I recently discovered that my husband of 28 years has been having a two-year affair with his personal assistant.
I saw an email to her expressing that he loves her "so much it hurts."
He says he wants to save the marriage, but I think he wants to avoid having our kids think poorly of him.
He still works with the woman, although she’s seeking another job. I’d threatened to send the email chain to her husband.
My husband and she were both frantic and asked me not to ruin her family.
My family’s been destroyed, so has my sense of self-worth.
I’d always thought he was too honest, with strong personal beliefs and values, to have an affair.
I’ve been reading about dealing with infidelity, seeing a social worker and my physician for help, and booked an appointment for us with a marriage counsellor.
But it’s so hard. Things haven't been great in our marriage for several years, but my requests and pleading to discuss our issues and go for counselling were ignored until he was caught.
He feels guilt and shame over what he’s done, and I don't know if we can fix this.
Shattered and Lost
You can’t “fix” broken trust. You can only rebuild it.
IF he feels determination to work at your marriage, understanding of how deeply he’s hurt you, and openness to examining what went wrong and willingness to change, you have a good chance to move forward.
But IF his guilt and shame are about being caught, and he justifies why he strayed because of past issues (which he wouldn’t discuss), then the marriage still has an uncertain future.
Of course, you too must be willing to look at those past problems and understand (and acknowledge) whatever part you contributed.
My coworker of 18 months has been giving me strong signals that he likes me.
He makes lots of eye contact, smiles at me, jokes with me, and makes excuses to be in my vicinity at work.
Sometimes we talk before leaving work. I’ve gotten a couple of comments from co-workers that he likes me. But he's shy.
Finally, a co-worker asked him if he’d ever considered asking me out.
He got shy and embarrassed and said it’d be awkward since we work together, but if it looked like it’d work out long-term, he would consider it.
I finally asked him to lunch for when we were both not working. He said he couldn't because of a family obligation but when I asked if we could do it a different day, he said sure.
Now I'm so scared to ask again. The last couple of times we worked together he was quieter than normal.
What’s Next Move?
If you can be casual about it, just ask when’s the next day that he’s free for lunch, or a coffee after work (you don’t know what family obligations he has on his days off).
But be careful not to build up expectations beyond getting to know him better.
His thinking when asked about dating you was correct. If it turns out well, great. But if it doesn’t – and if either of you gets hurt – it’s awkward.
But, since all early dating involves some risk, and you both sound fairly innocent in your interest in each other, take the chance to go for it. “Shy Guy” may well turn out to be a very decent, loyal guy.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband of 18 months who yells at his wife since their honeymoon (March 7):
Reader – “Classic abuse by a man centres on wooing a woman tenderly until she commits herself to him.
“Once she’s dependent, his true controlling nature surfaces, including making her into being the “problem.”
“She’s encouraged (persuaded) to drop her support system to become even more dependent on him.
“Yet she’s to take all responsibility for their relationship.
“She’s often relatively safe, until she tries to assert her independence or worse, to leave him.
“That’s when she’s in the greatest danger.
“As a survivor of this type of abuse, I know this lady in your column needs counselling to learn what influences she has in her past that leaves her open to this abuse now, and which her husband plays upon.
“I still love my abuser. But I would never let him back in my life.
Tip of the day:
After an affair, a marriage can’t be “fixed,” but trust CAN be rebuilt to allow moving forward together.