My Wife Had An Affair: Does Our Marriage Stand A Chance?

Dr. Deb would love to answer your burning relationship questions.

Today’s Advice Highlights:

  • How can a marriage survive after the pain of infidelity?
  • Is there a way to get back to “the way things were”?
  • What are the things couples might do to try and save the marriage?
Dear Dr. Deb,

After ten years of marriage, it was clear that things were not okay, and our relationship was breaking down. On top of this, I felt in my gut that my wife was having an affair. Her behavior had changed, and the ways she took care of her looks were a dead giveaway. She started to show how dissatisfied she was with me—nothing I did was right.

A friend recommended that I use the Betrayal Buster app to check on her online activities. The app revealed secret conversations she was having with another man. Knowing the truth was a punch in the gut. It was one thing to suspect, but the pain of knowing for sure felt unbearable.

When I confronted her, she admitted that she did fall for him, but that it’s been over for some time. She said that she wanted our marriage to work and asked me to forgive her. I don’t know if I can.

I’m so furious about the betrayal that I end up yelling at her, telling her how awful she is on a regular basis. I would demand explicit details of the affair from her, then I’d get so worked up until I’d lash out and call her nasty names. I tell her that she deserves worse than this. We’re causing each other so much pain.

I know that divorce is always an option. Maybe I should give up and move on. After all, isn’t it true that once a cheater, always a cheater?

Part of me wants to walk away. But I also want to give her a second chance to see if we can get back what we had before. I still love her. I can’t seem stop loving her even after the pain of her betrayal.

Where do I go from here, Dr. Deb? Is there still hope for healing and trust again in our marriage? Will I ever stop thinking of the two of them together?

Almost Hopeless

From The Desk of Dr.Deb
Dear Almost Hopeless,

Did you notice that you used the word almost? Even as you’re still dealing with feelings of betrayal, you and your wife seem to be holding on. You say that you feel like you should give up, that this situation is almost hopeless, and still, here you are, asking for advice.

I feel for you, especially because I know your pain firsthand. Once upon a sunny afternoon, my own marriage cracked open when my husband of seventeen years told me he was committed to another woman. I was devastated, sure I would die of a broken heart. I even thought that the pain from him dying would have been easier than the pain I felt from the betrayal.

Yes, you could always decide to divorce your wife, and no one would blame you for it. But I’m wondering, Mr. Almost, do you find that your desire to try and put your marriage back together stronger than your hurt and anger?

Navigating life after infidelity isn’t easy. It’s a messy journey filled with conflicting emotions and tough choices. While I surely understand your initial instinct to lash out at her and to seek revenge, it will only keep you both stuck in a vicious cycle.

Only you can figure out the answers and decide what’s best for you. In the meantime, here are a few things I learned that you might find helpful:

  • Start Fresh. You mentioned you want to get back to “what you had before.” But let me be clear: your marriage as you knew it is over and done with. If you and your wife decide that you want to try again, you need to reinvent your marriage. Treat it like a brand-new marriage.
  • Rebuild Trust. Both of you need to commit to a shared journey initiated by a violation of trust. It’s not enough to forgive her. She must be willing to earn your forgiveness by genuinely, non-defensively, repenting. In return, you need to let go of your resentments and the need to punish your wife.
  • Have a Heart-to-heart: You two gotta talk—really talk. With the help of a qualified therapist, the two of you need to talk about everything. Pour out your feelings, fears, and hopes. It’s like a verbal detox for your relationship. Talk about how you’ve hurt each other. Work to understand the problems in the marriage, whether it’s the lack of intimacy or the feelings of resentment over issues that were never resolved.

Betrayal’s a terrible price to pay to get a chance to create a “new” marriage. However, this is completely up to you. One thing’s for sure: if you both get past this crisis, you’ll have a stronger commitment and solidly hopeful future together.

Dr. Deb

< It’s a Relationship, Not a DIY Project

The Look of Love: Staying in Love Through the Physical Changes >

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