Cali2281
My wife recently just confessed to me a few days ago, about an emotional affair. She is still in a little denial that it was exactly an emotional affair. My issue is I’m not sure if I can forgive her for it. I am confused on how serious this actually was. She for sure crossed boundaries by discussing our relationship with a man she found attractive. She says there was some crush feelings there and flirting vibes, but the tipping point is when she dreamed about him and they both exchanged that they had sexual dreams for each other. When this happened she claims she realized it had gone too far and tried to separate from him, but ultimately decided that she could talk to him, just not so much as a close close friend. She claims she was no longer friendly to him like she was before the dream and that the intimate friendship was dying down. The deep part of the relationship was probably 3-6 months and then another 3-4 months of somewhat “separating” herself from it. The relationship as a whole only ended bc of covid layoffs and then it took her about 3 months of not seeing him to confess to me. One hard thing is that after the layoffs, her coworkers joked around with her that he had stopped by to see her (which wasn’t true) and she remembers getting excited and asking them multiples times if that was true. 1.) why the excitement if she claims she was separating herself from him. You would think she would have been relieved when she might not have to see him again bc of the way she explains her feelings towards him after the dream. 2.) It sucks to know that her coworkers could obviously see the connection. This also means that right when I start to try and swallow the claim that my wife was pushing him away for months, she then had excitement that he may have stopped by for her. This interaction of him maybe stopping by was not that long ago. The good thing is there was supposedly no contact through the internet or outside of work. It seems like she wasn’t in love with him, but for sure liked seeing him at work and the talking. One of the biggest issues has been the way she went around confessing. There have been lots of little useless lies that come out later, along with confessing and “remembering” more details over the last 4 days. This has been hard bc every time she comes up with something new or gets caught lying about it, it tears us apart even more and makes me think it must have been something serious for her to be so indecisive and weird about it. Idk, I’m just lost and hurt and I guess just looking for reassurance that I can get through this. I mean how bad is this? How long will it take me to forgive. Things that make us a little different is that we are high school sweet hearts and have been together for exactly half our lives(14 years). This is the first major problem to happen in our relationship. 
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BlindCheetah
Welcome and sorry your need to join us here. Your feelings are justified, trust you gut. Her actions tell you more than her words right now. Don’t make any permanent decisions right now, keep posting it helps. You can get through this but it will take a lot longer than you want it to. 

Female BS
Married 19 years 
2 tween girls

DDay 10/2019 
Affair 1, 11/2010 to 2/2011
Affair 2, 6/2019 to 12/2019 - Persistent One is still trying to contact him. 

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Cali2281
Thank you
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AnywhereButHere

Hi Cali,

My situation is very similar to yours - my wife of 26-years had a months-long emotional affair, behind my back, with a co-worker. It was devastating and, though your wife and others may exhort you to "look on the bright-side...they didn't have sex", you realize, of course, that such advice just isn't relevant to pain your are experiencing. I even think that if my wife had had a drunken, one-nighter with a guy that she confessed in tears to me the next day, even though they had sex it probably wouldn't be as bad as the several months of inappropriate intimate, flirty sharing with another guy, with whom she was in infatuated love with, that she did do.

Some advice to your wife:

1. Hold strictly to the no-contact (with your affair partner). Write a no-contact email to him if necessary (Is he trying to see her again?). Let your husband read and approve the letter and allow him to confirm that it was sent. Allow your husband to read the response from your affair partner if one is sent. Then, no follow-ups or clarifications - contact is over. This link is to an article of advice for writing the no-contact letter: https://drkathynickerson.com/blogs/relationship/18032276-how-to-end-an-affair-sample-break-up-letter

2. Be transparent, truthful and provide the details asked for. Your betrayed husband has many questions now and many more will likely come to him as the days go on. Attempts to mitigate, walk-back previous claims, make implausible claims as well as out-and-out lying and concealing details will dig the hole your affair has created even deeper and will stall progress. After calling my wife out on too many implausible claims, she told me that she lied to me in order to 'protect me'. As you might guess, my initial reaction was, "Oh my God!!! It was so bad you need to protect me from the details?!!! Here is a link to a good article (letter, really) about the need for answers: https://www.affairhealing.com/need-for-answers.html 

3. While you probably want to ‘fix this’, it can’t be fixed so you need to stop trying. Take most of your cues from your husband as to how you should act and behave in relation to this new and awful context. If your husband is like me, he won’t feel good about being handled to managed. My wife and I always used to buy jack cheese at the market. Then she stopped buying it…because her affair partner was a man named ‘Jack’. I felt like a child that had to be protected.

4. Don't hold to any timeline at which you think he will be over it. And beware of belittling his pain or expressing frustration that he isn’t over it as soon as you think he should be. He will catch even the mildest inferences that you feel this way. And nothing was more infuriating than having the person who wasn’t cheated on tell the person who was that they are over-reacting. Though you understandably want this matter done, over-with and fading into the distant past, the truth is, your husband will never be over your affair and, according to the nature of a trauma, for a long time to come for him it will have a quality, the feeling, of having ‘just happened’ even if it's long in the past. It’s weird. If your marriage relationship prior to your affair was an otherwise normal and loving one (not perfect - no marriage is perfect, except on TV), the trauma of your betrayal is not something that either of you will likely 'get over'. Instead, you both will learn to live with it. And it is possible to have a good loving and sound relationship post-affair. But it takes commitment, effort and realistic expectations. Things will never be just like they were before the affair. Some people do report that the marriage relationship, post affair, is actually better than it was prior to the affair. I suspect that, in these cases, the marriage relationship prior to the affair wasn't as good as mine was.

Some advice to you:

1. Your health is likely to take a significant hit in the coming months. I lost 40 lbs in a few weeks and lived on 2-3 hours of sleep every night for several months. I now take medication for the new reality of high blood pressure in my life. You may notice yourself waking up in the middle of the night and feel an actual 'thump' on your head that jolts you into being awake for the rest of the night. This is the cortisol surging into your brain as you recall what has happened and inducing a panic response to the trauma you are experiencing. Be aware of and see a doctor about any adverse health situations, especially a lack of sleep, that arise.

2. Writing helps a lot to organize the many thoughts flying around in your skull. Write a letter to your wife. Write a letter to your affair partner. (None of these need to be delivered. These are just imaginary conversations and may help organize your thoughts for future discussions with your wife - helping you to say things exactly how you want to say them.) Write an article that states what you know about your wife's affair, things that might be true but that you haven't confirmed. List questions that you want to ask her. Edit these in the following weeks as new information or new thoughts occur to you. I wrote enough for a book.

3. Beware of hastily assuming responsibility for the affair or anything you believe you may have contributed to its having happened. A lot of analysis of the affair and your marriage relationship is coming. You don't fully understand things right now, including a lot of things you thought you did. Down the road, maybe a few months down the road, you will have a better view from which to assess your responsibility, if any, for what happened.

4. Hold on to this truth: If your marriage is to survive, it needs to be a place that both you and your wife want to be. Beware of taking advantage of any and every opportunity that presents itself to remind your wife of what she has done. You don't (or shouldn't) want her to be permanently emotionally hobbled by this. Triggers are going to come again and again. There's no need to point at each one and say, "Hey look. Remember what you did?"

5. But focus, primarily, on getting yourself emotionally stabilized and leave your wife to do the same with herself. It’s strange that in recovering from this, the two of you are kind of precluded in a way from helping one another since one is responsible for it and the other is the bleeding victim. You both have different paths to walk here…and hers will be the more difficult. Here is an article offering some points on the horizon to aim for: https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/infidelity-recovery-three-methods-to-get-moving

My prayers for the both of you.

BH, 5+ Mo EA, DDay 3/8/18
"...regarding all as God after God."
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Cali2281
Thank you Anywhere. This helped me so much, especially the articles and this also allowed me to get my wife involved and understand more. I will be looking back at your words in the future in order to stick to your advice. I was wondering if you ever opened up to a male friend about what was happening. As a guy I’m not sure if I want to open up to any of my male friends, but I also feel like I need someone else to talk to. 
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BlindCheetah
I have told 1 friend and no family I debated for a long time who to tell but knew I had to tell someone. It’s been a huge relief having a real person to talk to but choose carefully. I also had my husband tell a friend I chose the friend he could have chose another but he didn’t, he did feel relieved when it was done. He also told a friend before me, that one wasn’t a choice I approved of but well she could relate to his situation.

Female BS
Married 19 years 
2 tween girls

DDay 10/2019 
Affair 1, 11/2010 to 2/2011
Affair 2, 6/2019 to 12/2019 - Persistent One is still trying to contact him. 

