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Double Whammy

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Riddle67 posted 6/23/2020 12:00 PM

My (M52) wife (F52) and I met our last year in high school and have been together ever since, 34 years. We have been married 27 years and have two lovely, well adjusted kids. It has been a happy marriage from my point of view. There have been what I considered the regular ups and downs in a very long term relationship, especially when trying to navigate the complicated world of work, looking after kids, as well as dealing with the sickness and deaths of various grandparents and parents. But I would always step back and remember that I still saw in my wife the things that first attracted me to her three decades ago. And over the past three years especially, a relationship that I already thought was pretty good improved even more. For the first time in years we started to take holidays without the kids, just the two of us. We had a lovely 25th anniversary trip to Hawaii. My wife made what to me were obvious steps to improve the relationship and I responded by also trying harder to more strongly connect with her.

In January, my wife was diagnosed with neck cancer and started a quite brutal treatment. 35 straight days of radiation and 2 rounds of chemotherapy. It was a real gut punch. I had never really considered what my life might be like if she wasn't around, but a cancer diagnosis forces you to do that. She was scared and I was also scared. But she put her head down and soldiered on through the treatment with me by her side. The treatment began at the end of February and it basically destroyed her throat. Her ability to eat and swallow disappeared and we had to feed her through a tube inserted in her stomach. COVID made things more complicated. The hospitals started making me wait outside while she went for treatment alone. By the end of the treatment she was a mess, clearly in a lot of physical pain, depressed, sitting in our bed with her head down just be trying to get to the next minute.

I tried to cheer her up. I told her she was strong and she will beat this. But every time I talked to her she would break down in tears. Every time someone sent her a Facebook message saying to keep strong she would break down. Eventually she would have what looked to me like a full blown panic attack anytime I just walked into the room. I sat with her again and tried to soothe her. This time, when I said she was strong, she responded that she ISN'T strong, that she's weak, that's she has done terrible things and that the cancer is what she deserves because she has done terrible things. I was confused. My wife is not someone who does terrible things. I asked her what terrible things. You'll never be able to forgive me, she said. And then she blew up my world. She said she had an affair 5 years ago with her boss, and that it had lasted about 2 years.

That was May 12, and since that moment I have been seized by a pain that I didn't even know existed. It feels like an almost physical pain and it's the worse pain I have ever felt, worse than what I felt when my father and step-father, both of whom I was close to, died within a year many years ago. To say this came out of the blue doesn't even begin to describe it. My wife is a beautiful woman who has been hit on by guys since the moment I met her. She has kept that beauty over the years and I have watched her bat away dozens of men (and boys) over the years. She really seemed to only have eyes for me and I trusted her totally.

I knew that her boss had made subtle moves on her at various times early on but she told me about it as she had so many others, and assured me that she since it's a very male dominated industry, she was used to it and could handle it.

But after D-Day, as I questioned her, she said that over time, as her boss and her worked on many very successful projects, and he praised her and gave her ever more important roles, they grew closer, into an emotional affair. To the point that one day he kissed her and she didn't stop him. And then a few weeks after that they had sex in his car in the parking lot outside work. What followed was roughly a year of having car sex in a nearby park every couple of weeks. After a year she says she began to feel guilty and tried to break it off. That became easier when she got a new boss. But she didn't go NC and got sucked in one last time. She finally broke it off and went NC two years ago.

She says she realized during the affair that she didn't want to lose me and found the guilt debilitating. She says she tried to tell me many times over the past couple of years, usually by saying to me that if I ever had an affair she would forgive me. But my standard answer was always the same - that I could never forgive her and would divorce her - and she would always chicken out. I can see now that she did try to tell me. She also says that after she broke off the affair she tried really hard to re-devote herself to our marriage, and as I noted above, that was something I also noticed and responded to.

In the days after D-Day, I couldn't sleep or eat or think. Obviously, I had millions of questions and to her credit she answered every single one, no matter what time of day or night, no matter whether I woke her up to answer them, no matter that she was clearly in true physical pain from the cancer treatment at the time.

I downloaded all her Google Timeline data and everything that I could find matched up with what she said. I believe she has been truthful in what she has told me.

It is clear to me that she is truly remorseful. She has absolutely refused to blame anything about me or our marriage as the reason for her straying. She has accepted full responsibility for crossing over the infidelity boundary, saying she doesn't understand why she did, that she lost sight of her values and what was truly important to her, and that the thought of what she did disgusts her now. And she says she wants to reconcile but that she totally accepts that what happens next is my decision - that she needs to live with the consequences of what she did.

