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Avatar universal

Will the pain ever stop after an affair?

I learned a week before Christmas my husband had been having an affair for at least 6 months. I found a love letter from his girlfriend in his work bag. We have been together for 21 years. I have never felt so much pain. I can't get thoughts and images of them together out of my head. I don't know what she looks like but I picture someone much prettier. I do know she's 3 years younger than me. Of course. He travels so it's easy. He as a hotel room and he's in another state and they work together.
I'm tired of crying all the time and thinking about them. I cry in the shower, in my car to work, during lunch, in the car on the way home and when I go to bed.
We have 2 children and I don't want to hurt them.  I have thought of divorce but of course my husband is sorry...he lost his way...didnt realize what he had. All the typical answers you would expect to hear. I don't know what to do. I feel like a fool. I have always felt ugly and now i really feel ugly.  I had a feeling something was going on all last summer but I was told no and that I'm being ridiculous. Then the truth comes out only because I caught him. What if I didn't find that letter?
I have been told by others to let him go because he will do it again. I have been told I deserve better. My dad cheated on my mom. My neighbors I grew up next to, he cheated on her. My sister in law is currently having an affair, our newest neighbors are divorced due to an affair. Does everyone cheat now? Does anyone know what it means to be married? I have thought of revenge. I know there's one guy if I asked him to have sex with me he would. I've thought about doing it to put him in just as much pain as I'm in, but then I realize I'm a better person and I know right from wrong. It would make me just as sleazy as him.
I want to know if his affair is over. He says yes, I don't believe him. I want to know everything about her that is better than me....he won't tell.  I want to know if the pain will go away? Will I ever trust him again? Will I ever forgive him? Am i going to be made a fool of again if i stay? Will I ever love him again?
117 Responses
Avatar universal
Let me start by saying I have never had to deal with a cheating husband.  I can't imagine the pain and betrayal you are going through.  

Have you all even consider counselling at all to try to sort this out?  He really needs this because he needs to FULLY understand why he resorted to this exactly.  Just saying he "is sorry...he lost his way...didnt realize what he had" isn't sufficient enough.  

It is unfortunate the number of couples in this situation; seems like it is an epidemic.  

Have you all had any major marital issues in the past?  

Will the pain ever go away?  That's a difficult one to answer.  
1548028 tn?1324612446
I have been married for 20 years and something like this would cause a tremendous amount of hurt.  I guess I would want to know for a fact it is truly over and if it is truly over I'd have to have proof.  I really do think you can feel things when you have been with someone this long.  Do you feel it is better?  We would have to get counseling for it to ever work because we would need to know where it wrong, how to fix it and exactly 100% open about the affair.  I would except no less from my marriage if it were to work.  Regardless, this has very much effected you.  I would get individual therapy also.  I am kinda a guarded person and always have been.  My dad used to tell me a few things when I was growing up and it just stuck.  He would say there are only 2 people in this world you can truly trust.  One is yourself and the other is God.  Of course he also said sex means absolutely nothing if this is what your relationship is based on-friendship stands the true test of time.  I look at others who give themselves whole heartedly to their partner and I envy this but I have never been able to 100%.  Sad but true.  I hope you can get back to where you need to be.  I am most impressed by you being the better person.  I agree with not throwing a stone back (I'd probably want to-really hard!LOL) but I am me and could not.  One step at a time.  Get yourself better/stronger and then all will fall into place with him or without him.  Regardless, you will be in a better place.  ((hugs))  I wish you the best!
Avatar universal
I was married for 15 years and had 3 Children with a man who cheated countless, numerous times.  Every Feeling, every Thought, every Emotion, etc., You have described here is Typical, Normal, and Shared by every Woman whose Husband has cheated.  My heart is heavy for You.  This will be a long journey.

No, EVERYONE does not cheat.  You didn't, I didn't and the Husband I have today does not.  There are others.  This much I know is true.
1527510 tn?1392301344
I've had a partner cheat on my before. But I was younger - about 19 at the time so it wasn't that much of a big deal in the grand scale of things. But, at the time, it hurt like hell.

My dad cheated on my mum 2 years ago. And even though myself and my brother were grown up, it was awful. My mum and dad had been together nearly 25 years, married for 18 of those when this happened and it ripped my mums world apart. What he did was cause arguments saying he wasn't happy just to cause trouble in the relationship and left. I had asked him if there was someone else, because I had my suspicions and he denied it. He lied. We found out a few weeks later about the affair and that he had moved in with this women, despite telling us and my mum that he was just 'staying with a friend'.

For your own happiness, and your kids. I say he's not worth it. I think your family and friends are right in that he will do it again. He's done it once, and got away with it for however long, and so he'll do it again, in my opinion. Guys are pretty simple minded (no offense to the men on this forum!) and they don't think too much about the consequences of things. He'll just see that he did something, got caught, so he needs to change the way he goes about it. It won't stop him doing it again.

