Q: How do you handle finding out your wife of 19 years had an affair with a good friend? -- Ted, 41
Dr. Susan: You do one of the following, depending on your nature: you cry quietly, you cry loudly, you march around the house ranting and raving about what such a betrayal has done to you, you insist your wife attend counseling with you and never see the guy again, or you see a lawyer. If you're like most people, you will already have done several of these things (and more) by the time you read this. What you need to do after you've done some well-deserved venting of your immediate sorrow and anger is to decide how much you want to hang onto this marriage. Lots and lots of couples surmount affairs, as you can read about in my Loving in Flow. Not easy though, and not speedy. And you both have to sincerely want to get past this. Foremost is remorse and total honesty on her part, which doesn't mean you need to ask for or hear intimate details that will drive you mad. What honesty means is that she admit her responsibility for the choices she made and not make excuses nor blame you. Perhaps she wasn't happy, but that forgives nothing. Whether you have the courage to begin working together on this painful issue is up to the two of you to decide. If you still love her, I suggest you make the effort. Don't worry about forgiveness. That will come later, if it does.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.