Question for Men about Guilt after an affair
I can't seem to find a post to my question so I'll go ahead and ask it here.
My husband of 26 years left me in July after a 1 month affair with a woman from his high school days. Shortly after he left, whenever we talked, he would say he was sorry but was strong about his desire to move on and start a new life. He was almost giddy that he had found someone that liked to do what he liked to do, was spontaneous and carefree, didn't mind spending money on him and told him how attractive, sexy and wonderful he was. I'm sure the sex was new, different and exciting and he fell fast and hard for her.
Fast forward 5 months. Whenever we talk or text now, he is wracked with guilt. He says it will kill him. He regrets his actions, misses his home, kids, routine, freedom, money, misses doing yard work with us, watching TV in front of the fireplace and the list goes on and on. He says home was not a bad place after all and I didn't deserve what he did to me.
He has to keep reminding himself that he left for a reason but didn't think through the consequences of his actions while he was cheating. Just assumed the grass was greener on the other side. His family says he is miserable. He has lost weight, is terribly confused (he has contemplated moving to 4 different states, moving in with her or moving back to our home town to be closer to the kids), has told his family that he really screwed up and doesn't know how to fix it. He has told me that he has found himself crying (he has never cried in his life, or at least not admitted it), he goes to work with a knot in his stomach and his actions are constantly in the back of his head every waking hour of the day. He can't get rid of them.
Our kids say he is different. He stares off into space, has lost his sense of humor and they have both seen him crying. Sometimes he talks in circles to the point where they both get headaches (they are 20 and 18). Other times, he is like their old Dad.
He says the damage he has caused at home is so horrific that he can't come home at this point. Neither of us knows how we'll make it through the holidays.
I would like to hear, from a man's point of view, if he wanted to leave and found someone that he really thought was his soul mate, why the guilt would be so bad. Both his sister and I have offered to get him help and even pay for it. He will have
no part of it.
I still love my husband, I cannot turn of that emotion like a water faucet and I miss him terribly. I wish I could get inside his head to see what he is really thinking. By the way, I was totally blindsided by his affair. I thought we were happy and would grow old together. He has told me the same thing on more than one occasion. He used to look at cheaters as dirt. I must add, he is still with this woman.
Advice from a man's point of view would be most appreciated.
Thank you so much.Noel's response
His sounds like a typical midlife affair, where as he has told you 'the grass looked greener'. I have known a number of men who have done this, only to regret it later. Some have been allowed to come back to their wives and families, and others have not (either they couldn't bring themselves to, because of the guilt, or their wives would not take them back).
You don't mention your husband's age, but I guess mid-to-late 40s. This is what Daniel Levinson, in his book The Seasons of a Man's Life
calls the 'age 40 transition'. It is a major life transition, and many men enter 'midlife crisis' during this time. They fear their life is passing them by, and look outward for a sense of happiness and fulfillment rather than inside.
Because your husband views cheaters (and thus himself) as dirt it makes sense that he would feel tremendous guilt about what he did.
I suspect he is discovering that the relationship with the woman he is now with is not turning out as rosy as he anticipated, and the stars are starting to fall out of his eyes in regards to how he views her. When we first 'fall in love' (it is really infatuation rather than love) we project our ideal image of a woman (or a man in the case of a woman falling in love) onto the other person, and really don't see them for the person they truly are at all. When the 'honeymoon stage' ends, things often look dramatically different.
Both you and he might find my book "A Harley Or My Wife" useful. You might also find Crossing the Soul's River
a valuable resource.
My suggestion is that you continue to talk and/or text with your husband, letting him know (if you are willing) that you are available to discuss getting back together if he wants to try it. It will of course mean him leaving the other woman, and the two of you going to marriage counseling in order to establish a new relationship, as the one you had is now gone. You will also need the marriage counseling to start building some trust, after his betrayal of you.