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My Wife of 23 years is having an affair

Community Member

With COVID I was out of work for 6 months. Worrying about money I got a bit snappy and put on some weight (I am never aggressive or shout). I stopped working on projects around the house and watched a lot of TV. I have always been the money maker, the strong one in the team. My wife is included in all our decisions, but I am a strong personality and she generally takes my lead.

About 5 months ago she met an old male school friend (let’s call him B). I did query her when they got together every week and chatted online all the time, but my wife told me B was going through a tough time and she was helping.

3 weeks ago, her behaviour changed. She started to dress sexy going out. With a laugh asked if I should be worried – she smiled and said no. Following my gut, I read her phone while she was in the shower. They talked about the sex, what they would do next week once I was “out of the way” (that hurt), and worse – how much they loved each other. This was not just sex but a romance.

I wrote my wife a letter saying I knew what was going on. Obviously, this was something she felt she needed. It was not my place to tell her what to do but I still loved her very much (and always will), but I did want her to be honest; to know what was going on and where we went from here. I was careful not to lay blame or guilt.

We spoke that night and she told me that what she wanted is US. The last six months had been hard for her. She knew I loved her, but she did not feel desirable. The affair was not planned, and B had said he did not want to come between us. She wanted to fix everything.

But in the 3 days since then I know she has not told him anything. Its ‘all on’ for her though she is now hiding her texting to the bathroom. Her telling me one thing and doing another is what is killing me. I was not sleeping well the last 3 weeks but now I am lucky to get 3 hours a night.
Did I do the right thing? Am I being too understanding or forgiving? If I fight for her will I show her that I love her or push her away? Does she just need a little time – I am not sure how long I can last like this so I thought I would reach out for some help from others. I’m always the one people ask for help and I always turned to her – now I find myself alone.

13 Replies 13

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Bagman,

Welcome to the Beyond Blue forums, our members are always here to provide support and advice where we can. Firstly, I am genuinely sorry for what has occurred to you recently. Marital affairs and adultery are quite complicated in nature, to put full blame on someone is difficult, however I do believe that one's actions and decisions is fully their accountability and responsibility. There is no justifiable reason for committing adultery, even if you have gained a few pounds or are out of work, that is not an adequate reason to do such an act. I do understand how these things can play part into her decision-making, but at the end of the day the choice is hers and she chose to do something wrong against you.

I believe in second chances, however I also believe in actions. Rebuilding trust after an affair is most vital to rebuilding the broken foundations. I think if you and your wife both have the same interest and willingness to repair this relationship, a marital counsellor will be beneficial in working through your current issues as well as deep embedded ones.

Secondly, how are you coping with this? This seems to be a very hurtful situation. As you said, previously your wife was your confidant, however now you feel unable to communicate with her. Do you have any friends or family you can speak to this about or express your emotions to? I am sure this is a very hurtful situation and that you must be in pain. Please feel free to always speak to us here, we are concerned about the well-being of others!

Thirdly, I hope you take care of yourself. Give yourself some time and distance from the relationship to reassess what you need and want and to recollect your emotions and thoughts. At the time I think it is also important to assess your wife's actions, the fact she is saying one thing and doing another does not show commitment on her part to regaining trust from you again. I understand you love her and I believe after affairs marriages can be rebuilt, however it takes the power of 2 and at a greater commitment, you cannot do this alone and I hope she knows that.

Key points

1. Seek marital counselling if you desire to rebuild the relationship

2. Care for yourself, talk to friends or family about your emotions

3. Reassess what you want and need in a partner

4. Evaluate her actions moving forward and whether this is healthy to rebuilding trust

5. Have an open conversation with her to understand where each party is at emotionally and mentally

Community Member

Good morning Bagman

I'm so sorry to read of your distress. Marital betrayal is the most painful issue any spouse can face. Some say it is worse than the death of a spouse, because in betrayal you are not really given an opportunity to grieve. It's just shock and confusion.

I want to underline M99's wise words. You and your wife both share 50% responsibility for ensuring the marital environment is respectful and loving. But your wife is 100% responsible for her adultery. No "ifs", no "buts". You must not fall into the trap of sharing the guilt for her actions. You may have been a less than perfect husband and perhaps the marriage was going through a low phase but you were in the marriage too and you didn't cheat.

It is very disappointing that your wife while admitting her betrayal is still in contact with her affair partner. She is obviously finding it difficult to break contact and I'm afraid there is little you can do about that. I don't believe there is any point in couples counselling while one of the parties openly conducts an affair. That's unfair to the loyal spouse and shows them no respect. That is my personal viewpoint.

If I fight for her will I show her that I love her or push her away? You can't fight for her. She is your wife. She married you. My view is that she you need to show her that there are consequences for her actions. She won't respect you while you she is in affair thrall and you provide the stable home life.

Every person says the affair was not planned but that's not quite true. There are hundreds of moments where a spouse can stop and assess, they just choose not to.

Community Member

Thanks M99.

For the first time in my life I am not coping with a situation. I am stuck between my nature of wanting to 'just sort it out' and my fear of somehow losing my wife. If I keep talking about it, if I suggest counselling, am I going to drive her to him? She has someone else to turn to and I don’t.

