You asked about how marriage could recover from the devastating effect of an affair, and family therapist Terry Real answered.
Here are some of the questions you had, and Real's answers.
Questions have been edited for clarity, and only first names have been used to protect writers' identities.
Click HERE to visit Terry Real's website.
I've been married for 18 years, and about three months ago my husband admitted to an affair. Of course my heart was crushed. We were going to separate but chose to stay together. I love him but I'm not in love with him ... ever since that day I can't feel anything anymore. Do I sort out the feelings or do I just walk away? We have four children: ages 19 through 8. I really need some advice, I'm really confused and not sure what route to take. It stays in my mind and in my heart and I find myself angry and mean to him ALOT!!! Was our decision wrong? CONFUSED!!!
Your decision was absolutely the right one with four children on board. There are times in most marriages where one or the other partner doesn't feel, "in love." Of course you feel distant and mistrustful. You're in a state of shock - truly traumatized by the rupture of the bond between you. You should run, not walk, to a good couples therapist. You can get over this but you might need some help with it.
Forgiving my husband's unfaithfulness three times was a quick decision in the moment, to the denial and expense of allowing myself to feel my own pain. It has been a few years now and sometimes I can barely stand to be in the same room with him. Underneath the "forgiveness" lies the resentment that has grown from seeds of excruciating pain never dealt with in counseling! It is like a silently growing cancer that has metastasized into something more deadly for my marriage than the adultery itself - denial of my own value. Now we are in counseling, however my husband is having a hard time "letting" me feel my pain now. He thinks I haven't really forgiven him. Is it true that if I am still feeling the anger or pain that I haven't forgiven him?
It sounds like your husband's right; you haven't forgiven him. But my question is: how could you? By rushing into a superficial resolution you shut the door on your own true feelings and needs - just as you say you did. Forgiveness comes after the work of grief -- staying with those feelings of hurt and anger -- not instead of it. And what do we mean by forgiveness anyway? Certainly not that the behaviors are "okay" with us. Rather that we're ready to let go and get on with our lives. Glad you're in counseling which will help you there for real this time.