Dear Coleen

I’ve been with my husband for 20 years. We’re both in our 40s and have two children together. Several years ago, when our kids were still young, I suspected he was having an affair, but he denied it.

We’d been going through a strange time in our marriage and had kind of lost touch with each other. However, things slowly got better between us and I just moved on.

Recently, we went away for a weekend to celebrate our 20 years together and he actually confessed that he did have an affair, but couldn’t admit it at the time because he didn’t want to risk losing me.

He said he was very sorry and that it was “only sex”, and that he never loved this other woman.

I’ve no idea why he chose this special anniversary to confess – guilt, I suppose. My problem is, after admitting to it, he now won’t talk about it and I have a lot of questions.

Now it’s out there, he just expects me to move on, but I’m finding myself starting to resent him and getting angrier and angrier. I’m also wondering if he cheated more than once in our marriage.

I’ve told him that if he won’t talk about it, then I’d like to have some relationship therapy, but his answer was, “what for?” How can he just expect me to carry on as if everything is normal?

I need to talk about it, but so far I’ve avoided telling friends because I don’t want them to turn against him and for it to affect other areas of our lives. What do you think?

Coleen says

He’s doing that classic thing of offloading his guilt to make himself feel better and now you’re left to deal with the fallout. But just because it happened a long time ago and he’s said sorry doesn’t mean you’re not going
to feel anything.

He betrayed you and then lied about it for a long time – so of course you’re going to feel angry and wonder if
your entire marriage has been built on a lie, and if you’ll ever be able to trust him again.

I think he has to accept that he can’t reveal something like that and not deal with it. If he really does want your marriage to survive, it’s not good enough to say he doesn’t want to talk about it or refuse therapy.

So I think you have to stand your ground and tell him he has to talk about it if he wants to stay married to you because these feelings and questions aren’t going to go away for you.

If he won’t agree to therapy, then go on your own, which is what I did during my first marriage and it really helped me to work out what I wanted to do.

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