Rebound from Wife's Affair
Q: I have been married almost 20 years, mostly happy. My wife and I have teenagers. Our sex life was great until, six months ago, I found out by doing some searching that she was having an affair. It lasted about half a year, mostly text, probably Facebook, e-mail and some phone calls. I sensed something was up for a while. It was "non-sexual," as they say, and I think she came clean with me. I believe, as well, that it is over. But I've found other information that she doesn't know about and I think is damaging to me and our relationship and that it was more than emotional. I worry if we will be together like we had planned to be. The other person does live 400 miles away.
Now the hard part is overcoming the urge to check up on her all the time. I know she has other e-mails and work phone, etc., that I have no access to. I also discovered a tracfone that was used for some contact, that she claims he sent and she did not buy it (intercepted e-mails may tell me otherwise). Anyway, how can I be sure its over and how do I get over these feelings of mistrust? The worst part is that she doesn't trust me since I did a lot of snooping on her, which we both know was only natural. I know she loves me and I her. I just break down sometimes and then she is the one that who will claim she can't take more of that behavior from me, including checking up on her and some jealousy issues. Help! -- Bill, 42
Dr. Susan: Ah Bill, it's so common that the mate who has been betrayed finds himself (or herself) blamed for what's going on. It's not your fault that you don't trust your wife, that you're tempted to keep snooping, and that you're jealous. She caused that. She needs to take full responsibility for the damage she's done to your trust. What some couples do (including some of the super-happy ones I wrote about in Loving in Flow) is agree to open all files, phones, and emails so that the betrayed partner knows everything. The only way you're going to be sure she's not still in contact with this guy is for her to be totally transparent. Especially as she was not the one to tell you about the affair, but you who discovered it by checking up on her. I fully believe it is her duty now to allow you to vent all your feelings for as long as you need to. It won't be comfortable for her, but that's the price she needs to pay to regain your trust. You, too, will have to let her know what you have discovered that you say is damaging. No more secrets from either of you. Good luck!
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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.