacked is so valuable because they can call BS when they hear it and help you see things clearly.  I asked my then wife to come clean and tell me the truth which she did, she had a smirk on her face as it seemed she got satisfaction from hurting me in some sick way.  Getting the whole real truth from your wife only matters IF you want to try and rebuild the relationship and trust.  If you don't then the  details do not matter at all, it is over and they will only burden your mind.

Remember when I told you cheaters lie.  They also use words like "seeing someone" or "mistake" because they don't really want to admit to themselves or anyone else what they are.  Euphemisms are a tool cheaters use often.  Of course it was not a mistake because when you make a mistake you vow not to do it again and that does not take 6 months does it?  She had a full blown emotional and physical affair with this younger guy.  The emotional part is what you need to worry about because she gave her heart to him not just her body.  That is a far worst betrayal.  Why she came clean could be anything and you need to listen carefully to her words and watch her body language. I assume she still works with the guy which is also a huge problem.

 I can help you find your way out of this horrible place she put you in just let me know.

As for me I stop in here pretty frequently doing what I can to repay all the help I got so many years ago.  My son is doing great and is in college, I retired at the age of 56 and although the first few years after I caught her were challenging at times my life is much better without her in it. 

Keep posting it will help

Lost

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8 hours ago, Vapecoin said:

I mean what he said is highly possible given the information. But nothing ever got better by black pills.

I dunno what @HeartGoesOn said because they deleted it. However, I am not a proponent of neither of the pills whether its black, red or even blue. Nore what Ive said has anything to do with them. What Ive said is based on my experience as somebody who was cheated and as a 3rd side. And what is most likely scenario that happened here. If you or Hearts think 6 months affairs "just happen" and that its not something very planned and that it didnt included her actively thinking(and planning) about leaving OP(the same man who is now suppose to forgive her), then I would just called it "naïve".

For more info you could see post above mine as well. 

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10 hours ago, Kwothe28 said:

If you or Hearts think 6 months affairs "just happen" and that its not something very planned and that it didnt included her actively thinking(and planning) about leaving OP(the same man who is now suppose to forgive her), then I would just called it "naïve".

Yes, affairs don't "just happen." But that doesn't mean it was planned or that the cheater was wanting to leave the partner. There are other scenarios that can and do happen. It's the feelings of being lonely, not understood, not apprecited, or wanting to fill whatever hole is in their life that has built up over time. So when someone comes along to give them what's been missing, they give in. In the moment it provides relief. But then there can be any number of feelings including guilt, sorrow, and blame. They may never intend to leave the partner, may truly love them. But they are fighting an internal struggle that they might not easily be able to resolve.

That's not naive, it's keeping an open mind.

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Greg,

Plenty of couples survive and thrive after this. Do some research and see how they got through it. I particularly found this interesting:

"The problem may be rooted in feeling sexually frustrated, neglected or ignored, lonely, or many other things. Condemning the partner who cheated and taking refuge in the role of victim is not only useless, it's damaging.

Even worse is when the injured party becomes the shamed one, as in when a friend or relative says, “How could you even think of staying with that cheater after what he did to you?” It takes real courage to face the subtle problems that led to infidelity. Such simple judgments by others only compound the problems. Frankly, shaming the injured party for staying and working things out seems to be in conflict with our cultural message that marriage and relationships matter and should be fought for." https://www.yourtango.com/heartbreak/relationships-survive-cheating-have-things-common

Other possibly usual links:

https://www.lifebulb.com/blogs/can-a-relationship-survive-cheating-how-to-recover-from-infidelity

https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/infidelity-unfaithful-spouse-needs-to-show-empathy

https://www.thegirlfriend.com/relationships/i-finally-told-my-husband-about-my-affair-heres-what-he-said

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Speaking as someone who worked past an emotional affair my hubs had - DO NOT MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO COME BACK.  AND DO NOT TAKE THEM BACK WITH OPEN ARMS.

Even if you want to work things out, protect yourself. Consult with a lawyer, and discuss your options.  Make sure you know where all the money is.  Even if you are kind or the best or turn the other cheek, she may still do it again, an your stuck without a home, money, or whatever.  For any reason, if you want space, do not leave the home, as she may also try to say you abandoned the residence.  Have her leave instead.

Ask her

  • why she did it
  • why she decided to tell you

She needs to in good faith find a new job where they no longer interact.

Have her give you an action plan of how you can trust her again.  For me, it was unfettered access to all his communication.  

If she can't discuss or know how to discuss any of the aforementioned, and you still want to work it out, go to couples counseling. 

Take it easy on yourself.  You could have been sent from heaven, and the most dutiful spouse; sometimes they have demons to work through.  Sometimes they need to blow sh*t up, which includes the marriage.

