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Ask Mabel: A wife questions why she can’t get over her husbands affair.

Dear Mabel: Why can’t I get over my husband having an affair?

I am a mom with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who is deeply religious. I recently found out my husband has been having a longterm affair and I am struggling with moving past his actions and repairing our marriage. It is all I can think about. 

After a brief time away from our family, as a result of his confession, he claims he is a changed man. He, who has also struggled with alcoholism, no longer drinks. He has started attending individual counseling, as well as couples counseling, and he regularly attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He repented in church and prays every day with me and our children. He claims he is “over the moon” in love with me and is constantly telling me how sorry he is and how he will never do such a thing again. But, I just can’t move past this. 

Every time he leaves the house I immediately begin thinking that he is going to be with another woman. I think about his actions all the time, and especially during sex. I don’t know if I will ever be able to trust him again. I don’t know if I can get our marriage back. What do I do? What can I do? Why can’t I get past this? 

Mabel: 

I am so sorry that you are going through this. Infidelity is an extremely difficult thing for anyone to accept. There are a few things that I think are making this situation even harder for you to move past. First, because of your religious affiliations, you have an internal battle you are struggling with. Religion teaches that sex is sacred which is the opposite of what your husband was doing when he had an affair. You are married and have children with this man. That means that he made a pact years ago to stay committed and loyal to you always, and he has betrayed that. 

While he did go to the church to repent and become a reformed man and had the church pray for your family, the expectation is that you would forgive him and sometimes it is just not that simple. He did his job of apologizing to the church, which gives the expectation that he should receive forgiveness in return. But that expectation is only suppressing and invalidating your rightful anger. It is ok to be feeling betrayed, hurt, distraught over all of this. You have every right to those feelings. 

Your emotional security is in turmoil. Your marriage to your husband was a secure relationship, a place where you felt safe. That sense of safety is in question now. You feel emotionally unsafe, insecure, and are anxious that these actions will repeat themselves. But, this is your husband and your family and deep down you are scared to lose that as well. 

Those are a few of the reasons you might be having trouble getting over these actions. I want you to know, your feelings are completely warranted. My suggestion would be to give yourself time. Don’t feel like you need to rush into instantly repairing anything. I also suggest you get yourself some help. If you haven’t already, seek out a licensed counselor who can help you to work through things and help you take care of you. 

Why do we get into wrong relationships?

You have probably been there at some point or another. Maybe it was a guy you met at a bar, a co-worker or a longtime friend. They asked you to go on a date, you agreed. Next thing you know you are in a relationship that just doesn’t feel right. Why do we do this? Why do we end up in the wrong relationships?

A lot of it has to do with timing. It involves all the other things that are happening in your life at that time. Maybe you are feeling sad/down and not very self-confident and part of you thinks that maybe this relationship will lift you up, but in the end, it makes you feel worse. Maybe you are career-focused, on the up-and-up, and the right guy enters your life but you blow him off. You think you don’t have time for anything else at the moment. 

If you are single for a long time you might be at the point where you think any relationship is better than none. Or, maybe you are getting ready to move out of town or go on a long trip and you find yourself smitten. Whatever the circumstances, the reason we end up in relationships is a lot more involved than just our hearts. And, much of the time we don’t see the whole story until later. We get that “aha” moment as we sit down and analyze all the little details. 

The best advice I can give for those that frequently get into wrong relationships is to learn from them. Try to identify those factors that are leading you to make these choices. Talking to a counselor may also help to point out some reasons you are having trouble seeing on your own.