I want to forgive my husband for his affair but how?
A Reader Shares Their Experience…
In August I found out that my husband had an affair (for 4 weeks) with one of my best and oldest friends. When I asked him about it he said it had been only one kiss and that they had written e-mails. He first thought he had fallen in love, but it was over now. I believed him and told him I wanted him to have no more contact with her. When I asked him for the reason he said he had been very unhappy in our relationship. We are both 40, we are a couple for 18 years and married for 6 years, with two children (aged 6 and 3).
Two years ago we had moved to a new place, for my husband started a new job. I was at home with the children. I had health problems, I was really exhausted, had no one there to talk to, no relatives and no friends. So I became depressed, I suffered from panic attacks and could, for example, not even drive by car to the nearest city. My husband helped me a lot, but it became a burden for him. Further more, we did not talk very much to each other any more and we had rarely sex.
I could understand why he had taken the opportunity to have an affair when it was there (before we got married I had an email affair myself and knew how you can get addicted to that), although it was tough for me to be betrayed by an old friend of mine. But when I found out, it was like a Wake up call for me. He still was the love of my live, my family was so important for me. So I absolutely wanted to save this and changed my habits from one day to the other. I paid him more attention and was interested in his life and work and cared for him, I became more independent again, I looked for my health and started workout and a therapy for my depressions. He said he wanted to save our relationship too, so we made a plan what we could do for our relationship and for ourselves.
We talked a lot, our sex live became better than ever. I read your book How Can I Ever Trust You Again? and it helped me a lot. I thought we had reached “attempted normality” after nearly 2 months when I found out that he had started the affair again. He had only said that he broke tie with her, but only a few days after I found out for the first time he had written to her again (just to ask how she was) and they soon started the affair anew.
I finally got him to tell me everything. It had not only been the one kiss, they had sex too. And he had really been clever to hide his tracks, he had a second mail account, met her on business trips and everything. This was a real shock for me. I had had the impression, that we were on a good way, that we had a good chance to save our relationship. And he had promised me so much and I had done everything I could! I thought we were happy again! He said, it had not been for nothing, with all my efforts he had found out that he could have a great live with me and that he loved me again, he just did not find a way to end the affair. When he finally spoke out that he loved me again he had ended the affair, but on that same day I found out (about a credit card bill). He said he did not even love her and sex was bad, he had written to her that he loved her because she wanted to hear that from him, but he did not mean it. And he cannot understand today how he could do all that, how he could break all his principles.
I cannot give him up yet, we had so much, but I also don’t know if I will be able to carry on. I have to try for the children. I feel so hurt. I feel he destroyed all my live. I have no friends at the place we live here. I only had four old friends from school who were very close. With one of them he had the affair and the others are affected by it. I feel so lonely and isolated. I don’t know how to trust him ever again. Somehow I could have lived with the first part of the affair. But it hurts me so much that he could not keep his promise and cheated on me again.
The first time he cheated on me I could understand it. But later he was not lacking anything, he said he was happy with me again. Then why did he do that? And why couldn’t he end it earlier? If sex was bad and she was not his type and he did not love her then why did he go to bed with her ? Whenever I touch him (and I can barely do that, and I can’t even think of kissing him) I can see her face, wonder what they had been doing together, imagine them having sex. All the little gestures and things we had, with everything I wonder if they shared it too. He says it is over, he only wants me and our family, but I cannot believe him anymore, I live in anxiety that he will start to cheat on me again. What can I do?
I’m afraid to tell you that this scenario is all too common. So why do men who seem to be sorting everything out, start up their affair all over again? I’m going to do my best to explain because I’ve counselled quite a lot of these men, and I have a fairly good idea of what’s going on in their minds.
The big problem is shame. Shame is the most poisonous of all human emotions because it’s the absolute opposite of love. People feel shame after an affair as they have let everybody down. They are down on themselves and although there are times when they seem to have been working on their relationship; things sometimes go backwards. At those times when they feel they have let everybody down—including their affair partner – they attempt to assuage their guilt e.g. by sending a message like ‘I hope you’re OK?’ and this allows the ex-affair partner to get her/his hooks in all over again.
Now we come to the central problem of all affairs, which is that normally (I’m talking about men here) find it very difficult to say “No”. And it’s not just his ex-lover that he finds it difficult to say no to. My guess is that he finds it difficult to say no to you too, because he doesn’t want to upset you. He wants to be everything that you want him to be and he tends to go along with things even though he’s not 100% behind it. This causes him to bury a lot of feelings and results in unhappiness.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative to all of this that will enable him to communicate better and be less likely to fall into this trap again. It is called assertiveness. In a nutshell, you can ask, but he can say no. With everything out in the open you can then negotiate and find a way forward. I explain all about assertiveness in two books, mainly RESOLVE YOUR DIFFERENCES but also there’s some relevant material in HELP YOUR PARTNER SAY ‘YES’.
Now, how are you going to deal with all the ghastly pictures in your mind when you’re having sex with him and you see her? For this I would suggest looking at MAKE LOVE LIKE A PRAIRIE VOLE. I find that the programme of improving intimacy is good for casting out the affair demons. There’s a whole section in the back of the book about it, and I think that would be really helpful for you.
It’s going to be tough but be aware that you’re not the only person that has gone through this situation – it can be turned round. However, it takes much longer and the road ahead is much harder – but it’s not impossible. Good luck.