Loyalty Test

15 Jan

Dear LetterBalm: My husband and I have been married for 26 years. We’re lucky because we’ve had a happy and fulfilling relationship except for something big that happened about six years ago. My husband had an affair with a co-worker. They never had sex, but they developed a strong emotional attachment, and he thought seriously about divorcing me and being with her. It was at a low point in our marriage. We went to counseling and worked hard to reestablish why we fell in love in the first place. Our relationship is stronger than ever. But I’m still anxious because he continues to work closely with the other woman, and she occasionally joins him for business breakfasts and dinners alone. He’s very forthright about it, but I worry he’ll fall for her again. How can I let go of the past and trust him?

–Nervous Wife

Best wishes to you and your husband for making the commitment and doing the difficult work of facing the truth and restoring your marriage. Few couples can point to that kind of success. But there is a flag on the play. Ms. L.B. believes that because your husband’s former affair partner is also a colleague, he needs to be extra scrupulous in his behavior and transparency. It’s reasonable to ask him not to have private breakfasts and dinners with her. In fact, he owes you an extra level of fastidiousness, and it’s not too much to ask for that. You and he also should avail yourselves of occasional counseling to refresh your relationship and air concerns before they become big issues. When you and your husband are alone and relaxed (not in bed), suggest this:

Warner, we can be proud of the hard work we’ve done to revitalize our marriage after it took a big hit. Darling, I love you and I won’t rehash any of that – this is in no way judgmental. But I need to tell you that because Essie is a colleague of yours and you two continue to be in daily contact, it concerns me that you have private breakfasts and dinners together. Business meals with the team are one thing, but private meals are another. I do appreciate that you’re being honest with me. But please, for my sake, don’t do this anymore because it worries me very much. I’d like us to see Dr. Payne for a couple of refresher sessions to talk about this before anything negative builds up. Will you do this with me?

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