Marriage Worth the Struggle?

Q: Our marriage of 19 years has come to a disastrous point. Things had gotten worse during the last few years due to me working away through the week, and my wife said I don't pay her and our son enough attention when I was home. A year ago it came to a point that I stayed at a friend's for a few days. Then, through her work, my wife went on a trip, and had an affair with a guy 10 years younger. For the next 10 months she told me three different stories about where her hickey had come from, the third and final story being complete adultery. I don't think I can forgive her for this and am now living with my sister. Should we just get divorced and move on with our lives? I am sure the trust wouldn't be easy to replace, if at all. -- Barry, 38

Dr. Susan: Your marital difficulties have obviously been building up for a long time, with this affair of your wife's being the latest and most serious blow. Adulterers, by the way, typically don't tell the whole story at once. They're scared of the reaction their treachery will cause, so they downplay it as long as possible. Unfortunately, the longer it takes for the partner to learn the truth, the harder it is to rebuild trust. But it can be done, if you both want to, as I wrote in Loving in Flow (in which several couples had affairs and rebuilt their lives together). After 19 years and a child, I'd say may be worth the effort. Both of you must open up about your hurts and disappointments, with her allowing you to fully vent your distress at her and the situation, without name-calling. If there is any love left between the two of you, you can fan that spark and find renewed intimacy.

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