Reconcilation After An Emotional Affair?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My wife and I have been together for 5 years and married for 2 of them. We have a 20 mo old child together. Last year we began having trouble with our relationship and separated about 6 mo ago and I filed for divorce, which was close to very ugly. During this time she was in a non sexual relationship with one of our friends. A short time ago she and I began to discuss reconciliation of our relationship and fixing our marriage. She has agreed to go to counseling but says “not yet”. Things seemed ok at first when she was still living at her new place. She has moved back in to our house with the kids and things then changed again. I have since found out that she still has feelings for this other person and has maintained contact with him and is even telling him “I love you”. We both have trust issues with each other, her for what I did during separation and divorce to threaten her place with her children and ours, and I wondering if she can be faithful to this relationship or if she even feels that she can love me again (because recently she cant show it or even tell me “I love you”). It seems the harder I try to make things right and settle anything between us it pushes her farther away. And if I sit back and wait for her to “clear her head” I’m afraid of being seen as not doing enough. I don’t want to push her but I don’t want to lose a chance to fix our marriage……I hope I’m being clear enough with all of this to get some helpful advice.

A: As painful as this situation is, I’m very glad you haven’t given up. I agree that five years together, the well-being of a toddler, and your own feelings make it worth a big effort to try to salvage things. There’s another choice besides “waiting” or “pushing.” Take action and go to therapy yourself. Find a good couples therapist and start the process rolling. Your wife may need to see you doing something to believe your good intentions. You may need to figure out some new ways to approach her to rebuild some trust. Instead of focusing on what she is and isn’t doing, work to be the best kind of husband and father you know how to be. If she sees some changes, she may join you in therapy so that this marriage can be saved. If she doesn’t and you do divorce, you will know in your heart that you did your best. Equally important, you will have established a different kind of relationship. Hopefully, this will make it possible for the two of you to co-parent in ways that are healthy for your child.

You can find a therapist by clicking on the “Find Help” tab on our home page or you can do a web search. Check out the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website and your state to find licensed therapists who are trained and experienced in working with couples and families.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Reconcilation After An Emotional Affair?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/16/can-there-be-reconcilation-after-an-emotional-affair/