Three months ago I discovered my partner was having an affair

Agony Aunt's picture

Dear Patricia Marie,

Three months ago I discovered my partner was having an affair - I was devastated. I adored him and thought he felt the same way. He even brought his mistress to our house, though he denies this.

I went to see her. She has a long-term partner, but he is completely clueless about the affair - maybe I should tell him. She cried, apologised and said that I was lovely and nothing like my partner had told her, and that he didn't deserve me. I don't know which way to turn; there is still love there, but it's not the same. I now check his phone and emails - there is no trust left. He gets annoyed with me and says I should be 'over it ' and it was a big mistake. Apparently the women he was seeing said he had admitted to cheating on me a few months before with another.

We are both in our 50’s and left our long term marriages for each other. I can't face having to sell our house and start again. We are talking about getting married, but would it be marriage for the wrong reason?

Patricia Marie says...

It is devastating if the person one loves has an affair, as everything previously felt and shared with each other is thrown into question. Even if their lover meant little to them, and is dismissed as just a passing fancy, it can be utterly traumatic.

It sounds as if your partner’s love for you is inferior to yours for him. You only discovered his infidelity three months ago, so it is totally unreasonable to be expected to 'just get over it'. As he has little empathy for your pain and lack of trust, caused by his adulterous behaviour, he would seem to be exhibiting little regret or respect for you. Trust can sometimes be rebuilt, although never easy to regain completely, but healing a betrayed heart is a lengthy process and perhaps should only be considered if you both can truly see a future together.

You mention that you visited his lover, and are now considering disclosing the affair to her partner. This is a natural reaction, but would not serve a purpose, especially if you are intending to work at your relationship. Focus your energy on the future, not the past. You can't change what's happened, but you can be very much in control of what happens in the future. Perhaps you may benefit from attending Relate, as this type of counselling could help you both explore why the partnership has faltered, and could ultimately create a bond stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever before.

If your partner has a history of affairs, the risks are high that the cycle could be repeated, and it may be better to walk away. However, if you do believe you can make this work, I suggest you put thoughts of marriage to one side for now, until things are more settled between you. If you do then decide to marry, it should be because you really want to be with him, and he feels the same way, not because you can’t face selling up and starting again.

I recommend: After The Affair: How to Build Trust and Love Again, by Julia Cole with Relate. Relate: 0300 100 1234

Patricia Marie, our Agony Aunt, wants to hear your problems, dilemmas, and quarrels. Just email them to