Suzie Had No Idea Her Husband Lived A Double Life for 15 Years | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

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WINFREY: Suzy Farbman had no idea that her husband was living a double life for 15 years. Now that's betrayal. Listen to their story. Listen to their story. WINFREY: Burton and Suzy Farbman truly believed they had the American Dream. Burton and Suzy were fixtures on the Detroit social scene-- he a real estate titan; she a reporter, gossip columnist, local celebrity and mother of two. Mrs. FARBMAN: I really felt that I was as close as anybody came to having it all. WINFREY: Everything seemed perfect until they became the subject of the gossip. A woman from Burton's office took Suzy aside. Mrs. FARBMAN: She said, `I wanted to tell you something. Everyone in the office is talking about Burt's having an affair,' and I said, feeling as though a thousand horses had just stampeded through my stomach, `Thank you for telling me.' I went home and told Burton about this conversation that I'd had, and he said there's no truth to the rumor. I chose to believe his denials. WINFREY: After that conversation, Burton became withdrawn and depressed. Suzy wrote it off as a midlife crisis. She threw herself into her journalism career. Her work appeared in national magazines. Mrs. FARBMAN: But in the meantime, Burton was more and more antsy and saying, `I don't want to work so hard. I want to take time off. I want to play,' and he found someone to play with and that someone wasn't me. WINFREY: Burton was spending all of his time with his beloved horses-- his riding companion, an attractive, single woman. Mrs. FARBMAN: And when I would say to him, `You know, is anything else going on?' he denied it, and once again I wanted to believe his denials. WINFREY: But the facts pointed the other way. Suzy found a suspicious hotel bill and plane ticket. Mrs. FARBMAN: That was really the nightmare, to discover that. WINFREY: Many nights she came home to find his car missing. Many mornings she woke up alone. Mrs. FARBMAN: It was so devastating not knowing-- suspecting but not knowing for sure where he'd gone. I didn't want to know. WINFREY: Then came a call Suzy will never forget. Mrs. FARBMAN: As we're driving along, my husband's cell phone rings. Through the receiver, I hear this woman's voice. `Hi!' lasting way too long for the way he responded. Mr. BURTON FARBMAN: I'm tied up right now. I'll call you back. Mrs. FARBMAN: And I said, `Gee, who was that?' you know, like real innocent, and he said, `Jerry. He was calling on business.' That was one of the worst moments of my life, because that was the first time I ever really knew that he had told me a lie. My heart caved in. It was like an implosion. At this point, I realized that my perfect life was a sham. WINFREY: Well, there are, as we know, two sides to every story, especially when it comes to an affair. Here's Burton version. Mr. FARBMAN: Fourteen years into our marriage, we seemed to be happy. WINFREY: But Burton says something was missing. Mr. FARBMAN: There was a hole in my life. That was the time I think I had my first affair. She was younger, spontaneous, wanted to have fun, and there was an attraction. And I try to go back and ask myself why did I do it. It all sounds too much like a big excuse, and I think that's bull (censored). I think the truth is that I was weak. WINFREY: Burton feared the whispers around the office would reach his wife. Eventually they did. Mr. FARBMAN: Suzy heard the rumor, she confronted me with it, I denied it, and that was pretty much where it ended. WINFREY: Shortly after Suzy questioned Burton about the office gossip, his mistress called it quits. Mr. FARBMAN: I took it pretty hard. I went into a depression, and after three weeks, I started to feel better. WINFREY: Life returned to normal until 12 years later. He got antsy again. Burton escaped to his horses, and what began as a friendship at the stables became much more. Mr. FARBMAN: Sex was part of the relationship, and as I was getting more attached to her, I was feeling less attached to Suzy. But I felt guilty. And Suzy knew there was something wrong. And when I would tell her who I was with, I'd see tears in her eyes. She would get silent. WINFREY: Burton tried hard to camouflage his double life. He carried a secret cell phone and kept a special credit card. He even set up a post office box for bills Suzy would never see. But there were slip-ups, like that plane ticket to Florida, which Suzy found. Mr. FARBMAN: I lied, clearly lied. WINFREY: Then came that fateful phone call. Mr. FARBMAN: Hello, yes. It was this girl, and I didn't know that Suzy had heard the voice. When she asked me who it was, I told her it was some fellow in our office and Suzy knew it wasn't true. WINFREY: Once again, Suzy said nothing and let her husband slide, but his lies were becoming unbearable. Mr. FARBMAN: I realized that if I didn't do something dramatic, we were going to end up getting a divorce. And so I--very late at night, it probably was 2 or 3:00 in the morning, and I doubt that either of us were sleeping, I said, `Suzy,' and she said, `Yes?' I said, `Do you really want to know what's going on?' and she said, `Yes.' WINFREY: So what did he say? Mrs. FARBMAN: He told me about the current affair. He told me about a brief affair before that that I really had not known about, and about the affair that occurred 15 years before that I didn't realize-- you know, when I heard the rumors, I--I didn't know that that was actually the affair, and I managed--I had two little boys at the time and I just managed to put that right out of my mind.

