Q. My husband of 15 years just told me that he’s been having an affair for the last year. We have 2 children, and have been happy and living a very normal life together. Family and our children have always been the most important thing and top priority for him,as well as myself. Nobody saw any signs of this, and his behavior at home was exactly as it had been the entire 17 years we’ve been together. We never had blow out fights, we would bicker about the little things in life, like most couples do. Nothing in his mannerisms, behaviors, speech, suggested anything out of the ordinary. He told me about his affair 1 week after our anniversary, and said he was in love with her and the marriage was over. He wanted to come home on the weekends to take care of the stuff at home that he normally did, and he would continue to put his paycheck in our joint account.
He is an emotional person, cries at movies, very sensitive, loving and kind. All of our friends and family were as shocked as I was about the affair, and everyone said he was the last person that they ever thought would do something like this.He was going to tell our children what was going on, but instead of facing up to what he did, he left in the middle of the night with a suitcase and didn’t say anything to anyone. My daughter got up on Father’s Day morning, looking for her dad and he was gone. He met this woman on the internet, and “it wasn’t supposed to happen this way”, but they fell in love. Here’s the reason I’m writing – I recieved a call from the mother of the woman he’s now seeing. They’ve been together for almost a year, and she informed me that up until a month ago, he told them he was someone else, not married, and many, many delusions of grandeur things. He told them he worked for the FBI, (he’s a truck driver), he was in other countries on covert operations, his partner got shot in Guatemala and my husband got broken ribs, he asked the woman to marry him and then told her he’d be there to pick her up in a limo and fly on a private jet to Vegas to marry, the stories are endless.
The woman’s parent hired a private detective to check him out, and when they revealed all of the lies and misinformation to their daughter, she believed his explanations for all of it. They did some investigating as well, and found that he had at least 5-6 internet postings on different dating sites. Each posting he used a different age, different city, and other personal information. He has led 2 completely different lives for almost a year, and with each one was the loving, caring person he’d always been. His children, who were always a priority and who he loved and cherished, have not heard from him. The kids have written to him through email, and he has not responded once. This is so out of character for him and the story with the internet is just so surreal it’s almost unbelievable. This is something that nobody that knew him would have expected in a million years. I’m looking for answers or reasons for this, and what I can do to get him the help he needs. Obviously this is some sort of psychological breakdown, but don’t know where to go or what to do.
A. It is unrealistic to think that your husband is suffering from some sort of mental breakdown or that his behavior indicates that he has a mental illness. He might be mentally ill but having an affair in which he lied (both to you and the other woman and her family) about who he is, what he did for a living, and so forth does not correlate with having a mental illness. It seems like he may have lied as a way to simply continue leading his double life.
There may not be a way that you can help him. It is he who will have to come to the realization of what he has done to his family and his children. You may have no opportunity to help him because of the simple fact that you cannot get hold of him. He has disappeared, at least for now.
Maybe after some time has elapsed and if he realizes how his behavior has torn apart your family will he be amenable to some form of help. The help that he would need would not be treatment in the form of helping him to overcome a mental illness. Rather he would probably need assistance in coming to terms with the lies that he has told you and his children or how to deal with the hurt and abandonment his children may feel as a result of his irresponsible behavior, and other matters of this kind.
What about you and your children? How are you dealing with this unfortunate surprise? It might be helpful for you to see a therapist for support, advice or guidance or perhaps have the children see a therapist for help during this difficult time. If you decide otherwise or don’t feel it’s necessary I hope you have a good, strong support system.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Jun 2008
Randle, K. (2008). Husband Had Affair. What Happened?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 25, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/06/23/husband-had-affair-what-happened/