Ask Denise: Infidelity poses threat to happy marriage
Editor’s note: Writer’s answers do not reflect those of the Mitchell News-Journal and are not meant to replace medical or mental health care.
Dear Denise: I was suspecting my husband was cheating on me, and I confronted him about it. Of course, he denied it, but I knew, in my heart, something wasn’t right.
So, one night when he was supposed to be working late, I drove to his work, and he wasn’t there. I drove around town until I found his car parked in an empty store parking lot. I drove up close to his car. He wasn’t alone, and they sure weren’t just talking. I will never get that sight out of my mind as long as I live.
I was devastated and confronted them immediately. The woman was his co-worker. He followed me home, crying, begging me not to leave him and telling me he had broken it off with her. I didn’t want us to split up, either, but I can’t seem to let this go. He is trying very hard; he said he would go to marriage counseling with me and he even quit his job and took a new one, so he didn’t have to work with her anymore.
I obsess about this 24/7, and I know the fact I keep throwing it in his face isn’t healthy. Should we go to counseling? Does that even work? Will I ever be able to move on? Can a marriage survive when someone cheats? I was tempted to sleep with someone myself to make him see how it feels, but I don’t want to. What should I do?
Dear Reader: Dealing with infidelity in a marriage can be one of the more difficult things a couple can go through. I am so sorry you are experiencing this. I don’t have an indication of how long ago this happened, but will say those images in your mind you described will take a while to go away – you must be patient with yourself. You had several questions, and I would like to address those.
First of all, yes, go to counseling. Infidelity is a symptom something was wrong in the relationship. Going to counseling is your best bet that whatever was not right will get resolved, and will better ensure history will not repeat itself. A good therapist acts as a mediator to facilitate good and open communication between you two and hopefully will help to identify what the issues were.
So, secondly, yes, it can work very well, if you both treat it seriously and do the work. I am going to combine your third and fourth questions: With work and time, love and patience, you will be able to move on. For the marriage to survive, you must be willing to move on and not to use the affair as a weapon to attack him with every time you are upset about something else. Couples arguing is normal. If you are angry with him about, let’s say, spending money out of the budget without talking to you, however, then that is the argument: money and the budget, period. There is no useful purpose in bringing up past issues in an attempt to cause wounds. But on the flip side of this, he needs to understand he caused you grievous pain, and he must be willing to listen to you when you vent about how hurt this made you.
As far as having revenge sex with someone, do not. Two wrongs have never make a right, and an action like that would create more wounds to try and heal.
If the two of you are dedicated to saving your marriage, and you do the work needed, you have an excellent chance of doing so. Think of your marriage as a house. No matter what happens to the windows or walls; if the foundation is sturdy, it can be rebuilt. The fact both of you want the relationship to survive tells me your foundation is strong.
Best wishes to you both.
Denise Harrison is a Licensed Counselor. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call and leave a message at 828-467-0037. Submissions are anonymous.