Pam from Texas wrote:
I divorced my husband after 30 years of marriage when he became involved with another woman. He is now claiming regret and wanting to try to reconcile… I still love him but I am terribly afraid to give him another chance. How do I figure out if he is a changed man without snooping on him and double checking his activities?
Bette Alkazian's Advice:
This is a tough dilemma! You've already had your heart broken once, so I'm glad that you're a bit hesitant. If he's really a good guy though (and you certainly have a lot of history together), it might be worth giving it another try.
Here's what I recommend:
1. Take it slow! Don't jump in with both feet. There's been a lot that's happened, so caution is the way to go at first until the trust begins to build.
2. Go to couples counseling! Affairs are often symptoms of other issues within the marriage. We know that the way you two did it the first time didn't work. Ensure that the relationship is on stronger ground this time around and that the unresolved things from the past don't reappear.
3. Be open and honest and expect the same from him! You shouldn't have to snoop on him or double check anything. If he's really "all in" this relationship and the changed man you hope he is, he''l have nothing to hide and will be willing to show you whatever you want to see.
Trust can be destroyed in an instant. After that trust has been damaged, it takes a long time to rebuild it. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day! Be patient, but if things go well, it may be worth running the marathon together. I'm pulling for you both!
Philip Van Munching's Advice:
Here's the short answer, Pam: you can't possibly figure out if he's a changed man at this point…because that's not your job. Instead, it's HIS job to demonstrate that he's changed, you know? You're worried that you won't trust him if you take him back right now, and I think the answer to your question lies in those two "right now." So don't. Don't even think about taking him back until he's shown you the changes that you're looking for. Take some time to figure out what you need in order to trust him, and then let him know. Maybe it's couples counseling, or for him to see a therapist on his own. Whatever your conditions are, until he shows you he can meet them, there's no point in even considering a reconciliation.
Remember, Pam, taking someone back doesn't have to be an immediate thing, and probably shouldn't be. In fact, taking your time to rebuild the trust you once had in him is maybe the only way you can avoid being the snooping, insecure person you're afraid of becoming. And if your ex-husband isn't willing to spend that time to figure out his own past behavior, and to take serious steps to guard against a return of that behavior, walk away.
I've got to imagine that it feels really good to have the person who hurt you now admit what a horrible mistake he made…but make sure you don't let his regret push you into moving any faster than you're comfortable moving. I know the goal is to trust him, but first, make sure you trust yourself.