“My Boyfriend Doesn’t Know About My Husband”

I’m having an affair that my husband knows about; the problem is my boyfriend doesn’t know about my husband because we live a few cities away, and it’s getting complicated. It all started three years ago. My husband and I had money issues, kid issues, boredom issues. I felt crushed by the stress of a youngest child who had disorders, was labeled special needs, and needed my care on a constant basis.

One night I was invited to a party where I met Jim. Jim was smooth and nice and caring and so care-free — the exact opposite of my own life. We fell in love, and he has no idea that, after seeing him on the weekends, I go back home to my husband and kids. He thinks I’m separated and that my husband is long gone and living on his own. He doesn’t know about the family dinners we have and the vacations we take.

I am so tangled in this other life it’s sickening. I’ve met Jim’s family and friends and they all love me and think I am perfect for Jim. Jim was so afraid of women all his life until he met me. He often tells me how women wronged him in the past and how he loves how honest and caring I am. I am a huge fraud. When I’m out with my husband, I am constantly looking over my shoulder wondering if Jim’s family or friends will see me, and, when I’m with Jim, I’m terrified my friends or my family will see me. I’ve become so depressed that I cry on a daily basis not believing my lies have lasted almost three years!

My husband knows what I’m doing and is so-so with it, but he asks me to stop and I don’t know if I can. I’ve tried breaking it off before, and I got so upset I threw up and called Jim immediately asking for him back.

Jim wants me to bring my kids and move in with him, and I stupidly told him I will in the summer, Knowing full well there is no way I can leave my husband. I am in love with both these men and I don’t know what to do. My husband and I get along so well that I don’t even know why I did this. I’m happy with him, but it scares me to think of living without Jim. And it breaks my heart thinking of hurting either man. I am the most selfish person I know. Please help me. — Tired of the Lies

You need to stop being a passive passenger in the journey of your life and take the driver’s wheel. Running from your problems — first, your “money issues, kid issues, boredom issues” and now all the lies you’ve told — only makes everything worse. Your only path to peace is the truth and the hard work it’s going to take to undo the damage that has been done, in your marriage, in your psyche, in your emotional well-being.

You have to let Jim go. He was never yours to begin with anyway. Your life with him isn’t real. It’s a fantasy that you’ve created to escape the problems weighing you down in your real life. And you can’t build anything on a fantasy. Unfortunately for Jim, he thinks your fantasy IS reality. It will be a blow to him to learn the truth, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to be kept in the dark any longer. You have to come clean, you have to end things with him, you have to turn your focus inward and work on fixing the broken pieces inside you that led you down this path of lies.

Obviously, therapy. For both you individually and you and your husband as a couple. You say you love him, you have children together, you have a life together. Your marriage is worth trying to salvage. But you need professional help to get there. You need self-forgiveness and open communication and someone teaching you tools to cope with life’s problems in a healthy, productive manner rather than escaping into some fantasy land where you only create more problems for yourself.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. This headline cracked me up. Alright. Time to read.

  2. limepink22 says:

    Omg. BGM is going to have a field day with daisies over this one. Cannot. Wait. /popcorn

    1. captainswife says:

      At least she’s not a virgin &&anythingcanhappen

      1. This comment just made me smile. Thank you!

      2. Avatar photo kmentothat says:

        Still dying over && hahahaha

      3. At least she’s not pregnant with Jim’s baby!

      4. captainswife says:

        Yes, but Jim did accidentally fall into her vagina, I’m pretty sure.

      5. RedRoverRedRover says:

        She’s probably saving that for the update. 🙂

  3. Hi LW….I agree with Wendy you need to be honest….it will be hard at first, but in the end the weight that will be lifted off your shoulders will be amazing….since your husband knows about Jim maybe use him as moral support? You never know, once you tell Jim the truth, he may forgive you (but that will be up to him, and may not happen immediately)…..please also take the advice on self forgiveness…..you are not the first person to lie or the first person to have an affair…..i believe from your letter you are a good person who just got way too deep into a situation that you don’t want to be in any more….hope everything works out for you 🙂

    1. Oh god, I hope he doesn’t forgive her. Like, I mean I hope poor Jim comes out of this ok, but if she tells him she’s married and he’s like “that’s ok baby I love you, stay with me” that’s the opposite of what this LW needs. What she needs is to make a clean break with Jim.

