I am a 35-year-old woman. Been with the same guy since I was 17, we have been married for the last 10 years. We have two beautiful children and we have built a pretty good life together. Two years ago I found out that he had an affair with a woman that he works with. I had seen this woman at a few company events over the years, I’d even met her husband.
Of course, I was devastated when I found out, but I wasn’t surprised. We had both become pretty complacent in the relationship, neither of us was trying very much. I am not lost to why it happened. My husband is remorseful and he has been trying very hard to get us back on track. I keep telling myself that I want to be back on track too, but I am struggling.
I love my husband and I love our family. I want our children to grow up in a two-parent home. I want to beat the odds. But right now I don’t know if that is even possible. How can I ever trust him again? Is he going to cheat every time things get dry or difficult? He says that he loves me, but can you really love someone and cheat on them?
I feel so stuck. Things will never be the same, I know we cannot go back. But I don’t know if I can go forward either. I have loved him for over half of my life and I cannot imagine my life without him, but I don’t know if I will ever truly forgive him. I would love to know what you think… what should I do?
Hopeless & Crushed
Dear Hopeless & Crushed,
Many years ago I was gutted when I found out that the man I loved had been sleeping with someone else. We weren’t married, but we were planning to get married. I can still remember how my hands trembled as the emotional pain coursed through me. It hurt so much.
I also remember being so confused about not wanting to leave him. How could I possibly consider staying with someone who could hurt me so badly?
The truth is I loved him very much AND I wanted to hate him. I still wanted to be with him AND I wanted to rip his dick off for doing what he did. I wanted to forget it ever happened AND I wanted to make him suffer for making me suffer.
The point I am making is, all of your feelings are valid. You get to love him and be angry, the duality is real. Because your loving him doesn’t make you a fool, it makes you human. Just as his stepping outside of the relationship doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you. The feelings he had while he was doing the deed are just as complex as the feelings you are having now that it’s been done.
Your heart is still tender, understandably so. You cannot rush healing, it takes how long it takes. But you do have to make sure that you are not ripping the scab off every time you start to feel good. I’m sure he has said that he is sorry, repeatedly, but sorry is only a word. The true apology comes through his actions. He is apologizing with his commitment to making things better. And while you were not the one who stepped out you must also commit to making things better.
I am not saying forget what happened, you will never forget it. But I am saying that if you really cannot imagine your life without him, you must forgive him. He fucked up big time and he can’t undo it. Can you forgive him for that?
Right now you are in a beautifully expansive position because this heartbreaking experience is also an opportunity for you to build a new type of relationship, together. The kind where the lines of communication are open. One where you both get to express how you are feeling so that nobody has to guess what’s going on with the other. Believe it or not, this is fertile ground for deeper intimacy and connection… if you can let it be that.
Of course, there will be times when the pain rises to the surface. And when it does, don’t resist. But don’t hold on for dear life either. Feel how you feel while allowing the feelings to flow through. It will get easier, day by day. If you feel like you need some extra support, get it. Marriage counseling is a good idea. And if this experience is bringing up some personal stuff for you, look into therapy.
But know this… as long as there is still respect + love, there is always hope. And it feels like there is still a lot of respect + love between the two of you. That is the foundation that the next phase of your relationship will be built upon.
Here’s to moving forward, one wobbly step at a time.
Going through something? Wanna know what I think?
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