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AnywhereButHere

Hi Cali,

Yes, I brought a male friend into my confidence, with my wife’s full knowledge, soon after DDay and it would be very good for you to do so as well. But it can’t be a casual friend or a ‘dinking buddy’. It must be someone who is personally invested in you as a friend – meaning that they aren’t completely indifferent to your happiness. Hearing of your affair will be awkward for them…but they should be someone immediately willing to go through the awkwardness with you, for you. They should be someone who you are confident that the matter of what has happened to you will be important to them precisely because it affects you. Ideally, it would be someone who is a friend of both you and your wife, as a couple, rather than someone who is completely detached from your marriage relationship. Obviously, I’m talking about someone you, and your wife, has history with. Do you have such a friend?

Re-reading your initial post, I have a couple more points to offer:

  1. I believe it is important to make distinction between your wife’s infatuation, fantasizing and her dreams about this man…and her actual interaction and engaging with him. Infatuations and fantasies come and go, even to married people, husbands and wives. I told my wife, straight up, that her admitted infatuation and fantasizing about her affair partner was a matter that should be kept between her and God and, even as her husband, those things were none of my business. Infatuation is the heat, the fireworks, at the beginning of love but, unless it is nurtured, it typically dies a natural death – usually after just a few weeks. But if one nurtures an infatuation through inappropriate interaction – it becomes an affair, either physical or emotional, and that is a different matter entirely and can last a long, long time. Interacting with an affair partner, sharing about how their feelings for one another go ‘beyond friendship’, discussing what they would like to do ‘if we weren’t married’, having secret flirt-texting sessions and sexy photo-exchanging (all things my wife did) is crossing the line because it is a sharing an interaction with another man what our wives promised to only share with us…because, we thought, out of all the men in the world we were somehow special to them.
  1. You wrote about wondering if you were capable of forgiving your wife. I think that, these days, few people understand what forgiveness truly is as it has largely morphed into a self-help subcategory. First off, forgiveness isn’t something you do alone and in a vacuum. It’s an interaction - not a feeling you work to develop in yourself so that one day, regardless of her state in life, you can announce to the world, “I’ve forgiven my wife.” Although forgiving is something you, not she, will do, it's is as much about her healing as it is yours and either you both have it, or neither of you do. So, you both have to be involved. Even God only forgives us after we reject our behavior, turn away from it in repentance and say we’re sorry. As you speak of your wife ‘confessing’ her affair, it would seem that she is truly sorry and sorrowful over what has happened. So, working toward forgiveness is appropriate here. By my understanding, forgiveness is point number 4 in my previous advice to you. Forgiveness is not making everything just like it was before the affair…or pretending that it is. While I write that you should be wary of taking advantage of every opportunity to rub your wife’s face in what she has done, at the same time, your job in forgiving her is not to ‘put on a happy face’ and utterly shield her from the fallout and pain she has caused and the damage, likely permanent damage, that she has done to you and to your marriage. You are going to hurt for a long time. I’m 2 ½ years out from our DDay…and my wife’s emotional affair still cuts. You are, more often at first, going to feel like crap on occasion because of what she has done and it’s alright if she knows it - even though you have forgiven her.
BH, 5+ Mo EA, DDay 3/8/18
"...regarding all as God after God."
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Cali2281
Thank you guys. I’ll be thinking about if and who I’d like to talk to. This also helped me narrow down my decision a little bit more. Thank you for the 2 tips, I have been wondering what I should start telling my wife to keep to her self. As for forgiveness, I believe I’m starting to understand that part a little bit better, this helps.
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Ariana

I can totally sympathise and the betrayal hurts so much. 

I’ve been with my partner 19 years and I found out a while ago that my husband was messaging a 23 year old girl (he’s nearly 40) from work for 4 months secretly. He was deleting all the messages behind my back and she was telling him all about her boyfriend sexting other girls and she sent him a photo of her on a stripper pole. I can not even begin to explain how much it destroyed me. We have three beautiful children together and we get on so unbelievably well. It came completely out of the blue. I only found it because he was terribly cagey with his phone. Checking his phone was never something in a million years I would ever do but I did and found he’d been messaging this girl a crazy amount of times per day. 

I’m sorry you’re going through this too. My husband has done everything ‘right’ now and has worked hard to regain my trust. I know he does love me. 

