Is It So Wrong That I Don’t Care About My Husband’s Affair?

What if I don't care about my partner's affair? My husband and I have been married for nearly 30 years. We have two kids, but we've been empty-nesters for a while and have settled into new routines, found new hobbies, and downsized our house. I recently found out that my husband has been having an affair—one of those typical "I've taken up golfing!" excuses, when he's really spending time with her. I had my suspicions for a while, when my husband started getting more distant, then compensating by being really attentive and caring. I have not confronted him about it, and I don't think I will. He puts more effort and energy into our relationship than ever. I know that he still cares for me and I don't believe he's looking for a permanent escape from me or our marriage. Plus, truth be told, I enjoy the alone time! I certainly don't get off on the idea of my husband being with another woman and I don't enjoy thinking about it, but on the other hand I don't really mind it. And I don't want the hassle and emotional toll of confrontation with him. Is it OK for me to just let it go? Am I setting myself up for more hurt down the road? I feel like an awful feminist, because I do believe that cheating is wrong, but in this case it seems to work for us. —No Big Whoop
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Dear No Big Whoop,

I think you hit on an essential element of your situation—it seems to be working for you. It’s very easy to get caught up in “shoulds” and external expectations and lose sight of the fact you and your partner may choose to create a satisfying life together that might seem unconventional to others. It matters less that you are a great feminist in the abstract, and more that you are feeling satisfied with the relationships in your life.

That said, I do wonder about your hesitation to talk openly about it with him. The fact you are worried about the “hassle” and “emotional toll” of talking about it says to me that perhaps something is not quite working for you. Right now, the affair is a “secret,” and keeping big secrets tends to undermine relationships rather than foster healthy, stable ones. It may work in the short term, but think about how much energy is going into each of you pretending the affair is not happening. That is hard work! At some point, one or both of you may just get too tired to maintain the pretense. Eventually, secrets tend to come out. What might happen if your husband were to discover months from now that you knew all along? What are you afraid might happen if you were to talk about it now? What do you fear you might lose? What might there be to gain? You may want to consider talking with a therapist to explore your fears and hesitation, and also to take an affirmative look at what you do want from your relationships and your life as you move forward.

You mention two positive elements of this affair—you get some alone time that you enjoy, and your husband has been more attentive and caring. It seems like that may be a place to start as you consider what it is that you want. If you are honest with yourself about what you want and need, then you will have the information you need to make the best decisions you can. Since you cannot control how your husband responds or what steps he chooses to take, all you can do is try to make decisions that feel right to you.

Best of luck,
Erika

Erika Myers
Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
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  • Cynthia

    Cynthia

    June 14th, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    My opinion is that if this feels right for you, then it is the relationship that is totally wrong for you. Why waste this much of your time with someone who in the end you really don’t care all that much to be with?

  • Chris

    Chris

    June 14th, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Good answer. Definitely a tricky question. In theory and in a best case scenario, nobody would ever have an affair. But I’ve seen odder situations work for couples.

    In this life, to every rule — EVERY rule — there is an exception.

    I wouldn’t want to live this way but I am not living the questioner’s life.

  • TP

    TP

    June 14th, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    Not something I would just let slide! to think you are okay with the affair means your relationship is not healthy. that you marriage is not healthy. maybe you should try to put a little spark back in your marriage and then see if you really are okay with the affair. it can be wonderful to have someone who cares for you and understands you, that is a partner, that is someone who makes us feel good. it is clear that your husband no more occupies the role of your partner if you are okay with him having an affair.put him back there and see how that will suddenly not be okay with you!

  • ethan

    ethan

    June 15th, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    I guess for me is that if you are asking if it is okay not to care, I think that in some ways you care more than you let on or you would not even pose that question here. This could be your cry for help in a roundabout way, asking someone how this marriage could potentially be saved. I think that your husband is a real heel for allowing you to know about this affair and for you getting to this point that you don’t care. It’s obviously a case that things have probably been going south for a while in your marriage if you are at that point of questioning whether or not it is strong enough or means enough to you to put some energy into saving it.

