After Susanne's divorce, she met and married Dieter Beier.


Midlife Moments'

Midlifer of the Week

Susanne Beier

There's Light at the End of the Tunnel

by Mike Bellah

  "One night the phone rang and I answered it," says Susanne Beier. "A female breathed his name three times in my ear. Although I knew intellectually what this meant, the emotional part of me wanted to stay in denial. I told myself all kinds of excuses of who it could be."

Beier is describing her initial reaction to the signs of her 38-year-old husband's affair with a 22-year-old co-worker. The phone call was the most obvious indication that something was amiss, but it was not the first nor the only sign that Beier's partner was being unfaithful.

"The first sign as I remember was that our sex life totally changed," says Beier. "It went from very active to almost totally inactive. The excuses were that he was tired. Or he would watch TV 'til I went to sleep first. In hindsight I see that he was actually being true to a relationship, obviously not ours."

Secondly, Beier says that her husband became occupied with getting back in shape. He began jogging and consulted a doctor about his thinning hair. And, thirdly, he seemed preoccupied and seemed to lose interest in Beier and their two teen-age sons. "Right before the end, we went to Las Vegas," says Beier. "He was definitely distracted, and I decided to see just how much. I waited 'til he was settled by a slot machine and then walked over to the machine right next to him. He did not notice I was there."

Beier says that after the mysterious phone call she couldn't stand the suspense any longer and so she confronted her husband. "That did it; he confessed," she says. "He told me that he loved me but that he was not in love with me anymore, that he would be moving out that night and that there was someone else. And just like that he was gone."

Beier, who was then and is now a licensed counselor practicing in Pennsylvania, found herself going through the typical emotional turmoil of a betrayed spouse. "I was totally stunned," she says. "I felt like I was watching a movie, except I was one of the characters in it . . . I was having open heart surgery without anesthesia."

Beier says that in about 80% of affairs, the unfaithful partner comes back, yet hers did not. He married the other woman; moved her into the family home, and fathered a child with her. That was eight years ago. As for Beier, with the help of a good therapist and the support of family and friends, she regained her professional and personal self-confidence. Later, she remarried. "I can honestly say I am happier than I've ever been," she says. "It has been a long and painful road, but, in hindsight, it was worth it . . . never thought I'd say that."

Beier, who now counsels dozens of midlife people going through marriage problems (including regular guest responses on the Midlife Moments Web Site), has advice for both partners in affairs. "If you are the one that is contemplating leaving, think about the pain you leave behind. It not only affects you and your spouse, but also your parents, friends, and, of course, your children."

To the one left behind Beier advocates immediately seeking professional help. "Don't despair," she says. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I know; I've been there."

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