Wife strug­gles to get over in­fi­delity

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - AMY DICKINSON Sad Wife Been There

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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