An Affair Not Over: Gary’s Story

man in painAnother the series I’ve been writing lately – personal interviews (by email) of former or current Cheaters. Gary is the first one I’ve interviewed where his affair is still going on and his wife does not know. I think you will find his inner turmoil to be very typical of a lot of people like him. He’s not out there bragging, or thinking he’s getting away with something and smiling about how well he’s having his cake and eating it too. No, he’s in utter turmoil. His affair is giving him incredible highs, yet it’s also made him feel worse about himself. He doesn’t want his marriage over, but he’s firmly in love with the Other Woman and does not know what to do. Meet Gary. (AND AGAIN NOTE:  ALL THE NAMES ARE FICTIONALIZED TO PROTECT THE ANONYMITY OF THOSE NAMED HERE)

1. Tell us about you.

I am a 53 year old man, a mechanic, I’ve been married for 31 years. My wife (Susan) and I have three healthy children. My wife is a teacher. After the kids were out of the house and going to elementary school she started taking university courses to re educate herself and re enter the job market.So for her it is a second career.

2. Tell us about your affair. How did it start? Who is she?

I met the OW (I’ll call her Barbara….I had a crush on a girl in high school with that name LOL) in the fall of 2011. Barbara is a year younger than I. She has been divorced for ten years. Her kids have within the last four or five years left home for university and are starting their lives on their own. I imagine yes another reason for her to get involved with me is the loneliness she must be feeling.I started being attracted to her for the friendship. To be connected and share with another human….. a special friendship…..there is nothing like it.

We met at the gym in a cardio class and conversed for a few seconds before class and during usually, all the while developing a relationship. It was her who started talking and I was receptive. I could in hindsight sense an energy coming from her that was not reserved like the other ladies. Even though I was a regular in the class for years it was tough to get into a conversation with other class members (they were all females) it seemed as though they were willing to exchange a hello but that was it. So I appreciated talking and actually having a conversation with Barbara. After a while she became flirtatious. I was informed that she was single and I informed her that I was married. I must say I so appreciated just connecting with another human being…..not just another male to chat about sports over beer and wings. All the while I am thinking its ok for a man to be friends with another woman….. we’re adults……I’m an old man who has never and I repeat never looked at another woman for anything sexual.

As the summer session with the gym classes concluded in 2012 we exchanged work emails to converse over the summer. We might of exchanged half a dozen emails…..she spoke of her up coming golfing holiday and I teased her that maybe if she was good enough I’d see her on TV. The emails died off and I finished the summer. I so missed conversing with her through those emails still thinking we were just friends. In my mind I just missed the friendship with her but I missed it like I lost my best friend of 20 years, and I didn’t see anything wrong with that. One of many mistakes.

We met up again in class at the beginning of the fall session in 2012 and continued our friendship. It continued at times to be a little flirtatious. We were just kidding with each other…..right? We always had the class on a Wednesday night and she wasn’t seeing anyone so she teased me that I was her Wednesday night date which turned into me being her Wednesday Nighter LOL.

2012 progressed and we came to the Christmas holidays and a break from the gym class schedule. All the women were hugging and wishing Merry Christmas and of course no hugs for the lone male. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel slighted. I was a regular in the class as well but I guess there were no hugs for the male in class LOL. It was plain to see between Barbara and I that something was different and we definitely wanted to hug each other. We came to the conclusion that it would be nice to meet at the gym and do our own class in the studio over the Christmas holidays so we exchanged our cell phone numbers and thus began the texting. I talked about it with my wife and assured her it was nothing just class friends meeting AT THE GYM…..what could be wrong? Barbara had become very important to me and I saw nothing wrong still. She was just a friend, we were becoming “good friends” right? Nothing wrong with that. I always wanted to have a special friend something that I have never had since high school. Can a male not have a good female friend? I must admit here I had been praying for a special female friend. Yes a female. I just wanted to connect with someone, not just chat and swap stories over beer and wings that is common with males but to talk like special friends talk, about personal things and things that matter. I guess now it should of been a therapist I don’t know. As soon as we were by ourselves in the gym studio we exchanged Christmas hugs with huge smiles on both our faces. Why the hell I still never saw anything wrong I have no idea. Regardless what my needs were there is no excuse. How can I say I didn’t know what I was doing….but that is exactly what I am saying.

She lived within walking distance from the gym. It wasn’t long before I met her at her place and we conversed at the kitchen table. Meetings like this began to take place a couple times a week. Hugs turned to cheek kisses turned to lip kisses. Then there was the tour of her house. Then the bedroom got involved. I always was so excited to share time and space with her in the kitchen but then we started to develop sexual chemistry. This is something I didn’t start but didn’t turn down either. At that time I would do anything to keep her friendship.

