I have been happily married for 35 years or so I thought. Then just after Christmas I found out that my husband has been having an affair for the last 10 years with a work colleague. He says he's found the deceit difficult to deal with but he's been very good at it because I hadn't a clue. He told me his lover's husband had found out about the affair and after a discussion she left the family home and moved into a hotel. He then felt he should tell me and move out as well and go to her. I was devastated but I knew I didn't want him to go. I love him and he's always been a good husband and excellent father to our 4 children. He insisted it was the right thing to do and he left. I really didn't know how to react. The children all came round to show their support but at the end of the day what could they do. It felt as if at the age of 55 my life was over. Then last week he phoned to say he'd like to talk to me. I thought he wanted to talk about divorce but instead he said he'd realised he'd made a mistake and he wanted to come home. I didn't know what to say so I told him I'd think about it. I know I still love him but I don't know now whether it would be the right thing to do. I haven't discussed it with our children but I think they would want me to take him back. I feel really mixed up. Can you help me?
I felt really sad reading your email and I can understand your confusion. Of course I accept that you didn't know about your husband's infidelity. But I am intrigued at the idea that there haven't been or, you haven't seen some indicators. I am, however, impressed that you've told him you need time to think. Because in my opinion now is the time for you to take stock and work out what you want from life and, if anything, from this relationship. I know you say you love him but is that enough?
I think perhaps first you need to understand what went wrong. Then ask yourself can I make any changes required? Can I forgive and let the pain heal? Affairs are one of the most difficult experiences any couple has to deal with not least because it represents a break in trust. If you agree to a reconciliation will you be able to regain that trust? There is always a reason for an affair. But an affair that's lasted for 10 years? It cannot be written off as simply having sex with another person. It's a relationship. A relationship he has maintained within your relationship and then as an alternative. By the way you didn't say, but I wondered, what has happened with the other woman? Is he with her at the moment?
In my experience it is quite commonplace for a partner to want to return shortly after a separation simply because they begin to miss the normality of their lives. You may have the same impulse? It is not necessarily a sign of love or remorse though of course it could be. In your case after 35 years there's a lot for both of you to miss.
If I was your counsellor I would be asking you numerous questions to help clarify your thoughts and feelings but in this context I am unable to do that. Therefore, my advice would be, if you do decide you want to try reconciliation why not suggest couple counselling to your husband. That way you can both explore your options in a safe environment with someone who will be able to support you both. If you want to think about it first why not look on my book page there are some very good self help books there. I wish you well.