Love expert Lola Augustine Brown answers your pressing dating and relationship questions
Two months ago I found out that my wife was having an affair with a much younger man, and although now she says it is over and wants us to be happy again, I don’t feel like I know how to move past this. Everyone says that I should try and forgive her for the sake of our children – we have two boys, aged 4 and 7 – but every time I look at her I think about what she has done, and wonder if I’ll ever be able to trust her again. If she hadn’t left her email open, I’d never have known about her affair, and wonder if she’d ever have stopped seeing him if she hadn’t got caught. She says that she is sorry and won’t stray again, but how do I know?
The truth is, you don’t know if she will stray again. What you need to do is work out whether you want to stay married to her, and whether you are going to give her the chance to earn back your trust. Staying together for the sake of the kids is noble enough, but only if it doesn’t require you subjecting yourself to a life of misery at the hands of a philandering spouse, because children would rather live under a shared custody agreement with their happily divorced parents than with both of their desperately unhappy married ones. Your needs are important here too, so don’t put them aside because others say that you should.
Plenty of marriages do survive infidelity, but getting past it takes work from both partners in the relationship. Think about what you need from her to earn back your trust. Does she need to give you the passwords to her email and Facebook accounts? Let you check the messages on her phone? Even if you don’t ever want to check, she needs to show willing to do whatever it takes. There can be no more secrets moving forward, and she needs to realize and agree with that. She also needs to realize that it will take time for you to forgive her and move on, your marriage isn’t going to get back on track just because she decides that she wants back in.
All that said, people that are in happy marriages generally aren’t open to having an affair, so you do need to look into why she decided to stray. Whatever her reasons, they need to be addressed if the two of you are going to move forward. Make a pact to work hard at the marriage together, and ensure you make time for your relationship as well as the one you have together as parents (date nights are essential, and if you can pull it off, a kid free vacation might help you both get things back on track).
I cannot suggest strongly enough that the two of you go see a marriage guidance counselor. You need someone who will listen to what is going on, and offer suggestions as to how the two of you can move forward, without judgment. Perhaps when you get through this, you’ll come out the other side with a stronger marriage, because you will have fought to save it and won.
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