  • Zoe

    Zoe

    June 16th, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    If it’s alright for you that he is messing around, then I guess it’s fine. It would not be the ideal for me but I know that there are marriages that have this kind of open concept and they do perfectly well, so too each his own I suppose.

  • MARTIN

    MARTIN

    June 16th, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    The question here should be “Am I happy with my life?”

    Whatever the circumstances or whatever it is that surrounds you if you are happy that is all that matters IMO.

    So many of us have given up on certain relations in life so it really is not a surprise about marriages falling apart.Look for happiness.

  • mary

    mary

    June 17th, 2013 at 2:05 AM

    I know the feeling when you say that you don’t care anymore,honestly that means that you don’t love him nor care what he does out side your marriage,I personally don’t care if cheats or not because I don’t have that love anymore,I know it might sound wrong but when you have had enough..its enough

  • kel

    kel

    November 16th, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    I understand where u coming from. It’s tiring and I too have given up, I pray he finds someone to love him so he will get off my back. I am done sacrificing and begging him. Life is too precious to waste it all on an asshole.

  • Sally

    Sally

    June 17th, 2013 at 4:11 AM

    I personally would seek therapy to understand where each is coming from. Once a third party enters a marriage it can create resentment, anger and distance.

  • Dr. Jan Beauregard

    Dr. Jan Beauregard

    June 23rd, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    I hope that you will seek therapy. An affair is an exit and a sign of an intimacy disorder. The alone time you enjoy now could evolve into increased distancing in your marriage. You may be ok with this level of involvement but what about if he “falls in love” with this or another affair partner? Are you prepared for a divorce? Are you aware that sexually transmitted HPV through oral sex is now surpassing tobacco as the leading cause of throat cancer and that in some age groups 1 in 6 have a sexually transmitted disease. You seem to be compartmentalizing this really well and that would be troublesome to most therapists. As in any long term marriage, passion must be reinvented and this can happen in healthier ways than sexually acting out.

  • kristine

    kristine

    January 11th, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    i understand also where you’re coming from. when i found out that my partner has been cheating, for me, a few years ago it was never okay… then when we got married and i still feel that he’s still cheating on me… there came a time where you just don’t care anymore and let him be than to focus on that and get hurt. what for? then later on my feelings have changed, after he cheated my feelings for him is not the same as it used to be. it is what it is.

  • martin

    martin

    January 21st, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    Hey, I don’t care that someone I have helped known and trusted is a slur. I don’t hate her but am a lot more intent on my life. In short she has lost a softie who made excuses for her behaviour to someone who doesn’t care.

  • Stacy

    Stacy

    January 27th, 2014 at 8:56 AM

    Not everyone has the same need for sexual intimacy. Many empty nester couples are happy with a relationship based more on companionship than sex. But if one partner still needs to have sexual needs met, and this couple has found a way that works for them, I would not be concerned about compartmentalization or any other adjustment problem. Many will find as we get older that certain body parts just don’t work any more (sexually) and it has to be okay to let that aspect of life diminish. I believe that many don’t talk about this, and with the advent of drugs that make men able to have an erection when, perhaps, it isn’t the best thing for their health, and older women to replace moisture in their vaginal lining… it creates an expectation that sexual relations should be continued in the elderly, even when it doesn’t feel as good as it used to when we were young. I think in this question, if the woman is happy with companionship and the financial support she enjoys, who are any of us to suggest there is something wrong with her?

  • Nina

    Nina

    March 29th, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    I am in a similar situation and our marriage exists only on paper. We are both retired and over 60 and have been together for almost 40 years. We both know that our marriage has ended some time ago but he knows a divorce would mean a great financial loss/sacrifices for him and is afraid of it. I have recently discovered that he started getting in touch with an old ‘girlfriend’ and as far I’m aware they’ve arranged to meet but don’t know how that has ‘worked out’ as they haven’t seen each other for over 40 years. He doesn’t know that I know. Quite frankly I would wish he would find someone to love him so he could get out of my life for good. It may sound strange for some people but this is how it is.

