Ask Amy: Betrayed husband wants to trust again

December 4, 2013

DEAR AMY: I am struggling with the pain and loss of trust in my marriage. We have been married almost 40 years and have two grown children. My wife has struggled with alcohol and painkiller addictions but recently successfully completed rehab. I have supported her faithfully through all the ups and downs.

I just discovered that she is having an affair with her AA sponsor, which has devastated me. While she professes to be sorry, is there any hope for recovering trust in a marriage shattered so entirely? I love her but cannot imagine ever trusting her again. -- Sad After All These Years

DEAR SAD: You can potentially trust your wife again. Your wife made a choice — and you have choices too. For you, the process of trusting her will begin with your choice to commit to the effort.

Your wife must commit to her sobriety and fidelity, and she needs to do so with a different sponsor. She should not have any more contact with her affair partner. She needs to be completely transparent with you for as long as it takes.

This is a tough road, but even after going to the brink, your relationship can deepen and strengthen, especially given the challenges you two have already successfully faced. Every day I hear from people who manage to reconcile and rebuild their relationships after seemingly insurmountable challenges. You can do this but not without your wife’s complete commitment to behaving in a trustworthy way, as well as your determination to work toward trusting her.

A book that represents both sides of this challenge is, “After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful,” by Janis A. Spring. I highly recommend it for both of you.

DEAR AMY: I have been a stepmom to my stepdaughter for almost 20 years. Initially we were very close but since she turned 20, she barely tolerates me. She is now 30.

She is very close to my husband, and I support their relationship. Now she has my grandson (age 3), whom I would like to know. They live in another state. The Skype calls are made when I am out of the house. I do not get the text messages with the cute pictures (he does). And recently she posted comments on Facebook that my husband can come and live with her. My husband says they are close, but he is not responsible for her actions.

I want to figure out the balance. I don’t know if I should let them stay at our house when she is in town. They have other options. I don’t want to affect my husband’s ability to have a close relationship with his daughter, but if I am not part of the package deal, what should I do? -- Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: You don’t say if anything specific brought on this chill, but you should try to get to the bottom of it. If you need to take responsibility for something that happened 10 years ago, then definitely do so.

You also don’t say whether you have tried to have an independent relationship with your stepdaughter. One way to demonstrate your intentions is to be in touch with her. Another way is to welcome this family into your home.

You should be part of your family’s “package deal,” and your husband can help promote a relationship between the two of you by being inclusive, even if his daughter is being exclusive. He could (and should) bat away any attempts by his daughter to drive a wedge between you. He should put his marriage at the center of his life, leaving plenty of room to enjoy children and grandchildren -- together.

DEAR AMY: “Newly Single” is the 27-year-old woman who noted that guys never ask for a woman’s phone number. I’m a guy, and I figure if the woman is really interested in me, she’d say something or ask for my number.

It’s not laziness on the guy’s part. It’s just a way we screen. -- Satisfied in Seattle

DEAR SATISFIED: If everybody is “screening,” nobody is ever going to get together.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

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