No Trust Left


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Sandra A Doron LCSW

Dear Sandra:

I am troubled to read the most recent letter written by Deeply-Betrayed. She wrote that she was not sure if she would confront her husband, even after all the clear evidence from his many e-mails to another woman. I think she has no choice but to confront him. I had the same dilemma, and confronted my wife, who has finally admitted her unfaithfulness to me. Little did I know that thatís the easy part. The hard work is just beginning. We both want our marriage to work, but after so much trust has been shattered, gaining back this trust is far more difficult than I could ever have imagined. My wife wants me to forgive and forget. But every time she leaves the house, I agonize over where sheís going. If she comes home late, Iím already assuming sheís with someone else. Even when we are in bed together, I think of her in the arms of her past lover, and I lose interest in her. I donít know if I could ever love her in the way I once did. No-Trust-Left

Dear No-Trust-Left:

It sounds like you are relieved that you confronted your wife with her infidelity, but are questioning whether you can ever trust her again. As much as you would like to forgive her, youíre discovering just how difficult that is. Your anxiety when she leaves the house is normal. Your comments about the difficulties in your sexual relationship suggest that you may currently be feeling sexually inadequate since you could be focused on the thought that your wife found pleasure with another man. You are angry and you are not alone. Men, in contrast to women whose husbands have been unfaithful, are often less forgiving, angrier, and feel less adequate as lovers after their wives have been unfaithful. The fact that you did confront your wife is very positive, and is an essential first step. You have let her know that you have been wronged, that you no longer feel special because of her actions.

At this point you may be asking yourself what changes you have a right to expect from your wife. An obvious example of one action you should expect would be for her to terminate all contact with her former lover. If she works with him, you may tell her that you expect her to find another job. You can ask her to go to couples therapy with you and be willing to answer any of your questions about the other man in front of the therapist, so that you feel reassured she is telling you the truth. You and your wife need to work out specific actions that would be meaningful in your particular situation. Gradually, as trust grows, your sexual intimacy will also increase. Telling your partner what you want and need is basic to letting your partner back into your life. Letting her know whatís going on inside of you emotionally is equally important. Sharing your pain with her is the first step in letting it go.

If you do decide to recommit to your relationship, it may take months, or even years to restore trust and intimacy. This will occur when the following questions have been fully resolved: 1) Does your partner show remorse for the harm that sheís caused you? 2) Do the two of you understand why she was unfaithful? 3) Does she understand that she must win back your trust, and is she willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it?

You are not responsible for your wifeís behavior, but during couples counseling you may discover that some of your own actions may have contributed in some way to her feeling dissatisfied or even neglected in your marriage. Your ability to listen and acknowledge her feelings will contribute to re-establishing a sense of connection between the two of you. Eventually, you may reach the point where you could think about forgiving your wife as well as yourself for the wrongs you may have consciously or unconsciously inflicted upon yourselves and each other. Common behaviors for which the hurt partner often blames himself are: isolating, putting himself down, being overly naÔve, or ignoring early suspicions about his partnerís infidelity. The ultimate type of forgiveness is one that removes the harsh and damaging judgments that couples put on themselves. Eventually, the unfaithful partner must also forgive herself for the harm she has caused in her marriage. This task may seem formidable, but can be done as long as resentments are safely brought into the open. A better connection will bring you closer to forgiveness, and after doing this hard work, you may experience a better marriage than you could ever imagine is possible at this time.

Sandra A Doron is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker A & A Couples Counseling Acknowledge and Appreciate (Keys to a Successful Relationship)


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This site was last updated 01/22/06