  • janine smith

    janine smith

    September 26th, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    Is cheating wrong if husband doesn’t care?

  • Charles

    Charles

    May 29th, 2017 at 8:24 PM

    Nina, MANY marriages are just like yours. They stay together for the convenience. You should find a man to see just like he is doing. If he is cheating, then whats good for the goose.

  • Richie m

    Richie m

    August 12th, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    I love my husband dearly, but I have been considering a purely sexual affair. To me love and sex are two totally different things. My husband is my best friend however he does not excite me sexually. It would break his heart if he knew this, I’m just not convinced that monogamy is for me. Were we designed this way? I don’t know, I’m 26 a UK size 8 blonde and attractive, do I feel this way because of my genetic male up (I.e because I can/am I missing out?) also did the 50’s housewives have a point? Should we overlook infidelities because of what we’ve invested in the marriage?

  • Charles

    Charles

    May 29th, 2017 at 8:29 PM

    Richie M , Many women today have an arrangement that involves one or more men on the side who keeps the wife happy with good sex. Just be very descrete !

  • Mike

    Mike

    September 21st, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    My grandpa died at 93 still working and moving on his dreams. Remarried, was happy….and died in the mettle of living a non retarded life.

    Laziness is unattractive. This is keeping you stuck in that lame marriage. Please meet another human being who is normal and adjust your priorities. We don’t care about your age or wallet.you type well. Find a dating site and find a replacement partner. My grandpa did this exactly.

    Stay competitive and be in love, or get lazy and dumped, then find social security.

  • Dave

    Dave

    September 29th, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    I suffered years of a near-sexless marriage. No intention of leaving it due to two small kids and the fact that I do love my wife very much. I’m just didn’t feel strong enough to take much more celibacy.

    I have a close somewhat older female friend of many years who’s been single for a long time and one night we joked that maybe we should give each other what we’re both missing out on. Within what seemed like 30 seconds of the ‘joke’ we were frantically screwing on the sofa.

    With hindsight we probably were emotionally more than friends and two years on it just feels nice that when we meet we can hold each other and be intimate if we want. She broadly likes being single but now has the sex back. I have the sex back too.

    I no longer resent the lack of sex from my wife so there’s much less conflict and even enjoy the very occasional love-making.

    Of course things might change at some point but I can’t see it as anything other than a win-win right now.

  • Kpsdan

    Kpsdan

    December 4th, 2014 at 3:50 AM

    Hi,
    Have u considered asking your wife why your sex life has diminished???? Maybe there is a reason, whether mental or physically.. discussing things should ALWAYS be your only option. Whilst i appreciate your honesty, i hardly think your wife would agree to your little arrangement with your older female friend.. Maybe she feels unappreciated so sex with you just feels like another chore… Discover eachother again, go to a sex therapist, or counselling.. Infidelity is NEVER the answer.. You wouldnt leave her bcos of your children, but its ok to be with another woman and stay?!?!? Its a win, win?!?!? You cant have your cake and eat it TOO! You will get caught everyone always does in the end and believe you me she aint gonna want to have sex with you Again!!! Snap out of it!

  • Sophia41

    Sophia41

    November 29th, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    Total con. She is lying to herself, or SHE cheated on him already, and/or she never cared about sexual monogamy.
    A Lebanese friend recently told me that his wife told him, “It was okay to cheat, as long as you don’t leave me/marry her.”

    Are some people REALLY that desperate? How sad! Lying to oneself only makes the denial worse. Eventually they will come to a head about how they REALLY feel, vs. how they are lying to themselves and betraying their OWN HONOR!

  • Jamie

    Jamie

    June 27th, 2019 at 9:02 PM

    Morality is subjective and that includes this. Some people are ok with practicing open relationships or polyamory. Everyone is a consenting adult here, who are we to judge? Just because you wouldn’t be ok with this, doesn’t mean others are not.

