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Unhappily married, fallen into an affair, now miserable, confused and feeling sick

Community Member
I've been with my wife for 20 years (late teenagers) and married for 10 with children (all under 10). We have been through much in our time and have had our fair share of difficulties. I would even go as far to say as we have fought too much and lack enough fun through our time together.

Unfortunately in the last 3 years we have drifted and I feel I have fallen out of love with my wife. Now we fight constantly and I don't have the patience I once did. Additionally I she forgoes things in her life (like travel, more friends) as this does work with me. So I feel like I'm stopping her living her best life. Add in the kids and life has gone into auto pilot. Bedroom intimacy has now largely disappeared. I have considered if leaving was an option many times during these past few years (my wife has even told me I should leave during many arguments).

About 2 years ago this girl started work in our office. We quickly became good friends and refer to each other as work spouses.

About 6 months ago at an after work gathering and a few beers things went a bit further than the normal flirtation of the past 2 years. We slept together. For the next two weeks we discussed what do next and move forward from the event. She is in a relationship (not married) which is on the rocks.

Despite our attempts at breaking up and morals, we are still seeing each other. Our relationship has grown. I know this sounds cliche and I've read it over and over but we are a good fit together. I have feelings when I'm with her that I never had in the past. I did not know I could feel this way about someone else that wasn't my children. We both never wanted to be in an affair but we just want to spend all our time together.

We fantasize about running away together or what our future would look like, pros and cons.

Now my marriage has gotten worse (partly due to me having an affair) and I am considering if a divorce is the option. This is eating me up inside. I feel sick mentally and physically. I have gone off food, seeing friends and basically am an empty shell when I am not with her.

If it wasn't for the kids this would not be so hard. Do I stay in an unhappy marriage for the children, or chase my happiness and cause them untold pain?

I know only I can answer this, but I'm now at the point where this is consuming me entirely. I look and feel miserable and down, and feel so heavy with my circumstance, like I'm backed into a corner. I just don't know what to do next other than cry.
9 Replies 9

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

I'm glad you are asking for clarity even though others opinions might differ enormously.

In 1996 my marriage ended after 11 years two young kids. My first concern was my children and how they would cope. Every morning I'd ring their school principle and ask if a/ they made it to school (my ex was really lazy and I made sure they went to school on time) and b/ if they were coping ok. Finally after a few weeks the principle said "they are well and coping far better than you, children are resilient". That stuck in my mind.

Yes they do get hurt, but cotton wool wont help them grow, they wont be alone, many children come from broken homes. My whole 11 years was a disaster with their mother which led to a suicide attempt one week prior to leaving. That also told me that we all have our breaking point and at the end of the day we should ensure we look after our health and happiness in order to give it to our children. So no, I dont think it is wise to remain together for the children sake.

My concern is that this affair might not last long as commonly occurs and will leave you alone. If I was in your situation (if you'd like my view) I'd move out and rent a place nearby the family home. I would not allow my wife to visit there and I'd have a freedom of my new life but with the nearby advantage so your children could visit at every opportunity.

There is no rush to divorce.

I hope that helps. If you have second thoughts then the following thread pertains to how to defuse arguments.


Beyondblue Topic relationship strife? the peace pipe

repost anytime


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi John,

Relationships can be difficult at times! I'm wondering if you would consider couples counselling with your wife, even if it does lead to an amicable way to separate, it may be beneficial.

When you are really struggling emotionally, would you consider calling Life Line 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or MensLine 1300 789 978. It can be helpful to chat with someone about how you are feeling.

TonyWK's idea of renting a place sounds like a possible solution.

I feel it is important to tell the children regardless if you stay or leave that what is happening between you and your wife is not their fault. Kids pick up on stuff and often blame themselves. Can you do things now to build up your relationship with the children?

Like you wrote, only you can make the decision one way or another to stay or leave.

When a situation makes us so down, it is beneficial to share that problem with others. Thanks for trusting us with your hassles. Hope you find some answers.

Regards from Dools

Community Member

Thank you for your replies. It was nice to write out my scenario and hear back some replies and other people's experiences.

My parents were in a loveless relationship and split as soon as the youngest child was an adult. I can understand why they did this, but I always knew things were not right. I definately don't want my kids growing up in that environment.

Renting sounds like an option to explore, even just mentally while I get my head around it.

We have had numerous couples counseling. I am seeing a counselor myself but have not divulged the affair as, being a stubborn male, did not want to confess and withstand the wrath.

I will keep calling the hotline in mind if I'm feeling any worse. I'm coping at the moment, but this inner battle is definately consuming my all. I am scared of losing who I am.

Thanks again

Hi John

Thats sensible

Also Google

Beyondblue topic the best praise you'll ever get.



Hi John,

You mentioned you didn't want to confess about your affair and face the wrath, I am wondering if you meant that coming from your wife or the counsellor? If it is from the counsellor then maybe you need another person to talk with.

