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Wife Had Emotional Affair because I Was a Poor Husband

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I found out my wife of 15 years was having an emotional affair with a friend of mine as a result of me being a poor husband. At what point do I stop trying to repair the damage? She has admitted the affair. She’s stating that she no longer speaks with him, but I question that. She is still very guarded of her phone, still friends with him on Facebook, etc. The reason she started the affair, and I’ve taken responsibility for this, was due to the fact that I put my work and mainly my hobbies ahead of my family for most of my marriage. I always thought she was supporting me in my hobby, but she says she was very unhappy.  And looking back I can see that now. Wish I had seen it then. However, she never told me point blank how unhappy she was. I found out about how unhappy she was about 3 months ago. I made wholesale changes in my life. I dropped my hobby right away. Starred spending as much time at home as I could. I put her and our daughter where they should have always been, first in my life. But something still seemed a little off. Then about 6 weeks into trying to work on our marriage( me doing most of the work, which I was fine with) I found out about this emotional affair. It devastated me. So now, another 6 weeks has passed. Things haven’t gotten much better. She says she’s done with him, but I question that as I said. I am still trying very hard to fix my mistakes and prove I’ve changed. However, I don’t feel she’s doing the same. My question is, because of my failures which I feel lead to the affair, should I be willing to give her more “time” to get to the point of working on her issues? It’s very difficult for me to handle the constant secrecy with her phone. I want to take it and see if she’s still contacting him, but I’m afraid that will crush any progress we may be making. I still love her very much and I do want to work this out. But at what point do my feelings and concerns become part of the equation? Thanks. (age 37, from US)

Wife Had Emotional Affair because I Was a Poor Husband

Answered by on -


I can understand that you are eager to get your marriage back on track and I appreciate that you are taking responsibility for your own actions. However, if you were putting your work and hobbies before your wife and family for the majority of your 15-year marriage, it’s going to take more than a few months to repair the damage. And there is a chance that the damage cannot be repaired. I have heard many spouses in similar situations say something like “It’s too little, too late.”

Don’t get me wrong, your wife is not free of blame if she chose to get her emotional needs met outside of the marriage, rather than letting you know how unhappy she was. But now that things have escalated to this point it is time that you both lay everything on the table. There needs to be a period of mutual transparency in a relationship after an affair and rather than assuming that you know what the other person wants from you, it is best to ask them. You might think you are working hard to repair things while she could be thinking that you still don’t get it.

At a minimum, you should both read some books on the subject, such as After the Affair, but I would strongly suggest that you seek marital counseling. I hope you can work things out.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Wife Had Emotional Affair because I Was a Poor Husband

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Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Wife Had Emotional Affair because I Was a Poor Husband. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 7 Nov 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.