- Dr. Love in the Media
Wife Whose Husband Cheated More than Once
September 18, 2000 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
My husband has been cheating on me, quite frequently. I am 47 and he is 48. We have been together since we were 16 married at 18.
In the early years I contracted two STD's and I was faithful He denied it so emphatically that I was convinced the doctors were wrong. Regardless of the fact that we took treatment. Young and Stupid I guess you can say. I did not want to believe it.
Now here recently I have found definite proof that he has had an affair. I found the other womans invoices and store receipts in his car after receiving a call from a creditor asking for him and her.
Again he denies this to my face and gives every kind of ridiculous excuse imaginable. after much ranting and raving I decided to forgive him after weighing our difficulites. But it just infuriates me that he wont admit it. I feels like unfinnished business, even though he is now home all the time after work and has appeared to have cleaned up his act. I just can't get pass his not admitting it and asking for forgiveness.
He just says I am crazy and need to drop it. I can forgive him and want to and did. Things were peacful for a while but it just nags at me that he wants me to put my head in the sand and pretend it did not happen.
He is a good provider, but he does not feed my spirit. Oh yeah by the way the STD's rendered me infertile. I did not know they were the cause untill later after reading about such things.
I am a Christian and forgiveness is part of my faith, but he tests that faith by Not giving me the satisfaction of opening up for real healing. What should I do?
Thank You in Advance for your well thought out advice.
You have been violated on so many levels, and for a very long time. I can see why you are infuriated, to say the least. In this case, being a Christian helps and hurts you at the same time. It helps you in that you seek to forgive, which is very cleansing for the soul.
However, to impose forgiveness on yourself before your husband has asked for your forgiveness feels like self morification. You have been violated and you are sweeping yourself under the rug. Forgiveness should not replace self-preservation. Your wish to forgive at all costs is leading you to place yourself in a precarious situation
To forgive him before he admits to having cheated means bypassing an open discussion in which he faces what wasn't working for him in the marriage and vows to work on these issues, while closing the door to future affairs. Without this type of frank discussion and understanding, you can be sure that he will cheat again.
Your wish to forgive and forget is placing you in danger of being 'done to'all over again. Why are you willing to stay with a man who repeatedly cheats, lies and threatens your physical and emotional safety
You say he's a good husband. Because he brings home the bacon? He also brings home diseases! You say he's behaving himself now. Isn't he just on temporary best behavior after having been busted?
In reality, nothing has changed. The forces that lead him to cheat haven't been revealed and resolved, which means they will propel him to cheat again. And, cheat again he will because the scales of power are out of balance in this relationship. You have told your husband in words and actions that he can get away with murder and that you will take it.
Don't misunderstand. I am not telling you to leave him. I am simply talking about how powerless you are vis a vis your husband. You send out the message that you don't have the power to leave him even if you wanted to, and that you will always forgive him and tolerate his behavior. He has you pegged as a doormat who he can repeatedly cheat on. I don't believe that good Christians must be doormats and masochists!
I think you need to do some major soul searching. Ask yourself: why am I willing to allow my husband to get away with mistreating me?; why I feel impelled to forgive someone who hasn't yet asked for forgiveness (he hasn't owned the truth)?: why I am willing to place myself at risk of further infidelity?; and finally, do I have some need to be a victim? You get the idea.
I don't know if your self-esteem is too low (you don't think you deserve better treatment) or if you have no power in life (don't think you can make it without him). Whatever the reason is for your putting up with his behavior, your husband has your number. He knows that you are like the boy who cried wolf. You will always forgive him, always turn the other cheek, and always take him back.
In other words, he doesn't need to change a thing. If you get one thing from my letter get this: He won't change until you change. Your change needs to take the form of achieving sufficient personal strength so that you have the nerve to put his foot to the fire. You won't be able to take this position until you are ready to put your money where your mouth is and bear the consequences of the stand you take.
The form that your stand takes is up to you. For example, you might tell him that this marriage is over unless he admits the truth and goes with you to marriage counseling. Or, you won't remain in the marriage if he doesn't admit the truth (for starters).
In other words, he will only be rewarded by being frank. Now he's being rewarded for lying, in that he gets to stay married to you and keep cheating. Again, I am not telling you to give him an ultimatum. You are far from ready. I am merely pointing out that until you have grown to the point that you can imagine yourself making it without him, and until you truly feel that you won't permit him to ever violate you like this again, you are powerless with him. He won't have to admit anything and he won't have to change a thing.
So, rather than trying to find a way to get him to admit the truth, work on yourself. Join a women's group. When you feel differently about yourself, he will not only admit the truth, he will also beg to work on this relationship, if he wants to keep you.
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