You are beautiful and you are special and if he can't see that and appreciate you without needed something from someone else, then there is something wrong with him, and he's not the man for you. Maybe he once was, but something has obviously changed and I just don't think (personally) that there is any going back from there.

Trust can make or break a relationship and when that trust is gone, then there's no going back. Even if you think you can forgive and forget, there will always be those doubts (however small) at the back of your mind, and even the slightest (could be innocent) thing he does  or says, could make you doubt him. Do you really want to live like that. Do deserve so much better, and someone who appreciates you for all that you are and doesn't want to look elsewhere. You really do.

I do think some sort of councelling would be beneficial. It can help you work out your feelings and help your confidence and help you come to the right decision for you.

My mum, and myself, thought the world was over when this happened. But now, we're all happier than we've been in YEARS. She's out more than she's at home. She has a better social life than me, and I'm in my 20s!

I really do wish you the best.
Avatar universal
We did counseling two times and he doesn't like going. Thinks we need to do it on our own. He says he's been unhappy for awhile because according to him I am not affectionate enough.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your comments.
To kitkat1306- my worry is what you said. He will do it again...or is still doing it just is better at hiding it.
Thanks again.
1527510 tn?1392301344
I think him saying you're not being affectionate enough is just an excuse to make it seem okay for what he done. Like you'll think 'oh poor him, it's my fault for not being affectionate enough so this is why he's had to go elsewhere' - absolute rubbish. If that were a problem, he could bring it up with you and you two could work on it as a couple. There's just no need to go looking elsewhere.

If it is your worry that he'll do it again, or get better at hiding then that really does show that the trust is most definitely gone from your relationship. He broke that trust, and quite frankly, he doesn't deserve it back either. It's not fair on you to have to be in a relationship where you would always doubt yourself and if you're being affectionate enough or always wondering where he is, what he's doing and looking at everything to see if it's suspicious or not. That's no way to live, and you deserve so much more than that.

Everything you're feeling is completely normal for what you're going through, so don't think you're alone in those thoughts. Not every man is a cheater. I think it takes someone very weak, to cheat. And do you want to be with someone who is weak like that? He might feel guilty or bad about what he's done, on some level. But he obviously can't feel that bad about it, otherwise the guilt would have made him stop.
145992 tn?1341345074
I'm so sorry to hear of your pain.  I went through this with my husband.  It was over 3 years ago and he had a long term affair.  About a year and a half, with a girl who he met at his job.  He was a personal trainer and she was a member at the gym.  When I found out about it, my world was crushed.  We had been together for 5 years, which is a lot less time then you and your husband, although the pain still intense.  He cheated while we planned our wedding and all throughout my pregnancy and I found out when my son was 9 months old.  It is so hard to decide what you want to do.  Especially right when you just find out.  You go through so many ups and downs.  So many different feelings about it all.  One minute you feel like you love them, the next you despise them.  You want to stay and then you think it easier just to walk away.  My husband truly regretted cheating on me.  To this day, he feels remorse for it.  It caused so much pain and made me doubt him as a person.  Do I believe in once a cheat, always a cheat? No.  I do think people can change.  I don't think it's a mistake. I think an affair, especially an ongoing affair is done on a consious level.  They plan it, they know they are lying in order to sneak away.  Those things aren't a mistake.  I do think though that just because they do it that one time, they can realize how horrible it is to watch the person they love in so much pain, that they won't want to do it again.  The only problem is us believing it won't happen again.  I won't lie to you and say, yep, you will trust 100% again.  You won't.  But you will get to a better place over time.  The doubt will be there but it won't take over your mind.  You will eventually learn how to put the affair in the back of your mind.  You will learn to deflect the thoughts of the affair so that you can go about your day without letting them take over.  It takes a very long time though.  The first year after an affair is the hardest.  I to felt like a fool for taking him back and staying.  Now I feel it was the best thing ever.  My son has his father, I have my husband and we are a much stronger couple.  He's matured a lot, he puts his family first now.  You will fall in love again as long as your husband shows remorse, regret and has patience.  I also think you and him should go into counseling.  That was the first thing we did after the affair.  It is very hard to work things through without professional help.  Plus, you don't ever want this to happen again and a therapist can get to the bottom of why it happened and how to make sure it won't happen in the future.  Perhaps your husband was being honest about the affection.  It isn't an excuse at all, because he should've communicated that to you instead of cheating, however I wouldn't discount his reasons for it.  Maybe in his mind, you weren't being affectionate.  You both will have to work on things.  He will have to learn to come to you with his feelings instead of looking elsewhere.  Please know though that him having an affair has nothing to do with you though.  Even if you weren't as affectionate as he would've liked.  It's his responsibility to tell you.  Him having an affair was his character flaw.  Your husband will also need to be fully transparent for trust to be regained.  You need to KNOW that it's over with this woman.  Wondering if it is isn't enough.  I wish you the best of luck.  Please feel free to message me if you would like.
Avatar universal
I agree that the trust is gone.  
Can it be rebuilt?
Who knows?  (probably not......not completely)

