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Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 776
Experience:  Specializing in mental health counseling
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husband of 28 years cheated

Resolved Question:

My husband of 28 years confessed he was in online relationships for 3 years that ended up having real sex. his "new love" left her husband to be with mine but mine chickened out and she returned back to her husband. He told me about the whole thing. I was very hurt, moved out. now he begs for forgiveness and asking me back. what to do? the kids are grown up not living with us.

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 3 years ago.
Hello, I'm Alicia. Thanks for your question, I'm happy to help you today.

I can understand that you're feeling scared by this entire situation, especially since you say that he is the only person you have there. It can be incredibly isolating to have to deal with a situation like this on your own. But as you said, that alone is not enough of a reason to take him back. The fact is, he broke your trust, and it's not just a matter of a one-time affair that happened over the course of a few weeks or months (of course, that would be bad enough), but it's the fact that he's been having these online relationships for three years. It's the length of time that concerns me the most, to be completely honest with you, because that means he hasn't been truthful with you for three years. That's a very, very long time to be left in the dark about something like this.

That being said, it's not impossible for you to work things out with him, if you want to. You have been married for 28 years, which is nothing to sneeze at. Although you're the only one who can truly answer your question, I think you have to take a look deep inside and examine your true feelings for him. The idea of being alone is scary for anyone, but that's not a good enough reason to give him another chance. You can make it on your own if you need to, but that's besides the point.

In your husband's favor, he did finally tell you about the affairs, but only after the other woman returned back to her husband. So would he have come clean if she didn't do so? What worries me is that he's only telling you the truth because he feels like his other "option" backed out, and if that's the case, then I'd have to do some long, hard thinking about how I want to proceed. If your gut feeling is that he's being genuine in asking for your forgiveness and that he truly loves you and cares about you, then it's worth considering giving him another chance. But if your gut is telling you the opposite, then you might have to give yourself some more time to think things over.

Unfortunately, affairs do happen. And relationships end because of them. But relationships can also survive them, especially if both parties are willing to be totally honest with each other and put in the work necessary to rebuild trust and commitment. But you both have to be on the same page. It might mean you need to sit down with him when you're ready and have a long, honest talk - and you might need to do this several times. I also wouldn't give up on the idea of counseling - you said separate counseling wasn't helpful, but you might want to think about giving couples counseling a try, if you feel like you do want to try to work things out.

I hope that helps, and I wish you luck. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It's been already 3 months since I learned about it. I am over the pain but my gut feeling is quiet. I feel under pressure to make the decision and afraid to make a wrong one. How long it may take until I know the answer? The logic tells me he will do it again, he promises "never again". He was in love with the same woman 20 years ago. This time it got far to a "marriage" discussion that scared him. I want to trust but if he does it again in 10 years, I may not be able to recover.

Expert:  Alicia_MSW replied 3 years ago.
3 months is not a very long time, so try to be patient with yourself as you make this decision. It's not easy, and remember that this affair was going on for a much longer time than that. Your gut is simply confused, and it seems that your heart and your head are telling you two different things, at least as far as I can judge from what you've said here. To be quite honest with you, you may not ever come to the point where you feel 100% comfortable with any decision you might choose to make, but the most important factor is to make the decision that you feel most comfortable with. You can't know for sure if he will cheat again, but if you choose to stay with him, then part of this process involves taking a leap of faith based on the fact that you want to trust him and spend the rest of your life with him. After all, a lot of times, affairs truly are a one-time deal, even affairs that last as long as three years. So it's entirely possible that that was it, and he's gotten it out of his system. On the other hand, there is always going to be the nagging thought in the back of your head, wondering if he's going to do it again. The one part of your reply that concerns me is that you mention he was in love with the same woman 20 years ago, and that's certainly an important factor to take into account. As a counselor and psychotherapist, I can't advise you what decision to make, because you really do have to follow your heart and do what you think will make you the happiest. Life is too short to stay with someone who you can't fully trust, but it's also too short to live without someone you truly love. It's not an answer, but the fact is, the real answer lies in your heart. Don't pressure yourself too much to make the decision. Any decision you make will be the right one for you, but you have the right to take all the time in the world to decide. You never know when your gut is going to start speaking to you again. It's probably been in a self-protective mode since you learned about this. One thing that might be helpful, if you haven't already done so, is to go somewhere you can be alone (out in nature, if possible) and just sit quietly. Don't force yourself to think about anything, just see what thoughts arise. Sometimes, the answer to difficult questions comes during times of complete peace and quiet. Just try and see if you can tune into your gut this way if you feel like you need to make a decision sooner rather than later, I do believe it can help.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Alicia_MSW, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 776
Experience: Specializing in mental health counseling
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