My husband and I have been together for 20 years, married for 18. We have three kids, two careers, house and a dog, the whole 9 yards. We have always had a good marriage, or so I thought. Compatible in most ways but also quite independent of each other. We liked that about each other – neither was too needy, we had our separate interests, etc. He loves sports; I love politics. That kind of thing. We shared (still share) a great love for humor and I think we are excellent parents. I have always taken pride in being a strong and independent woman, though I love him with all my heart. And he is the world’s best father. He truly is.
Ten months ago I came across a suspicious email by accident. We both work for the same institution. On our home computer we can access work emails using a web-based format; both of us use the same format. I thought I was in my email system. I was not. I found emails with suspicious acronyms that basically meant stuff like “I love you” and “I miss you.” The recipient was a woman 10 years older than us (we are in our early 40s). She and her husband have been friends of ours for years. Fifteen years, at least. We’ve been to their house for birthday parties and graduations (they have two kids who have graduated high school), and they have been to ours for similar events. My husband denied the intent that I suspected, and said it was just friendly banter. They work in the same building, though in different departments. I believed him (STUPID!) and tried to let it go. I started obsessing and a few months later figured out that both of their phone lines at work were busy at the same time. I snuck into his office and put a recorder on his phone. I downloaded some keylogging software and hacked into his account. I found nothing via email (they were smart enough to stop that) but I found some very old stored emails on a work hard drive, which he’d forgotten about. It was very clear they loved each other and were having sex.
I gathered a bunch of evidence and confronted him 5 weeks ago. He immediately confessed, dumped her and has entered into marriage counseling. He has done everything “right” so far, that a wayward spouse in his situation could do. He has put up with my berating, my wildly swinging emotions, my neverending questions, etc. He is extremely emotional and is so afraid I am going to leave him.
The real sucker punch: This affair last TEN years. TEN YEARS. During that period, my dad died, I had a miscarriage, and our third child was born. All of those difficult and intimate times, and he was sharing his mind and body with someone else. And I had no clue. He insists he loved me this whole time and that he was "happy." How can this be?! Is he psychotic?!
This all started out with flirtation and soon they were screwing in the basement of our house. We moved out into the country a bit and they started screwing in her house because it was closer to the office. And in her car, parked in parking ramps throughout the city where I live. The affair only ended because they were caught. At the moment I confronted him, I had an email delivered to her office, telling her the jig was up and that she would have the weekend to tell her spouse – or I’d do it for her.
I am trying to sort this all out in my mind. I have done a lot of thinking and reading. I want to save my marriage, but I don’t know if it’s possible. The damage may be too extensive. He will do anything to save us. But I am just so confused and hurt. The hurt is so big and so powerful. I don’t know how to begin to get around it. It’s like someone dropped a boulder in my path and I simply can’t move it. I am stuck. It has only been 5 weeks though, so I know it’s early.
I have been reading around online at various infidelity websites. I find myself envying people who are dealing with a one night stand, or even a 2-year affair. I would give anything to be dealing with a shorter term affair (or better yet, none at all).
One of the most painful things for me is this. I foolishly asked him which of us two women had given him the best sex and he could only say "I don't know."
I just needed to vent. I am wondering if anyone else out there has endured – and survived – a long term affair. I also wonder if there is anyone who thinks there might be hope for my marriage.
Oh sweetie, I know how hard this must be for you right now. This woman was a friend of yours as well? I must say, after 10 yrs...I don't know if I could forgive that. You sound like a strong and loving person. You can get through this without knowing every detail, in fact...I think it would be better for you to not know these things if you are going to stay in your M. Your H wants you and loves YOU, and if he really means it, and you can see him trying, all you can do is get your M back on track and be happy.
The ex had two short-term affairs and I divorced her. She married Affair #2.
There's hope for your marriage but only if BOTH of you want there to be and both of you are sincere and honest with one another. It will take a lot of hard work and will be very painful but it can happen.
She was mainly a friend of his but we became friends as two couples. Not super close - we probably saw them 3-4 times a year, and for big events. When my son was born, she brought a meal over and came to visit him. When she had surgery, I took a meal to her house. Stuff like that. I shudder when I think about all the time they were at my house, or we were at theirs, and she and my husband shared their dirty secret with knowing glances and brushing up against each other.
We are in counseling. I am smart enough to know that the marriage had some problems in order for this to happen, but I also know that something is broken within him. He wasn't truly committed for those 10 years. I don't want to go down this road of reconciliation unless I know that he IS committed. He claims to be, but that's a pretty sudden change of heart. He needs to sort his crap out and decide whether he is committed, or whether he is just afraid of losing his wife and home, etc.
When I told him I would try to help save the marriage, I made it clear that this was a one-time offer and I won't do it again. But it's jsut so hard. Some days I find myself wishing he'd get back together with her so I could just walk.
And that may happen so I hope you're pulling all you financial records together, making copies of everything and gathering important documents and paperwork in a safe place just in case. It might also be advisable to consult with an attorney just in case so you know where you stand legally if the marriage doesn't survive.
Thanks. I spoke to an atty before I ever confronted him. We are in a no-fault state and all assets / custody would likely be split 50/50 (assuming the situation was friendly). I gave him the divorce option the day I confronted him and handed him a breakdown of our home's value, equity and what we would both walk away with after a sale. He was not at all interested in divorce but as you know, I am questioning his sincerity. I keep thinking, is he truly sorry? Or is he just caught?
I have not, however, copied all documents. My atty told me to do that. I just haven't had the energy to do that but need to get my butt in gear.
I am sorry to hear about your situation, Curmudgeon. This all just sucks so bad.
I'm at a loss. Honestly, I can't imagine what it must be like to be in such a rotten position. TEN YEARS! How can somebody lie to their spouse every day for an entire decade???
I've noticed the term "shadow marriage" a couple of times here at LS. And I'm wondering if that might be an apt description. Was he faithful to both of you, or were there others as well? If he was unfaithful to you both, then I'd say he's a "serial cheater". If he wasn't, then you have to wonder if he's adopted some sort of polygamy/polyamory belief into his personal values system. Either way, it smacks of entitlement, because certainly YOU weren't consulted about it.
Then there's the question of how can you dump someone you were romantically involved with for ten years without a backward glance just because you got busted? That doesn't add up either. If he felt 'entitled' to the affair, what's changed his attitude of entitlement? Has he had any therapy that would address that? I wouldn't think that five weeks would be alot of time for reaching resolution on something like that.
I haven't any experience to offer you on the LTA, but I do think that there's hope for recovery for just about anyone who wants it badly enough. It's hard work though, and BOTH partner's have to be truly committed to it.
I think maybe the first step might be in dealing with the mind-set that allowed your husband to feel the sense of "entitlement" he must've felt in order to look you in the face and LIE everyday for ten years. Possibly a more aggressive therapy than what you're likely to see in MC is in order. (????)
Please note: The suggestions and advice offered on this web site are opinions only and are not to be used in the place of professional psychological counseling or medical advice. If you or someone close to you is currently in crisis or in an emergency situation, contact your local law enforcement agency or emergency number.