This has Forever changed who You thought You were Married to.  What You have to determine is if You can live with the new issues that His affair now brings to Your table.  You have a 20 year Marriage and 2 Children.  No one just "walks away" from all that.  You must realize You are going to be Sad and Unhappy for a long time to come - whether You leave, or whether You stay - this has changed Your world and it will take a LOT of work, on His part as well as Yours !!   If He wants to stay in the Marriage I would give Him the ULTIMATUM of counseling - it doesn't matter if He doesn't "like" it !!  OMGolly, You don't like it either !!  but He didn't give YOU a choice in this matter.  Who cares what He likes right now??  He EARNED it!!  This is His "consequence" if He wants to save His marriage.  

Please, whatever You do - don't let Him make You feel that He did this because of You.   It's NOT about who You are - it's about who HE is.  Anyone who cheats has less Character, less Morals and fewer Standards than those who do not cheat.  No one cheats to "fix" what's wrong in a marriage and then finds a way to make You feel it's Your fault!!??  
(if You were broke and hungry - would it be Your fault if He sneaked around behind Your back and robbed a bank?)

Good luck to You from the bottom of my heart
Avatar universal
Well, he definitely needs to get some type of counselling with you or on his own.  Don't let him try to put this on you as he is RESPONSIBLE for his own behavior.  Sounds like some kid (4 year old) saying "My hand made me steal that toy."  REAL men discuss issues not go out and cheat.  

Plus, you shouldn't go comparing yourself to this woman.  Prettier, thinner, etc. has NOTHING to do with men cheating.  Hollywood starlets are getting cheated on too even AFTER all the liposuction, face-lifts, etc.

All the above posters have given alot of good insight.  As I stated earlier I have never personally experienced this, but I have friends and family that have and the ones that tried to stay and work things out have had alot of difficult times.  
Avatar universal
I would like to believe that there is some hope in saving a 21 year relationship, but I just don't know. It affects my every day life to the point where I wish I could just go to sleep and never wake up. At first I was taking a lot of Benadryl just so I could sleep and not think about them together. I sit at work and do a poor job because my mind is elsewhere.
I agree with making him go back to counseling. Who cares if he doesn't like it. I don't like the situation he has put me in.
I've been worried about what my financial situation would be like. It would be bad. He makes so much more than me. He would end up with a girlfriend and live comfortably on his income while I struggled.
I don't know, I am just all over the place.  I'm just trying to find a way to get through this and don't know how. I've talked to five others and it wasn't til I talked to my sister that I finally had some strength. When I found this site I was happy that I may actually get some advice from people who have been in my shoes. All your comments have helped me. Lol I still have no clue what the hell I want or what I'm gonna do, but I at least know I'm not crazy and there's always someone to talk to.
Thanks again. Even though I don't know any of you I'm glad to now have you in my life and to know you're there when I need to talk. :)
Avatar universal
I so Completely and Totally understand the Emotions You've described.  Dealing with my Husband's affair(s) was one of the Tallest Mountains I have climbed.  My Husband never stopped having affairs and it included Friends and Relatives and although my Pain was indescribable it still took me 15 years to take control of my life. I would never wish You to suffer this way for 15 YEARS but. none the less, I would encourage You to take Your time, don't make a rash decision.  I would insist that He join You for counseling but whether He goes or not, whether the Marriage survives or not - You need the counseling for YourSelf.  Does He want the Marriage to survive?  If so, counseling would be a small "price" for Him to pay - not to mention the Benefit OF and the Necessity FOR the Survival of His Marriage.  What He did is a terrible, terrible thing - He just shot You through the Heart AND the Gut - You need medical attention (counseling) - and it would be Helpful to Him also!!  If He's truely remorseful He will do this for the sake of His Wife AND His Children (They are affected too!!)
Good Luck
973741 tn?1342342773
I'm late to the post but the members here have taken good care of you.  I wish you well on your journey and peace in your heart.  
1962649 tn?1332444851
agree with londres--counseling. he has to go. insist on it. no all men do not cheat but i think over 50% of them do. he needs to understand what hurt and pain he has caused you and unless and until he does you get can't past this. please insist he go to counseling. the only people you should try and get even with are the people who have HELPED you. revenge is never sweet and will make you feel bad about yourself.
1962649 tn?1332444851
mami says  "I also think you and him should go into counseling.  That was the first thing we did after the affair.  It is very hard to work things through without professional help.  Plus, you don't ever want this to happen again and a therapist can get to the bottom of why it happened and how to make sure it won't happen in the future..."

and i so agree with this. you MUST INSIST the two of you go to counseling. he owes that much to you and your marriage - whether he wants to go or not. he is afraid of getting chewed out by a counselor. too bad !!  he needs to go. insist.
145992 tn?1341345074
You are NOT crazy!!!  Believe me, I understand that feeling.  So many thoughts are running through your mind but it's not because you're crazy it's because the person you dedicated your life to has betrayed you.  Shattered your life.  Every day is going to be a struggle for awhile.  I read your other post and I'm sorry that your husband isn't doing what he's supposed to be doing right now for you.  If he was serious about making changes then he would do whatever it is you ask of him right now.  Which means going to counseling, giving you access to his phone and not getting frustrated when you can't forgive him right now.  Forgiveness comes in its own time and it can't be forced.  It took me almost 2 years to forgive my husband.  I would pretend each and every day and I would put on a facade as if I was happy.  I faked my way through our lives every day until a year ago.  When I finally let go of the hurt and said to myself that I would not let these 2 people control my happiness.  I will not allow myself to be the victim any longer.  They both had moved on.  She was dating, on match.com and going on vacations, eventually moving away, he was happy because he had his family still and I was the only one who was struggling.  It didn't seem fair to me.  I took back the power that was taken from me.  If your husband doesn't want to work on this, which means doing whatever it takes to make things right then you need to take care of yourself.  You go to therapy without him.  Perhaps if you work on you, you will find yourself knowing that you don't really need him.  
Avatar universal
Mami's words are very empowering and speak the truth.  Absolutely!
1310633 tn?1430224091
I've been cheated on, and once the trust is gone, it's gone.

Whether you've been together for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years... trust lost is trust lost. And in your case, 21 years worth of trust lost.

You guys might go to counseling, and he might truly be sorry and remorseful, and might honestly never cheat again... BUT,

a) will you ever be able to trust him fully again?
b) are you okay being with a man that you don't fully trust?
c) will your heart ever be satisfied by anything he says or does, ever again?

There are more questions I'm sure I could add to the list, but those jump out at me.

The question isn't a HIM question, it's a YOU question.

Can YOU live with it (assuming he's willing to work on it)?
Avatar universal
That's what I think about the most. Right now I hate him and occassionally think I might still love him. I just don't know. I'm worried the trust will never come back and that does scare me.
My dad cheated on my mom a few times and I used to always say she was spineless for staying with him.  Now I'm in her shoes and don't know what to do.
1527510 tn?1392301344
What you're feeling is normal. Of course you hate him at times. He cheated on you, and ruined this trust, this bond, and family that you've build up over 20 odd years. Of course you still love him though. This is the man who you've been with and married to and built up a life and family with over the years, and no matter what he does - that love doesn't just turn off straight away.

It's always different when you're the one going through it, and what you imagined or thought you would do in that situation is never how you actually feel if you do go through it.

What you need to do is decide if that love you still hold for this man is strong enough to over come that the trust has been broken and if you can return to being in a relationship with him. It's not going to be easy, but you know it's what you need to do.
Avatar universal
Omg I think I may have gone too far. I'm starting to freak out a bit. I knew the first name of the girl my husband had an affair with. Long story short I found her. On one of the sites I checked to get info on her, had a profile picture of an ultrasound! I am making myself so sick over this picture. I keep telling myself it's not right, but I searched other people I know and there are no pictures. I also found out she still works with him and he told me she quit. I don't know how to handle this without freaking out. I'm alo worried he's going to lie about it all.
Avatar universal
If you did'nt have a last name then it may not be her. How did you find out she still works with him? My heart really goes out to you. Keep all of us posted on how you are doing.
Avatar universal
You may never know/have the answers to all Your questions, Your suspicions.  You need to get Peace for Your own Piece of Mind (sanity).  Please, I encourage You to get Therapy for YourSelf.  This is the sort of thing that can make You crazy.  This much I know is true.  I spoke earlier of my 1st husband's numerous affairs.  I strongly suspect he fathered 3 other Children; 2 with friends of mine  and 1 with one of my Brother's Wives. (he had affairs with Both my Brothers wives!!).  I don't know if this Child (a grown Man now with Children of His own) is my Nephew or my StepSon??!!  I still see my Brother's wives, and trust me on this one - this stuff really, really does freak You out and can make You crazy if You don't find Your way to peace.  This too, I know is true.  I FEEL FOR YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.

Avatar universal
I knew what her last name started with. When I found her she matched his description. Age...hair....position at work. My next step is to call the company to see if she is there, then question him. I know I'm just driving myself crazy, but I've become obsessed with finding out who she is.
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