      1. I agree, him being nice about it is really the last thing she needs. She needs him to want nothing to do with her. And honestly to never see him again after she breaks it off with him.

      2. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        But… why? I mean, Jim is probably going to be (justifiably) furious that she’s been lying to him and basically living a double life for three years. That’s almost a certainty. But if her husband knows about this and is okay with it, and she comes clean and Jim ends up being okay with it, what is the problem?
        This situation needs honesty, but if it turns out that everyone is actually okay with the situation, I’m not sure there’s a problem.

      3. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        Eh… Actually on re-reading it doesn’t seem like her husband is actually okay with the situation, since he’s asked her to break it off more than once.
        I wonder why he’s stayed with her for three years of this if he’s not okay with it, though.

      4. Probably related to the children, specifically with one being special needs. If I had to guess.

      5. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

        Probably true. I do wonder exactly how he feels about this situation. From LW’s perspective, he seems pretty passive. I would be really interested to hear the situation from his PoV

      6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        He probably wants to live with his kids. Women almost always get physical custody of the kids with dads getting every other weekend and one night per week. If he wants his kids to grow up in the home with him he can’t easily get divorced. Maybe he’s visiting a lawyer while she’s visiting Jim.

      7. But her husband ISN’T ok with it. He asked her to stop.

      8. Based on Jim’s history with two-timing, lying, good-fer-nothin’ women in his past, he’s probably not going to be very forgiving if LW comes completely clean. LW can fantasize about having brother-husbands, but seems pretty unlikely.

  4. Sunshine Brite says:

    I just, I can’t. How can you keep lying like this for 3 years? Both of these men should dump you but since they’re not going to, dump Jim and either work on your marriage or end it.

  5. This letter is like a microcosm of so many DW letters– the other [person] who she can’t leave her husband for, sketchy SO who is totally cheating while the other ignores the red flags. Just yesterday didn’t we have a forum post about the other woman who’s boyfriend couldn’t leave his wife for 5 years– newsflash to that LW, if he wrote in he’d tell us that he can’t ever leave his wife either. And for all the people who have written in about the warning signs, your SO really might have a spouse and kids in another state. Now you know.

    LW it is amazing that your husband hasn’t flat out dumped you once he found out about your affair. You have a family and a life with HIM and a second change with HIM. Come clean to Jim, dump him (if he doesn’t dump you first), and go work on your marriage.

  6. So, for the last three years, Jim has fallen in love with and has been planning a future with a woman who has shamelessly lied to him to keep him in her life. At the same time, the LW’s husband has not left her, but is not okay with her continuing affair (despite the LW’s ridiculous belief that it’s all good with them because he’s “so so” with it) and requested that she end it and she refuses. But she won’t just end her marriage, either. Oh, and there are kids involved. Of course.
    Grow up, LW and stop being so selfish. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through, other people’s emotions are not yours to play with just because you want to avoid your own life problems. Like everyone else has said, break up with Jim. Go to therapy alone and with your husband. And the next time you decide that life is just too much for you, how about instead of toying with at least two people’s (four, if you count her minimum of two kids) emotions and happiness, you double up on the therapy and then join a new yoga class, take up new hobby or, hell, even get a kitten. Kittens make everything better, or so I hear.

  7. You need to be honest with Jim and honest with yourself and your life. Take some time off to really think what you want. You can’t have them both. If you don;t make a decision quickly, you may loose both of them. Karma is not worth it.