  • Liz

    Liz

    January 30th, 2015 at 9:58 PM

    Hasn’t anyone here heard of open relationships or polyamory? They are a thing, and they can work for lots of people. There are many resources out there if you’re looking to make an open relationship work.

  • tucker

    tucker

    May 5th, 2015 at 11:20 PM

    I just dont got time to care im too grown and if he cheat oh well..but I won’t cry I won’t care…life too short and people are dumb..divorce move on and enjoy life ..are stay together

  • Jane

    Jane

    May 15th, 2015 at 9:50 PM

    Ladies please have sex with your partners! They need it in order to feel like a man. If you don’t give it to him he will get it somewhere else for sure!! Just give it to him and make everyone’s life easier!!

  • Leza

    Leza

    July 6th, 2015 at 2:23 PM

    Now my husband is a real trip, we’ve been married for about 28 years. Since day one he never had interest in sex or intimacy with me. So as a married couple we had sex once and that was it, also he only talked to me twice in all these years. The first time to tell he was not going to ever have sex with me again. Once was enough, but I need intimacy and sex. He said thats to bad he just told me if its that important find a boy friend or a girl friend to sleep with. I was crushed!!!! He started to work off hours so he didn’t have to be home with me and he moved to the YMCA and then back to a barn garage thing we have on our property. We have 20 acres of land he sold 5 acres with a nice profit he gave me half .The money was great helped with a new car which was needed. He moved off property to a small one bedroom house that was a fixer upper. He enjoys carpentry after that I went years without seeing him. Next I took sort of a down hill slide, I got to know a lady and husband we became friends, they knew my situation and they invited me to go on vacation to Florida with them. We went to parties and pubs and had fun, I was happy to sort of spread my wings a little. Well we had a three some and more and my friend and I ended up pregnant I was stunned but not upset, I was pregnant and happy and I would do it again when I could, next time I’d use some protection. My dead beat, selfish husband always took care of my bills and this was the second time he talked to me. He said I could use his insurance but the father had to take care of every thing else. I finally moved into my friends house the babies were born healthy and happy. My Husband sold our house we kept our other property. He sent me a check for about half of the house and all contents and I haven’t seen or heard from him. I was still married but continued to have relations with friends husband and a bunch of his friends. I was much older but I ended up pregnant again with a black baby she was beautiful and healthy. I got myself fixed so I couldn’t have any more kids but I have a lot of sex. I never planed my life this way but I do enjoy a house full of kids and lovers. I turned into a slut which is terrible but I do enjoy my life any way.

  • Jane

    Jane

    January 2nd, 2016 at 11:40 PM

    I’ve been married for 31 years and my husband has been totally devoted to me and has helped me raise our 4 beautiful children. We’re on our 6 yr of empty nest and it’s been great. However, he recently told me that he fell in love with a girl @ work and he knows it is a phase. His honesty moved me and I’m actually allowing him to start this affair. I know he’s not going to leave me and I know he loves me but I see that he loves me more for allowing him to have an affair. It’s not cheating as I’m allowing it, I call it true and real love as I feel I’m well loved by him enough for him to have another woman to love. It actually excites me more and I know it may not last very long but he’s 61 yrs old & he doesn’t have that much time to enjoy life. We’ve had wonderful 31 yrs and continue to have a beautiful live. I feel it is only right to give love and allow him to receive love. Jealousy should not have any room in this relationships as it is given with love.

  • Ancara

    Ancara

    January 12th, 2016 at 12:29 AM

    We are married for 30 years I thought my husband loves me very much.But in 2010 he confesses he had a affair with a black women I thought my whole world was gone because he was my whole life.And know he is having sex on his phone and his Tablet and I am very cross with him but he woudn’t chance that is how he wants it.Me still on the side says he loves me very much but do I really care.Why must I care about it after all the days I was crying my eyes out why must I care if I was in hospital after a nervous breakdown why must I care if he doesn’t really loves me that much.And this is going on for years and years.So bloody hell the hell with him.

