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September 23, 2018

Love Matters: My hubby had an affair. Why can’t I?

Love matters
Love matters

Hi, Rowan,

 

My husband confessed to a brief affair five years ago. I forgave him, but feel increasingly bitter about being so devoted throughout our 22-year marriage. I turned down several advances from attractive men in my 40s, and now feel my loyalty was in vain. I’ve been looking at dating sites for married people — am I not owed a fling of my own?

 

 

The revenge affair path is a precarious one. Let’s follow your plan to its most likely conclusion: you find a sexy man and sleep with him for several months. In your mind, you are merely evening out the score with your husband.

But your lover has a wife, so she becomes collateral damage and (if you’re a halfway decent person) a heavy weight on your conscience. You know you need to end things, but do you have the willpower?

Extra-marital sex can be as addictive and corrosive as any other recreational drug. So two marriages are now at risk of collapse.

More importantly, are you going to tell your husband? If you don’t, you’ll be guilty of worse dishonesty than your spouse (after all, he did confess) and trust within your marriage will be shattered.

If you do tell him, don’t expect him to say: ‘Fair’s fair. I cheated, so you should, too.’ The heart doesn’t work like that. Your husband will be every bit as hurt at your betrayal as you were.

Does a fling of your own still seem like a good idea?

It’s no good saying you forgave your husband if you continue to resent his actions. It seems clear you never had a chance to work through the stages of grief. Resentment has been building within you for the past five years and now threatens to burst out.

The most straightforward course is to admit your festering feelings and erotic discontent. You have been strong, loyal and understanding — now it’s your husband’s turn.

What you are really owed is his support — not a tit-for-tat affair.

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