When I hold on to issues that are troubling me and causing me to feel ill, I know I feel worse if I don't manage to deal with it all somehow. Hopefully you can discuss the affair with the counsellor. They may have some solutions for you to consider and help you work out what it is you need to do from here.

Loosing oneself can feel disorientating, for me it is the sense of not being in control of my own situation and being confused about options.

Hopefully you will find clarity.

Can you have even a weekend away form the family to think about things? Or maybe a day out with the children to really enjoy their company.

Wishing you all the best.

Cheers from Dools

Community Member

Hi A guy called John,

I was reading your message and I can relate to exactly what you are saying. Although I am the female side of things, I went through exactly the same thing with someone from work a couple of years ago. It is doubly difficult if you are both in an unhappy relationship, and I really struggled to separate the fact that my marriage was falling apart, from the fact that I was in love with someone else, who (in the back of my mind I suppose) I knew we would never really end up being together.

Ultimately, my 'affair' (for lack of a better term) came to an end and he left, leaving me absolutely heartbroken and still in an unhappy marriage. It has taken me quite some time to make sure I am thinking straight and logically about what to do next. Ultimately though, once I get myself financial sound within the next 6 months (as I have to look after our 2 children as well), I will be separating from my husband as I am simply not in love with him anymore. I do care about him but there is no physical intimacy, affection or any kind of romantic feelings anymore. They went some years ago.

I personally do not think you should stay in an unhappy marriage for the children, as this also happened to me when I was young and children pick up on much more than we know. I do however, think that you need to try (if possible) to make sure you are leaving because of your relationship breakdown, and not because there is someone new - this bit is hard to take, as I did not think my new relationship would end, but it did, and chances are yours will too.

Not sure this has helped, but I wish you well in whatever you decide. This forum is great, as it is non-judgmental, which is exactly what we need when in the position of falling into an 'affair' that we never intended.

Hi John
I was in a horrible marriage. I was emotionally abused for many many years. The children know, even if they cant explain what they know ... they know.

I was in the position of abuse victim, mentally ill and physically ill. I worked full time and had 3 children, the youngest being diagnosed with Autism and really struggling with the world. I had absolutely no time or energy for it, but was constantly being accused of having affairs. To this day I am certain my extended family believe this as truth because I was too ill to contradict. I was so disconnected I was only vaguely aware of the ugly rumours he was spreading.

Eventually I began to wonder why he would make these accusations ... and then it clicked ... He was covering his dirt by setting it onto me. I sat with that idea for some time. His affairs didnt bother me so it was my final piece of the puzzle that gave me the ok to leave my marriage. He wanted control, not relationship, so I left.

Not sure where my rambling was leading, but relationships are messy. You need to sit quietly with all your emotions and actions and make hard decisions. Make them for YOU. Consider your children, but understand they can do better if their father is off site, but able to connect with them with less mess in his head, and positively and presently BE with them. Learning to single parent isnt easy. They will want quality time so find a way to schedule their events, P&T nights, sports events, training, extra curriculars, family meals, family games. Make post separation dad the happy place they want to be and they will forgive the sad, conflicted, messy dad they know right now

Community Member

Hi A guy called John.

I would like to say that I am no professional in the arts of counselling especially when it comes to relationships, however, I am more than happy to add to these comments which may be helpful.

First thing that you need to understand is that this is all about you. Let's go back 20 years, right before you met your wife.

Image that you're on a boat, sailing around the oceans and the seas and navigating all the most amazing islands.

Some are breathtaking, some are have big homes, some have little island shacks, some are ready to be tamed.

You dock at an island that you feel suited too and after you explore your island you attracted and are madly in love with it.

You work hard to build up your island, dedicating strength, time and commitment.


You start to wonder what other islands would be like so you get in your boat and you stumble across another island.

You start to commit to this new island and without knowing it, you have forgotten to look after your own island.

As you stand on someone else's island, you gaze over the ocean at what appears to be your neglected island.

Sometimes while we are going on in life, we forget about ourselves. We forget who we are and what were once before. Love is something you build, water, commit too and you want your island to flourish.

Anyway, this is just food for thought. You could start by ending your infidelity, focus on yourself, get out, get some hobbies make friends, get some counselling and learn the value of true inner happiness.

Good luck.

P.S. May be try the old spice up your relationship action and get that spark back, I mean you married your Woman why exactly?

Community Member

Hi, I can relate to your situation. I too had an affair during my marriage. I ended the marriage as I could not deal with the guilt of my actions, but found it impossible to stop seeing the other person. Even after months of no contact with that person we would always slip back into the affair. My marriage has been over for 8 months now and I still can't admit that I'm seeing this person as I don't want anyone to know that I had an affair. My guilt and actions has not only ended my marriage but has also put a lot of strain on my affair relationship. It feels like it can never possibly work as I'm always going to feel guilty. But at the same time I feel such a strong connection to this person.

I have constant feelings that I have messed up my life. But I didn't want to stay with my husband as I really didn't love him anymore.

I hope the guilt will go away on day. 😔