Ask Andrew – My husband can’t decide whether to work on our marriage or leave for the other woman
My husband just told me last week that he has been having an affair with a coworker for 18 months, and he loves her very much. He said he still loves me, but more like a friend. We have a 4-year-old son, and he is my husbands world and I know that is the reason he has been hesitant to end our marriage. I still love him and have offered to work on our marriage 100%, and learn to forgive and trust him again. He says he needs to think about his decision because it is the biggest one he has ever had to make. He has agreed to go to a marriage counselor and he hasn’t moved out, but the problem is he still has contact with her. They work in a small office together, and they still text each other dozens of times a day before and after work. Is it even possible for us to find our way if he keeps in contact with her? Is it asking too much for him to only see her in a professional manner and cut off all ties after hours? If he refuses, I will be devasted. He keeps saying that we will give it until after the holidays to see how things are going. But is seven weeks really long enough to start rebuilding our marriage? Is he just saying this because he wants to be with his son through Christmas, then leave? What should I do?
Not only has your husband got to make a big decision, you’ve got to think through your next steps very carefully. Strangely enough, I think the next few weeks – rather than what happened previously – is going to be the real danger point. Why should that be? I see lots of couples where the main sticking points are not that the husband (and it’s usually the husband) was unfaithful but the damage done in the shuttle period (between properly ending the relationship with the other woman and recommitting to the marriage). So please buy ‘How can I ever trust you again?’ so you can understand why affairs happen and how to recover. (I would also like you to get ‘Make Love Like a Prairie Vole: Six Steps to passionate, plentiful and monogamous sex’ as I bet the fall out of a small child on your sex life needs to be looked at too).
So I’ll explain what I think will happen….. and then I’ll tell you what I’m afraid will happen. OK. His affair. 90% of affairs collapse after the couple has been found out. When there are young children involved, I would say its probably 100%.
Affairs happen in a bubble away from the real world and after they are discovered – and the air of secrecy and forbidden lust is let out – they are as flat and as uninteresting as a balloon two days after a party. (And they smell as bad!) So I think he will realise his mistake and come back with his tail between his legs.
However, and now we’re onto my fears, he cannot come to his senses if he’s getting ‘I love you more than life itself’ emails and ‘I want to jump your bones’ texts. Modern technology allows affair partners to stick their head round the door, sneak upstairs and tango with our beloved. We wouldn’t have them physically in the house so don’t let them in electronically. (However, if he does switch off his feelings – and not them be stoked by facebook stalking and email’s to see ‘how you’re doing’, he will slowly start thinking about her less.) Then we have work, he will have to come up with a good plan to cut contact down to the absolute minimum and report when he is likely to have to be with her – ie: for a sales conference and you would need to talk for a long-time on how to cope with these occasions.
Now we come to the real problem. He is unlikely to be able to cut all proper ties at the moment. You are terrified of letting him go – because you fear that will be the end of your marriage. So there will be a nasty middle way. He will sneak off to email or meet up with her – and you will find out, because modern technology is kind / cruel and gives us all this information – and it will be like a stab in the back. He might even be sleeping with both of you at the same time (and although you crave that reassurance, it will make you feel dirty afterwards). He will promise things that he can’t deliver and you will be hurt yet again asnd again. Hopefully, you will begin to see how a couple might be able to recover from an affair but yo-yo land and inbetween misery can do some really lasting damage.
So I think you need to decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable contact, show him my letter and my book. Discuss what he can and can’t do. Please, please don’t beg (as this will encourage him to make promises he can’t keep as he’ll hate to see you cry). Decide together if he can close the door on the affair partner – and mean it. If not, and also if he has any doubts, let him go – hopefully to his parents house or a friends place…. but if he must go to HER, so be it. Probably it will be better for her to have his unhappiness, torn between two lover angst. Let him return to you when he’s free of this madness (and that’s when the real work starts but strangely enough it is much easier than what you’re going through now).
Be wise. Read up. Think long and hard