WINFREY: You know what's interesting? At--you know, I started at the beginning of this show talking about a woman's intuition and her gut. So when you hear those rumors from the office and you brushed it aside, WINFREY: You know what's interesting? At--you know, I started at the beginning of this show talking about a woman's intuition and her gut. So when you hear those rumors from the office and you brushed it aside, there was no gut instinct? There was no... Mrs. FARBMAN: There was... WINFREY: ...feeling from you? Mrs. FARBMAN: Oh, yeah. Oh, absolutely. WINFREY: Really? Mrs. FARBMAN: I--I had a sense something was wrong, but I just with all my heart didn't want to believe what it--what it was. And so I kept coming up with other theories. WINFREY: Uh-huh. So you--you told her finally because... Mr. FARBMAN: We were in a program, at a couples program, after my son's wedding, and it showed me how far we had fallen as a couple and my intention was never, ever to get divorced. WINFREY: What were you going to do, Burt? Mr. FARBMAN: When you're--when you're going through that, I don't know that your mind is going that far ahead. You know, I don't know if you're thinking about that. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mr. FARBMAN: I thought that it was just an enhancement to my life. And it may sound--it may sound silly, but... WINFREY: An enhancement. Mrs. FARBMAN: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: Next, Burt's other shocking confession to Suzy about his mistress. WINFREY: I was saying to Suzy that her book, "Back From Betrayal," is going to help so many women and some men, too, probably, because I think when this happens to you, when you find out that you've been betrayed by your spouse, you're so overwhelmed with feelings, you don't know if what your feeling is right, accurate. You feel like you're out of your own body, you're not yourself, you feel like something's been stolen from you, you don't know who to be angry with. Susan and Burton Farbman were married more than 30 years when Suzy discovered her worst fears were true. Burton had been cheating through half of their marriage with three different women, serious affairs, and despite the devastating betrayal, Suzy decided to stay and wrote a book about it called "Back From Betrayal." Why did you decide to stay? Mrs. FARBMAN: I decided to stay, Oprah, because I just couldn't give up some of the memories we'd had. WINFREY: OK. Every person who's had this happen to them, I think, goes through this. Was that period, then, when he was cheating on you, or having cheated on you and deceived you, betrayed you, did that make those times a lie? Mrs. FARBMAN: No. No. The--the real times were the real times. WINFREY: OK. So can you tell us about going back. As--as--as we heard Sam say, she had all the details. Did you want to know details? Mrs. FARBMAN: I did not want details. All I wanted to know was that it was over. WINFREY: You didn't want to know details. Mrs. FARBMAN: I didn't want to, no. WINFREY: You didn't want to know how serious were the affairs? Mrs. FARBMAN: My imagination took care of that for me. That was enough already, but what happens is af-- after you have been betrayed, you're in bed with this man, and you start thinking all these nightmarish thoughts about what he was actually doing with some other woman and if, in fact, you are even safe having sex with him again. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And that's a very valid thought. Mrs. FARBMAN: Sure. WINFREY: So what was Burton's other shocking confession during the recovery process? Mrs. FARBMAN: Well, there were a couple of them during-- when it first happened and he first broke up with this woman, I'm thinking, `Oh...' WINFREY: This is the third woman. Mrs. FARBMAN: Yeah, the third woman. WINFREY: Yeah, uh-huh. Mrs. FARBMAN: I'm thinking, `I don't think he really wanted to do that, you know?' And--and I'm... WINFREY: Did you? Mrs. FARBMAN: ...just sort of hanging on by my fingernails. WINFREY: Did you? Did you want to do it? Mr. FARBMAN: No. WINFREY: You didn't. Mr. FARBMAN: No, I didn't. Mrs. FARBMAN: So I was afraid that he was going to run back to her, and he agreed not to go back to this woman until he did some kind of psychological program of his own. But then a couple of months into our reconciliation... WINFREY: He told you. He told you. Mrs. FARBMAN: ...al--one night he said, `I miss Jody, and--and I didn't break up with her the right way and--and I don't think that was fair,' and I got hysterical. WINFREY: Well, didn't you want his honesty? Mrs. FARBMAN: Yes, I did. And I had