Q. I have finally confronted my husband about his numerous affairs over the 24 years we have been together. His response has been to walk away and avoid listening to me, even though at first I did not react angrily.

I turned my eyes away from what he was doing because my mother taught me to keep the peace in a marriage. But it is getting harder to face him every day, and I cannot stop crying when I start to envision him in another women's arms. I want to forgive him but feel I will not be able to forget all those women.

Should I just leave him, or try to make my marriage work? We have been married 24 years and have three adopted children.

Dear Betrayed,
The potential for any future happiness in this marriage now hinges on your husband's willingness to commit to three specific stipulations. Without these three agreements, there is little hope that the bond between you and your husband can ever again be properly welded:

1. He must express contrition. That is, he must be willing to acknowledge that he has done something wrong. He must accept responsibility for his actions and show a degree of remorse. He does not have to cut off his hand as penance, but he must at least own up to his wrongful actions.

2. He must start right away to commit to a relationship based on complete honesty. That means, at times, expressing emotions that are difficult to speak about. The concealment must end. That is one of the most devastating effects of an affair--the breach of trust.

3. He must commit to change. This means agreeing to consult a professional counselor, either alone or with you.

If he is resistant to any of these suggestions, then it reveals an unwillingness to truly change his ways. Actions speak louder than words, and now the onus is on him to prove to you that he is willing to try and heal the crack in your marriage vows.

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