  8. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    As a disclaimer, I would like to say that I honestly believe I would say the same thing if the LW was a man writing in about having a girlfriend on the side.
    LW, you know you need to extricate yourself from the Jim situation ASAP. In reading your letter I can actually hear and feel the amount of pain you are in. You say you are crying on a daily basis, etc, etc. BUT, this doesnt change the fact that YOU are the one who got yourself into the situation (by continuing with the lying and in fact heaping lie upon lie upon lie…), and thusly, you are the only one who can get yourself out of it- and just like the way you got yourself in, step by step, is the way you get out as well. There is no “easy” way out, just as the slope was slippery as you got yourself deeper and deeper into your double lives. My advice is to make a list of steps to take, and stick to it. A therapist, like Wendy said, is a must- whether just for you or a couples thing with your husband, or even better- both.
    As a side note, I dont think you need to have some huge cryfest confession to Jim. Just break it off. Tell him that it isnt for you or you moved too fast and you are breaking up or whatever. Just dont leave the door open to a future with him and DONT let him convince you into staying with him. Wanting to not be in a relationship with a person is enough of a reason to break up. While I personally dislike people claiming to be “more fragile” or whatever due to their relationship past(s) (the reason being because you are then placing YOUR issues on your partner who is not responsible for them), I do think it would be better for Jim and for you to just break it off without confessing your “double life” to him.

    1. I think I actually agree with you on her not telling Jim the why. What point would it serve? Just end it.
      I also like your “baggage” statement. Granted, there are some people with baggage, like cases of abuse. But most of the time, I think people use that B.S. line as an excuse for other things, mainly not wanting to be in a real, long-term relationship with current person. Or being afraid. Or not really dealing with their own shit.

      1. If I were Jim I’d want to know about this, particulary because LW will have a hard time explaining why she’s breaking up with him without mentioning the lie. I think he’d be left wondering WTF happened, and it might be next to impossible for her to keep this secret anyway. Plus, this sounds like a fairly serious relationship and it seems like respect demands that she, at last, be honest with him. It will hurt but it will also help him moving on from LW.

      2. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

        I get you, but, “I want to break up,” is a sufficient reason to break up. The justification is unnecessary. Pushing for a “reason” or “explanation,” while innocuous on its face, is really just an invalidation of the person’s feelings who is expressing it. This isnt an Elizabethan sonnet or some sh*t- LW and Jim’s intertwined destiny isnt written in the stars. She needs to cut him loose, yesterday. Without the further burden on Jim of her lyin,’ cheatin,’ no good, double dealin,’ mean mistreatin,’ loving heart.

      3. What you are saying is correct in theory. However… in this case, I think what she needs is to burn that relationship to the ground. She’s already said that she has tried to break it off before only to immediately ask him back. And he, like an abused puppy, allows her back everytime.
        Boyfriend needs a reality check. LW needs a point of no return. This needs to be THE END for all involved. Sometimes the ugliest break is also the cleanest.

      4. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

        Yeah, I wasnt sure if what I meant would come off properly, so Im glad you get what I was saying. What I mean is I hate the hiding behind the “poor me, so hurt in past relationships” bit. I think it goes without saying that any breakup hurts the people involved in it. I will also freely admit that in my early 20s, I used this line, And believed it! Haha, oh Younger Me!!! But the common denominator of the relationships that ANYONE claims to be carryign around emotional scars from is…drumroll……… THAT VERY PERSON.
        And yes, I am excluding the abusive/controlling/brainwashing-y kinda stuff from this blanket statement.

      5. I actually roll my eyes when friends use that line, or they’re dating people who use that line.

    2. I agree that it would be ideal if Jim could be spared the knowledge of how deeply he has been betrayed, but I don’t know if it’s avoidable in this case. The LW already tried to break things off once and was so upset she went right back to him. What’s to keep that from happening again? Especially if he makes any effort to try to win her back.

