Why your husband thinking about the other woman is not a sign he really cares for her and not for you, but part of a natural grieving process.
A Reader Writes…
Four months ago, I discovered that my husband of 19 years had been having an affair for the past year. I was willing to ‘forgive’ and set about the business of rebuilding/recreating our marriage and on ‘discovery day’ this is what he said he wanted too.
Unfortunately, he has changed his mind five times since, this has included him coldly telling our teenage children that he’d been having an affair and was going (on two separate occasions) and conversely that he’d decided to stay. He also moved out of the family home for four weeks to live with his mistress but then decided his life was with me. Again I willingly and optimistically agreed to rebuild our marriage.
We have been back together for nearly five weeks now and for the majority of the time things are very good. We are communicating well; we go out and do fun things together and as a family and we have spiced up our sex life. He is in the process of winding down the new home that they set up together but every time he goes to the house I feel vulnerable and uncertain as to whether he’s going to change his mind again. He admitted that he wouldn’t be disappointed if she was there and that he couldn’t “just switch off his feelings for her”. Ouch.
What is the best way for me to handle these feelings that he still has for ‘her’? I know he has ‘chosen’ me so would I be best to just let his feelings for her remain private? Should I stop asking questions which ultimately allude to answers that I don’t want to hear – although I accept that feelings don’t come with an off switch, I don’t want to hear it from him.
I feel so vulnerable that he’s going to change his mind again. I believe that we can have a brilliant future together so I’m consciously not allowing my fear to direct me to do something I know I’ll regret i.e. ask him to leave thus pre-empting any decision making on his behalf that I accept I could well be imagining. Additionally, I couldn’t be the source of any further mental trauma for the children – I feel that I would happily settle to protect their mental well being.
I guess I’d really appreciate some advice regarding how long his feelings of ‘love’ for her are likely to last once their shared rental home has been wound-up. I’d also appreciate guidance on how to handle my feelings of pain that he does still have feelings for her. If you could throw in a pearl of wisdom on how to conquer vulnerability that would be brilliant!
Hopefully, you’ve finished HCIETYA again and read the section about yo-yo partners. However, it sounds like your husband has discovered that once the affair bubble bursts that there is not a lot of ‘real’ feelings left behind.
So how long will the ‘feelings’ last? My hope is that they have all ready fallen off the cliff (where lust, secrecy and bubble world pumps up everything to massive proportions). However, I would not be concerned if he finds himself ‘thinking’ about her from time-to-time. Looking back at the relationship and reviewing what happened (and wondering how much was fantasy and how much reality) is all part of the healing process . In effect, you need to mourn for something before you can let it go.
My hope would be that slowly over the next three months, she will slowly drop out of this thoughts (and then days will pass by without thinking about her). My fear is that it will take you a LOT longer to forget her. In this way, the danger is more from how you react – rather than what’s going on his head. If he can report contact – for example over winding up the flat or random emails from her – without getting an explosion of tears or accusations, you will be able to deal with this as a team (rather than him going back to keeping secrets or more accurately being economical with the truth.)
Whenever, you’re feeling down use that energy to keep learning about yourself and why your marriage was vulnerable – rather than obsessing about her – and you’ll be able to change this from something dangerous into an asset for your relationship. If you’re looking for further reading, I would recommend: Help your partner say yes, Build a life long love affair and Resolve your difference.