Thursday, May 12, 2005

Dear Abby:

After six years of marriage and a beautiful daughter, my wife, "Chanelle," demanded a separation. She said she needed time to "find herself." She forgot to mention that she was having an affair with a subordinate at work, "Earl." Eventually, Earl's wife and I found out. Chanelle lost her job, her boyfriend and her self-respect.

Suddenly she wanted me back. I wasn't sure I could live with a woman who had lied and cheated on me.

A year later, Chanelle became pregnant with our son, who is due in a few months. I'm positive the baby is mine, so we decided for the children's sake to reconcile.

I still can't forgive Chanelle for the affair. She used a string of lies to cover her activities, so I'm having severe trust issues. I was faithful throughout our marriage. While we were separated, I frequently lent her money and ran errands for her. At the time, she told me she hadn't been in love with me since the birth of our daughter. Now I feel used.

During our separation, I made sure our daughter called Chanelle's parents every night. We spent holidays with them while Chanelle worked. Instead of thanking me for it, they insist that I drove their daughter into the arms of another man. To make things worse, my parents refuse to accept Chanelle back into the family.

In all fairness, Chanelle was the last person you'd think would have an affair. She was family-oriented and had conservative values. Earl was the last person you'd imagine she'd choose. He's a chain-smoking, married redneck with a history of infidelity.

Both sets of in-laws are trying to sabotage the marriage, my feelings for my wife have changed, and I now realize I never really knew Chanelle at all. Can this marriage be saved?

Shaken, Not Stirred in West Virginia

Absolutely, provided you and your wife make up your minds that you really need each other and are willing to work out your problems in marriage counseling. Both of you have your work cut out for you. You must explore what drove you apart in the first place and fix it. Do not blame your parents for their attitude, or your in-laws for reacting to what they were told during your separation. If you and Chanelle make it clear that nothing will come between you, they'll come to accept it.

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