      I think when she breaks up with him she has to completely burn that bridge. She needs to tell him something that will make it so 1) he doesn’t try to get her back and 2) he will not take her if she tries to come crawling back.

      1. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

        I see what you are saying, and I agree with your logic. However, I think that LW really just needs to STEP THE F*CK UP and take control of her life back. In that vein, I mean that there is no option of crawling back. She needs to stop being such a jerk, which includes sticking to a plan (or guy or life or whatever) and not wavering from it, even when the going gets tough.

    3. Yeah I kind of agree that Jim should be spared the whole truth. What will it really help if he “knows”. I mean he already distrusted women before the LW, this may just push him into full-on women hating territory and ruin the rest of his life. LW, could you tell Jim that committing to bring the children to him made you really think hard about the future. That led you to realize that he is not in it, but your “ex” husband might be, and that you might want to reconcile with him. It’s not a total lie and it should protect him while keeping him from trying to restart something with you, and also would let you stop looking over your shoulder in the future.

  9. I know someone who did something like this, and she had completely managed to convince herself that her relationship was great in spite of all the lies and cheating. But of course the truth is that Jim would run away screaming if he knew that you have a husband, so the relationship is a complete fraud. You already realize this and with time, the guilt will eat you up. If you don’t believe this relationship is a fraud, then tell Jim the truth and see how he reacts.

  10. Sue Jones says:

    Come on girl! Nut up and take some responsibility for the pickle you have found yourself in! Do Jim a favor and end things with him. Then start tackling the real problems in your marriage rather than compounding these problems by dragging innocent people into your mess! Therapy and medication are a good place also to start unwinding this mess! Facepalm!

  11. So in all this time has Jim never been to your home, met your friends, family, children…? How is it that you’ve been so completely integrated into your world but he’s never once ventured into yours?

    Not that it matters, you need to break this off. I just find it odd.

  12. You have to see Jim for the escape that he was and is. As perfect as he seems if you lived with him full time those issues that plagued your marriage would surface in that relationship as well. And then what would you do? Find a new Jim? In therapy it would be good to try and figure out why you felt the need to run instead of facing your issues with your partner. What kept you from being able to lean on him and him on you. Couples counseling also sounds like an excellent thing, if you decide to stay married and your husband decides he still wants to be married to you when all of this is said and done.

  13. TheRascal says:

    I am finding it difficult to muster any sort of compassion for this LW. Stop the self-created, selfish WOE, and get it together.
    You have treated everyone in your life — your husband, your children, Jim — like they don’t matter.

  14. Yes, everything Wendy has said! When reading the letter, I loved hearing that Jim has had issues with trust and betrayal with women in the past. Holy hell this is going to destroy the guy. So I agree with Raccoon Eyes, just break it off and don’t get into the why. If you truly care about him that can be your goodbye gift to him.

  15. Ugh, this is so….tawdry. My biggest take-away from this is how awful this is for the children. You are spending EVERY WEEKEND away from your kids, pretending with another guy? How much of their lives are you missing? Your husband is picking up your parenting slack while you are off living your other life? I start to feel annoyed when my husband is 15 minutes late getting home for dinner with our toddler. I sure as sh*t would not just shrug and look the other way if he took off every weekend to bang someone else. Not just because of the betrayal to the marriage, but the utter lack of regard for the responsibility that comes with bringing children into the world. Gross.

  16. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    Man I feel so bad for Jim. I don’t get how you could treat someone you claim to love like this. IMO Love is predicated on trust and honesty and you clearly care very little for either of those two things seeing has you have lied to Jim and abused the trust that he has placed in you for 3 years. You need to either break up with him outright, or I guess tell him the truth, but that will probably fuck him up for years to come with future people and relationships, so whatever. Like at this point not telling him and just breaking up is probably the nicest thing to do, although not the right thing to do; idk- not like one more lie really matters at this point… (sarcasm) I am too tired to even respond to this eloquently today.

