Will She Ever Trust Him Again?

Q: It has been three months since I caught my husband in a hotel room with another woman. I can't seem to get the thought out of my mind! I see him with the other woman over and over again. Will I ever get over this and learn to trust him again? I am so undecided and confused! -- Tricia, 40

Dr. Susan: Three months is nothing, Tricia. That's a blink of an eye when it comes to getting over a huge intimate betrayal, particularly one in which you actually caught the lovers together. I'm afraid that image isn't going away any time soon. But that doesn't mean you can't ever learn to trust your guy again. It's going to take a few very hard behaviors on both your parts. Let me list them. (1) He has to never see this woman again. He has to give you proof that he has indeed broken it off with her. (2) You have to allow yourself to remain vulnerable by exposing your true feelings, but primarily in I-messages. You can tell him how angry you are, how disbelieving you are, how impossible it seems that you'll be able to trust him again, how deeply hurt you are by his unfair and mean behavior. What you mustn't do is constantly call him names. (3) He has to be willing to allow you to vent those strong and unpleasant feelings as often and as at length as you need to, for many months to come. He can't be defensive. He done you wrong and that's all there is to it. You can't fix this all on your own. Eventually, I promise you, the repulsive images will fade from the front of your mind, and if you manage to put your relationship back together, your love may be stronger than ever. If that happens, the faded images will be meaningless.

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