February 5, 2015

Ask Me Anything: Should I Forgive My Cheating Husband? {Weekly Advice Column}

cheating date

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal opinion, view or experience of the authors, and can not reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here. 


Dear Elephants,

Welcome to this week’s Ask Me Anything, where no question is out of bounds! To submit questions for next week, please email me at [email protected] or private message me on Facebook.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Dear Erica, 

For the last two years, my husband and I did not have it easy.

I was diagnosed with a severely precancerous condition and it was suggested I have a hysterectomy for it, but since we were trying to conceive, I chose to be placed on heavy medications no matter the side effects—so that we could see if conceiving was even a possibility anymore.

Now, in October of 2014, my husband told me he had been unhappy with us for a awhile, and that he was struggling to choose what to do. The medications I was on made me crazy, jealous, insecure and mean. I said and did things that impacted him profoundly, enough so he wasn’t sure if he could ever recover.

I gave him a weekend of space, and all weekend long, I had a gut feeling something was wrong.

In November he told me he had an affair with a friend of mine. It started as an emotional affair in July of 2014 and became physical the weekend I gave him space. When she found out that I knew, she broke it off, but two days later she was contacting him again.

She texted me during their short off time that she was sorry, that I should fight, that I should show him the woman I am and she hoped he would fall for me again, but the affair is still ongoing.

In December he told me he felt “in love” with her, which crushed me. I however didn’t believe him then and I do not believe him now when he says he isn’t in love with me anymore. Recently he told me he half of him wants a trial separation because he has been unhappy for so long, but the other half still loves me and wants to work it out.

He said he loves me, cares for me, that I am important to him, that he doesn’t want to lose me and that I am his best friend. He maintains that she knows all of this and seems to be “okay” with it. She, however, does not know that now he is torn between a divorce and no divorce, and that when he moves out to gain perspective, that he wants to have a no contact rule for both of us so he can figure it out.

I have forgiven him and I am willing to work on this and move past it, and that speaks volumes for who I am as a person. He forgives me, but what he has to figure out is: can he move past the hurt I have caused him, or how guilty he feels that they are still in an ongoing affair? (I know it’s hard to stop once one is started—they become addicted.)

I am worried he will make a mistake he can never come back from. She is 33, a single mom of two pre-teen children (which he has has told her he doesn’t want to be a father figure to), she lives with her mother, has no job, no money (her parents pay her bills) and she is a full-time nursing student.

I have, however, gotten the all clear. I am healthy and feel balanced and more at ease with who I am.

My questions are: how can I trust he will not have contact with her? I do not want to find out it was a load of crap and be lied to yet again. Also, how can he say he is in love with her when he is torn about his decision? And lastly, how do I tell him once the no contact rule is lifted that I am still invested in saving us?

Betrayed and still in love.

Dear Betrayed,

Sometimes I have to read the letters sent to me several times before I believe what I am seeing.

As always, first and foremost, I’m going to break down what I think you’ve said.

Since 2012, you and you husband have been trying to conceive despite your being diagnosed with a precancerous condition. The drugs you were required to take to avoid a hysterectomy and hopefully become pregnant made you (understandably) crazy, jealous and insecure. This is a crucible which would test the most solid of marriages, and indeed, your husband failed the test.

His response to the stress of your condition and your (I assume) mutual goals, was to have an “emotional affair” which then escalated to a physical affair the first chance he got. He then told you he was “in love” with the other woman, and that only half of him wants to work it out with you.

He says he wants to have a period of “no contact” with you both, but you don’t trust him to honor that resolution and in fact, expect him not to, because you “know it’s hard to stop once [an affair] is started.”

You say you are worried that he is making a mistake he can never come back from.

What about you?

If you do manage to conceive with your husband as the father, what kind of life are you ensuring for your child?

Neither of you are mature or healthy enough to usher a new soul into this world. Please stand down and get your house in order before you bring a baby into the equation.

In answer to your specific question about how you can trust him once the “no contact rule” is lifted; you can’t—and if you need rules to ensure trust, there isn’t any there to begin with.

cheating sign

Dear Erica,

I am a 22 year old male and father of two children under three.

Before my kids were born, things in my marriage were getting pretty bad and I cheated on my wife. She found out, we went to counseling and things got better. Both times she found out she was expecting, I was very happy.

Now it seems like everything is sliding back downhill again. I have a new female friend—strictly platonic—who I enjoy texting, but my wife gets really jealous. She gets so angry we can’t even talk and has recently taken the kids to her mother’s house for an undisclosed amount of time because she “needs a break.”

Now that she is gone, I feel much happier. I realize I have a much easier time talking to my female friend than I do my own wife. I am wondering whether we should get a divorce so the kids don’t have to grow up seeing us angry all the time like I did with my parents. Isn’t it better for parents to be apart and happy than together and miserable?

Ready to Divorce

Dear Ready,

It seems that at the smallest hint of unhappiness you are willing to turn outside your marriage.

I’m going to do some simple math and assume you were not yet 20 when you decided to bring not one, but two children into a program that was already shaky at best. That explains a lot.

I don’t believe you are actually thinking about what is best for your kids, but rather how best and most easily to gratify yourself. When your priorities are so off base, no one is going to win—not even you. If you continue on this trajectory you will no doubt add yourself to the long list of fathers who don’t even know their own children.

It’s time to grow up. Try seeing the situation (really seeing it, not giving lip service to platitudes that only serve your own goals) from the perspective of your children. If, and only if, you start making decisions based on what’s in their best interest, everything else will have a chance at falling into place.



Relephant read:

Ask Me Anything: Why do Men Lose Interest after Sex? {Weekly Advice Column}

Author: Erica Leibrandt

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Harsh Agrawal/Flickr, Guian Bolisay/Flickr

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