    1. I know, right? How self-serving do you have to be to meet someone at a party, and then make a CALCULATED decision to LIE about your marital status, and then KEEP LYING about it for three years?! After a few months, you couldn’t be like, “My husband and I are going to try to work things out, see ya?” Still a lie, but at least you are letting Jim go to find someone who is actually available. (I do find it interesting that after three years, he’s never been to her home, met her kids or any friends/family, and apparently has no desire to change the LDR situation…)

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Well, something is CLEARLY wrong with Jim. He sounds just as broken, if not more, than the LW. With a pattern of choosing women who wrong him, it seemingly doesn’t even occur to him to suspect shadiness that he’s never been to his girlfriend’s home or met her kids or seen her during the week. I think the LW SHOULD tell him the truth and urge him to get some therapy as well. All three adults in this scenario sound lost and I only hope the kids somehow make it out ok.

      2. My hope is that poor fuddled Jim doesn’t become embittered, join some fuckwit group like A Voice for Men and decide to take his revenge on the gender that wronged him. The LW could be a poster child for AVFM’s skewed view of women. Have you guys read any of that red pill crap? It’s truly scary.

      3. Oops, I forgot that he wants her to bring the kids and move in with him this summer. I guess things will be coming to a head soon!

      4. I agree and then to suggest they (including the kids) move in with him???

  17. Oy. LW, I have zero sympathy for you. Zero. You PUT yourself in this situation. Your relationship with Jim is NOT reality. You are escaping reality every.single.weekend, in turn abandoning your CHILDREN. I guarantee they have noticed that their mom isn’t home on weekends. You are NOT “perfect” for Jim. If anything you are just adding to his history of women who have lied to him. You’re right you are a fraud, and if you truly love Jim, it’s time to come clean and break it off. He loves the woman you pretend to be, not the woman you actually are. Aren’t you sick of all these lies? It’s time to put your big girl panties on and put your own family first and do the right thing.

  18. LW, how dare you? I have no sympathy here. You have zero intention on leaving your husband, therefore, you doing the very definition of leading someone on. You have wasted Jim’s time, and time is something so many of us hold as precious and valuable. You have given him a false reality, and that makes me sad. Do him (and yourself) and break it off with him. He deserves much better. No to mention, your husband, has asked you to break it off, and you haven’t. Get yourself to therapy, work on your marriage and let Jim find someone who is available. A person’s time is valuable. Don’t waste it by being selfish.

  19. Is your husband some kind of friggin’ saint!? You don’t know if you can break it off? But you and your husband get along SO famously? Or is he just desperate to preserve some semblance of normality for himself and your kids? I would boot you to the curb without a second’s hesitation and sue for full custody. You are fooling yourself if you think you can finesse this. You may have already lost both your husband and your boyfriend. You need to instantly cut the crap, break off with Jim, see if you have a marriage to salvage, and then commit to the work of saving it. Your kids’ needs should come first. I should want to sympathize with your stress given your special needs child, but the shitstorm you’ve created as a response to that stress is yours alone, so own it.

    1. I’m betting it’s..

      a. he’s not that into her
      b. he can’t afford to raise the kids alone, and doesn’t want to risk have her get primary custody
      c. plans to divorce her once they’re old enough

    2. bittergaymark says:

      Or they could just happily have an open marriage. Lord knows monogamy rarely seems to work out all that hot for the rest of you… Just look at this website! It’s constantly — I checked his phone and he sexted so and so… Blah blah blah. I “accidentally” showed a dirty pic to my husband’s friend and now can’t stop thinking if he thinks about it… Blah blah blah… I can’t stop thinking about my hot coworker! But I so do LOVE my boyfriend… Blah blah blah.

