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Wife cheated after 20+ years! Can I go on?

Community Member

Hi all
Ive been with my wife for 20+ years (I’m 44) and just found out she has been having an affair with a much younger work colleague (25) for 6 months.

We have two beautiful kids, a business and are financially okay. I’ve given everything to her and she fobs the affair off like it was just sex so get over it! She’s a great mum and up until a while ago I thought she was a great wife also.
I feel life my life has ended! My wife seems cold even though she says the affair is over. I look at at kids differently, I still love them to death but something isn’t right.

I have once meekly attempted to take my own life. I suffer from depression and am a lot more closed off than I used to be. Maybe this is why she strayed! I cannot stop myself from thinking about the two of them together. It consumes almost every thought and a feeling of utter sadness and failure overcomes me. As a man I feel like my whole manlihood has been stripped away from me. Why wasn’t I good enough? Am I not great in bed?

I have never harmed my wife physically or mentally since we’ve been together and my heart just really hurts from the betrayal and embarrassment.
While I am still in the marriage, I don’t look at my wife the same and if I don’t have my family I feel like I don’t have anything? Maybe I need complete separation from them to assess my situation? I have wanted to leave on multiple occasions but don’t want to leave the kids.

Can I live in a loveless marriage until the kids are adults?

I feel lost and need a way forward to survive if not for anyone but my kids!

Any advice would help??

6 Replies 6

Community Member

Your emotions are understandably running riot CrushedOne. To be betrayed is a serious wound to most marriages. Should you stay? Nobody but you can answer that but here is a few things you need to consider.

Do you love your wife? Could you forgive her?
Does your wife love you? Does she want to repair the wound and stay in the marriage?

if the answer is “yes” to these four questions then you both need to get serious about obtaining some professional counselling. If your wife is not committed to the marriage, regardless of what you say or do the marriage is unlikely to work over the long term.

Your wife definitely owes you a better explanation than “get over it, it’s only sex”. If either of you are unwilling to do the hard work to rebuild trust, the pain will drag onwards.

As for your children, you say your wife is a great Mum. That’s a great plus. Most men in your situation are afraid that if the marriage ends, you will lose your relationship with the kids. Nothing could be further from the truth. The future need not be as bleak as our imaginations predict.

With emotions running so high at the moment, I strongly suggest you seek counselling and if your wife refuses, ( give her a day or two to consider) I think that is a sign post as to what you should do next.

Good luck.

Community Member

Hi CrushedOne

I thought I should add a few more words to my earlier response. Many marriages do survive when one partner has been unfaithful. Unfaithfulness needs to be seen in context, depending on circumstances and the personalities of the married couple. I post this because on reading my post I wondered if I was being too pessimistic.

Having experienced first hand what has happened to you I can only underline the point that the repair work will need to come from your wife initially. She doesn’t have to grovel but a caring, sensitive explanation will often go a long way to begin the healing process. If your wife has complaints or needs in the marriage that aren’t being met, that’s fine, that can be dealt with later. But she needs to realise that unless she shows contrition and a willingness to try and rebuild trust, she can’t expect you to just cop it sweet.

Community Member

Hi CrushedOne,

When my first wife asked could her lover move into our house, and could I move into the spare bedroom. I had to come to terms with all my suspicions, all the times I knew something was going on, but desperately didn't want to admit/believe it. There is so much going on in your head, what could I have done to stop this, what did I do wrong? But, CrushedOne, it takes two to make a beast with two backs, and you were not one of them. I can talk to you about it now, but at the time I was absolutely devastated. What I am getting at is your partner as an adult, made a choice. Stop blaming yourself. The worst part of breakups is that voice in your head blaming you, when in every likelihood it was early menopause, or a mid life crisis that spurred your partner on. Honestly, these days it is such a trend to break up at our age, that I expect anyone who stays married is the odd one.

I was in my teens in the first marriage (a school sweetheart) and only in my early 20s for the next. 25 years and now she says she has fallen out of love with me, she says "people change". We live in the same house but not together, honestly it would be better apart; but, like you there are children. One child (late teens) has told me the arguments and the moods of the two parents have left a scar on both children. I deeply regret that.

Value your job! It will give you purpose. Value yourself, for you are not defined by another person's actions. And avoid stress (so don't go to UNI!) I hope you do something good for yourself on the weekend, a walk, a movie, feed the fish or birds,... and look after yourself.

Community Member

Hi CrushedOne,

Also 44, and understand how much it hurts. Great advice on here. Just to add, ...follow your gut and take lots of long walks if you can.

Take care.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello CrushedOne, I hope you are still checking this thread because all of the above comments have been terrific.

It's not 'just sex' it's the communication between the two of them before sex, especially during sex and after sex that hurts, because the two of them can relate to each other in a more compassionate way.

While cheating in an affair goes on they will understand each other on a sexual level that has more emotion behind it.

If you separate that doesn't mean you won't have contact with the kids, so is it better for the kids to be happy when the parents live apart or if you are living in a cold relationship with no enjoyment at all.

Take care.


Community Member


i wanted to reply to this post as I’m a female that is currently going through a breakup - my female partner & I have been together for 24yrs !

I totally believe your wife needs a better explaination & apologising to u would help as she did wrong to u & her family unit !

My partner found another love 2wks after I left the family home. I m broken & seeing a lifeline counsellor that I m very grateful just to b able to speak to someone. All u can do is live each moment & each minute. It is grief ! Dont stay because of the children & only stay if u r both willing to work it out. The kids want to see both parents happy & that’s all that matters to them.