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After the Affair

Community Member

I have been with my wife for 8 years. For the past 3 I have been severely unhappy. 18 months ago I started having an affair with a co-worker and I planned to leave. After 3 months my wife found out and I cut it off. In reality, I still love my affair partner and want to be with her, but I’m severely concerned about my wife’s mental health (we have 2 children who are 5 or younger) and that is the only reason I have stayed.

Since she found out, my wife has been seeing our therapist at times several times a week, has gone on medication, has self-harmed and honestly, I’m worried for her greater wellbeing. She has been hospitalised for her thoughts of harming me and herself in the past. She repeatedly tells me this is my fault, and I agree. But what can I do?

I desperately want out but I couldn’t live with myself is something happened to her. I love her as the mother of my children but not as a life partner.

What do I do?

8 Replies 8

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi AskingQuestions,

It sounds like your heart is not in this and have made up your mind. I think in this instance, you do both yourself and your partner a disservice by staying. You don’t deserve to miss out on a future relationship with a loving partner and your wife also doesn’t deserve that. If you don’t think there’s any hope, I suggest leaving, but perhaps do it in a staged process to allow her time to adjust, by creating some distance between you. Do more things alone and encourage her to do the same. Mind the kids so she can reconnect with friends etc. But can I ask, are you simply giving up because this has gotten too hard? What made you fall in love with your wife in the first place? Did you ever communicate with her that you were really unhappy?

I love her as a person but just not a life partner. I think she's so incredibly hardworking, to a fault. She's a planner and an organiser, you know that traditional picture of a wife. I don't think we were ever friends though or honestly, really in love. I think we did what we thought was the 'right', next, mature step. I also think she's an amazing mother, and I don't want to downplay that at all. But I question how our kids will go seeing parents that don't love each other or aren't even really friends.

Honestly, it's been 3 years of slowly letting go and a lot of marriage counselling where we've tried to address many of our issues. I feel like we're in the worst place we've ever been. At the moment, I feel like it's a no win situation. I leave, I'm scared about what she will do to herself and how she'll manage to keep work, study and parenting together. I stay, we're both miserable and she's still facing severe mental health concerns that seem to be getting worse.

How do you even broach separation? How do you support her if you're wanting out? I feel so incredibly selfish even typing that.

Hello AskingQuestions

Thankyou for having the courage to write this excellent thread

You are not selfish in any shape or form. You are a strong and sensitive person that should be proud of what you stand for. I am in my 50's and have had to leave a relationship to benefit my (2 year old) daughter even though I loved my girlfriend as a person and not a life partner

You are strong by speaking from your heart AQ and thats commendable. To stay with a partner for the childrens sake will not help them develop

I have suffered from domestic abuse and leaving my partner was very difficult yet it had to be done

Having partner with mental illness is a 100% commitment and even with a life partner it is total dedication. I understand that your decision will involve pain and anguish AQ. Your health and future are also important too

I am a volunteer on the forums and there are also many gentle people that can be here for you too

The forums are a judgemental free place for you AQ. There is a ton of support available to you here...no worries at all.

Can I ask you if you have given any thought to having a chat with your GP/Counselor at all? It seems like you have everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing so?

True deep love with a life partner is the foundation for any lifelong relationship.

You are more than welcome to post on the forums and I hope you can stick around.

Juliet_84 carefully wrote some excellent support above too

You are not alone here AQ

My kind thoughts for you


Hello AQ, pleased you have had two good replies, one from Juliet and the other from Paul.

There's an old saying 'the grass is always greener on the other side' and I'm sure we have always thought about this ourselves, especially when we aren't happy in our present relationship, so do you stay or leave.

We don't know who's fault it is, but if you do leave then your wife may suddenly get better, different to how you believe she will be and that's exactly what happened when my wife divorced me, we both got better, although I didn't have anyone in toe.

If you haven't been happy then your wife may feel the same which is causing her to be like this, and by her telling you that's it's your fault then this is what she can't handle, but if you left her for this co-worker, then your wife has every chance of getting better.

You can still keep an eye on her when you go and see your children, and remember that marriage at first seems to be the obvious choice you need to be happy so your children will also be.


You are causing a lot of pain for your wife and therefore no doubt your children. An affair breaks trust in a marriage. It is devastating for the spouse to be betrayed for another woman. I know from personal experience. Why are you putting your wife and children through this? You say that you are still in love with the other woman? Are you still working with this woman, a co-worker? Are you still involved in an emotional relationship with this other woman? How do you think your wife feels? No surprise she is having emotional problems. You need to be honest with your wife. Maybe you could see the therapist on your own and be honest with the therapist. They could help you be honest with your wife and assist you to separate if that is what you want. And importantly, provide support for your wife. It also sounds like you will both need assistance and support in dealing with your emotions as you continue to co-parent your children. Please seek professional assistance and be honest and compassionate with yourself, your wife and your children.

Hello Libby1

Great to have you on the forums and thankyou for posting too

AskingQuestions has done well to post an important thread on the forums.

It is not up to us to judge him as we are only here to provide support. AQ has been very honest with his opening post and he has done really well by speaking from the heart

When someone is in pain they dont require criticism......only support

My kind thoughts


Hi AskingQuestions,

You’re not selfish for wanting to be happy, that’s all any of us want. You speak very highly of your wife, but you can’t help how you feel. If you had once been in love, or had once been best friends, then I would say not to give up without a fight. But it sounds as though this isn’t the case here. At the end of the day, you can’t stay in something because you’re scared of hurting them. I would hate to think that a partner stayed with me simply because he didn’t know how to tell me. It won’t be easy, but it has to be done. Sit her down, hold her hand, and tell her gently. She will likely cry and be upset, let her ask her questions, answer them as honestly (but kindly) as you can and go from there. Don’t make her life difficult with the kids, even if she is angry at you etc. In time she may come around, she also may not, and you have to accept that too. You can only do your best.

Hi AskingQuestions

(Please forgive me for hijacking your thread for a moment)

Thankyou Juliet_84 for your heartfelt and gentle post to AskingQuestions

you are not alone here AQ. I hope you post back if and when you choose to do so