  20. I just thought of something. LW, what do you tell your children on your weekends away?

    1. Yeah, I’m sort of baffled by the logistics of this. What do you say as you’re leaving on Friday night/Saturday morning? “Bye honey, have fun with the laundry and dishes and our special-needs child! Bye kids, be good for Daddy while Mommy is off having her fun!”
      Just generally speaking, I’m a little bit impressed by people who find the time to have affairs. Not just one-night stands, but continuous entanglements. I guess it helps if your spouse already knows? I have a full-time job and a long commute, I need to pick up my kid from daycare by 6, then she needs dinner, bath, story time, etc. before bed. Then my husband and I eat together before lights-out. There are only so many hours in a day and only so much coffee. Where do people find the time and energy?!

  21. Talk about having your cake and eating it too. I cannot believe your husband is putting up with this! Has he also been seeing other people? I am so morbidly curious about the details of this LW’s life… seriously this could be one of those romantic thriller novels that of course always ends up in some kind of murder. Hopefully life does not imitate art in this case!

  22. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

    Jesus LW, I get being miserable with life. Truly, I do. It doesn’t give you the right to damage other people. You are scarring your husband, your children, Jim, and yourself. It is not ok to work your shit out at the expense of other people. Get help and stop using other people like pawns. I think Jim deserves to know exactly who you are. Don’t you dare leave him thinking that you two could have something in the future. You have wasted enough of his life, leave him to pick up the pieces and move on.

  23. “money issues, kid issues, boredom issues”

    so. you mean life?

    Calling yourself selfish doesn’t absolve you from acting the way you do. You are self aware enough to know you are acting in away that can and will ultimately destroy other people’s happiness/self-esteem/future plans/sense of worth/sense of security…and you do it anyway…for three years. And those other people I’m referring to most definitely includes your children. You have children – one of which with special needs – and you take off every weekend to go live some fantasy life without any care to them or for them. Outstanding. How can you be so lacking in conscience? Seriously – to do this for three years and to put your husband and your children through your affair – not to mention clueless Jim – you sound more sociopath than merely selfish to me. But I’m no doctor. You should see one though and maybe in between all the therapy you should be getting you could work in a parenting class.

  24. bittergaymark says:

    This is a mess. It’s so dishonest what you’re doing to the poor boyfriend. You’ve took a nice guy — and made him a sap.
    Full disclosure. I am presently involved with a married man myself. BUT it is an open marriage. Meaning I have met the other guy… I have met the husband. Strangely, we are BOTH named Mark. Go figure… And here’s the deal — I thus have NO illusions that my fling is going to ever be THE ONE. I know this is what it is. And I am cool with that. They’ve happily been together for over twenty years… Do I somehow REALLY think he’s just going to up and run off with me? Um, no…
    But what you are doing here is so wrong on so many levels. You have to come clean. You will lose the boyfriend to be sure. But you know what? You kind of sort of have that coming to you…

  25. monkeys mommy says:

    The only person I feel sorry for here is your husband. It is amazing that he has not left your sorry ass. The level of selfishness here is astounding. And your boyfriend? Who is to say he is not going to come unhinged over this? I actually know someone very well who was doing the whole affair with a younger, carefree guy thing… and it ended badly… very badly… like with a funeral badly… And her husband did not leave her. What???

  26. Don’t tell Jim.
    Open a separate account and start saving money. Get a part time job if you don’t have one.
    File for divorce.
    Use the 6 months up to the finalization to slowly transition to Jim’s, save money, hire a nanny, and agree to 50% custody.
    Don’t mention the affair again or you could lose everything.
    I’ve been in your shoes. The amount of grief and therapy you will have to endure is enough to make you want to run your car off the road. Obviously, you have already chose Jim. You go back to your husband now (emotionally) you are going to resent him because he never gave you what Jim did. Then 4 years down the road a replacement Jim is going to come along and you will be right back where you started from.
    Ps: You and your husband have kids together. So he will always be there and the support will always be there. Jim won’t. Jim will leave and you will spend sleepless nights wondering why you chose your ambivalent husband over your lover.
    Also, I want to add Jim is yours. Emotionally he is your secure attachment now. Go with your heart.

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