Took me really 3 years to really fully move forward.  You are not a bad person, spouse, dad if you can't forgive them right away; you are human being and totally just been blindsided.

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On 6/30/2024 at 1:50 PM, Kwothe28 said:

She wasnt forced to cheat as it was her only option because it wasnt. She could work on her marriage through counseling. She could divorce. And yet she chose to cheat on OP. Keep your mind open as much as you want. But I think you have very low accountability for something that is ultimately her own bad decision.

She also wasn't forced to tell him. She wasn't forced into being sorry about it and coming to him with regret for her mistake. She could have hid it from him and never said another word, letting him continue to be blissfully unaware and letting herself get away with it. But she didn't. She chose the harder path of being honest. She openly risked losing everything because of her actions. She willingly is seeking atonement and offering to do what she can to make it right again. I, for one, choose to believe that is commendable and a step in the right direction.

I've never claimed she doesn't have responsibility and should not take accountability. I just won't immediately assume the worse about a person and believe it was some scheme to hurt another. 

It's not about blaming him for being cheated on. It's not about blaming her for doing the cheating. It's not about blame period. When you focus on blame and what people did or did not do, you get stuck on the action. You are constantly living it over and over. As the articles I linked point out, you have to find a way to move past the blame and onto rebuilding the love and trust.

Relationships are partnerships. It's two people working together, through whatever comes. Marriages are about loving each other in good times and in bad. This is a bad time. So do you throw in the towel and give it up? Do you curse the other person for what they did do you? Or do you fight to keep your love - the cheater fighting to make up for what they did and the cheated on fighting to forgive and remember what they love in the other?

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Greg, 

I'm so sorry you are going thru this.  

There's no one size fits all way to handle this.  It all comes down to the two people in the marriage as to how they want to proceed.  

I want to applaud you for not involving your kids.  Nothing good comes of that.  Stay that course, no matter what happens to your marriage.  I've seen too many examples of parents wanting to take revenge through the kids and the only ones that lose there are the KIDS.  It will hurt them far more than it will hurt your wife in the long run. 

I would advise you seek out a counselor to sort through all your feelings.  It's normal to have conflicting emotions at a time like this.  An outside unbiased party can help you with that.  Also, ( I realize this sounds funny coming from someone giving you advice) BUT- be wary of well meaning friends who offer their "advice" to you at this time.  There's NO right or wrong way.  The best way is what is best for you and your family in this circumstance- and no one can judge that better than YOU.  I say as someone who listened too much to well- meaning friends during my divorce, and wishes I had listened more to MYSELF.  They didn't know my marriage, my ex or my situation better than *I* did.  Also, get rid of people just seeking to flame your wife or jonesing to "take sides"- those people are here for the "drama" and will disappear on you when the dust settles. TRUST ME.  You also want to avoid these people as they can contribute to a rumor/gossip mill that can get out of control and impact your kids.  I've seen it happen.  People who think they are being "good people" by being judgmental only serves to make things harder than they need to be at a moment where you need grace and comfort, not fuel to the fire. 

Once you find out what you truly want to do, you will have a clearer idea of things. 

I can't tell you how you will feel or what you will want to do.  I can tell you this- 

1. IF you decide to stay in the marriage, you need to have some hard conversations with your wife.  You need to know WHY she did (NOT saying its justified) because you need to know her rationale.  You also need to know WHY she ended it.  These can can painful, but you can't move forwards without knowing these things.  

2. To fully forgive her, you will need to let it go and make conscious choices to trust her.  This is the hardest part and what a lot of people find that cannot ultimately do. 

OR 

1. You decide you need to get divorced. If you do, surround yourself with people that will help you look FORWARD and not backwards.  The backwards people will just want to sit around and bash your ex (who remember will always be the mother of your children).  And while this may FEEL good, it actually serves to hurt you in the long run.  You can't change the past.  And I've sadly see too many people take this route and end up in a bitterness grave from which they never recover and their whole life becomes about being angry.  You want friends who will lift you up and help you move forwards with your life, focusing on you and not your past.  Surround yourself with people who will fan the flames of your present, not your PAIN. 

2.  Do everything you can to make things clean with your ex and keep the kids out of it.  

 

Whatever you decide, I wish you the VERY best of luck.  It may not feel like it now, but you can and will get through this. 

 

 

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On 7/9/2024 at 1:20 PM, redswim30 said:

There's NO right or wrong way.  The best way is what is best for you and your family in this circumstance- and no one can judge that better than YOU

Thank you redswim. That was fair, reasonable and excellent advice. I agree with all of it. I wish more people would approach things in that matter instead of letting their emotions get the bettter of them and doing things that end up causing far more harm for everyone involved.

I'm sorry you had to go through that yourself. I hope you are doing much better now.

Greg, know we are still thinking of you and wishing you well. Do what is right for you. I hope you are okay.

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