  • melody

    melody

    January 13th, 2016 at 6:23 AM

    I agree with letting it go and you discover better results. people do exactly what they want… how can that really hurt you. It’s a conquering feeling. I tried being a selfish hover nag, controlling him with words and scenarios, which ultimately made my worst scenario a bitter reality.

  • Sam

    Sam

    January 19th, 2016 at 4:07 AM

    Hi there, I am truly moved by how you feel toward your husband. I believe this is what true love is, true love is not selfish is about giving and about caring. I m not disagree with others opinions as everyone entitles to an opinion but I learn something from you today. I’m 32 btw married 9 years.

  • Bodhi

    Bodhi

    March 20th, 2016 at 9:31 AM

    Get ready, this is going to be a long one. (I’ll include a TL;DR at the very bottom). I feel that the real problem here is that there is very little support, if any, for different models of living, marriages, and relationships. So much emphasis is placed on sex, as if carnal passion is the only sort of glue that can connect people. Sex is merely one facet of life and its importance varies from person to person. At this point it seems if the relationship model does adhere to the following formula: Man + Woman + Monogamy + Lots of Sex + Children(?) = True Happiness and Love ,
    then something is wrong with it. Someone isn’t happy and is obviously hiding it. How could they possibly be happy doing something different than the tried and true?
    Wake up. You cannot contract the energy of “love”. You cannot seek to control or own another person’s life path. You are the summation of your choices and only yours. Therefore the ONLY question you need to ponder on is “am I -truly- happy with my self” because in the end we will all face the mirror. What’s reflected back won’t be the people we married or f***** but ourselves and the weight of each choice we ever made. Work on you. Mike posted a comment above about not being lazy. I agree to the extent that you should never be lazy enough to focus on someone else’s issues more than your own. If you look to someone else to constantly fill a need, you will be forever searching for the perfect combination and the cycle of happiness followed by suffering will continue.

    TL;DR: Don’t let the following things make life decisions for you: your genitalia, societal herds, fear, and laziness. Work on yourself so you know what the words “happiness” and “love” mean to YOU. You cannot control other people nor should one spend energy trying to. You are accountable for yourself and your choices.

  • Terry

    Terry

    March 28th, 2016 at 8:52 PM

    Hello, I have been in long time relationship for over 12 years. I caught him cheating about 8 years ago and put him out, that night. Time heals all wounds, as they say. My mother got deadly sick and later died one year later. When I was at my lowest he slipped back into my life and have not left. I don’t blame him, I blame myself for still being in a relationship with a still cheater. The difference is I don’t care about him any more. The problem is I stop caring about my self out of Shame that we are still living in the same house. I don’t care to talk to him and I have not had sex with him for over two years, now. I stay out of life style choices and don’t want to lose my half of our investments. My question is how do I stop talking to him and still live in the same house. He is one of those people that hurt their self for attention and sympathy.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    March 29th, 2016 at 8:17 AM

    Dear Terry,

    Thank you for your comment on the blog. The GoodTherapy.org Team is not qualified to offer professional advice, but we do encourage you to reach out. If you would like to talk about this or any other concern with a mental health professional, feel free to return to our homepage, https://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

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  • June

    June

    April 12th, 2017 at 8:48 PM

    I thint it is completely normal and for you, it is working out. It’s hard requirement to expect to stay always romantic, hot and passionate in 30 years. It makes him a better and attentive husband at home, releases his stress, for you some time of solitude. You too are more than romantic couple, real family members. Why ruin it by bringing out his new secret interest. As long as he is not with her in the long term and keeps it discrete (avoid scandal), and you don’t feel repressed resentment, let it be.
    All this people who are saying something unhealthy in your relationship, like they are the experts of what’s healthy are miguided. There are more than one type of healthy, sometimes you be silent to show you care.

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