I think the first thing that has to happen is your wife needs to cut all contact. In my case my husband did cut all contact and even then it’s still difficult knowing he was attracted to someone else like that and he said it was an ego boost for him. She needs to cut contact in order for the secrecy and lies to stop. 

We then had lots of time just us and left the kids with family members last year so we could have date nights and time together. It really wasn’t an easy path and as you can tell as I’m writing on here, I still don’t fully trust him anymore. That trust was completely broken and I definitely have walls up around me although they’re not as high as they once were. It can be worked through but for me contact had to totally stop immediately otherwise I couldn’t have personally moved forward. 

keep writing on here or on a diary. I kept a diary of all my emotions and it really helped me vent. Also like someone suggested above, share some emotional affair websites or even forums with your partner. My partner tried to fob me off with the we’re only friends (this was prior to me finding the stripper photo and my husband sending her a picture of him with his top off and new tattoo). Showing him emotional affair websites and forums where people discussed their situations enabled him to see that he did have an affair albeit not a physical one and reading people’s experiences meant he could see the situation through my eyes. 

I would speak to someone but it might help speaking to a counsellor more even as a 1:1 with just you and the counsellor. I told a few people but I don’t feel like they truly understood how I felt or where I was coming from. It didn’t seem quite as big a deal to them as it was to me. 

Sorry you are going through this and I hope reading other’s experiences will give you the support you need to move forward. 💖

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Cali2281
Thank you Ariana, I should write more in my journal. I am looking into 1 on 1 counseling. My wife has been very understandable about it and into reading info with me. She did cut all ties and actually did before hand. Thank you very much for the info 
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Bjacobson75

Cali,

Sorry you’re having to deal with this. It’s one of the worst things in life to experience.  


Having been in your shoes before, I can share some insight that I have experienced having been in a very similar situation.  


For comparison, my wife’s affair wasn’t a co-worker but a member of a hobby group she belonged to.  He was a predatory mentor whom he assigned himself to my wife to help learn about beekeeping.  

my wife violated boundaries, and willingly participated in flirty, innuendo laden, and sometimes sexual text exchanges with this man.  

I found out by asking a question of my wife back in 2017 and the answer I got drastically changed my life.  She initially stated that she ended contact with the man because he couldn’t keep the text exchanges they were having at an appropriate level.  I later found out that she was more than a victim of his text based advances.  She eventually admitted to feeding into the conversations as a form of manipulation because she enjoyed the attention.

There were many denials, and opportunities for physical activity which she still denies occurred to this day.  

Having said all that, I have observed a few things I felt were clouded by my initial feelings of betrayal.  For starters, she could have kept it secret and took the relationship (or whatever you want to call it) to the grave.  She chose not to, most likely for selfish reasons to rid herself of giult.   In your case as I understand it, your wife confessed without confrontation.  I see that as a good thing. 


Second, my wife was less than forthcoming with details I sought so I could get a better understanding of their relationship.  My wife claims to have had no feelings for the person but the attention she was getting.  From what you’ve posted, it appears your wife shared with you high level details around what was exchanged, and unlike my wife I needed to ultimately find some older texts to call her out on her deceit before getting enough information to comprehend the gist of it all.

Third, at some point, many months after she turned my life upside down, I felt my wife finally understood  The gravity of the situation, and started to really work on herself to get a better understanding of why she would feel the need for such attention. She took the time and put in countless hours of 1:1 counseling to understand she has a lot of issues that needed to be brought to the surface and discussed to understand what in her led to the complete disregard for people other than herself. 

I see there’s hope for you provided your wife continues to be completely open, honest, and transparent.  In my wife’s case, it took a lot of time of 1:1 counseling for her to comprehend the damage she was doing by feeling she needed to protect herself by keeping secrets.

We are two years out from the day my wife shared the initial conversation, it’s been a very rocky road until the past 6 or 8 months.  

I have undergone 1:1 counseling myself and it has helped immensely.  Something I wish I had done many years ago but let myself down by making up excuses to not do it.  

We’re healthier now, I am still scarred and often trust but verify when I get a hunch or gut feel when something doesn’t feel right.  

Wishing you the very best.

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Cali2281
Thank you very much for the insight B. Your situation seems very similar to mine (more so then a lot of the stories I read). My wife starts counseling tomorrow, I hope it will help her. I believe my wife also needs to learn what led her down this road and why she has a somewhat disregard towards people. I hope we start to heal soon. Thanks 
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