Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I have been married for 20 years. We have two daughters. My husband cheated on me with someone that I believe has low standards (Hood Rat). I found out 4 years ago because she sent me a nasty letter giving me details of their sexual encounters. I was crushed!
(The man) who I thought was my best friend had become my enemy, not my husband.
He apologized and assured me it was over… I wasn’t trusting. I didn’t sleep in the same bed with him. I felt like he was back at it within the year.
Just this past Wednesday, I opened a letter to him from DSS. He has paid child support for the past 4 years. I am broken. He says all he does is pay support. I don’t know what to believe anymore. I am not a dumb person but I really feel dumb today. I haven’t talked to anyone about this (not a friend or family member) only you after searching the web. I wanted a black male’s view on this situation, after viewing your feedback to others I was persuaded!
His word means nothing to me. I feel he can tell me anything and if it’s not her again it can be someone else as soon as I give in. He’s only sorry because he was caught.
He told me he didn’t want his family bothered with the situation and was handling things on his own. Now he is acting like a family man by hanging around me wanting to go out to dinner just the two of us. (Never do, etc.).
I am a good mom and wife and I don’t deserve this.
Dear Broken Wife,
You are correct…you do not deserve this. In fact, no one does. I truly empathize with you and your dilemma. I can only image what you are thinking: Do you walk away from 20 years of marriage, separate your daughters from their father and try to start over?
As a Christian, “I am not an advocate of divorce.” However, I am also not an advocate of infidelity, deception, and distrustful behavior. Let me offer two perspectives that might answer your question.
Perspective #1: God Can Fix All Things
My Christian and spiritual heart says that your marriage can survive because God can fix all things. My whole life, I have heard people say that God can take the impossible and make it possible. I have seen marriages that not only survive infidelity, but thrive afterward.
When this happens I believe that God had his hands in the marriage. He can rebuild and restore because he is a God of mercy and forgiveness.
If you look at your husband through your troubled and heart-broken eyes, you will see a man who is deceptive, untrustworthy, broken and unworthy. However, if you look at your husband the way God does, you will see a man who is imperfect and capable of sinning and inflicting pain.
Your perspective will determine how you cope. Sin is sin, but we look at infidelity as a death sentence as it relates to marriage. As human beings walking in the flesh, we strive to be God-like, but often come up short.
When I speak of God I speak from my heart and spirit. Be mindful that God is merciful. If your marriage is to survive, you have to treat your husband gracefully as God would treat you if you sinned.
Pray for forgiveness and compassion so that you can heal and have clarity about your marriage. Turning to God is not about loving blindly, but it is about seeking discernment. Pray about the infidelity so that you can know what to do about it. Stay prayed up so that you can stay lifted up.
Perspective #2: Do not Obsess and Fight Over the Infidelity
What is done is done. Allow yourself time to grieve in a healthy manner, but do not obsess and fight over the infidelity. Express how you feel to your husband and have a thorough conversation about how to move forward.
This behavior will allow peace to be present in your home. When you have the urge to attack your husband, reach out to someone who you can help you process your anger. A professional therapist like myself can help you work through your emotions.
Be mindful that if you constantly obsess and fight over the infidelity, your marriage will probably not survive. If you want your marriage to survive focus on things that can help you sustain it. Learn from your pain so that you do not become a victim of it.
Take care of yourself so that your goodness does not turn into bitterness. What you harbor in your heart will shape your destiny.
Whatever you do, do not allow anyone to make the decision for you. Also, be mindful of who you receive advice from. As you may have noticed, I did not comment much about your husband’s inappropriate behavior.
This is intentional because I believe that your ability to make a sound decision will come from within. Your husband can say and do all the right things, but it will not matter unless you are ready and can move forward.
Be firm with your husband about what you expect and observe his behavior. If you cannot forgive him then you might need to consider walking away. Also you might have to learn to trust yourself again.
When we are betrayed it is natural to question our judgment and ourselves. If you would like to receive coaching, please visit my website: www.drbuckingham.com or send me an email to [email protected].
Also, I will be conducting a webinar entitled, Unconditional Love: How to Make Your Marriage Last Forever on Thursday November 19 at 9:00 pm. Click here for details.
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.