learned at that point to pray and pray and pray, and I'm surprised God has time for anybody else in this room. WINFREY: Because, `Oh, it's Suzy again.' Mrs. FARBMAN: Right, right, right. WINFREY: `Tell her to hold on.' OK. OK. Mrs. FARBMAN: Exactly. And I had learned that I had to let go of his reaction. I had to take care of me. And that's the best I could do. WINFREY: Well, that's got to be really hard. That's got to be really hard. Oh, boy. We're talking about with Sam seeing the diary and having every explicit detail, but it's got to be really hard to know that he really cared for this other woman, he really cared for Jody and missed her... Mrs. FARBMAN: Yeah. WINFREY: ...because once you find out, you want him to say, `That's it. I'm--that's over. I'm sorry. That's done.' And that's not where he was. Mrs. FARBMAN: No. And--and it was my worst fear that he really wasn't in his heart done with her. But I also knew that he loved me, at some point, he had really loved me. WINFREY: Did you also love Jody? Mr. FARBMAN: I cared for her a great deal. I don't know that it was love. WINFREY: Did you tell her that you loved her, though? Mr. FARBMAN: Yes.

WINFREY: Yeah, you did. Yeah, you did. I was going to say, 'cause she wouldn't be all in it. You know, when--c--c--because we all know this, WINFREY: Yeah, you did. Yeah, you did. I was going to say, 'cause she wouldn't be all in it. You know, when--c--c--because we all know this, that a woman's not going to stay in a relationship, entangled with a guy, if he's not going to use the L-word and he's-- if he keeps saying, `I care for you a great deal.' A great deal. She wants to hear, `Do you love me?' Did any of these women at any time, Burt, think that you were going to leave your wife? Did you give them any indi--any indication that perhaps you would? Mr. FARBMAN: There were discussions of it. WINFREY: Discussions about it. So they thought that it was something that you knew that it wasn't. Mr. FARBMAN: Yes. WINFREY: Yeah. Next, what happened when Burton and Suzy's oldest son confronted his dad. We'll be right back. WINFREY: Suzy and Burton's two sons remember hearing the scandalous rumors about their dad's affairs, and here's what it was like for them growing up with an unfaithful father. DAVID: You know, you'd hear a story that there was an attorney that was working with a firm that he was, you know, sleeping around with that probably believed maybe there was something there. WINFREY: Growing up, Suzy and Burton's oldest son, David, never mentioned the unmentionable to anyone, but just before he left for college, David got up the nerve and asked his father if the rumors were true. DAVID: And I was fishing with him. He had said, `You just graduated from high school. Any question you want to ask me, feel free to ask me,' so I looked him in the eyes and I said, `Dad, have you ever cheated on Mom?' and he cast his line out in the water and he looked at me and he said, `You know, there's just some questions sons don't ask their fathers,' and I didn't ask any more. WINFREY: Andy, on the other hand, took after his mother, preferring to pretend everything was fine. ANDY: It was tough for me to realize that there were some problems in their relationship. DAVID: I think that Andy believed more than a facade. ANDY: It was a sad feeling for me. The one relationship that I thought was still together and was rock solid was having problems. WINFREY: Again, David went to his dad. DAVID: One day I--I did confront my dad about the issue. WINFREY: Burton still did not admit he was cheating, but he had an equally shocking confession. DAVID: He looked at me and he said, `You know, I don't know if I want to be married any longer.' WINFREY: But David knew deep down that there were other women in his father's life. DAVID: I was angry at my dad because he had hurt the one person in life that I looked at as the most perfect, beautiful, amazing woman. WINFREY: So, David, thanks for being so honest there. Tell me, how did that conversation with y--with your dad just out of high school, the `Ask me anything you want, son,' and `Now I'm going to ask you, Dad,' how did that conversation affect you? DAVID: I suppose that in a way... WINFREY: You can do this. DAVID: I suppose that in a way it--it--it, in my mind, justified for a number of years that it was OK to mess around on your--on your wife in a strange sense, and I--at that moment, it--I don't think it really set in what was said. I wanted to believe... WINFREY: The moment he said that, though, you knew it was true, right? You knew then the rumors were true. DAVID: Yes. Yes. WINFREY: And