I am still involved with her. We have so much in common. Something that I don’t’ experience with my wife. Something I realize with an affair is the incompleteness of it. For the most part we just get to experience the joys of relationships. I do believe the love for her is something very real and powerful….but also incomplete. I am struggling to break off with Barbara and to begin at repairing my life with my wife.The way I see it is with Barbara I could experience a life doing things with her that we have in common rather than just take my wife Susan (not her real name…..another girl I had a crush on in elementary school haha) on these excursions. For me there is no joy in sharing an experience with Susan who is just going along for the ride even in the knowledge that she is doing it because she loves me. It is so different when you are actually mutually enjoying a shared experience. Also I have it in the back of my mind what I have done to Susan and our marriage. Do I go back to what got me here in the first place? In my mind I have always communicated my needs with Susan and when the discussion got heated I would always back off. I realize now all of my unmet needs has brought me to where I/we are now.

Susan knows my heart is somewhere else which has caused us to receive individual counselling and also marriage counselling. She is willing to work and I feel I must give it a try. Right now I have woken at least partially from my fog and found myself in love with Barbara and not my wife Susan. Susan is a kind and loyal wife even though maybe she hasn’t been the friend I have needed all these years. That is something we have talked about. In the past she has said that it’s a lot of pressure to put on one person. This has caused me to go and get a life without her doing my own thing. Now I don’t know after all these years how can I enjoy doing things with her. To me I have had training for plenty of years to the contrary. I now struggle for the strength to do what is right knowing I will need to recover as much as I can from Barbara after devastating her, myself and Susan.

We meet after the gym at her house roughly three or four times a week. Sometimes we talk, other times we make love.

I don’t plan to tell my wife about the affair if I can get away with it. She doesn’t deserve what I did. This affair is something that if you told me two or four or any amount of years ago that I would of been involved in never would I have agreed with you. I will never do this again……to much pain and deceit. Yes, it’s wrong.

3. Tell me about your marriage. At the time of the affair, how long had you been married? Did you feel happy, content, other, or something in the middle? Explain your honest feelings about your marriage.

My honest feelings about my marriage at the beginning of the affair? I thought everything was good. I just felt very very lonely. I had spoken with my wife about my feelings of loneliness in the past and how much I needed more of her company but it seemed to always come down to she said she needed to choose between her friends and me and how unfair that was. So I just got hobbies and struck out on my own feeling good initially with the hobbies but eventually the loneliness would return and I would talk to her again. It seemed like just a cycle with my wife and I and we made a life out of it.

Looking back at the beginning of the affair i believe what I felt was a loneliness that I have never experienced on that level ever. Early in 2011 I had lost my mother who was someone I had a troubled relationship with but was beginning to put things together best as we could with our differences. I also have been estranged from my sister (my only sibling) for 20 years. The will from my mother was divided up to go 99% to my sister’s family. Her and I were also the executors of the will. This was quite hurtful knowing my mother kept this secret from me. I have no other family to share with other than my kids and wife. The death of my mother I think left me feeling orphaned and betrayed by my family.

4. Is this your first affair of any kind?

This is my first affair. Five years ago if you told me I would be in an affair I would of thought you crazy. I have never entertained the thought of another women. To look at my wife and I you would never suspect our marriage would ever suffer.

5. Why did you have an affair? What was going on in your mind that made an affair seem like a viable option?

I now believe I cheated out of loneliness. I was so caught up in loneliness and pain it was like my rationale went to sleep and I woke up in love with another women. My affair is an emotional one for sure. In the beginning I wasn’t at The OW place for sex at all. In my mind I wasn’t anyway. The sexual chemistry just started to evolve with our deepening feelings for each other. Something that I can’t say I have with my wife is sexual chemistry or chemistry of any kind. I have never experienced that before. It’s quite emotionally binding. With the OW meeting my short term emotional needs and the sexual chemistry we have……… goodness the pull to her literally takes my breath away.

Why not get divorced? One thing I am deathly afraid of is being alone….that I know would kill me.

6. How have you managed to keep it a secret? How did you hide the affair?

Hiding the affair hasn’t been easy. As you know being in an affair also causes a chasm in your current marriage and that is quite noticeable by any wife I’m sure. Mine is no exception. Something must happen soon. Right now I am in the middle of being quite afraid and knowing the affair can’t go on for ever. Courage seems short.

