After 40 years of marriage, I found out that my husband was having an affair. When I confronted him, he lied and said it was not true. I am devastated and want a divorce, but my adult children think I should stay with him. My husband does not want a divorce. What should I do?
Retreat. Get away from the cacophony of voices around you so you can decide which voice in your head is the right one to listen to. Make arrangements for at least two nights lodging alone at a retreat center like Mercy Center in Burlingame or Mount Madonna Center near Santa Cruz. You might even try a spa like Osmosis near Santa Rosa. Relax, pray, meditate, journal, walk among the trees. Don’t focus on the betrayal. Think about the life God desires for you. Are you living it? What adjustments need to be made to align your life with divine intention? Pray to be shown the right path. Ask to have the eyes to see and the heart to understand what is being shown to you.
Creating time for reflection is a way to touch the deeper meaning of the crisis in your life. I know the betrayal you have suffered feels overwhelming and unreal. That’s because it forces you to question much of what you have believed about yourself, your marriage and your husband. But I trust that you can take charge of the situation. Consider it an opportunity to not take anything for granted. Instead, recreate your life. Psychologist and author David Richo’s book The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them can help. In it, he claims there are certain realities in life that we must accept. They are that 1) everything changes and ends, 2) things do not always go according to plan, 3) life is not always fair, 4) pain is a part of life and 5) people are not loving or loyal all the time.
With those realities in mind, it’s easy to understand that your marriage can survive an affair—if your husband is willing to be honest about his behavior and if you both commit to counseling. But if he remains in denial, there is little hope for a healthy marriage. As for your adult children, remember, they’re not the ones who have to live with your husband.
I have been married for 15 years, with children. Before my wife, I was deeply in love with a woman who has rarely left my thoughts since. We have not spoken since the day we parted. She is married but with no children. We live continents apart. A mutual friend sent photos of her and implied that I had been asked about. I am fully aware of the damage that would be caused by making contact and keenly aware that the love I feel is more than likely one-sided. My rational and responsible options are to go through life with suppressed feelings or seek counseling to stop thinking of her. Which tragic route would you suggest?
Counseling: the route that would guide you in self-understanding. In the mundane moments of marriage, it’s easy to glamorize past or potential lovers and fantasize about a life together. The real problem is your tendency to obsess. The more you allow your mind to fixate on this woman, the bigger the feelings seem because you are feeding more life energy into the thought. So the feelings are big because of your obsession, not because she’s the right woman for you. Hey, think of it this way: What would your marriage be like if you had, instead, devoted energy to keeping your union fantastic? Exactly! So train your mind to refocus on the present moment and be in love with your life right now.