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How to Recover From Your Husband’s Long Term Affair

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.


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376 thoughts on “How to Recover From Your Husband’s Long Term Affair”

  1. Hello Ash – You have found the right place to connect with others who have suffered as you are. My husband of 22 years cheated on me for 5 of them with a co-worker. We all wish that our husbands would have made better choices. Their reasons for cheating are varied, however the end is the same. Good Men Cheat. (so do bad men, so you have to figure out which one you have.) It takes time for the PTSD symptoms to soften, and for you to heal. That will take a lot of time. I am 1 1/2 years out, and am thriving. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I promise. Take care of yourself, and do things that bring you happiness. Pour all of your love into your child, the rest will resolve itself over time. I went back to school and opened my own yoga studio. If you decide your husband/marriage is worth fighting for, and he’s completely dedicated to repairing the damage done and giving you everything that you need, there is hope for your marriage. If not, then you have a different path ahead of you.
    We were supposed to trust our husbands. It’s what marriage is all about. We were not naive or stupid. We trusted the person we were supposed to be able to trust. Now we know, and we have our eyes wide open. Trust takes a lot of time to repair if it is so monumentally broken. If you work hard, the bad feelings will lessen over time, and so will the amount of energy, time, emotion you put into it. My life is wonderful now, my husband has been working his butt off for a year and a half, and I feel the love. :) Our marriage 2.0 is better than the original in so many ways. Hang in there!

  2. I’m desperately seeking connection with women who have experienced the pain and heartache of finding out your spouse has cheated. Me and my husband have been together for 13 years and married for 3. We have two children together. I had just discovered recently that he Virtually cheated on me when I was nine months pregnant with our 2nd (the baby is 15 months now) by virtual I mean they flirted, talked a lot and sent each other pics. Through the midst of dealing with that discovery, he admitted to an affair he had in our first year of marriage with a co worker. It lasted for six months. So for half of the first year of our marriage he was cheating on me. I knew we had problems in areas of our marriage but I never thought that he would go and cheat on me. And for so long and so many times. I think that is what hurts the most. Had it been just a one time thing it would hurt no doubt but to know that he was so unhappy with me that he found satisfaction with another woman for that long is killing me. He has been open and honest about why he did it and how it made him feel. He’s been honest to say that he was getting from her what he wasn’t getting from me. And even at that point he really was considering leaving me, not for her but just bc he was so unhappy. But I don’t understand. I wasn’t the happiest either but I could’ve never sought out someone else and then came home to him and my child! It just makes me feel sick and think he’s sick. At the same time, I want to be with him. And that makes me feel stupid. I also feel stupid for not knowing back then. But then again, he cheated on me after this affair almost exactly a year from when the affair ended. So I don’t believe that he truly felt that guilty about the actual affair. If he did how could he even talk to another woman again and ask to see pictures of her? It was someone across the county so I know he would’ve never seen her but it’s makes me wonder would he have done it again? All of this to say I’m struggling. I have a 15 month at home with me and this is the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life. I feel scared to love him or ever trust him again and I don’t see how this will ever get better or how I can ever get over it. I just picture them over and over again in my head. I just wish he would’ve told me how he felt then so we could have worked on it. I wish he wouldn’t have done it for so long. This really does something to your self esteem. Does anyone else find themselves just comparing themselves to the other woman? I just keep thinking if I would’ve been better in bed like her, if I would’ve been funnier like her, and I would’ve listened more to him like her this wouldn’t have happened? I know he had the choice to make. I know there are things that I could’ve done in our marriage to make him more satisfied, but he could’ve also just told me deep down how he really felt. And I know it’s not my fault bc he made the choice even if I contributed to making him feel like he needed to have an affair. He didn’t have to engage in temptation and certainly for not that long! either way it’s how it’s made me feel. I’m glad to know I’m not alone and I’m sorry to all of you who have experienced this as it’s the worst!

  3. Des,

    Thank you for your response. Your words and SV’s bring so much comfort at a dark time. This is a terribly lonely journey…hearing from you reminds me I am not alone, I did nothing wrong & I am not a pariah.

    Naturally my self-esteem has taken a hit. Each day I swing wildly back and forth—one day up on my all superior high horse and the next desperate to be reminded that I am indeed enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Interesting enough. Young enough. Sexy enough. And on and on…

    A huge hurdle I’m grappling with was expressed so well to me by SV recently—this trauma wasn’t random. This was at the hands of someone I trusted. Someone I loved. Someone that was supposed to my #1. ‘Til death. How do I go on to have a healthy attachment when I’ve been ambushed so viciously for so long?

    So angry that this is now written into our story. I’ll never be the same. I’ll never view us the same. I chose him because I thought he was LOYAL, loving & kind. This goes against EVERYTHING I though I knew. In turn, I’m mad as hell for not seeing signs. For being so trusting.

