Wife struggles to get over infidelity
Dear Amy: After 44 years of marriage, I recently discovered my husband had several one- night stands during the first 15 years of our marriage. I always thought I was intuitive and aware, but I truly had no idea. I have pressed him for “why,” but he offers very little, saying he was “angry” with me at the time ( but does not remember why). He hopes I won’t “throw away” nearly 30 years of him being faithful due to this behavior in the earlier years. He claims to love me and to feel sorry he has hurt me.
I have started seeing a counselor but he will not go. We are approaching retirement age, so neither of us has a lot of time to rebuild a life with someone else. Do I run? Or do I try to leave this in the past and stay? If I were younger, I would have left, but our age and finances cause me to consider the practical side of this.
What do you think I should do?
Sad Wife: There is no single or “right” way to respond to infidelity. Unfortunately for you, your husband “did the crime,” and now you are left to “do the time.” His refusal to discuss this with you in a counselor’s office is unfortunate, because in doing so he is diminishing and denying the impact on you. He is also refusing to reflect and perhaps learn and grow from his mistakes.
“Hey — it happened so long ago I don’t even remember why, so why don’t you just get over it?” is not an apology. It is not an explanation. It is not a plea for forgiveness. He needs to add a layer of compassion on top of his three decades of fidelity.
I do not suggest “running.” Rather, you’re going to have to do what each of us has to do during life’s biggest challenges, and plow bravely through the heart of this. Weigh the pluses and minuses of your situation, consider the impact on you now and in the future, and see what you can afford to do — financially and emotionally.
Dear Amy: The letter from “A Sad, Scared Mother” hit me like a shot. This very young mom was staying with an abusive alcoholic. I hope she figures out how to protect her child’s future, by leaving. That’s what I had to do.
Been There: Many people have responded with compassion. Thank you. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.
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