Hello Dr. Buckingham,
My husband and I have been married for 17 years, and we have three very beautiful girls. I thought we were happy until December of this past year when my middle daughter started suspecting him of cheating while I was at work. She started following him, tracking him by his phone and watching his every move (I had no idea this was going on).
In January, she found her suspicions were correct. She came to me and said, “Mom, what would you do if you caught daddy cheating?” My response, “Daddy wouldn’t do that to me.” Long story short, she led me to a hotel, which he came out of at 2:00am. I confronted him, and of course he lied. But he was caught. I started checking cell records as he continued with his little affair. I fussed, cussed, prayed and forgave.
I moved on, and we were good…until last month. I received a four-page letter in the mail from another women who claimed she had an affair with him for the past 10 years! (which my daughter confirmed the affair had to be as recent as December when she spied him at her apartment). Where was I at during this time? And when did he find the time to have this other life? So now, I have so much anger built up because of the disrespect, betrayal, lack of trust and the lack of so-called “love” that I thought we had.
I so want to love this man. And I want to stay with him, but I really feel I need to leave this man. I have lost my faith in so many things in my life. The only reason I’m hanging on now is because my girls mean so much to me. I’m hurting, but I’m a survivor also. Can you give me any suggestions and/or outlook on this? Is it acceptable to just survive in marriage?
A Hurt Wife
Dear Hurt Wife,
I am sorry that you experiencing betrayal in your marriage. But more importantly, I am sorry that your daughter is involved in the process. I am concerned that your daughter will be “negatively impacted” by this experience as well. She was paying attention to things that you did not notice. It is not uncommon for children to protect their parents. Also, it is not uncommon for children to also adopt skills and behaviors they observe in their parents.
Please be mindful if your daughter is shaping her perception of marriage based on your behavior and your husband’s behavior. I pray that she is able to separate her life from what she has observed.
You have to think about the example you are setting for your daughters. Unfortunately, your husband appears to be self-centered and is doing what is in his best interest. This situation is unhealthy for all involved.
You view yourself as a survivor. While being a survivor is a good quality, sometimes the survivor’s mentality does not promote growth. Some survivors attribute surviving to simply maintaining. While you were maintaining, your husband continued to cheat. You deserve more than just living a life where you are maintaining.
Surviving in spite of your marital hardship is noteworthy, but thriving after your hardship is even better. God designed the marriage institute, so that we can thrive, not survive. Given this, I personally do not believe that it is acceptable to just survive in marriage.
Nobody wins in this situation just by just surviving. Your husband appears to be a chronic cheater. Therefore, you have to be proactive and take an action that will help you and your daughters recover from this hardship. My personal quote, “Cheat on me once and you get a pass, but cheat on me twice and you get passed on.”
To thrive in marriage, there must be an ongoing commitment to connect and grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. While it is understandable to want to remain married for the sake of your daughters, I highly recommend you reconsider and seek professional help. You and your daughters could benefit from seeking family therapy. This is very important because a change in one person’s functioning (yours) is predictably followed by reciprocal changes in the functioning of others (your daughters). Please seek professional counseling.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to [email protected]
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.
BMWK, when there is repeated infidelity, when do you think it’s okay to work out a marriage?