    Shaky belief in love at all. Gutted.

    All that and yet I can’t imagine my life without him in it. The family we have build is something I cherish with every fiber of my being. We have a chance to be something better. More connected. More loving. He just might grown up…love is a choice every g-damn day. It isn’t a constant hard on.

    Sending my best to you as you continue to heal.

    Sincerely,
    betrayedwife

  4. Welcome betrayedwife,
    It always breaks my heart when I see a post from someone new because I know all too well what you are going through.This will be a long hard journey. It’s one of the most painful experiences anyone can go through. SV’s advice to focus on yourself is going to be key. You need to do whatever it takes to take your mind off of this even if for a few moments. It has been extremely difficult for me not to think about my husband’s affair everyday since discovery. Sept 14 will be a year and I still struggle. As far as your marriage is concerned there are a couple of things that will help you know whether or not it’s worth saving. Firstly your husband’s behavior towards you now. He should be doing whatever it takes to show you he is committed to your relationship. The other is your perspective or meaning you have attached to the affair. I struggle with this the most. Both my husband and the OW said their 7 year affair didn’t mean anything and neither wanted the other. I found that hard to believe because it lasted so long. I have driven myself nuts looking for all the evidence I could to try to make sense of this situation. Almost a year later I don’t feel like I understand it any better. My husband and I had a good relationship. We really didn’t have any issues so I can’t understand why you would do this knowing the devastation it would cause. He says he has always been happily married. His answer to this is that he was bored, it was exciting and he was getting away with it. What I’ve learned is that there will never be a good enough answer to why this happened. I no longer want revenge or to punish him. I don’t wish for either of them to suffer. I still get angry sometimes but I’m mostly sad and hurt at what we’ve lost. This event changes you forever but you have to choose how. At some point it stops being about them or him and starts being about you and where you want to go from here. That can mean individually or together. Time alone doesn’t get you through this but how you spend that time. I wish you clarity and comfort during your journey.

  5. Dear Betrayedwive,

    Welcome to the most supportive club that no one truly should ever need to join. I just want you to know that you are not alone. Sadly, infidelity is more common than any of us cared to imagine. I assure you though, that your pain will ease with time. I am 15 months out and could not imagine ever feeling this whole or happy again when I first found out. I do still think about it, but it’s more of a dull ache when I do rather than a punch you in the gut, I can’t catch my breath, omg I might be dying kind of pain like the beginning. I don’t know your story or your husband and no one does, but you. My only advice for you is to focus on yourself. Your healing. Do something just for you even if that means he has to take care of the kids while you pamper yourself. Maybe go back to school, start a new hobby, get a massage, hell get three massages, do whatever you need to feel good even if it last a mere hour. Your marriage and it’s outcome should be on the back burner. Your healing is all that matters at the moment. If your husband is worth staying with, and only you can make that decision when you are ready, then he will do whatever is necessary to provide you with relief. He will/should help you heal. Do not ever feel selfish. Do what you need. At 15 months out, my husband and my connection is better than it has been in years. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine and I still trigger from time to time, but what we have is good and worth fighting for. I caution you to listen only to your inner thoughts and needs as many “friends” and family will offer (more like insist) advice or that you do what they think they would do in this situation. The truth is, no one knows you, your needs, your desires, and no one knows your husband. Your relationship with him is something no one else will ever know the inner workings of. YOU and YOU alone get to decide it’s fate and you can take as long as you need to decide. I love my husband. I hate what he did with every fiber of my being, but he did it. No changing history. All I can do is determine what’s best for me now. I choose happy everyday. He is not the man he was. He has worked to be a good man, deserving of me. Unless that changes, he gets to stay. My friend sent me the quote “don’t look back, you aren’t going that way”. Hugs to you. I promise, time helps whether your marriage stays or not… you will feel better. If you want to reach out privately my email is slvd@hotmail.com. A few gals here, literally saved me during the lowest time of my life. Communication helps. Reach out any time you like.

  6. Struggling.

    In early May I found out (via text message from OW) that my husband had been having an affair for 4 and a half years. We have 4 small children together. I never saw it coming.

    I’m desperate for the support of other women who know this hell. I have two amazing friends I’ve confided in. They don’t live very close and have never experienced infidelity themselves. It’s exhausting spending much of the day pretending like everything is fine. Even with my kids.

    We are in counseling. He is sorry and wants it to go away. I’d like to heal from this, but fear I may not. The pain often swallows me whole. Like others have said, if I leave him I know I’ll just be bringing this pain with me. There is no escaping it.

    OW wanted him to leave me and he told her he wasn’t going to do that. She went all scorched earth on him by outing the affair and texting me. She oddly texted me that he was on his way home to me (they were traveling together for work at the time) and he wanted our marriage to work. WTF? An attempt to salvage any last shred of integrity?