7. How did you feel during the affair, both when you were with the OW and when you were at home? What were your thought processes?

In the beginning stages of the affair I felt like I was on cloud nine but as time went on it became clear to me that I had fallen in love with this lady. Every stage of the affair seems to play out in slow motion all the while I am slowly waking up. Sheez. I am trying to cover the affair up but hiding feelings is becoming impossible. Something must happen soon. It’s pretty hard to hide not wanting to be with my wife. I must choose and do the right thing. Try to repair my marriage. How do I after 20 years of getting a life of my own with my own hobbies… do I learn to enjoy doing something with my wife again? It’s like a prisoner getting out of prison and prison life is all he knows. Goodness then there is the emotional pull of the OW.

The love for my wife seems to be lost. Can I find it again? I sure hope so. Then I hope we can be stronger together. I would rather go through life generally unhappy than go through this again.

8. Have you considered ending the affair?

Yes i have thought about terminating the affair. With those thoughts comes a very profound sadness. These feelings for the OW right or wrong are so very overpowering.

9. Do you feel remorse for what you are doing?

Remorse? Oh yes for sure. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. My wife didn’t deserve this. My affair partner didn’t deserve this. Honestly it is like I woke up on drugs one day and didn’t snap out of it until I realized I was in love with another women. I imagine my affair partner could offer an explanation of the same nature.

10. What have you learned about yourself during the affair?

With this affair I have learned a lot about my needs and how important they are. Maybe their importance is carrying more weight in my life now for some reason. I have tried to get my wife to dress and behave a little more like the other woman but the other women my wife is not.

I’m trying to keep my marriage. Another thing I have learned about myself is I can’t be trusted… leaves me with a profound sadness.
I really hope my wife doesn’t find out about the affair she didn’t sign up for that. I don’t see her not finding out as my lack of respect for her. Our marriage is in trouble. That we both understand now. My actions before that revelation are moot if we can get our love back and begin to satisfy each other. She still loves me. I need to try to find love with her again.

Sometimes I feel so close to leaving my marriage and other times I believe I should be going the route of attempting to repair it. Courage is obviously short or I would of made a choice by now. I never want to feel this way again or inflict this pain on another person.


9 thoughts on “An Affair Not Over: Gary’s Story

  1. I think your story is like a lot of other stories. I do recognize bits of my husband in what you’ve said.

    Having an affair, is like using drugs. I think it costs a lot of will power to actually end it yourself. Because you will have some of the typical detox symptoms afterwards. They say it will take about 3/4 months before you are ‘sober’ again. And then there will be months/years of recovery.

    I would urge you, if you want to stay with your wife, to tell her about the affair. I told my husband this weekend (his affair ended 1.5 years ago) that I’d rather know and work on our marriage, than not knowing. Because I believe that if you don’t talk about this, there will always be something that you both will feel is not good/not true.

    It has been the most painful 1.5 years of my life, but I’m finally getting there. We do take more time to be together and enjoy it more than we’ve ever done. So I’m sure that if you are both willing to work on it, things can get better.

    I think you can’t really predict how your wife will react exactly, but you are in the position now to read about this process and be prepared.
    This is a good book
    There is also lots of info online, of course.

    This is not the end of the world (although I have thought numerous times it was!), I’ve made mistakes in our marriage, my husband made a big mistake. Yes, you shouldn’t have done this, but there’s always two sides (I’m glad I understood. There are a lot of wives who don’t see their own part…which makes healing more difficult)

    Take care!

    Mara x

  2. Dear Gary,
    I have about a million things to say to you, but I’m going to try to condense them down to as few as possible, in the hopes that they’ll make some sort of impact & maybe shift your perspective just a little bit.

    First, you offered your story here, which probably means you found this blog looking for advice, perspective, etc. which I take to mean you’re confused and trying to figure this out. Let me offer you mine, and I’ll cut right to the chase. She’s going to find out. Sooner or later, if you stay, and even if it’s only for a while (or that’s just what you’re telling yourself), the chasm between you is going to become impossible for her to overlook, and she is going to start looking into your activities when you are away from her, and she will find out. If you’re telling yourself she doesn’t or won’t care, you’re lying to yourself as well. She cares, and she knows something is wrong, but there is a sense of security – false though it may be – in a long term marriage and relationship that will war strongly with her intuition that your marriage is in grave danger. You go through a lot of good and bad times over many years spent with another person, and it takes time and all of those things to build that sense of trust & security in the marriage. It takes a lot to shake that. A LOT, and I just can’t explain it any better than that. She may not be any happier than you are/were, she may feel just as lonely and disconnected. My guess – she probably is. Standing in your shoes, she may not have handled opportunity any better than you did (this knowledge, also known as empathy, is what kept me from divorcing my husband when I found out), but finding out is going to devastate her nonetheless. D-day is NEVER what the cheater expects. If you care about her at all, if you respect her, then let her hear it from you. My husband considers this, after the affair itself, to be his greatest mistake.

