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Dr. Jennifer J. Sowle

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Dear Dr. J

I have been married for 7 years and have 2 boys. I have cheated on my husband for 6 months and he found out 3 weeks ago. I have since stopped any contact with the other man and also asked my hubby for forgiveness and a 2nd chance to rebuild our family and marriage together. It was a mistake for me to stray from the marriage and I really would like to start all over again. Of course, once the trust is gone, it's not that easy to gain it. Hubby's emotions have also been like a roller coaster ride, sometimes bordering on being vengeful and wanting to take the other man out. Sometimes, he would sit me down and dig the intimate details of what we have done. I often had to scale things down to make it easier on him. And it's also hurting and shameful on my part to relate all these details to him. I am so afraid that our marriage won't survive this crisis. What can I do to save this marriage?


Dear Stella

When there is a betrayal of the marriage, it really is helpful to go to a couple’s therapist to work through the issues. It is complicated, and extremely difficult, for a couple to heal from this.

Having said that, the key to resolving betrayal is for the one who has cheated to figure out why it happened. If you need to get individual therapy in order to explore this, please do so. You owe your husband an explanation. That is part of taking responsibility for your decisions. Saying that “it just happened” or “I don’t know” isn’t going to restore trust. If it “just happened”, it can “just happen” again. This will take some work on your part and please do not blame your husband for your choices. Once you have identified the reasons you chose to go outside your marriage, you can then work on the precipitating factors and make changes on that level. This will create a different environment in your that does not foster acting out behaviors (like an affair).

You need to maintain your humility and take responsibility, but you do not have to subject yourself to abuse. Do not respond to questions from your husband on the details of the affair. He thinks he will find answers in these details, but he won’t. It only makes things worse by giving him something to obsess on. He knows the truth—that you had an affair. That is the betrayal and the destroyer of trust. Details never make it better or easier.

With two little boys to consider, it is worth whatever emotional work will be required for you to reconcile and commit to your husband. Please take my advice and see a therapist.

Dr. J

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