Dear Mary: Is it possible to move on after his 10-year affair?
Mary O'Conor is a relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist who offers advice in her weekly column.
Q: I have recently discovered my husband has been having an affair for 10 years. I know now I stumbled on it eight years ago when I found a Valentine's card in his pocket.
He insisted it was a work joke and hadn't thought to get rid of it. I put it aside because I found no texts and he generally always answered his phone when I called. Yes, he was jumpy around his phone but it's a work phone so again he brushed it away as did I. About a year ago I found a mildly suspicious text and again he swore blind it was nothing. When he did finally admit to seeing this girl, he said that all those years he couldn't let her go, but he will now. Yet how can I believe him? I love him and I feel he loves me because he has never indicated he's unhappy. We have four children. I don't know if I should or can move past this.
A: Ten years is an enormously long time for him to have carried on this affair and even though there were a few occasions when you became suspicious he continued on with it. So the other woman was very much a part of his life for all this time both emotionally and sexually and to a certain degree he was having the best of both worlds.
Now he has admitted the affair and has said he will finish with her. I get the feeling that she is at his place of work and if so then he is going to continue seeing her every day. Would it be possible for him to change jobs? If not, how do you feel about her continuing to be in his life? The fact is he has agreed to end the affair only because he was found out, not because it had reached a natural conclusion, and that will always be a worry for you. Only you can answer if you can move past all of this - I have seen it go both ways. It is possible in time to forgive but you will probably never forget what he has done. Any time he is late home or not where he said he would be then you will become suspicious and start questioning him, and this is something he will have to put up with. There is also the question of why he had the affair - what was wrong with your marriage that he went elsewhere - and he will have to try to honestly answer this if you are to move forward.
This is a case where marriage counselling would be very helpful, because very often when couples try to sort things out by themselves it results in a war of words when even more hurtful things are said and a bad situation worsens. In counselling you will have an unbiased person working with you towards an agreed goal - whether that goal is moving forward or separating is up to you both. To find an accredited relationship counsellor visit www.iacp.ie
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at email@example.com or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.