    And read “Not Just Friends – Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity” by Shirley P Glass. She’s a Ph.D. who treats couples recovering from the trauma of infidelity, and knows her stuff. If you tell your wife first, and you decide to try to save the marriage, then read it together. The stats at the beginning are a little dry, but don’t give up on it. Even if you just skip to the parts that interest you, there is a lot in that book that will be immensely helpful to you and her. Even if you separate, read it, and then give it to your wife, because it will help her too.

    But above all, talk to her. Come clean. Be honest with her. Right now, you’re confused and afraid of bringing things to that crisis point, and believe me, even as a devastated betrayed spouse, I get it. D-day, and the months that followed it (it has been 6 months since I found out) were some of the most difficult times of my life. Somehow we have survived them. There are times when I’m not sure how. I am – our bond is – much stronger than I thought. But it’s truth; really opening up, talking and listening, and knowing that what you’re saying & hearing is the truth, that feeds the bond and makes it stronger. Lies and deception can only make it wither. And you can’t overcome the deception until you get to the crisis point of letting the truth come out. It’s demolishing the old & crumbling foundation and building something new & stronger, together, rather than slapping a quick coat of paint on it & praying it doesn’t crack – which it eventually will.

    And even if you divorce this woman and go on with your AP, the time & struggles that you have shared with her entitle her to know why you’ve decided to call it quits. She deserves that much. Even if the AP is just a symptom of the disease that eventually killed your marriage (she is, btw), your wife needs to understand that disease, so that she can move on with her life, and have at least some hope of recovering and being happy in the future. Don’t you want that for her? To be at peace, and know that even though she made her fair share of mistakes with you, and your marriage ultimately failed, at least she understands what went wrong? If you give her nothing else, at least give her closure instead of confusion. One can help heal the pain and the other only makes it worse. There are no guarantees that she will ever understand in any case, but I can promise you that if you don’t even try to explain your perspective to her, she never will.

    And lastly, if you do move on with “Barbara”, be aware that the odds of making a happy & successful marriage/relationship are solidly NOT in your favor. Look at the statistics on second marriages that started with affairs & let them speak for themselves. If you’re that firmly convinced that you don’t want to be alone, understand that this option carries with it the highest degree of risk.

    And so much for my “few as possible” words, lol.
    All my best to you, Gary. Truly. I hope it all works out for the best – you seem like a good guy. A little lost, but I don’t think you’d be talking about this if you didn’t want to do the right thing, and that’s a start.

  3. Thanks for that. But I think it’s only fair to say that my advice is only based on my own perspective. His wife may be, and probably is, totally different. Her reaction to hearing the truth is going to greatly depend on her and her perspective. But I stand firmly behind my conviction that she needs to hear it from him. This is one thing that has been a great source of difficulty in working through our own situation. It was a show of disrespect to me that my husband continued to hide it from me, and left me to find it out on my own. I now, and very grudgingly I might add, accept that he was simply afraid. He told himself I didn’t/wouldn’t care. But that was just nonsense he hid behind. And not without reason. When I first started to consider that some of the distance I felt between us could be due to an affair, my first thought was that I wouldn’t care. And that was just another lie as well.

    I didn’t even cry at first. When the tears finally came, I felt like I was dying – literally. I know I wouldn’t wish the way I felt that day on anyone, and I know my husband feels like a monster for it still. I think if even one cheater could hear that from me, really understand & envision it, and spare their spouse that nightmare, then I could say maybe it was worth it.

