Wife can't forgive hubby's cheating

All Woman

Dear Counsellor,

My husband and I survived an extramarital affair two years back which has damaged my life very badly. He was involved with a colleague at work. They are no longer in contact and the girl got married and lives elsewhere. My husband said he will not do it again or hurt me again but I am unable to trust him. He is addicted to online chatting with girls. What should I do to save my marriage and make my marriage stronger? I love him a lot and I don't want to lose him. Please help.

Rebuilding trust and restoring confidence in someone who has betrayed our faith in them will take years, and for some they are so devastated that they never recover from the hurt. What some offenders don't seem to realise is that the offended individuals are deeply wounded and will need time to recover at the pace that they are comfortable with. To simply say to the offended person, “This happened two years ago, get over it,” is not only insensitive but reveals the lack of understanding of the emotional turmoil and mental stress the person has gone through.

It is not unusual for extramarital affairs to begin at the workplace. After all, people spend more waking hours with their co-workers — at least 40 hours per week — than they spend with their significant others, and so proximity and shared interests can draw people together. Your husband was obviously caught up in an office romance that transitioned into an affair, and the physical closeness to the person facilitated the encounter. Some of these liaisons can get messy, for example if the person gets pregnant.

So two years have passed since your husband terminated the relationship with his co-worker and as she is bodily out of his space — the chances of any physical contact are very remote. He has indicated to you that he will not put you through this kind of trauma again, but you are somewhat ambivalent. Again, this is not unusual, but you will have to determine if what happened was deliberate or not and if he is truly regretful of the occurrence.

Addiction is a very strong term to describe what you say your husband is doing. Are you saying he has no control over his tendency to engage others online? Is he neglecting his responsibilities because he is preoccupied with online conversations? Is he losing sleep and at the risk of losing his job because he is constantly involved with online chats? If it is that bad, then he would require professional help to curb his compulsive behaviour.

Do you know where and with whom is he interacting online? Is he engaged in online sexual activities? For all intents and purposes, he could still be communicating with the lady from the office and engaging her on a virtual level, as such is the sophistication of technology.

What people don't seem to realise is that online infidelity can cause just as much harm as offline infidelity. Time spent connecting and forming an emotional attachment with someone else online can cause the offended person to feel ignored and rejected.

You need to have a serious, face-to-face conversation with your husband and let him know how disregarded you feel and that you are requesting some quality time with him. He would probably tell you that he is in the house, so you should be happy, but being physically present and emotionally absent is of little comfort.

Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to agapemft@gmail.com or powellw@seekingshalom.org . Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/ .

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