The truth is, there are no quick tips for recovering after you find out your husband has been involved in a long-term affair with another woman. It’s a betrayal that isn’t easily fixed, a broken heart not easily healed, a love not quickly repaired.
Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Maybe you’re shocked, or furious. Baffled, scared, confused, betrayed. There are no “right” ways to feel after you discover your husband’s affair – especially if he’s been with her for months or years. Some men have affairs that last decades.
Some wives don’t find out about the affair until after their husband dies, which I write about in How to Forgive Your Husband for Cheating While He Was Alive. But whether or not your husband is alive – or living in your house – my tips below will help you start the recovery process. Most importantly, you’ll learn you’re not alone. Read the comments below, and you’ll meet other wives who discovered their husbands were in long-term affairs with other women. Knowing you’re not alone is comforting. We’re all in this together.
Here’s what one reader said:
“A woman called and told me that my husband of 34 years, was ‘hooking up’ with another woman,” says A. on How to Trust Your Husband After an Affair. “He regularly plays and sings music with a group of people, and I knew this woman was one of the singers, but didn’t think they were anything besides friends.”
Below, she describes how she found out about the affair – which was going on for three years. First, she has to decide if she wants to save her marriage, knowing that long term affairs are more difficult to recover from.
One of the bestselling resources for recovering from long term affairs is After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful.
Long Term Affairs With Married Men – 4 Steps to Recovery
“I went to his computer and found emails that indicate this affair has been going on for more than three years,” says A. “We live in a small town, so I wonder how many people saw them together and know about this affair.”
Her 60 year old husband is retired; the woman he had an affair with is 41, married and doesn’t work. He’d email her to meet right after A. left for work each day.
“He promised to stop seeing her, and swears that he hasn’t been in contact with her since I found out,” says A. “My husband wants to pretend that everything is okay, but I am devastated by this betrayal. He refuses counseling, since we both hold degrees in psychology and ‘know what they will say.’ I think he doesn’t want to face what he has done to us. I thought I would be feeling better by now, but I still cry each day and get nauseated when I leave the house each morning, thinking about all the times he was waiting for me to go to work so he could be with her. I have lost trust in him and don’t believe things he tells me. I worry about silly things now and never did before. How do I get past this?”
Accept the reality that long term affairs are more difficult to get over than a fling
Long term affairs with married men that go on for years contain more than a brief (stupid) moment of indiscretion or an impulsive (immoral) act. Affairs that last years indicate that a relationship is in place. Even though the cheaters don’t want to leave their spouses, they are emotionally and physically connected.
Long term affairs are deeper, more painful betrayals than short term affairs like one night stands or short flings. Both types of affairs are wrong and horrible betrayals, but a long term affairs mean the married man wasn’t getting what he needed from the marriage. His relationship with the other woman was fulfilling some need.
Read Why Men Cheat on Women to learn what he may have been missing.
Give yourself time to grieve the end of your marriage as you knew it
The grief you’re going through involves the same stages as grieving the death of a spouse. You can’t just shrug off long term affairs with married men, and resume your marriage! You have to mourn the end of one stage of your marriage so you can prepare for the next stage.
My friend’s husband cheated on her with her best friend, and it took her six years to recover. Of course she didn’t trust anything he said – he’d been lying to her for ages. So, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll “get over it” anytime soon.
One way to grieve the end of your marriage is to talk to other wives who have survived long term affairs. If you don’t know how to connect with other women whose husbands cheated, write your thoughts in the comments section below. Other women who are coping with long term affairs with married men will read your thoughts, and hopefully respond.
Decide if you want to get past the affair
Do you want to stay married to a man who lied and cheated on you for years? Write down the pros and cons for recovering your marriage, for rebuilding and reconnecting. Be honest with yourself – maybe you’re scared to leave because you haven’t been on your own for years, you don’t know how to pay the household bills, your kids will freak out, your pastor will have a heart attack.
Spend a month weighing the pros and cons of trying to recover from a long-term affair. You don’t have to decide today or tomorrow…just envision your life on your own, and envision your life in a new stage of marriage.
You are free to create the life you want! Maybe that involves marriage; maybe it doesn’t. But you need to give yourself permission to take your life in the direction you want.
You also have to be aware of the signs your partner will cheat on you again.
Go for marriage counseling even if he doesn’t want to
Your husband lost the right to stomp his foot and say “but I don’t wanna to go to marriage counseling” the first time he considered cheating. After long term affairs, married men have absolutely no right to say whether or not marriage counseling is an option.
Your husband does not have the right to decide on marriage counseling. He may not want to face the pain or own up to his actions. He’ll have a difficult time describing why he’s involved in a long term affair. He won’t want to explain himself. But if he is truly remorseful, he’ll go to counseling if he thought it would win you back and repair your marriage. He’d lead the way to marriage counseling if he thought it would help you recover from his long-term affair.
Even if your husband refuses counseling, you should still go on your own. You need tools to survive the betrayal, and to cope with the fact that others knew about the affair long before you did.
For more tips on long term affairs with married men, 8 Secrets About Fixing Unhealthy Relationships.
What do you think about long term affairs with married men? Comments welcome below…I can’t offer advice, but you may find it helpful to share your thoughts.