I'm 45 years old and have been married for 23 years. Well, after 21 years of marriage my husband deceived me and had an affair. The person he had this affair with works with him. I'm having a real problem handling this. I know it's now been almost two years, but I'm always suspecting something, and whenever the opportunity arises, I make mention of her and the affair. I know I shouldn't, especially if I gave the situation to God and I forgave him. Help me!! The hurt is still there, and I do love my husband. What do I do?
-Betrayed but Trying
Dear Betrayed But Trying,
By choosing to stay married rather than divorcing, you've apparently decided that your marriage is worth saving. And I applaud you for that decision.
But I am concerned.
While your pain comes through loud and clear, your note is rather silent about the measures you and your husband have taken to heal the rift between you and the measure you've taken to safeguard your marriage against a repeat of this experience. Listen-more than "Baby, I'm sorry" and "Honey, I forgive you" are needed to mend a marriage torn apart by betrayal. Yes, it takes a lot of prayer to get over the bitterness, but it will also take a willingness to roll up your sleeves and work at the marriage to rebuild the trust the two of you have lost.
If you and your husband haven't made your way to marriage counseling of some kind-whether with a priest, a rabbi, a minister or a therapist-let me urge you to do so. Perhaps there are unexamined issues lurking beneath the surface of the marriage, issues that make it difficult for the marriage to mend, issues that prompted the affair in the first place, issues that continue to nag at your own heart. Sometimes a third party, someone with training in these matters, can shed a healing light on issues you and your spouse may be too close to see.
If your husband is serious about rebuilding the marriage, he will have to show you he's willing to do everything possible to regain your trust and faith in him-he'll have to show that he's willing to prove himself to be accessible and make every effort to do so, and prove himself accountable about his whereabouts.
And you, Betrayed but Trying, you now have to learn what it means to love and trust after betrayal. Face it: Your husband's infidelity has robbed your marriage of its innocence. The two of you cannot go back to the marriage you once had. Those two people are gone. But you can, in time and with lots of work, build a new, stronger marriage, one that better suits the wiser, more mature partners you both have now become.