  4. Dear Gary and RW,
    I thank you for being here. Last week I shared with my husband your “20 mistakes” list. It hit him hard. I had read it a month or so back but even rereading it was hard, it really has been a year of all that (tomorrow is a year). So thank you (many of your articles have helped me and him). I’m not sure as to where that leaves me though as it has been a tough time. Any words of advice welcome.
    Our story is that his was, as far as I know not physical, phone, texts, fantasy dirty stories written, phone sex twice in which he was only the talker. She is a significant person from his past who he hid before our marriage, our wedding invitations almost didn’t go out because of me discovering this friend. He ended the friendship, I let it go. He did have the option to stay friends under the idea that his friends and mine friends become “our” friends but he did not choose that. We ended up getting married on her bday I later came to find out as his password numbers are his and her bday dates. Seems trivial, I know, but all these years the passwords have remained the same as it was now his bday and our anniversary. Always bothered me a bit but I let it go. His insensitivity has been such that they weren’t even changed till October. He just didn’t understand why it would bother me. Although it was one of my questions months ago, if she knew his passwords included her and the answer was yes he stopped the conversation there (shut down). About two weeks ago it came up again and I asked if she asked if they were still the same, if she knew that I was aware of the shared date and if her own passwords were the like. Yes to all. I took the time to include this as an example of why I think he may really care for this person. Maybe that is why he has had a time sharing with me. I’ll skip over other things. As the important thing here is his continued insensitivity.
    In 2010 his dad died, January 2012 severe anxiety began, April 2012 friends suicide. That’s when this friend came about again. My husband had recently gotten his own Facebook page after years of having a mutual one (something else that makes me wonder where his heart was) so she was able to contact him. Two months after that we had a miscarriage. In his initial communication with her he did not share we were expecting again (what would have been our sixth child). I assumed their communication dropped off, they weren’t friends on FB. No big deal.
    After the lack of connecting over the loss, and my choosing not to renew our vows in August at our ten year anniversary, I asked him if we could begin to see the therapist he’d been seeing for his anxiety together as I was feeling “that way” again. Its exactly at this time he actually got on phone with AP.
    What’s “that way”?
    On my side, it had been years, 5 or 6 of trying various ways to express that I missed him. Even having our pastor over twice or so a year for a while. I wasn’t looking for dates. Not really doable with always having an infant. I’m easy. I mean we weren’t laughing looking for each other, no eye contact. Just no connecting. Very much like Gary’s story.
    My husband also has a temper. Cranky, loud, harsh. He also has some ADD stuff, hard to connect with. Yet we always connected in the bedroom. In fact it was the only way I knew he loved me, how he showed his emotions. I guess that is why it also hurts so much that he shared this part of himself with someone else it was all we had left.
    I must admit he as been the sole pursuer when it comes to sex. We talked about it in past with pastor how it was hard for we to warm up and pursue a cranky cursing guy. But nonetheless he has not been made to feel that way by me.

    In January of 2012 I began talking more and more frequently to an old love/friend of mine that he had known about. (Yes, even at time of wedding.) Over the years the conversations were short, simple, basic. During this time he was laid off so he had more time to talk. Mostly texting, as I cant really talk with five kids around all day (I homeschool them). The relationship hadn’t been romantic since 1992. That part had been behind me for sometime by the time I met husband. But through the years, on and off, this friend was a best friend, even talked to him when dating my husband about this new guy I was dating.

    It goes very much like Gary’s feelings. No sex though. No I love you. I did meet him out in public for a few minutes a few times. No dinners, no coffees. He would sometimes be in area for sports for kids. Our romance was always forbidden. He had a girlfriend, he was my neighbor, my dad didn’t like that he was older (two years). Being in public was always okay for us. It was when as crazy teenager I would sneak out my window at night to hangout with him that things would get romantic.
    We did have a kiss the first time I saw him. Not again. It didn’t feel right good, not my man, not that lock and key feeling. I went right home woke my husband,made love. I told my husband about mine when I found out about his. Maybe it took three weeks, the first two times I tired I couldn’t get across to him the depths of it he would just stop me, maybe he figured no matter what, his was bigger. So it took three weeks till I actually go the kiss part out.

    So yes very much like Gary’s heart. Lonely. Deep lonely. I filled my life with homeschooling, instead of hobbies. Yet I know I wanted things better with husband. That’s why I asked to go to his counselor together.

    I wonder why he didn’t miss me over the years like I did him.
    I wonder when experiencing happiness with AP he didn’t go oh…this is what my wife has been asking for: time, attention, laughs, playfulness.
    His behavior over this year (ie; 20 Mistakes) makes wonder if he loves me, loves her.
    All of what you say the wondering, the secrecy, sharing would be like releasing it and feels he’s holding on holding back cause maybe it was much more. For a long time counsel was seeming to want me to look at it as some 1800 number.

    I feel I wrote too much almost ready not to send this puppy off :)! I feel like maybe I got off track with the story instead of focusing on the important current feelings. I feel like Gary wrote about this making me realize how important my feelings are and how I d been ignoring them.
    I hope i did a good enough job of describing to hear back from you with any additional wisdom Any questions in case I was confusing welcome.
    Many thanks,

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