A Reader Writes…
A week before Christmas, I found out my husband of 25 years had been having a 3 month affair with a work colleague. I discovered his infidelity after hearing a message on my home answer phone – a conversation he and his lover were having that was inadvertently picked up by his cellphone (which was on). They were preparing for sex. I have never experienced anything like the pain and devastation I felt. He told me it was a bit of a thrill at work for him, meant nothing and that he loved me.
For 3 months, this other woman had been giving him oral sex after work and they had sex twice – once at her home. Just a bit of excitement he reckoned. All over now but he still has to work with her. Tells me he feels nothing for her – can manage to avoid her at work. He is more sorry than he can possibly say.
I confronted the other woman at his workplace. I was dumbfounded to see her – she was older than me, fat and unattractive. I just cannot understand what has happened here. He wants me to give him another chance and is at a loss as to why he betrayed me like this. We have had a wonderful marriage – or so I thought. I read your book “How can I ever trust you again’ and thought it was marvellous. Fantastic advice and I do feel more optimistic but still so dreadfully empty and hurt.
How on earth can I get over this? I love my husband so much but feel incredibly let down. My confidence is at rock bottom.
Of course, you’re feeling at rock bottom. Your husband has had an affair and it’s hardly two weeks since you’ve found out – plus you’ve had the stress of putting on Christmas at the same time. I doubt you’ve had two seconds to think straight, let alone begin to get over it. However, believe me, it will get better but right now, you’re at the beginning of the journey so be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much.
So how do you move forward? You are still at the ‘Intense Questioning Stage’ but I want you to think of this as a two prong approach – not only why your husband behaved as he did but your contribution to how your marriage has come to this point. In effect, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently if you could go back in a time machine? And I don’t mean keep a tighter eye on him! Once you have figured out what you’d like to change – in particular about your share in the communication – you’ll begin to have a plan for rebuilding your marriage.
So why did your husband chose a less attractive mistress? This is not as uncommon as you’d think. TV and the movies has fed us the idea of the vamp or impossibly beautiful who lure men to the rocks of infidelity but I think these stereotypes are wide of the mark. If people of equal beauty generally pair off and make couples, I think when men have affairs they often trade down. Let’s face it a beautiful woman has lots of options and being used for cheap sex by a man whose loyalty is most probably elsewhere is not going to be top of her list! Conversely, an ordinary looking woman – if she’s prepared to put up with nights alone and being messed around – can have a more handsome (or most probably) more powerful / financially successful man than she would otherwise date.
As this affair seems to be totally about sex, I wonder about your sex life. So I’d like you to look at ‘Make Love Like a Prairie Vole’ for my programme for restoring sensuality to your sex life and learning to talk about your desires (rather than doing the same old same old and hoping for the best). I find it helps with many couples who’re recovering from an affair to not only improve their lovemaking but build bridges. (See the final chapter). I would also read ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you’ because lots of these couples thought they had fabulous marriages – or were the ones all their friends thought perfect – but one or both of them were burying their needs to keep it nice on the surface.
So some tough months ahead, but I think they could be the making of you and your marriage.