how prevalent were the rumors that you in high school would be hearing these rumors? Is this like a very small town? DAVID: No. I--I worked around the office quite a bit growing up, and you just hear things. But, you know, I probably wanted to brush them aside and certainly would-- I would never let somebody inside that facade to-- to say for even a second to someone else at that time that there was any truth. WINFREY: So how did you get up the nerve-- after he shut you down that time, how did you get up the nerve to go back and ask him again? DAVID: The truth was that at the time I was in the process of taking over the business. My dad was nearing retirement, and at that moment, after I had answered that cell phone a couple of times and I had heard the `Hi' voice but, you know, not quite that, because she thought I was my father a couple of times, I even played on for a minute as if I was... WINFREY: Wow! Ooh-ooh. DAVID: I was--I was--no. WINFREY: Yeah. Yeah. DAVID: I mean, I was probably more focused-- and it's my biggest regret, Mom, on getting control of the company and getting the businesses synergistic at that time, because I was working with my father. He was my partner. WINFREY: Yeah. DAVID: And this was not a new realization for me. And I never once went to my mother, and I guess I--I guess I lived by the--you know, the guy code, so to speak, but never, ever when it comes to your mother should you do that. WINFREY: You think you should have told your mother? DAVID: I think that I should have intervened at that point. I think I should have gotten everybody in the room. I think that I'm somewhat of a--of a--of a mediator anyhow and I think I should have done that.

I think I could have done that. WINFREY: You think you could have done that? DAVID: Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. How did it affect you, Andy? ANDY: You know, I think the big realization for me was that this facade of, you know... WINFREY: I'm going to take a break and come back. I think I could have done that. WINFREY: You think you could have done that? DAVID: Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah. How did it affect you, Andy? ANDY: You know, I think the big realization for me was that this facade of, you know... WINFREY: I'm going to take a break and come back. OK. I'll be right back with you. Right back. WINFREY: I tell you why this is--this is a-- we're all so moved because there are at least a million people out of the 12 million who are watching us around the world right now who think that this is going on and that their children are not affected by it, who think that they are--that-- that keeping it from the children or not saying anything about it or never bringing it to the forefront is protecting the whole family. And--and just to see you guys be this honest about it and so revealing about it is--is very helpful. I know, too, a lot of people who are in this situation right now today and will think differently about it. So you realize as a kid that this perfect picture really isn't so perfect. ANDY: Yeah, I mean, I think I replaced it, though. I'm newly married, and that's my purpose. WINFREY: Yeah, yeah. ANDY: Yeah. WINFREY: So do you think it would affect the way you operate in your marriage? Do you think having seen this growing up that it'll make--Do you feel like, `I'll never do that now,' or do you feel, as David--David, you just said in a way that said to you it's OK to cheat. ANDY: Yeah, I mean, I think there's parts of the relationship that I do love, and my relationship with my parents is fantastic. You know, obviously, the fact that their relationship is strong is a great thing for us now. WINFREY: Yeah, now. But do you think it will affect the way you operate in your marriage? ANDY: You know, I don't--I don't think so. WINFREY: Yeah. ANDY: I mean, I think that the--that the way I'm going to operate in my marriage is trying to live up to what I thought the dream should be. WINFREY: What the dream should be. OK. And so, Burton, what does this do to you to know? I mean, we've just known you for an hour here. So you've known--grown up, raised these boys. How does it affect you to know that they were so affected by this? Mr. FARBMAN: It makes me feel terrible, absolutely terrible. WINFREY: Did you think--did you think you were keeping a secret from them? Mr. FARBMAN: Yes. WINFREY: Even when David asked you, what did you think? That's the question. Mr. FARBMAN: Yeah. WINFREY: The moment David asked you that question, what did you think? Mr. FARBMAN: I don't remember the question. I don't remember him asking me. WINFREY: You