Trust, But Verify

20 Aug

Dear LetterBalm: Last year, after 10 years of marriage, my husband cheated on me with the mother of our daughter’s classmate. It was a six-month affair during a rough patch in our relationship. I found out about the affair when another mother told me. I confronted my husband, he confessed, ended it and went to counseling with me. I think we’ve both faced some uncomfortable truths and become better people and better partners. My husband is sincere about wanting us to stay together and grow, and he keeps asking for reassurance. I realize that we have a lot of good things in our marriage. But I still can’t bring myself to trust him, even with our therapist’s help. I don’t know if I ever can again. Is it possible to have a good marriage when one partner doesn’t entirely trust the other?

–Skeptical and Hurting

If Ms. L.B. had the answer to that question, she could take to the relationship speaking circuit and make enough money to retire to the south of France. It can be assumed that your counselor has led the two of you to explore why your husband reached out to the woman and what this said about your marriage. Presumably, you paid careful attention to your husband’s explanation – his gestures, words, attitudes will indicate his openness. You wanted the truth, not what he thought he should tell you. Examine your own feelings about trust – trusting your husband and trusting yourself to face your marriage honestly. You need to have a serious conversation along these lines:

Claudio, you’ve been asking for reassurance that I want us to stay together. I’m having trouble dealing with how much and whether I can trust you. I have to say that fidelity is very important to me. We’ve faced a lot together in our marriage and our therapy. This should count for something. I know you’re trying hard to be honest, so am I. I think we need to keep this honesty going. I need more time to consider what I need and what I can expect from our marriage. Then, I can make a better evaluation of what we have. Does this sound fair to you?

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