I bought the Linda MacDonald book How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair and we both read it. My wife seems to have intuitively realized what was needed before she read the book but says she will treat the book as her bible. And we are now reading the Shirley Glass book.

I should also add that despite how brutal her cancer treatment was that the prognosis is for a full recovery. The doctors have been very clear that's what they expect.

As I've tried to navigate this roller-coaster over the past many weeks, I've found the forums on SI to be an absolute crutch. Just the knowledge that other people are, and have been, in my situation (and hers) has helped enormously. I guess misery loves company as a truism is spot on. So I thank everybody here for sharing their stories. And I share mine in the hope that one day in the future, after I've recovered, I'll have experience and knowledge that might be able to help some other poor soul who endures this unbelievable trauma.

If you got this far in my story, I thank you for listening to me.

MickeyBill2016 posted 6/23/2020 13:01 PM

Double Whammy is right. Not much I can say other than I wish that you and your WW can work thru this.
Dealing with cheating spouse in an affair or dealing with cancer on their own is a full time job. When I was going thru my divorce from my WW my mom's cancer came back and my dad was dealing with that 2500 miles away. We talked a lot, and he felt that I had it rougher as my XW affair was a choice and my mom's cancer was not a choice. om wanted to stay and XW wanted to leave.

Wow a huge shit sandwich has been served to both of you, her sandwich is the cancer, and that is horrible for anyone. But she made a choice for the affair and enjoyed it for a year until she didn't. Your's is a double decker as you have to help and care for her in recovery and work through her affair which is totally a brand new thing for you, she has already processed it in her mind.
But there are glimmers of hope. Number one is the good diagnosis for a recovery from the cancer. Number two is that while she cheated for a year or more she ended it and made an effort to save the marriage.
It will be hard but maybe look at the good time before the A, the A and the cancer as three different parts of your life. You can help and support her 1000% in taking care of her needs in recovery. But you need to look at her choice to have car sex with her boss for a year as a serious character issue and she doesn't get a pass for that...

Is the affair something that you could forgive if she did not have cancer, if she had the affair ended it and then you found out on the same timetable..?

Hang in there Riddle.

[This message edited by MickeyBill2016 at 1:02 PM, June 23rd (Tuesday)]

fooled13years posted 6/23/2020 13:05 PM

To have her clear her conscious during this time is a tough one.

Do you think she would have ever confessed if she didn't believe that what she is going through is some sort of karma for what she has done?

Those books you mention are good resources to have and to read.

Do you still hold this conviction?

that I could never forgive her and would divorce her

Now that you know she cheated, even after being told you would divorce her, I would highly recommend that you do not take the RA route.

saying to me that if I ever had an affair she would forgive me

Keep posting as there are a lot of people here who can offer insight.

Good luck.

Hurt1227 posted 6/23/2020 14:10 PM

Riddle67 I’m sorry that you are now a member of this club. I have been married over 31 years and my husband cheated over 27 years ago; however, I didn’t found out until about 9 months ago. Heartbroken!! Too much to recap, besides this isn’t about me.
You are in for a wild ride. Take your time to decide what you want to do. Remember to take care of you! You are going to get many opinions from people on this site, but remember it’s your life and you get to decide how you move forward. Allow yourself to go through the process. It will be difficult but you will get through it. Wishing you the best!

Newlifeisgreat posted 6/23/2020 14:13 PM

Does the old boss still work there? If so, tell her to call HR and file a complaint

If he is married, find his wife and tell her about the affair

Throwaway999 posted 6/23/2020 14:44 PM

Firstly...I am so sorry you found us, but I am glad you did. I also have had the exact same double whammy as you. Except my WH has terminal cancer with only very few months to live. He was diagnosed 2 years ago...and a few months in we found out he was likely terminal. Fast forward to last October and I discovered his LTA by accident that ended in 2016. Like you, I felt our marriage had improved in the last few years, of course I had no idea why at the time. And since the cancer diagnosis, we were closer than ever. Until dDay and everything changed.

We currently are living in a limbo...I have emotional detached but I am standing by him with compassion and caring for him until her passes.

So you are now in the very difficult position of being both a betrayed person and a caregiver. For me, I kept the affair feelings as separate from the cancer as possible. The cancer happened to us but the affair was entirely on my WH.

