A) Don’t confront him. He will just take his affair underground. He’s demonstrated how deceptive he is. Speak to a good priest first (preferably an older one who has a good grasp on the realities of married life). But having an “honest conversation” about his extracurriculars, “Hey honey, tell me how your needs aren’t being met…” — is setting yourself up for MORE manipulation. Manipulation has been his strategy all along. Why would he change tactics now when so much is at stake? His goal has been cake — his affair and his chump. He will cycle through the three channels — rage, self-pity, and charm — to keep you in your place. Or worse he will play the mistress against you, a diabolic maneuver called “triangulation”.
B) Know your deal-breakers and grieve later. Don’t get caught up in who you thought he was, or who he could be — deal with WHO HE IS — a man who is brazenly cheating on you, and risking your health. It’s normal that you’ll still feel some love for him and raw emotion that your family life, as you thought it was, has died. Don’t let those feelings paralyze you or get in the way of you protecting yourself. It’s time to be a field marshall. You can fall apart later, in safety.
C) Get your finances in order. While you’re lining things up, make copies of all your financial documents. Run a credit report. Figure out your debts and your income. Do some sleuthing if you suspect he’s been siphoning off funds for his double life. Sadly, financial abuse often goes hand in hand with infidelity. These are monies you can ask for back in a divorce. Don’t think a divorce court won’t assign debt to you just because you might be a stay at home mom. Do you want to be forced to work to pay off his credit card debts for gifts he bought for his guppy?
D) Get a support network. You are dealing with a monumental shock and you need all kinds of support now. First things first—make a good general confession to your traditional priest. Make an appointment with a family attorney to get informed about the laws in your community just in case your husband files for divorce after D-Day (Disclosure Day). You may find that family and friends will not support you so that might not be the best place to go. A Catholic counselor (not a marriage counselor), might be someone who you can dump negative emotions during the crises. Do NOT, however, lean on your husband. You must fight an overwhelming urge to seek comfort from the person who hurt you — resist those feelings. They make you vulnerable to more manipulation, the consequences of which could be very costly.
E) Get STD testing. Cheaters live in a magical reality.
F) Be the Sane Parent. When the going gets tough, focus on being strong for your kid(s) right now. Model self respect and resiliency to them. Don’t model codependent chumpdom. Their dad is checked out of family life — you can’t afford to be. They need you to have your wits about you. You should maintain yourself and not try to dress or act like the mistress. And please don’t have a revenge affair or pretend to have one. Don't turn to alcohol to help you sleep. Try 500 mg of magnesium at night. Exercise can help relieve stress as well as relaxing music.
G) Be open to reconciliation later. Right now you have a moral obligation to remove yourself and your children from the situation because of the immorality and potential for abuse. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to the possibility of reconciliation. You have a better chance of him repenting if he loses you and the children temporarily then if he can have you plus the mistress. But don’t rush it. It could take many months or years for him to get over himself and his selfishness. Catastrophic loss is the best way for him to learn his lesson.
H) Be real. Please don’t jump to wild rationalizations like “demonic possession”, “nєω ωσrℓ∂ σr∂єr syndrome” or “crisis of faith” to explain his behavior. And please do not let him convince you that those pesky extra 10 lbs you never lost after childbearing made him do it. That will only make you feel guilty and allow him to continue to manipulate you. And if he has low hormones (doubtful) or depression then he needs to see a doctor not take on a girlfriend. Again, you don’t need to be co-habitating for him to get his physical and mental health in order. You can seek his good and pray for him in a different home as well as in the same home.
Good luck. I’ll pray for you.