Skip to main content

The question

I've been with my husband for a total of eight years, married for four. We are both 27. I love him. I have loved everything about him from the day we met. But I made a mistake in the beginning of our marriage and had an affair. In retrospect, the affair had everything to do with me and my lack of self esteem, and nothing to do with anything he was lacking. Then last year my husband had three affairs of his own, moved out and came back. I've decided to give it another shot, but I'm wondering if it's worth it. The pain I feel on a daily basis is horrible, and I'm starting to think of leaving the marriage. He seems so remorseful, but I can't help but think he's getting off the hook too easily. Essentially, his version of reconciliation was a slew of revenge affairs, screwing his pain away. My version was to take him back and work through it, no matter what he had done. How do I get over thinking it isn't fair? That maybe I love him more than he does me? That I could forgive, but he couldn't unless he had sex with other women to make it "fair"?

The answer

Affairs are a tough issue.

Of course marriages can survive them.

Well, some do, some don't. I've read somewhere that something like 30 per cent of marriages survive an affair.

But who knows how they come up with these statistics? And anyway, as Mark Twain (crediting British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli) put it: "There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

Each case – each marriage – is, obviously, unique. In your case, your statement, "I love him. I have loved everything about him since the day we met," kind of jumps out at me.

That's not an easy state of affairs, pardon the term, to arrange. People try and fail, try and fail, their whole lives, to find that – in other words, to find someone about whom they find every little detail enchanting.

That's something worth fighting for, if you ask me! But at the same time, you and your husband have inflicted a lot of damage on one another.

Before I proceed, I should probably issue a caveat at some point. My views on the topic of monogamy may be antiquated, antediluvian and outdated. My own children, and their fellow millennials, roll their eyes at them.

"Dad, it's just not like that any more." They seem content to exist in the grey area between "hanging out" and "hooking up" and there are a lot of "open relationships." So: fine for them. Who am I to judge?

But I'm a big believer in monogamy and fidelity and all the other stuff you vow to observe when you get married.

So having issued that caveat, I think for you and your husband to have any hope of success going forward, you have to first lose this notion of the "tit for tat" or "revenge" affair.

Secondly – and who knows, some sort of "renewal of vows" type of ceremony might be involved – you need to pledge fidelity to one another all over again.

And then reaffirm those vows on a more or less daily basis. Also, I've read, and I believe, since there tends to be a fair amount of deceit in infidelity, the best path for you both, going forward, is complete and utter honesty and transparency.

Even (and this may seem counterintuitive) when it comes to the affairs themselves. Painful as it may seem, you need to tell each other all the details and the whens and whys and wherefores.

But bottom line? Well, you reached out to me, which suggests you want to save this relationship.

But you had an affair on him and he had three on you (that you know of), which suggests to me he likes the furniture and architecture on "the cheating side of town" – and my aphorism here always used to be: Once you go through that door, the one marked Adultery, it gets easier to go through again and again.

It may be you should consider throwing in the towel on this particular relationship, and both waste no time trying to find someone a) you will be faithful to, b) who will be faithful to you.

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct