Just a few Saturdays ago, my husband admitted to me that he was having an affair with a coworker of ours for the past four months. I was shocked. I had a gut feeling before but never acted out on my suspicions simply because the three of us work at the same company. Now I realize that I was in denial that he would really do it. When he told me, I was even able to ask him if she was the one - only for him to say yes.
He was planning on moving in with her the next day and leaving me and the kids, but changed his mind on Sunday morning saying he couldn't bear to leave us, and that he realized at the last moment how much he loved me. He said he wanted to stay and work on our marriage, but he did admit to being confused about why it happened. He called her and ended the affair that day on the phone (in private) while going to pick up our children from a relatives home. He called me after and told me what he did.
He admitted to me that he told her he loved her but only once while they were together and he wasn't sure if he really meant it. He had even put some pictures of the business trips for the company that they both had to attend on our family website. He said it was just because of the places that they were, not because of her specifically. He has since removed them.
We all still work together. I found out that she has had a run with a lot of the married men in our company - my husband is not the only one she has been with and begged to move in with her. Both my husband and I see her everyday, and he has to work closely with her on projects. I have handled it all quite nicely I think - no big scenes at work, no crying - although I do have my spells.
We have decided to not talk about it unless we are in private. He tells me he has no need to contact her anymore and he doesn't feel the urge to. He also said that I should feel assured to know that he is where he wants to be. We see a counselor next week because he says he wants to find out why he is so confused. He is making a conscious effort to be a better husband to me and I'm also trying to not nag him about the details of the affair. I figure the counselor will ask him enough. Our love life has blossomed and he has admitted that he has been extremely happy these past days since talking about it.
How do I know though that he really isn't with her anymore? Are there signs that the relationship is still continuing? It was my gut feeling before that told me it was happening and I don't have that feeling anymore. Does this sound like a case where it was true love for him? Or was it just an emotional or physical need?
Elizabeth (30 year-old woman) from Austin, TX
I feel for you, in this all too common problem situation. How can you trust him? Even if he doesn't go back to this woman, how can you trust that in the future, he won't succumb to some other temptation?
I am glad the two of you are going to see a counselor. It is very important to have a knowledgeable, unbiased, outside person there to allow the two of you to rebuild your marriage.
There are many possible reasons why he might have strayed. There is a joke that a man's brain is below his belt, and it's an ego trip if a presumably attractive woman jumps into bed with a guy. The grass is always greener on the other side, and all the messages of the world tell us to seek novelty, to give in to our impulses. Any or all of such factors may have affected him. Not that these are valid excuses. Without more knowledge, I can't say why he had an affair, but you and your husband can.
Elizabeth, there is hope. Yes, there is a danger that he will be weak again, but there is also the hope that he has learned from the negative aspects of the experience. He is more likely to be motivated to work on it if home is a good place - this gives you power. Let me explain:
He is responsible for having caused anguish to you and presumably to your children as well. He now owes it to you to make amends. This is without question, and I have no doubt that he agrees. He will know that he is back with you only on trial. However, rather than cast blame on him, or on the other woman, ask yourself: "What can I do to prevent a recurrence?" If prevention is wholly up to your husband, then you are helpless. He may be strong or weak again - what can you do? You can take charge of your destiny by analyzing the situation, and seeing where your responsibility lies. You have the leverage to cause a change.
The two of you need to negotiate your future together. Make sure this is an even trade. Tell him in no uncertain terms what you want from him and how he can make you satisfied in this marriage. In turn, ask him what he had been dissatisfied with, and what changes you can make so that he wants to stay. Listen to what he says not as if it is an attack on you, but as a guide on what you can do to keep the marriage together. It needs to be a 100% effort from both of you, sharing responsibility and effort equally.
Trust your gut feeling - for now. However, let him know that straying outside the marriage is simply not an option. If he is unsatisfied in any way, he should talk to you about it. You must promise to listen, and to do whatever you can to make your home a wonderful place for him. In return, you should expect exactly the same from him.
If both of you adopt this attitude, there is every chance that something good will come out of this episode.
Have a good life,