At first my WH was quite remorseful as well...but it quickly slipped into trickle truth, more lies, defensiveness and anger. In fact he has been downright cruel and emotionally abusive to me.
I truly, from the bottom of my heart, hope you wife does not do the same. The big difference...my WH knew he was going to die regardless. So in his words “why bother to try”. Your wife is likely to make a full recovery...that is the best news.

You have a long road ahead of you....listen to all of the advice given here. Read the healing library, especially about the soft 180. You have a lot of feelings to sort out.

Would your response to the affair be different if she didn’t have cancer?

Would she have confessed if she didn’t have cancer?

Are you sure that there were not other affairs?

And I am sure your list of questions goes on and on...I know mine did.

I was in shock and numb for the first 6 months after finding out. A LTA consists of a lot of disgusting, poor choices on the part of your wife...and literally 1000’s of lies over the years. Added difficulty of finding out years later so very hard to verify anything. She has blown up your marriage and destroyed any trust after years of both deceit and lies.

Above all else, know this...nothing you did or said or didn’t say caused your wife to have an affair. You are not at fault for this. She is a broken person with likely self esteem issues, poor coping skills....something in her made her choose to go against her integrity and morals.

I would seek our IC for both of you. You have a lot on your plate and it can be overwhelming. And my advice is to avoid MC...at least at first. We went to 2 different MC...they can make things worse for the betrayed person if they are not a true expert in Infidelity.

Please feel free to PM anytime....I know exactly what you are going through. You are not alone.

GoldenR posted 6/23/2020 14:53 PM

Confessing while she's suffering from cancer and its treatment is emotional manipulation. She gets to alleviate her guilt and she knows you won't leave her while she's dealing with her health crisis.

She's smart.

Butforthegrace posted 6/23/2020 16:05 PM

I agree with the comment above: report him to HR. Also, if he is married, inform his wife (we call her the OBW). Do it without telling your WW in advance that this is something you plan to do. It's the right thing to do.

Get yourself tested for STD's and tell your WW that you are doing this. Do it regardless whether she says they used condoms. What the others say about HPV is a real concern. Neck cancer is not particularly common except when associated with certain other things.

This, from your OP:

She says she tried to tell me many times over the past couple of years, usually by saying to me that if I ever had an affair she would forgive me.

That's not her "trying to tell you". That is her, looking for an easy way out. It's quite common with waywards. She was fishing, hoping that you would admit to a previous affair, which in her wayward mind would then make the two of you somehow "even".

If you've spent much time reading here, you know that your story is somewhat unique because it combines a WW who willingly confessed the infidelity, without prompting by you, and an element of "found out years later". She could have taken this to the grave (that is, unless it really is HPV, in which case you'd eventually figure it out).

Learning in this way, as you are trying to be by her side while she undergoes cancer treatment, that is so cathartic and rough. Please know that we're here to help you.

[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 6:00 AM, June 24th (Wednesday)]

standinghere posted 6/24/2020 00:22 AM

Unfortunately, it is possible that her head/neck cancer is secondary to a sexually transmitted disease, HPV, if it is, you need to be screened, because it is likely that you are also infected.

This may actually have something to do with her attitude about being punished for what she has done, she may already know that she has HPV related head/neck cancer.

I agree with those others who suggest you go to human resources, an affair with the boss is never “consensual” there is always, always, always pressure, risk, possible loss of opportunity, etc., etc., etc. Every man or woman knows that when the boss starts to make their overtures. Every man or woman also knows that if they are not somewhat responsive to these overtures, or respond them in to negative of a fashion, those opportunities they have been getting will be gone to somebody who might be more likely, potentially more likely, or more vulnerable, or who does respond more in the fashion the boss desires.

Mene posted 6/24/2020 01:18 AM

If I understood this correctly you were each other’s first loves and the first people you had sex with. Her cancer could be from HPV which is the leading cause of neck/throat/mouth cancers, cervical cancer and penile cancer. You have definitely got HPV from her if she has it and you have about 1% chance it may lead to throat and or penile cancer for you. You can’t do anything about that now. Just go for your regular tests.

She got cancer for an AP. Looks like this guy. But it could be from another. Don’t discount that until you’re 100% sure. She may have picked it up from another AP a decade or 20 years ago.

Have the doctors confirmed the cancer is from HPV? Most people’s immune system deals with HPV and the body creates antibodies to deal with it. They can’t catch it a second time but they carry it and can give it to others.