    I don’t understand how she could do this to me let alone four small children. My husband f*ed up, but he did turn back. She was ready to all out destroy us. She has 3 daughters herself. She had recently divorced her husband. I imagine returning to an empty home 50% of the time was unbearable so she sought comfort from my husband…

    Today I woke up feeling terribly sad not necessarily for the pain of the discovery of the affair, but for the emotional abuse I endured while he was having his affair. It was insidious. He was so critical and negative.

    I’d sink into depression then fight my way back to a better place. In hindsight, he was using my downward spirals to justify the affair. I felt a horrible disconnect and lack of empathy from him. I thought it was my fault. He did too. I had no idea what was going on behind my back. I trusted him.

    When the sh*t hit the fan I was the strongest I’d been in a long time. He was the one that was drinking heavily and obviously struggling. The guilt was catching up to him. And OW’s true colors started to emerge. And now I know I wasn’t the problem at all… I have a good heart and am an excellent mother making it hard for him to ultimately leave me.

    I feel like I have a near impossible task ahead- must attempt to preserve & heal myself while simultaneously work towards healing my relationship with the very person that betrayed me.

    Struggling.

    In early May I found out (via text message from OW) that my husband had been having an affair for 4 and a half years. We have 4 small children together. I never saw it coming.

    I’m desperate for the support of other women who know this hell. I have two amazing friends I’ve confided in. They don’t live very close and have never experienced infidelity themselves. It’s exhausting spending much of the day pretending like everything is fine. Even with my kids.

    We are in counseling. He is sorry and wants it to go away. I’d like to heal from this, but fear I may not. The pain often swallows me whole. Like others have said, if I leave him I know I’ll just be bringing this pain with me. There is no escaping it.

    OW wanted him to leave me and he told her he wasn’t going to do that. She went all scorched earth on him by outing the affair and texting me. She oddly texted me that he was on his way home to me (they were traveling together for work at the time) and he wanted our marriage to work. WTF? An attempt to salvage any last shred of integrity?

    I don’t understand how she could do this to me let alone four small children. My husband f*ed up, but he did turn back. She was ready to all out destroy us. She has 3 daughters herself. She had recently divorced her husband. I imagine returning to an empty home 50% of the time was unbearable so she sought comfort from my husband…

    Today I woke up feeling terribly sad not necessarily for the pain of the discovery of the affair, but for the emotional abuse I endured while he was having his affair. It was insidious. He was so critical and negative.

    I’d sink into depression then fight my way back to a better place. In hindsight, he was using my downward spirals to justify the affair. I felt a horrible disconnect and lack of empathy from him. I thought it was my fault. He did too. I had no idea what was going on behind my back. I trusted him.

    When the sh*t hit the fan I was the strongest I’d been in a long time. He was the one that was drinking heavily and obviously struggling. The guilt was catching up to him. And OW’s true colors started to emerge. And now I know I wasn’t the problem at all… I have a good heart and am an excellent mother making it hard for him to ultimately leave me.

    I feel like I have a near impossible task ahead- must attempt to preserve & heal myself while simultaneously work towards healing my relationship with the very person that betrayed me.

    Struggling.

    In early May I found out (via text message from OW) that my husband had been having an affair for 4 and a half years. We have 4 small children together. I never saw it coming.

    I’m desperate for the support of other women who know this hell. I have two amazing friends I’ve confided in. They don’t live very close and have never experienced infidelity themselves. It’s exhausting spending much of the day pretending like everything is fine.

    We are in counseling. He is sorry and wants it to go away. I’d like to heal from this, but fear I may not. The pain often swallows me whole. Like others have said, if I leave him I know I’ll just be bringing this pain with me. There is no escaping it.

    OW wanted him to leave me and he told her he would not. She went all scorched earth on him by outing the affair and texting me. She oddly texted me that he was on his way home to me (they were traveling together for work at the time) and he wanted our marriage to work. She told me they hadn’t had a physical relationship for 6 months. WTF? An attempt to salvage any last shred of integrity? An attempt to turn me against him?

    I don’t understand how she could do this to me let alone four little kids. My husband f*ed up, but he did turn back. She was ready to all out annihilate us. She has 3 daughters herself. She had recently divorced her husband. I imagine returning to an empty home 50% of the time was unbearable so she sought comfort from my husband…

    Today I woke up feeling terribly sad not necessarily for the pain of the discovery of the affair, but for the emotional abuse I endured while he was having his affair. It was insidious. He was so critical and negative.

    When the sh*t hit the fan I was the strongest I’d been in a long time. He was the one that was drinking heavily and obviously struggling. The guilt was catching up to him. And OW’s true colors had emerged.

    I have a good heart and am an excellent mother making it hard for him to leave me when push came to shove.

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