Dear Ms. Vicki,
My husband of 28 years admitted to me four months ago that he cheated on me while in Korea from 1991 to 1992. During this time, he moved the bank account and left me and our 2-year-old daughter with nothing. I had to move home and live with my mom.
Recently, I was having dreams that he was with a Korean woman back then, so I asked him. He lied at first and then finally admitted that he had an affair with a woman there for a whole year. I almost fainted. I have never been in this much pain in my entire life.
A few weeks later, I asked him if there were any others, and he admitted that he cheated again 13 years later while he was TDY in South Carolina. Our son was not even a year old then. By this time, I was livid and revealed to him that I had a one-night stand with someone he hated while he was in Korea. I was angry back then about being evicted and having to live with my mom, but I know that's no excuse. I was wrong.
However, my hubby says now that he has has "seen the light" and finally realizes what he has and never wants to lose me. He told our counselor that he has never met anyone like me because I had no reason to confess what I'd done to him. He would never have known.
He is even wearing his wedding band now after not wearing it for years. He is full of guilt and cries when he sees me cry. He says he has never seen someone this hurt over anything he has done. I believe he is sincere, but I just can't seem to move forward.
I had a one-night stand, but his was a full-blown affair that lasted a year, and then another affair that lasted a month. He says both were just sex, but I don't believe him. I even made him give me details about what he did with both women. (Lord, why did I do that?) I can hardly have sex with him sometimes because I see him doing the same thing with these women.
I once weighed 355 pounds, had gastric bypass and lost 100. He says it was not the weight. He said he felt unappreciated and unheard in our marriage. I feel that this is bull. I've begged him to communicate with me over the years, and he chose to turn to someone else instead.
Some days I am fine, and others I am in a full-blown rage. I want my marriage to work, and I believe he does, too. What can I do to get past this? What can I do to get the images of him with the other two women out of my head? It was so long ago, and I want to move on. But I feel as if our marriage has been built on a straw foundation with nothing to support it. I don't know who I married.
Please help, I Can't Forget
Dear Can't Forget,
I understand your disappointment and your anger, but I don't think you are ready to move forward. You are choosing anger, and that's OK. It's your choice.
You say you want your marriage to work. If you are giving your husband a chance to make amends, then you can't continue to beat him up about his infidelity. He made some really stupid choices a long time ago. Yes, your husband had some issues, but if you look deep, you'll find that you did, too.
No, it's not your fault that he had affairs. However, in your letter you said that your husband said in your marriage "he didn't feel heard and he felt unappreciated." Listen, that's a great place to start! Instead, you said "that's bull" when he just told you how he felt. You have to understand the ways that you make him feel unappreciated and unheard. There are other women who will make your man feel like he's on top of the world. You want to be the one who does that.
Now, in your defense, who leaves their wife and child for over a year with no financial support while he's cheating with another woman? That's pretty lowdown and dirty. He even admitted to cheating more than once, and you admitted to your revenge hook-up.
You have also made some serious life changes by losing 100 pounds. Congratulations! Losing weight is not easy and gastric bypass is not easy, either. You have to stay on a continued wellness plan and manage stress.
Mending your marriage won't be easy. Both you and your husband will have to put in a lot of work with a therapist and individually by doing some serious soul searching.
If I made a quick guess, my experience would tell me that you and your husband have both had a lot of other hurts and disappointments before you were married. You know, we bring a lot of pain into our marriage and it is compounded by additional life hurts we experience. A good therapist will help you resolve this.
I have seen marriages survive the same problems as yours with hard work. However, don't keep punishing yourself by looking into the past and asking questions about intricate details of his affairs with other women. That won't help anything.
Hopefully, all of the cheating is over and done in your marriage. Hopefully, you and your husband can be true to yourselves and each other. Keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing.
Sincerely, Ms. Vicki