BEL MOONEY: I can't bear the pain of my cruel husband's double life 


Listen as your day unfolds,

Challenge what the future holds

Try and keep your head up to the sky.

Lovers they may cause you tears,

Go ahead, release your fears.

Stand up and be counted.

Don't be ashamed to cry... 

 From You Gotta - recorded by R&B singer Desiree in 1994

Dear Bel,

I have been married for 22 years to (I thought) a wonderful man.

At 42, I was blessed with our accomplished, beautiful daughter — now 19 and heading for a very successful future. We’re both so proud and I looked forward to our lives together, watching her life evolve.

But, four weeks ago, I discovered that my adored husband has been having an affair. He wasn’t going to tell me; I found evidence on his phone.

Then he announced he wanted to end our marriage after all these years, wonderful times and always appearing totally in love with me.

At first he told me it had been going on for a few weeks and I fought to keep him.

But as the devastation unfolded I discovered through bank statements (which he never opened) that this affair had been going on over four years.

He’s been sending her money, spending on five-star hotels, trips abroad and so on. Because he has a long commute to work he’s been able to spin lies.

He also has absolutely massive debts — from unpaid tax and credit cards. I found this out a few years ago but thought he’d paid them off, as I insisted we sold our holiday home to do so. I’ve now discovered that he didn’t.

I’m in such shock — constantly shaking, physically sick. The pain of his double life, the deceit over so many years, is killing me. Friends and family tell me I’ll recover, but I can’t see it.

The texts and calls to the other woman — made while we were together on special occasions — fill me with horror.

The sexual intimacy, then coming home and making love to me . . . unbearable.

Our daughter is devastated and refuses to see him, which has made him angry with me. So now he treats me in a vile, cruel way, which is heartbreaking.

I don’t recognise him. I run a successful business and have to carry on, as many people depend on me. Friends have found a photo of the woman through Facebook and she is quite ugly, which makes me feel worse. I am in a very deep hole.

He committed adultery more than once when his first wife was pregnant. I’m his third wife and thought he’d stopped philandering, grown up and really loved me.

I thought we were best friends, together for ever. Now he’s thrown everything in my face, including the fact that I reassured him I’d support him through all the financial troubles ahead. I feel humiliated, violated and ashamed.

What did I do so wrong? How can I ever recover? Why is he being so hateful to me?


Lust can turn otherwise good guys into liars — desire and deceit sneaking hand in hand to frolic in the greener grass. And I tell you — there’s nothing like ongoing passion to transform decent, loving men into monsters.

I once knew a man who had been with his wife for 15 years before they had their first planned baby. He then abandoned them both when their son was just months old, for a woman he had met abroad during a six-week affair.

Men (and women) will leave long marriages — often with shattering suddenness — because they think that romantic love simply cannot be resisted.

Think? Did I really write such a stupid word? Men and women driven by urges they announce are beyond control let reason fly out the window. They act — and sometimes regret it. But very often they are quite happy to smash up the life they had and then blame their wronged spouse for making them feel bad about themselves.

Feeling guilty, they lash out, and the more conflicted they are, the more vicious they can be. I know all this — from experience and from readers’ letters — but you were happily protected from the knowledge and are now reeling (as countless women have done before you) with shock.

Your final paragraph is heartbreaking in its bewilderment and pain. It makes me angry that you are reduced to this acute sense that somehow this must be your fault, that you must have done something wrong. And that an unfaithful husband is a cause of shame.

None of that is true. None of this is your fault. You trusted him on every level, but that does not make you stupid or culpable. You see, I believe that people can split their lives into compartments, so that when your husband was with you — perhaps proudly watching your daughter getting a school prize or in performance — he really did feel that he loved you both.

But when he was with his mistress, that secret and exciting reality became all consuming. And so it went on — and probably would have continued had he not been found out.

Then — who knows? — later the mistress might have been one of those writing to me in distress because her lover would not leave his wife, even though he promised. This is an old, old story.

The question for me is one of recovery. I’m so relieved you have family and friends supporting you and reassuring you that the pain will pass. Of course, they’re right — although it may take a long time. These are early days. Your mood will fluctuate, but now you know you don’t want him back, the only way is up.

It will seem inappropriate for me to call you lucky — but, honestly, you are indeed fortunate to have such strong support and a wonderful, loyal daughter, as well as a successful career which has to provide a distraction (hard though that may feel at times). This is your life and nothing he can do can take it away from you.

My advice to you is succinct. First, do not do anything to encourage your daughter’s hostility to her father.

Encouraging her to see him (maybe not now, but certainly later) will only be good for you, bestowing a measure of control and setting you firmly at the heart of the family.

Second, move swiftly to protect your own financial interests. Get a good solicitor, play hardball, don’t allow him a penny more than he is entitled to nor admit liability for any of his debts.

Third, stand tall and tell yourself that the leopard didn’t change his spots and so — agonising as it is to wave goodbye to your dream of a future — you are better off.

I promise that in time you will raise your eyes to the horizon and see how it gleams with hope. 


My evil mother-in-law's changed her will

Dear Bel,

In 2006, my wife, Paula, died quite suddenly, leaving me and our two (adult) kids, Freda and Richard, totally devastated.

Two months later, Paula’s mother telephoned Freda and said she was excluding her and Richard from her will, making her two other grandchildren the only beneficiaries.

This caused enormous family upset and, having witnessed Freda’s tearful divulgence of her grandmother’s wishes, I severed all ties.

Why would she do such an unbelievable, hurtful thing? Richard and Freda had done no wrong, and Paula would have been distraught at the very thought of such an action.

Mother-in-law and I haven’t always seen eye to eye — she can be a very domineering person, provoking reactions. I remember five minutes after Paula died she told me my tears were of ‘self-pity’.

But this is not about me, although I feel I cannot forgive her. Yet maybe she did it to spite me? My concern is for our children who feel they have been unfairly treated through no fault of their own. And Paula’s sister — mother of the other two grandchildren — has just allowed this to happen.

Had things been the other way around, Paula would have insisted on fairness for all four.

To me, this wrong cannot be righted. It’s gone on so long that reconciliation is not an option now. This grandmother has missed out on so much our kids have to offer and I’m at a loss to know what advice to give them. How can I come to terms with this evil reproach?


This is a good illustration of how issues can fester — like an infected limb which, left too long, will have to be amputated.

Your sad family drama warns others against hasty responses and letting quarrels go on so long they become irreparable.

It’s easy to imagine the terrible shock of losing your wife so suddenly: the chaos of grief for you and your children. But at such times people can say and do things they later regret.

With respect, I suggest you’ve probably glossed over the nature of your relationship with your mother-in-law. The key phrase is ‘provoking reactions’. You clashed with her more than once, didn’t you? Then what on earth made her accuse you of ‘self-pity’? Was it her own sorrow speaking? Did you say or do something to upset her? There has to be more to this story to cause that shocking telephone call to your poor daughter.

Believe me, I’m not attempting to exonerate an inexplicably mean-spirited decision. But surely ‘evil reproach’ is overstating the case, and that takes me back to wondering exactly what went on between you and your mother-in-law?

I reckon you’re right to think this was all about spite towards you. You ‘severed all ties’ immediately. Oh dear. It’s always wiser to take several deep breaths and go for a very long walk before acting in anger.

I’m assuming you no longer speak to your wife’s relatives, but what about Freda and Richard? You want to ‘advise’ them, but isn’t it rather late?

Nothing will happen to make you feel better about this unfortunate situation unless you encourage them to forgive their grandmother, aunt and cousins.

In the end, this is about a wretched inheritance, not a matter of life and death. You make much (I had to edit your letter slightly) of how upset your late wife would be — but may I gently suggest that she would surely feel as pained by the fact you failed to mediate nine years ago, as by her mother’s action?

You don’t have to forgive her mother yourself, but I do believe you should do everything in your power to encourage your children to heal the wounds.

Tell them they can make their own way in the world, that their worth does not depend on any inheritance, and that they’ll be better, stronger people if they extend an olive branch to their erring grandmother before she dies. 


AND FINALLY: Thank you for your kindness

A postbag packed with problems also contains readers’ stories, which I appreciate. Most hand-written responses come from older people, so I sat down with a pile to give them full attention.

It’s easy to forget how compassionate people can be when reminded (by a column like this) that their own lives are not so bad.

So Sheila, 88, a great-grandmother, writes to tell me she is ‘blessed’ and ‘I want you to know how sorry I feel for all those grandparents who never see their grandchildren’.

Then LM writes that he or she has taken my advice and ‘joined various groups and met some lovely people’. The letter continues: ‘I still have low periods but then I think of my genuine friends and know that I am not alone and there are those worse off.

‘I have also bought self-help books and read them just before I fall asleep and they help me to stay positive.’


Bel answers readers' questions on emotional and relationship problems each week. 

Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or e-mail A pseudonym will be used if you wish. Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

That’s good advice, because things work through your subconscious while you’re sleeping.

Two readers, Hazel and Jenny, write beautiful cards to tell me how much they love my memoir, A Small Dog Saved My Life, as well as this column and to wish me strength.

Don’t we all need that? Wisely Edith, 82, points out that, when faced with the woes of others, ‘a few kind words are all that’s needed to help’.

Angela tells me about the loss of her beloved husband, but wants me to know that her Christian faith helped her enormously, adding: ‘I was determined to remain positive and turn my grief into thankfulness for what he and I had... You don’t get over losing someone you love but you do learn to rebuild your life.’

Finally, a short book (only joking) from Paul shares all that happened to him after his wife ended their marriage after 37 years. Although he longs for a new love, he’s full of positivity, recommends books for me, and ends: ‘Thanks for all your advice in the dark days when your message of hope shone through.’

No, it is for me to say thank you to everybody.





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