I am not the most strapping guy (less now I am 50), and though she tells me that it has nothing to do with it I find myself feeling inadequate. My weight gain effected our sex life and now I feel like I need to make up for that somehow.

My family have always been judgemental, and I don’t need someone telling me to “get a lawyer”. I get along great with her family, but I don’t want to put them in that position. Most of my friends are our friends and again it would not be fair on them.

I just got back to work and have a big dept to pay down. I looked up counselling for just me, but it’s too expensive at the moment. I am normally very confident, but this has taken from the thing that has always kept me strong – my wife.

I know what I want, and it is her, but her actions make me think I am no longer enough. I expect it is ‘give it time thing’ but my fear and doubts make that hard.

Appreciate the advice. I’ll make it.

Welcome to the forums Bagman, 
  We're so grateful that you have reached out to our community today, we know that it is not an easy thing to do but it is so important that you have. We're really sorry to hear that you've been going through this. We understand that this is a lot to try and cope with - please know that you don't have to do this alone. There is support available to you.

If you feel up to it, we'd really recommend reaching out to MensLine Australia. This is a free 24/7 telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns. You can contact them on 1300 78 99 78 or https://mensline.org.au/

It's also worth reaching out to your GP and finding out what your options are for mental health support on a budget.

We hope that you keep checking in to let us know how you're going, whenever you feel up to it.


I just want to add a post script to my original response. Infidelity is not necessarily the end of a marriage. While it is a serious blow, it doesn't have to be mortal.

However, the conditions that are required to rebuild a marriage are very specific. I won't go onto it here but from you write I can tell you that your wife is nowhere near ready.

In the meantime, I suggest counselling for you only. GPs have access to Medicare funded sessions with a psychologist. Try and find one that has extensive experience in marital issues, especially infidelity. They should be able to help you see the big picture more clearly.

Finally, millions of people (including me) have been in your shoes. We all survived and so will you. Stay healthy, eat well, get plenty of exercise and see your GP as soon as possible.

Community Member

Hi Betternow

Thanks for your reply. Your comments really got me thinking (and a few tears). I realise now that some of what she said – feeling jealous of my friends in the past, recently not feeling desirable and the affair not being planned – are her excusing her behaviour.

Her first husband cheated on her but when I asked her to maybe think on that she replied that “it was different – he deliberately went looking for it”. You are right – she is not ready to commit to our marriage and she won’t be till she stops trying to make herself the victim.

I don’t know how to move forward yet but seeing my GP is a good idea – I don’t like taking drugs but I could use someone to talk to.

Appreciate everything you said. I might not feel better yet but I am thinking a little better.

Community Member

Hi Sophie

Thanks for your reply and suggestion. Men’s Line looks like it might be really helpful and I have just set up an account.

Community Member

Hi Bagman

You won't necessarily have to take medication, your GP will have that discussion with you.

The GP is your gateway to the Medicare Psychologist. I remember when i went through what you are experiencing now. I was in shock, a sense of disbelief and unreality descended upon me. I was numb, I didn't know how to feel. I lived in a country town, knew few people, no family close by and no friends.

My ex wife exhibited the same careless attitude. She minimised her guilt, said she was confused but I just had to give her time. Refused point blank to stop seeing her lover. In fact she increased the contact after I found out but she was more discreet. Then the blame shifting started. If you were this or that, I wouldn't have to cheat blah, blah

I'm not want to imply that you are in exactly the same situation but the fundamentals still apply.

Get professional psychological support so your confusion and indecision can settle down.

Take no notice of what your wife says, only what she does. There is an important difference.

Be prepared to eventually take some brave steps if you want to work through this.

There will be pain and you will be tested but you can do it.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Bagman,

I'm glad that other members of the group here are able to provide you with their own personal experience. Elaborating on what Betternow has said, I think it is important that you seek some form of care or support that would benefit your current state and dissolve some confusions.

In Australia, there are 6 subsidised medicare sessions for psychologists, and there is now 10 additional subsidised sessions if you live in areas impacted by the second wave of COVID-19 such as Victoria. It sounds as though you are looking at reasons and causes to rationalise the cheating. I can see how you don't want to blame your wife due to your love for her, and therefore this has resulted you to finding reasons and flaws within yourself. I want to assure you that what happened is NOT your fault. The actions your wife took is 100% her choice and decision.

Moving forward what she does is also 100% her choice, the fact that she has committed further distrustful acts means she is not in a state to be accountable for her own actions towards you and the hurt it has inflicted upon your relationship. It is a great regard that you still love and care for your wife despite the situation, this is the reflection of a true man and a true husband. Never let the actions of someone else doubt your own value and integrity.

If you find that the situation gets better and she is willing to invest in rebuilding the relationship, this means no contact with the man she had an affair with, I think a marital counsellor can be worth a shot. However, at this stage it does not seem like she is both mentally and emotionally ready. Therefore, I suggest you seek the help for yourself first with the recommended sessions. Remember, we are also here to support you through this difficult time.

I hope you love yourself as much as you love your wife and treat yourself with some compassion and kindness. I hope you know you deserve better than your current situation and you will rise above this.