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Depression and cheating
It’s my first time on these forums and I guess I’m hoping to find advice from people who have been in similar situations.
My husband and I got married last November after being together for 6 years. Since he began working from home (maybe 18 months ago now) and as lockdown became stricter, I’d been noticing that he began to put distance between himself and his friends (for example, complaining that nobody cared about him then not picking up the phone when lifelong friends called), withdraw from activities that previously made hom happy, and become more and more clingy around me (to the point where it seemed I couldn’t do anything without him).
Our relationship has always been somewhat unconventional - not open exactly, but it did sometimes involve other people with a lot of talking and boundaries around that fact. Earlier this year he began speaking with someone else, and when that relationship began to break the boundaries of our agreement, I asked him to end it. We entered therapy and I was told he no longer had anything to do with her. Unfortunately, 2 months later I heard from the other woman, who informed me in great detail that there had been an affair going on the whole time. I confronted him, and he told me the reason she’d gotten in touch was that he’d ended it earlier that afternoon. I kicked him out of the house and we’ve been separated for nearly two months.
I know that mental illness doesn’t excuse cheating (and in the context of our relationship, we both consider it cheating). I’m also not sure how much of this may have been motivated by his deteriorating mental health - this has proved a catalyst for him to finally recognise he isn’t doing very well, and he has chosen to seek help now despite being adamant he wouldn’t in the past. I think there is enough there to try therapy again and see where it takes us.
Are there others out there who have experienced cheating concurrent with mental illness? What was your experience?
Hello JL, thanks for posting and welcome to the site.
It must be disappointing for you to learn of your husband's affair and when he says 'it ended earlier in the afternoon', is an interesting remark as the affair had been going on the whole time but told you that he had nothing to do with her.
Distancing himself from friends, not wanting to pick the phone, and probably more important to be much more clingy around you may have been because he wanted to watch everything you did and not to find out about his affair, is understandable as your marriage was unconventional and seems to be strange.
If someone is suffering from any type of mental illness, it's not unusual for them to seek comfort from another person, and I'm not a doctor to say this, but have known other people to do exactly the same.
One particular friend presumably sought help with a counsellor and the two are still married and goes once a month just to clean out any problems and now has grandkids to look after, so it is possible for this to end, but this depends on whether your husband actually wants to do this or whether he's doing it just to please you.
Can I suggest you notice how his behaviour changes and this may indicate how he feeling and would love to hear back from you?
Thanks for your response. It’s been a tough time to navigate, particularly as our families are now finding out a lot about us and the relationship that they hadn’t expected (or particularly wanted to know). Part of the reason I’m so thrown is that on the handful of occasions we’d invited others into the relationship, a ‘no-strings attached’ dynamic applied - we had agreed not to pursue anything where there was a potential for an emotional connection. I should also note that the majority of this occurred via social media over a 2 month period - they only met each other twice. I almost like the affair was a culmination of a slow decline, which makes it strangely reassuring to hear that others struggling with their mental health might reach out to another person for comfort. As an essential worker, my life wasn’t impacted nearly as hard by the pandemic, whereas he lost a great deal of contact with his colleagues and friends due to the restrictions. I can see how having someone focused as intently as she seemed to be on him could have felt like a lifeline.
I think I do believe that he genuinely regrets what has happened - and I’m willing to put in the effort when it comes to further counselling etc. I guess it’s going to come down to whether or not he continues with it after the initial dust settles.
Will keep things updated, thanks again
I was in a similar sort of situation a couple months ago now. In an open relationship - with rules and boundaries I later found out were imposed on me and not him due to his paranoia of me messing around with his friends/siblings.
We agreed to close the relationship, and a week later he slept with his ex SIL. At the time he said he didn't think, that it was a mistake. After a couple weeks of trying to fix things, he told me he was in love with her, that he could never be with only me again and it destroyed me further.
My experience isn't positive, however is based on the other party not being removed from our lives and from only trying as two broken people to fix something we couldn't. If you wanted to fix it, I would really recommend help from a third party. Good luck with it.
Welcome to the forum and thanks for your post.
Your post brings up so many interesting questions and ideas.
When I was manic I once cheated but I wasn’t with a partner but the other person was. I would normslly never do that. I know of people who have reached out others when depressed but for me I was so low I could barely talk to anyone when depressed.
Thanks for your honesty . I think if you both agree what you want for the future a counsellor may help
Hello JL, I hope for your sake that counselling opens the door and can reconcile your relationship with your husband.
I'm very sorry Despond that his connection with his ex SIL became such a strong issue that remained and you're right this is where a third person needs to be brought in to try and sort out an existing problem.
Thank you for your reply. It makes me feel less alone that there’s others out there who have had a less than ideal experience with this type of relationship dynamic - in my search for advice I’ve tried a few forums where open relationships and polyamory were the focus, only to be told that this happened because I didn’t understand what I was getting into or wasn’t mature enough for this type of relationship. I’m truly sorry that your boundaries were also disregarded, it’s an awful feeling.
Thanks for sharing, I imagine it’s not always easy to open up about your experience with mania/depression to a complete stranger. Your comment about your personal experience in a depressed state vs that of others was really helpful, it makes sense that not everyone will feel the impact of their particular struggle in a similar way.
I’m really sorry this has happened to you, and also that the response from forums was that you didn’t understand what you were getting yourself into or weren’t mature enough for this type of relationship. The way I see it is that every relationship is different and everyone has different boundaries, which you both clearly communicated before getting into it. However, he broke those boundaries. I do agree that it can be a dangerous game, because emotions can be quite overpowering once felt for even those of us with the best of intentions. I suspect this is probably why some people stick with monogamy even when it isn’t necessarily working for them. Does your husband seem remorseful about the affair?
Thanks for such a balanced response, I think this is the sort of conversation I was hoping to open up by seeking out help on various forums to begin with. I actually commented to my therapist yesterday that I'm starting to hear a shift in his tone - rather than how this has affected him, he's started talking about how much his actions have hurt me and us as a couple. More often than not at the moment I think there is genuine remorse there, but I think there's an element of two steps forward, one step back. There are still times that I think he has no inclination that what he did was wrong. At the same time, there are positive signs in that he's actively seeking help from a mental health and sex therapy standpoint. I feel like it's going to be a long road but one I'm going to have to travel down for a bit longer to figure out what to do.