Q: My wife and I have been together for almost six years and been married for three years. Three months ago she left me to live with another man. I still love her dearly and hurt badly. I know the problems we had -- most of them my fault -- but I've done a complete 180 degree change and hang on every word she says. She owns her own cleaning company and I work for her part-time, so I see her every day and each time it's like being punched in the gut. Is it normal for me to still have the need to protect and care for her? Why can't she give our marriage another try? What should I do? -- Emmett
Dr. Susan: You've continued to work for your wife, even though she left you and has been shacking up with someone else for the past three months? You get points for loyalty or for masochism -- I'm not sure which yet. Of course it's normal to feel that kick in the guts when you continue to see your unfaithful wife every day. You're dying inside and she's apparently oblivious to your pain and sincerity. Whether you should still feel the need to protect her is another issue. How about making plans to protect yourself at this point?
Tell her you believe you've thoroughly changed and are willing to do whatever it takes to get her back and make your marriage work. Suggest seeing a therapist together and, once you're there in a safe place, get help determining whether your wife has any positive feelings for you anymore. If she does, she'll have to leave this other man immediately. If she won't, find another job and stop torturing yourself. She may be beyond wanting to fix whatever was ailing the marriage. And it always takes two people working very hard to patch things up after a betrayal like this.
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Advice for Her
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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.