don't. Mr. FARBMAN: No. We were--we were away on a hunting trip, and I do not remember the question. WINFREY: Good God! That is very interesting. Don't you think that's interesting? DAVID: My--my--my recollection was clear on that--that issue. WINFREY: No, I'm just saying--I'm just saying, don't you think it's interesting that that was such a powerful moment for you and your dad-- your dad didn't even remember it. DAVID: I think when you're living a life with that much deceit and you're covering your tracks that often, he probably felt that he had shut the issue down and he was my dad and I--I loved him and... WINFREY: And that was the end of it. DAVID: And, by the way, you know what? It's important to say that throughout this stretch, while maybe he hurt us today, he has always been an unbelievably attentive father, even through all of the stretches. Unfortunately, what he did to my mom is horrible, but I--I've forgiven him 100 percent. WINFREY: When we come back, we'll talk to Suzy's sister, who is a good friend of mine, to find out what she knew about her brother-in-law's affair. We'll be right back, talking to my friend Annie. WINFREY: Suzy's sister, Ann, is a very good friend of mine. We hike together. She's like a mountain goat on the trails. And I heard about this--this book that-- that her sister was writing from Annie on one of our hikes. Did you know what she was going through all this time? ANN: Absolutely not. WINFREY: Absolutely not. ANN: She kept it from everybody. I was in shock when she told me. WINFREY: Because you thought it was the picture... ANN: Picture-perfect. WINFREY: ...picture... ANN: She--they were always together. They were never apart, and I thought it was because they loved being together, and Suzy confided in me that she was afraid to leave him alone. WINFREY: You were afraid to leave him alone. Mrs. FARBMAN: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: OK. You talk about-- a lot about your anger and the process of getting to this--this--this moment now. The question I think every woman has, and I know Sam is wrestling with this, too, even though they're holding hands, everything looking so pretty today: How do you ever trust again? Mrs. FARBMAN: The trust-again question is the hardest element in the equation.

WINFREY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Mrs. FARBMAN: Part of the spiritual journey that we've been on, and we've been on it together, is learning to live in the moment, and I know that I'm giving this marriage everything I have, that it's a way more conscious, more supportive and more... WINFREY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Mrs. FARBMAN: Part of the spiritual journey that we've been on, and we've been on it together, is learning to live in the moment, and I know that I'm giving this marriage everything I have, that it's a way more conscious, more supportive and more... WINFREY: Were you not before? Were you not giving it everything you had before? Mrs. FARBMAN: No, I wasn't. I was conflicted and I was giving a lot to my career and-- and I still am now, but the book has been-- has been part of our recovery as well. WINFREY: OK. OK. Would it be possible for you to have an affair today? Mr. FARBMAN: No. WINFREY: It would not be possible. Mr. FARBMAN: Not possible. WINFREY: Not possible. Mr. FARBMAN: Not possible. WINFREY: Burton wrote the afterword by-- in "Back From Betrayal." And he says--this on page 251, `For much of my life, I considered deception my friend. It gave me something to do. I could make a private phone call or buy a secret gift. I could visit someone Suzy didn't know about. Some guys were blatant about their cheating. I never was. My secrets were secrets. My secret life had intrigue, but it was scary and dangerous. I always felt screwing around was my problem, not Suzy's. I planned to take it to the grave. I didn't look at my behavior as cheating. I saw it as doing what guys do. If Suzy never found out what I was up to, what was the harm? Who was I hurting? It took me most of my life to figure out the answer. I was hurting myself.' And how did you figure out that you were hurting yourself? How do you now figure? We s--we see that your sons were hurt. Mr. FARBMAN: And that certainly hurts me. But when we started to go through our program and started to do our studies and our spiritual journey that we went on, I realized that at some point, my wife could leave me, my employees could leave me, my friends could leave me, my children could quit talking to me, and the person that would be left is me, and I realized that I was the one who was really, really being