For a long time afterwards he carried on contacting this other woman, whom he’d dated when they were both teenagers, via text messages and calls
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I hope you can help. I’ve been with my partner for 20 years now, but he had an affair that went on for several months before he was found out.
We have a disabled child who needs us both and so I fought to save our relationship. I take some of the blame for our problems but, however hard I try, I just can’t seem to get past his betrayal.
For a long time afterwards he carried on contacting this other woman, whom he’d dated when they were both teenagers, via text messages and calls.
I found the evidence on his mobile phone, and it’s this continued contact that has done the real damage in shattering my confidence.
He says he’s truly sorry about what happened but I can’t help thinking I’m not as attractive as her and really do feel inadequate. She is the original ‘selfie queen’!
I can’t imagine my life without him and generally we are fine together, including during lockdown, but I have so many doubts about myself, as well as major trust issues with him.
We tried counselling and it was a disaster.
The main thing you have to work on is yourself and, trust me, I know because I’ve been in a similar position.
I looked at the other woman and told myself I couldn’t compete with her. Eventually, I realised I didn’t want to or need to compete with her. Maybe she is a glam ‘selfie queen’, but I doubt it would last a week if they attempted a serious relationship because they’re trading on what they had when they were teenagers.
You’ve been together 20 years and have clearly been through challenging times with your child, which is bound to put stress on your relationship.
I don’t know why he cheated – only he can tell you that – but maybe it was just escapism. But don’t blame yourself. Whatever issues the two of you were struggling with, he made the decision to have an affair.
It usually takes a long time to rebuild trust after it’s been lost, so if you’ve made the decision to stay together and work at it, then you have to accept you’re in it for the long haul.
Lots of people have told me that counselling was a disaster, but that’s usually because they’ve hit that point where it’s making them angry and more miserable. But that’s what it does – that’s the process.
You have to get to the root of the problem and dig it out and that’s not nice. You have to confront things you wouldn’t normally face, so you have to stick with it.
If couples counselling didn’t work, then you could look for another therapist or even have therapy on your own to help you decide what you want from the relationship.
But you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open up or it won’t bring results.
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