One year after the affair… Here’s how I’m coping

When 64-year-old Margaret* picked up the phone, only to hear her husband whispering in dulcet tones to another woman, she

When 64-year-old Margaret* picked up the phone, only to hear her husband whispering in dulcet tones to another woman, she didn’t believe her ears.

“After 35 years of marriage, infidelity was the furthest thing from my mind,” Margaret told Starts At Sixty.

“Reg* and I owned a home together. We’d been on holidays as husband and wife. We’d raised three beautiful children. We had grandchildren and great grandchildren together.”

Reg occasionally made disparaging remarks about Margaret’s appearance and capability, but she had no idea this meant he was being unfaithful.

“Even in the weeks before discovering his affair, Reg and I joked that we were finally growing old together. Our bodies were falling apart, but at least we had each other. Or so I thought.”

Reg would eventually move in with Angela*, his long-term mistress, leaving Margaret alone in the family home. “I was distraught because the affair was all so cruel. I never saw it coming, so I was emotionally and financially ruined,” says Margaret.

One year after discovering his affair, Margaret says that life without Reg has not stopped. She is finally reviving her dignity and strength.

“Of course I still feel betrayed. Sometimes I still ask myself why. I’ve lost 15 kilos from the stress of it all,” explains Margaret. “However, I think it’s important that women in my position stand up and fight, to keep their sense of self.”

Margaret says her saving grace has been a local charity, which she helps to coordinate. “I’ve thrown myself into volunteering, which keeps my mind active and my body busy.”

These days, Margaret’s calendar is filled with fundraising events and volunteer meetings. “I’d tell other women not to spend too much time alone, or your mind will replay the unsavoury facts over and over again.”

Nights are the hardest time for Margaret, because her home is invariably quiet and still. “I play music or have talkback radio running softly at night. It’s a nicer way to create some background sound, so that’s how I cope.”

At one point, Margaret even took in a boarder to help supplement her income and offer some companionship. “Be prepared that your old friends might take sides, so it’s important to meet new people.”

Margaret advises anyone dealing with infidelity in marriage to seek professional support. “Get a good lawyer and don’t let anyone erode your rights. Legal Aid can explain your options. In my opinion, I’d never want to give up the family home.”

By the same token, Margaret says it’s important to lean on family. “My children have been very supportive. Sometimes a drink with them feels just as good as speaking to a counsellor.”

Still Christmas is a tough time of year, because it naturally reminds Margaret of the years she spent with Reg. “When I’m feeling down in the dumps, I remember that Christmas is actually a busy time of year for charity groups.”

“We make Christmas cards, we write newsletters and there’s lots of work to be done. It’s so important to stay occupied, even when you’re feeling cheated.”

Margaret adds, “I’ll keep my fighting spirit. I might struggle to trust anyone for a long time coming, but at least I can rely on myself these days.”

Have you or anyone you know been affected by infidelity? How would you cope with a cheating husband, wife or partner?


*names changed to protect identities

  1. Probably happens a great deal but in reading this story the hurt for this lovely lady is palpable. One can only hope she finds some personal happiness comes into her life!!

  2. I’m still broken hearted after 29yrs betrayal is cruel but we keep going

    • Chin up Sylvia it takes a little longer for some to come to grips with betrayal. My suggestion to you is seek out a psychologist they are great and my lady helped me fit the fragments of my life back together I can’t recommend it enough. Meantime just remember there are a lot of us out there, your not alone. All the best dear lady.

  3. Its been four years for me and i lost everything including my home. The financial and emotional struggle are still hard but life goes on.

    • Hang in there Fran, it probably took about 5-6years before I new I had healed enough to realise it was the best thing that happened to me. Sending a big hug your way 😔

  4. Same thing happened to me after 29 years and at the time I was heartbroken because of the betrayal however time heals all wounds, I have been on my own now by choice for 20 years and I love it.

    • I live alone also with one Staffy and one cat. All my children have left the nest but are settled with partners. Love my Life !

  5. Same thing happened to me, after 35.5 years, took me years of crying everyday, but I finally have strength, and have stayed in contact.

  6. I was 60. After 34 years together my husband left me for another woman. I too was devastated. I have since started a new life in a new place lost 24kilo. Now 2 years on I am happy with my life. I still have moments of sadness of course. But I just keep telling myself, it’s his loss.

