For the past year, I have been dealing with a husband who is/was having an affair with a woman he works with. I actually think there may be more then one. I tried denial, we tried living together but living separate lives (we have two little girls), we tried marriage couciling and we (kind of) tried reconciling. I say kind of b/c he gave up after two months and two therapy sessions…I think he quit b/c he is still seeing the other woman.
We have been married for 16 years and together for 18. We have two daughters, 10 and 7. We have recently decided to divorce and I am in the process of looking for a place to live. We have not yet told our kids. I feel so empty inside. I cry all the time. It hurts to get out of bed and do anything. My friends keep telling me I’m strong and I’ll get through this and honestly, I feel so hopeless – like there is nothing left and what’s the point.
In the meantime, if you can recommend any resources to help tell my girls – in an age appropriate manner – what’s about to happen, I would welcome it. I don’t even know what to say. I feel like I let them down.
I need help to deal with the grief and loss. I don’t know how to do this alone. I’m scared.
Firstly, I am sorry to hear you have gone through this terrible situation after 16 years of marriage. The hurt and loss you have suffered is something only a person who has gone through infidelity will know. After a 16 year marriage, you are also moving into a different phase of your life, and the prospect of divorce, meeting someone else or not, and keeping your lifestyle are major stress points.
I recommend joining a community or online support group to help you understand that you are not alone (unfortunately), and for you to receive moral support, and perhaps another person to talk to during this difficult time. Even Meetup groups can be a good place to find other people to talk with – face to face.
Also, as cliche as it sounds, ensuring you exercise daily has many benefits- both physically and psychologically. Affairs can take over your thinking, and I have found that clients who exert themselves physically tend to let go of obsessive thinking – if only for 20 minutes to an hour.
In your case especially, knowing that you husband is going to work – where the other woman works – is incredibly hurtful. Please be mindful of your own mental health during this time. You may wish to advise your doctor as to what is happening in your life right now. Medication maybe necessary due to the overwhelming hurt, and sense of hopelessness leading you into depression. Asking your husband to quit his job or work at another location may not be possible for many reasons. But if he wants his family – this should be considered.
Secondly, with your husband dropping out of counseling, it could be for a few reasons. Such as:
- Feeling “attacked” by the therapist (It is not the therapists place to judge)
- Feeling like the therapist “doesn’t have experience in affair recovery” (Additional education and experience is needed for a therapist to help a couple in affair recovery)
- Still having the affair (People are less committed to therapy if they have to begin affair recovery exercises such as transparency which involves allowing the faithful spouse see their phone and emails!)
- There is a period of withdrawal and depression for the unfaithful partner when the affair ends. This is due to them not having the marriage they desire, and not having the affair partner to satisfy the unmeet needs. People are less likely to work on the relationship if they are depressed.
If its not too late, and you still LOVE each other, then there is hope for you both. It does take work, but its not impossible. It will take weekly sessions, for at least 2 mths, and then every other month for a year. If there is no love or respect, then it is healthier to move on, rather then for your daughters to see you hurt.
It is important that your husband keep up the communication with your girls during this time. Kids have less control over their lives, and their sense of safety and security is an ongoing concern. With two parents providing love and confirming their world will be ok moving forward, the long term negative behavioural effects from a divorce on children can be avoided.
Helpful posts about children and affairs: