Should I confront my husband's lover over their affair?


And the fact that you and I didn’t last for ever, well, you have to stop thinking of that as failure or defeat. It feels awful now... but this is not the end of your world...

From Us by David Nicholls (2014)


I have been married for ten years, with two wonderful children, aged nine and seven. 

Apart from normal disagreements I’ve always loved and believed in my husband.

I’m not the most outgoing person (being reserved and private) while my husband is quite different: very sociable and charming — so much so that his family didn’t approve of me. 

But he did defend me to his family to the point where we didn’t see them for a while.

I grew up in a home where my mother never showed love, despite my longing for it. She moved out when I was about 12 and while I love my dad, he wasn’t one for showing love either. I vowed I’d be different with my children. 

But I’m a practical person in my speech and manner, which my husband finds frustrating.

'I have been in agony since I found out about the affair. When I heard him on the phone to her in our home, I could hardly breathe'

'I have been in agony since I found out about the affair. When I heard him on the phone to her in our home, I could hardly breathe'

The crux of the matter: my husband has felt neglected sufficiently to have an affair with a work colleague, who is a fellow Christian.

I can understand that sometimes he may have felt I focused more love on my children, but I know I have loved and supported him (emotionally and financially) throughout our marriage. I’ve also learned to show my love — though never enough for him.

I have been in agony since I found out about the affair. When I heard him on the phone to her in our home, I could hardly breathe.

He didn’t tell me about her; all I have told you I found out for myself. I did write him a letter and he then agreed to go to Relate, knowing all along that I thought it was to see if we could make our marriage work.

He even suggested moving house to where I would be happier. He also said that he had ended his relationship with the woman. But I began to suspect they were texting again — and, indeed, she did the other evening. I can’t stop thinking about them.

He now tells me he only wanted to go to Relate to make mediation for separation easier.

I have been in touch with this woman. I want to meet her so she can hear and understand my pain. I want to ask her why she thought it acceptable to see another woman’s husband.

I know she’ll have been told the usual rubbish — but she is married with a three-year-old. I am not a Christian, so to see and hear two people who believe in God justifying their actions because they were unhappy in their marriages makes me angry.

To me, marriage is about love, but also it takes hard work — not ‘I’ll have the good times, but when the going gets tough I’m going to have an affair’.

Am I right in wanting to meet this woman? She’s aware I know where she works. I have tried to tell this story fairly, not just complain about my husband. But I am devastated.


Both of today’s letters are about jealousy — though I must quickly add that no single letter is ever really about one single subject (with that in mind, read today’s And Finally.)

‘David’ (below) is suffering with his obsessive jealousy of his partner’s past with no justification. You, on the other hand, have every reason to feel consumed by a web of emotions, of which jealousy is just one part.

I feel great compassion for your anguish over what you feel could be the end of your marriage. I admire the honesty that invokes your loveless childhood, linking it with the present. 

You craved love from your mother but she not only withheld it, she abandoned you. I can’t begin to imagine the damage she caused.

Your father was undemonstrative and — despite being a different kind of mum — you seem to have inherited that characteristic in your marriage. You call yourself ‘a practical person’, but I assume you mean brisk, matter of fact and certainly not as loving as your husband wants/needs. 

But given your background, no wonder you retreated into your shell.

Perhaps you and your husband were essentially incompatible all along — just as his family thought. Whatever the truth, we must address the current situation.

He has lied — even misleading you about the reasons for consulting Relate. 

You wanted to mend things, but he had separation in mind all along. Or so he says. I doubt you’ll ever believe him again. It certainly sounds as if communication between you is pretty poor.

Of course, I agree with you that marriage requires hard work. But let’s look at your statement: ‘to see and hear two people who believe in God justifying their actions because they were unhappy in their marriages makes me angry’. 

Listen — the fact your husband and his lover are practising Christians has no relevance whatsoever to their affair.

Falling in love (or lust) has always led people to betray the moral tenets of whatever faith they hold — and I’m afraid it always will.

And when led by all-powerful passions, men and women will always find it ‘acceptable’ to ‘see’ the husbands and wives of other people.

And the erring spouses will usually tell self-pitying fibs to their lovers, such as ‘My wife doesn’t understand me’ and ‘My husband never talks to me’ and ‘She (or he) is so unloving’ and so on. This is what you call ‘the usual rubbish’, isn’t it? If I sound cynical, forgive me. 

Through my personal and professional life, I know all about such deceptions and, therefore, nothing surprises me any more.

Men and women who want to stray will always blacken the character of the person they’re deceiving, because it helps them to follow their desire, not their conscience.

You’re so angry you want to meet the woman — and, who knows, by now you probably have. The desire to berate is always very strong, but rarely does any good — and I fear it would just upset you even more.

What you have to concentrate on right now is protecting your children from the worst of what’s going on between their parents. There is nothing more important . . . No, not even your abandoned heart.

You must tell your husband that more Relate sessions are essential. 

They will help him realise what leaving the marriage will mean (thinking of those children again) and lead you to evolve a way forward which does not involve bitterness.

You’ll notice I haven’t speculated about separation. How can I?

To be honest, the future doesn’t look promising, but — while understanding your feeling of devastation — I still think you have to summon reserves of strength and give it a last try.


Obsessive jealousy is ruining my life


My problem is making me ill and has the potential to break up my relationship with the woman I love — the mother of my gorgeous son. Everything else we have is perfect: a nice house, no money worries, supportive family and friends. We are comfortable together, soul mates and best friends for more than five years.

But I have an overwhelming and destructive obsession with her previous partner.

Despite her reassurances, I’m convinced she’s only with me because he wouldn’t leave his girlfriend (he was seeing the other lady at the same time as his relationship with my partner).

I feel like second best, second choice and forever in his shadow. She speaks very positively about this man, who was there for her during a difficult time. I feel that I can’t compete.

He is also more than 20 years older than my partner and wealthy. The thought of them together turns my stomach. I know this is totally irrational and I’m not normally a jealous person. 

My girlfriend has done nothing wrong and all this happened before we got together. But their age gap is a real issue for me.

I am in all other respects a happy and grateful person. But this man lives in the same area as we do and whenever I happen to see him, I become withdrawn and feel totally inadequate. I then become argumentative with my partner — who (I know) can no longer tolerate my insecurities.

I check his Facebook profile, Google him and am on a constant look-out for him.

What can I do to get over these thought processes that are ruining my life and relationship? Are there any self-help books or novels that cover this problem that you can recommend?


There are many layers here — and you certainly don’t need me to tell you this obsessive jealousy can be lethal. You’ve endlessly nagged your innocent partner about this and she’s heartily sick of your neediness and insecurity, not to mention your imaginings about her previous sex life.

You claim their age gap is a ‘real issue’, so does that imply that it wouldn’t be so bad were the guy to be your age? Of course not.

It’s a red herring — almost as if you want to find reasons to justify this destructive behaviour.

I’m curious that you think reading will be useful. As one who believes that books can, indeed, help us all pick our way through problems, I’m still convinced you need one-to-one help. 

So seek Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as soon as possible.

My instinct tells me that ordering up a pile of books while still ‘stalking’ this man would just be another delaying tactic. Beware that you don’t become dependent on your jealousy, because somehow it gives you a spurious sense of power.

Look at the online register of CBT therapists ( to find someone in your area who can jolt your mind into a different direction. Do it now.

I worry that you’ve been so inactive. You can find books on any subject by looking online; a quick visit to Amazon reveals more than one title on jealousy, so once you have made a CBT appointment, you can do some research.

It would certainly help you to work out why you feel that you cannot ‘compete’ with her old lover.

And if you really want to settle down with a good book (much better than peering at the man’s Facebook profile) then try a very early Julian Barnes title, Before She Met Me, or Howard Jacobson’s dark novel, The Act Of Love. Either one might frighten you out of the pathological obsession which is their subject.

You have a lovely life, a ‘gorgeous son’, a woman who loves you.

Please don’t lose it all. Instead, close down that computer and act to save yourself from yourself.


And finally... A game to reveal the secret you

Whenever I’m in London I try to visit an art gallery to indulge my private passion. This week, it was the Royal Academy for the fascinating Joseph Cornell exhibition (until September 27) called Wanderlust.

The title is ironic: Cornell (born in 1903) was a New Yorker who travelled nowhere yet roamed the world in his imagination.

His surreal art consists of collages and boxes, often divided into compartments, full of the prints and objects he collected obsessively.


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.

I realised that Cornell was ‘illustrating’ the human mind itself, full of things half-hidden, of random memories, compartments and even secret drawers we’d rather not open.

Reading problem letters I often wonder about the complexities of the story behind the words.

Since people rarely understand fully what’s going on inside their own heads, how can they reveal the truth to others? Sometimes I feel we are all Joseph Cornell box constructions.

I found the exhibition inspiring — and, indeed, in the shop you can buy a kit to construct your own ‘Cornell’. But you don’t have to spend money to get creative — so I’ve devised a little exercise.

Take a matchbox, cover with plain paper and write your name on the front. Over a week or so, cut out random scraps from magazines that ‘speak’ to you: a square of colour, a fragment of a picture, a quotation, a face — anything.

Put them into the box, and you can also add any small item that appeals to you, such as a tiny shell. Don’t think too much; let your subconscious do the choosing.

After a week, stop this process and leave the box closed for a few days. Then take out everything and think about what the fragments reveal about you.

Ideally I’d like couples to play this little game together and talk about each other’s boxes. You never know what you’ll discover: a mind’s world in a tiny space...

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.