Most western countries now vaccinate children at the age of 11 - both female and male - for HPV. Anyone over the age of 25 these days has an 80% of having been infected with HPV. It’s not a problem unless you get cancer from it.

First thing first, you need to inform her AP’s wife of the affair. Have you done this?

[This message edited by Mene at 1:25 AM, June 24th (Wednesday)]

knowingmystance posted 6/24/2020 02:45 AM

If I understood this correctly you were each other’s first loves and the first people you had sex with. Her cancer could be from HPV which is the leading cause of neck/throat/mouth cancers, cervical cancer and penile cancer. You have definitely got HPV from her if she has it and you have about 1% chance it may lead to throat and or penile cancer for you. You can’t do anything about that now. Just go for your regular tests.

I second that

knowingmystance posted 6/24/2020 02:45 AM


[This message edited by knowingmystance at 2:45 AM, June 24th (Wednesday)]

Buffer posted 6/24/2020 03:08 AM

So sorry for what you are going through. Checks, IC as well as full legal advice.
Fuck cancer, I wouldn’t wish that on any person.
Strength to you.

Xzy89c posted 6/24/2020 08:07 AM

Can't imagine what you are going through. So sorry.
I think you need to gain control back. Require a detailed timeline of the affair. She must notify her employer of the affair, and that she was manipulated into it. If he is married, she must contact the dirtbags wife to inform her. Lastly, she must inform your children.
3 years ago your marriage improved. That was when the third person you did not know was part of the marriage left. The thousands of lies she told you to have an over two year affair must be a gut punch whenever you think about it.
If you can swing it financially one of you needs to move out. It will let you decide if you can live without her. Your marriage will never be the same. The trust was nuked by her. Can a relationship be rebuilt? Only you can decide.

Bigger posted 6/24/2020 08:31 AM

Wow Riddle
That is tough.

I see three major projects ahead. Three things for you to focus on.
If you can – then consider addressing what I think might be the most important two.
1) Your WW recovery.
2) Your personal recovery.
3) The infidelity.
I think the first two are the most important FOR NOW. A major reason being that for you two to deal successfully with the infidelity your WW needs to be fit, and any effort put into your personal recovery will help with dealing with the infidelity.

It’s the old “how do you eat an elephant” idea: one bite at a time. I’m suggesting you cut your issues into bite-size segments. Albeit big bites…

There are positives in your story. Your WW confession, her actions to date and so on indicate you have a spouse that is reconciliation material. However that does NOT mean YOU have to reconcile. It’s your call. People have divorced for less than she did, people have reconciled from what some would see as more.

I see in your post a dedicated, honorable man.
Even IF this ends in D then I think YOU and your own sense of self-worth would make you want to support her through her illness. Can you do that? Can you tell her that for NOW you are willing to put the affair aside and that you two will focus on her health and recovery? You will stand beside her, support her and make sure she gets the best treatment for recovery? Be her stone – her rock – as I think you have been for the last decades.
Make it clear that at some not-too-distant point she needs to tell you EVERYTHING and that there is no guarantee that you will want to remain married, but for NOW there is an armistice and the focus is on her health.

I think that if you can do this YOU will feel better when you reflect back on these dark days.

Then focus on YOUR health. This is a shock. You need to take action to strengthen yourself. Everything from physical action (start working out, jogging, walking, go fishing, golfing-range), ensuring your diet, make sure you sleep, keep up with work…
Take time out to do what you enjoy. Ever wanted that expensive Sage fly-rod? Go get it and start practicing your cast. Mow the lawn, get that Mustang… Do whatever you need to take your mind off things. This problem won’t leave. You aren’t ignoring it. You are simply preparing yourself emotionally and physically to handle it in the best way you can in the very near future.

Edited to add:
I state the “most important two”.
That is wrong. All three are equally important. All need to be addressed. The two I mention are the ones that I suggest the initial focus is placed on.

[This message edited by Bigger at 8:36 AM, June 24th (Wednesday)]

Dismayed2012 posted 6/24/2020 08:55 AM

Sorry to hear about your situation Riddle. When you get a chance to catch your breath, sit down with yourself and think about what your reactions and actions would be if your WW didn't have cancer. Writing out your options while going through this exercise helps too. No matter what you decide now, educate yourself on your options. Contact a lawyer to discuss options and see about having a post-nuptial agreement drawn up and documented. Educating yourself on your various options even if you're not planning on going down certain roads, is never wrong.