    • Thank you sharing your story with us Jan Lintott Etherington. 2 years on, you’re still going strong. We hope your horizons only grow bigger and brighter. -SaS

    • It is his loss, Jan! Honestly if they don’t stay with you they are not worth thinking about Xo. Thanks for sharing your story. Take care xo

  7. Same this happened to me! After 37 years of marriage and six children, he walked out . Life is for the people who stay in it, Not the ones who walk away!! I am happy now , five years later and have the love and joy of my children, grandchildren and pets – that’s all I need!!!!

  8. It has been 26 years for me, my ex had an affair with a 21 year old, I left and so did she 3 months later after she cleaned him out, he even sold the fridge to keep for a week or 2 longer. I walked away with just my clothes. It was hard at first I was married at 17 years old and I had never even dated anyone else I met my ex when I was 12 years old on the school bus, but you do survive and after awhile life is good.

  9. dont be put off there plenty of us men out there who are worth knowing love

  10. Its easy to blame the other party but rarely does a content partner stray.
    Has she ever reconsidered they way she treated him? Did she ever ask how he was feeling.
    I know plenty of men who complain that woman have plenty of time for their children and their friends but rarely their own husbands.

    • It works both ways, some men are so rapped up in their sports and going to the pub they neglect their wife and family.

    • In my case my husband told me after the affair I was a wonderful mother and wife. He has even told our middle daughter it is his one regent in life. I am so tired of hearing it has to be the wife’s fault

    • 100% right ladies, and I never read where any of you run your X husbands down at any point, it seems someone has to justify his life.

    • I have to justify nothing ! I have been married to my wife for 32 years so I think i do have some experince.Why is the woman the victim? Because the husband leaves? How do yo know how she treated him?
      Suggesting the make is wrong all the time is akin to suggesting that when a man committs suicide, it is his partners fault!
      What I am suggesting is rarely is just 1 party at fault.

    • Rather than apportioning blame, I prefer to think that people are or become incompatible – for any number of reasons.

    • They leave because they are not getting what they want at home and there lives are miserable

    • In my case the woman involved was crying on my shoulder and my husband’s. His ego got in the way, he thought this would have no effect on our marriage and I should be grateful he stayed with me

    • Jamed Mason I agree, without the full and honest facts we should not be forming an opinion on who is at fault. One of the best things my wife(now deceased) and I did did was attend relationship counselling. I was running our business and forgot about the nice things we used to do together, neglecting simple things like a movie or a coffee etc. It taught us how to communicate again and to resolve any problems by being honest with each other without arguing. When one spouse starts to feel the relationship is on the skids they should be up front about it, then seek help. If the love is there the relationship should last. Counselling should have no stigma’s. My brother’s marriage is on the rocks, his wife is going through some pretty bad stuff at the minute and will not seek professional help because she is scared what her family will think of her. It is a cultural thing.

    • Jammed did you ever consider that some men, not all, have a roving eye and when they do stray, there is always a victim, it always their partner or wife and if they have have young children the victim list grows. I could have cheated easily, I had more than a few offers but I always thought of my ex and my son how they would feel, but my ex was more concerned about how he felt and where he wanted to place his lower body parts

    • Its a two way street you know, plenty of women have been attracted to the milk man in earlier days.

    • These women who have burnt by their partners don’t need you telling them they are to blame, grow up and get a brain, the reason it is mainly women it is because not many men come here, this is a 2 way street, I have mates who’s wives cheated and they were not to blame either. The person getting his or her rocks off is always the winner

    • Some people believe in being faithful some don’t. If you are not happy in your marriage have the courage to tell the other person. Then you can bo

    • I am amused that people should think my wife should be suspicious, you see my wife happens to also be my best friend, so strange as it may seem we sit down and discuss everything. Try it some time, it works.

  11. Jamed…..women have to be many things….not just a wife… don’t always share themselves the way we do…..I was berated in my first marriage for attending tuckshop duties at the school….it was considered ‘socialising’ which of course the other side didn’t believe in either….marriages are wrecked in my opinion by the differences in upbringing of the people involved…….sadly so

  12. Same thing happened to me after 30 years together and 4 children. I had no idea he was not happy. It took me 10 years to get over him I had to sell the family home to pay him all the money he demanded so my kids were out of their one really secure thing. The worst part was he told all our friends and his family i kicked him out (a lie).he is now living in the Philipines with a new wife the age of our oldest child. I moved out of the area and got involved with new people its the only way to recover

    • Thank you for sharing your story with us Anne Marie Parnham. We’re glad to hear you’re surrounding yourself with great new people. -SaS

    • Good to hear you are doing well, Anne Marie! I also moved into a new area after my divorce. A fresh start!!!

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