hurt. Not that every p--everybody else wasn't affected by it. They were terribly and I feel terrible about that. But I was being hurt, too. And the--once I realized that, I wanted to find out why I would hurt me, and then I started to study about me. WINFREY: Yeah. Well, that takes a spiritual revelation to do that. Mr. FARBMAN: Yes, it did. WINFREY: Now I asked in the beginning, you--you--you were here before when I was talking to Jamie, during the process of these affairs, was there never a moment when you were thinking about how hurt she would be? Mr. FARBMAN: No, it was not in my conscience. WINFREY: Not even in your conscience... Mr. FARBMAN: No. WINFREY: ...because of--I guess for you and for most people who are cheating, you think they're not going to-- you're not going to be found out. Mr. FARBMAN: I think that's true. WINFREY: And--and you wrote in the afterword that you were going to take it to your grave. Mr. FARBMAN: Correct. WINFREY: Yeah. So when you made that confession and said, `I'm now real--really ready to tell you because, you know, I think you're ready to hear it, or are you ready to hear it,' when you said that to her, were you aware of how deep that pain would be for her? Mr. FARBMAN: I didn't realize it, and when I found out that she was as-- in as much pain as she was in, it was my first connection back to my own feelings. I think I had become numb, and when that happened, it really hit me hard, that I could hurt her so badly. And that was the beginning of a long recovery. WINFREY: Wow! I just don't get-- Can you help us understand? Why do men think that this isn't going to hurt somebody? Mr. FARBMAN: My own point of view, when it's going on, you're feeling that you can handle it and you're not-- it isn't affecting anybody else but you. You're not really thinking about it. What I did find out, though, what I do realize is for a guy, when you're out screwing around, you are absolutely taking from your primary relationship. You're taking from your family. And you're never 100 percent anywhere. You're 50 percent at home, 50 percent with this other person, and you're just kind of wandering. You're kind of just trying to get through the day. And--and it may be very deliberate. It may be a very deliberate thing subconsciously that I'm doing that. As I went back to my childhood, I had some answers-- I got some answers. WINFREY: Now when you're having-- in the midst of this affair, especially with the third person who you later said to her, you had missed, you were missing the mistress, are you looking forward to the times with her? Does she--you know, because years ago an expert on this show said here that men leave not because of the way the other woman looks but because of the way the other woman makes them feel. So is there something about the way she made you feel that you weren't feeling at home? Mr. FARBMAN: I--when you--that--that's a double question. But the--the--the first question asked, I think what I--when--when Suzy asked me the question and we were having an argument, we talked about that, I think what I was thinking is I was missing the deception. I had been deceiving people in some form for most of my life. And it was like I had this missing part of my life, and I think that's more of what I was missing than specifically another individual. WINFREY: Really? Mr. FARBMAN: Yes, really, I think that's the case. WINFREY: OK. What do you want to say to all the women out there, and there will be some men, too, 'cause I know m--this happens to men, too, but it happens the majority of the time to women, who will find out today or who just found out last night or who are in the throes of this, this pain that is really indescribable? Mrs. FARBMAN: What I'd like to say to the women out there is it's possible to get through this if you're willing to take care of yourself first and if your husband wants to make changes, if you've had something that was really worth saving to begin with. And it's going to take a long time. It's a really, really tough road, but it's so worth it if you are able to make that shift. WINFREY: OK. So the biggest thing is to decide for yourself if you think it's worth it. Mrs. FARBMAN: Right. WINFREY: That's right. That's the first question. Mrs. FARBMAN: Right. Absolutely. WINFREY: Do I think it's worth it and then does he think it's worth it? Mrs. FARBMAN: Right. WINFREY: And then you can begin to put the two pieces together. Mrs. FARBMAN: Right. WINFREY: And that's how you get back from betrayal. Thank you. Thank all my guests today. Good luck to you guys.

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