Your WW intentionally or not has used her diagnosis and treatment as an opportunity to clear her conscience. Would she have told you if she never got sick? Probably not.

Right now you're busy helping your WW through her difficulties and you're likely going to set your healing aside. There will come a time after the dust settles that you'll begin to ruminate on what you've been enlightened to. That's when the anger will likely hit and you'll be faced with the choice to start a new life or stay with your formerly cheating partner.

When that day comes, realize that her illness has delayed your healing; that what you're experiencing is normal, and that in order to take your life back you need to trudge through the universe of emotions and reach the healing side.

Please realize that what she did has nothing to do with you or any failure on your part. You've done nothing that could cause her to cheat and you couldn't have done anything to stop her from cheating. This was a choice that she made and fully enjoyed for over a year while you remained faithful. These are facts that you would do well to bring yourself to accept.

In the meantime you should get yourself tested for STD's. STD's like other viruses have the potential to facilitate cancer. You should also inform the other man's spouse if he has one so she can get herself tested and so she can make her own decisions regarding her relationship with her husband. It's not unusual that one of a set of cheaters is a serial cheater thereby spreading STD's to everyone they have sex with.

Remember to take time for yourself. Exercise and when you do eat, eat healthy. Also stay hydrated with water. Sugary drinks mess with your mental health. Take walks and rediscover some hobbies for yourself. Spend time with friends and make new friends. Take care of yourself. You're worth the effort. I wish the best for you.

heartbroken_kk posted 6/24/2020 09:03 AM

I'm sorry you are going through all of this.

I suggest you get yourself into therapy right away, not marriage counselling just yet but therapy for you to help you start healing. You need someone who can help you process all of this in a way that is uniquely focused on you.

Your wife would also benefit from individual therapy so she can deal with her guilt and character issues that are her problems to solve on her own. You cannot treat her guilt like you did her cancer. Understand that. She has to own it. You've given what you can to heal her body and now it's her turn to work on healing her mind and her soul.

You can discuss marriage counselling later.

I do not believe in Karma. Your wife doesn't have to believe in that either, nor do you. Cancer just is. It doesn't have a purpose. It's a malfunction of cell machinery causing uncontrolled division creating a tumor, it's not a sentence for a crime. Many honorable people get cancer.

The point of that is that if she believes cancer is a punishment, and you buy into that, then the next potential belief is that she's been punished enough, maybe even punished too much, and now she's the victim more than you, and she doesn't have to do the work to repair your marriage and your heart.

I think there is potential for your marriage to survive infidelity, as your wife has been doing some of the work, but the deceit and continued lying after the affair is a problem. That is something she has to address.

Keep posting here. We are here for you.

survrus posted 6/24/2020 09:51 AM


Have your WW write out a timeline for the affair, tell her you won't blame her if new details are unearthed. Also have her write out about other sexual encounters she might have had.

Take her for a polygraph.

Get DNA for your kids.

Establish that you have all the truth. Two years is a long time to lie to someone, then for five years to withhold the truth.

You'll have to monitor yourself for cancer since her cancer may be HPV related, possibly OM picked it up from some other woman he was cheating with at the same time as your WW.

Did you confront OM yet.

Build a case against OM, gather together all the contact info. for his wife, kids, siblings, linkedin, facebook, etc then send out a massive email/etc exposure. Do not warn anyone or use it as a threat. Possibly hire a PI to figure out who he is having an affair with now.

Throwaway999 posted 6/24/2020 09:53 AM

The point of that is that if she believes cancer is a punishment, and you buy into that, then the next potential belief is that she's been punished enough, maybe even punished too much, and now she's the victim more than you, and she doesn't have to do the work to repair your marriage and your heart.

I agree with this as well...be cautious of her mindset...my WH often sank into victim mentality and I believe this contributed to his poor behavior and actions post DDay. Cancer has nothing to do with the infidelity....the only impact Cancer had was in the fact it prompted her to confess.

NeverTwice posted 6/24/2020 17:04 PM

Hi Riddle,

I am so sorry you are here and in the situation you are in. I just lost my husband this year to cancer. So I cannot even imagine having to deal with infidelity on top of it all.

The good news is she is going to get better. The bad news is you have to be the caretaker of the one who betrayed you to the core. I am not sure that I have any advice to give you here outside of the cancer part - I have more experience that I ever wanted in that department.

But sending you hugs and strength. Truly wish the best for both of you.

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