Style Sex & Relationships

Thursday 5 December 2019

Dear Mary: Why did she have an affair?

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I have been married to my wife for five years and we've been together for over 15.

We are both in our early forties with no children. We have good jobs and own a house outside of the city. I travel overseas a lot with work.

She is big into a particular sport and recently I have found out she has been having an affair with a colleague. He is also a member of the same sports club and they have been training together for the best part of a year. I didn't like the amount of time she was spending with him but trusted her completely and possibly felt guilty that I was away so much.

It broke my heart when I discovered the affair by seeing a text message. It had been going on for about seven months. She stopped it after I found out and is looking to move jobs.

She is my soulmate and we are the best of friends. But I am struggling to comprehend why she did this to us.

We probably had a few minor issues in our marriage that we were not dealing with but I never thought it would come to an affair.

We have been attending individual and couple counselling and it is helping. We are talking and still living together albeit in separate bedrooms. There has been some intimacy between us but it's not what it used to be like.

The thoughts of the two of them together is haunting me. I want to forgive her and get our marriage back on track - but how can trust be built back up?

We both want a future together but I'm not sure if this can be achieved.

Mary replies:  It is always a big shock to discover an affair, particularly if there have been no warnings that anything was going on.

This will not be easy to read, but your wife finished the affair because you had found out, possibly not because she wanted to end it. As a result she will have had a lot to work through in coming to terms with it ending and in some ways will be going through a grieving process.

I'm happy that both of you have sought help through counselling - it shows a real commitment to the marriage and therefore some real hope that your marriage will survive.

Try not to be too impatient because there is no fast-forward in building up trust. It will take time but gradually the thoughts you are having of your wife and this man together will fade.

So you may find it easier to forgive than to forget but it is possible to come through it all. Many couples have survived the heartache of an affair and found their bond to be even stronger afterwards. I sincerely hope that you find yourselves in this category.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at 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.

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