I’m 48 and my ex-wife is 44. We divorced 5 years ago because I had 2 affairs. I have since been faithful and committed to her. We have two children who are now 13 and 11. We have shared parenting also. We built and moved into our log home in 2001. The issue is that I still love her and want to be married. We still go to church together every Sunday and sit in the same pew. She asks me to help her with her van, loans, watching the kids, pretty much anything she needs. I have been there for her always.
I recently found out that she has been seeing someone on and off for over a year. He is 27. I think this is just a phase she is going through to help her feel attractive; at least that’s how I justify it. It bothers me, but not to the extent that I want to give up. How can I help her to see that family is everything? She has money issues and has been evicted twice from apartments. I am financially stable. Isn’t it just that simple that we sit on the front porch and watch the sun set? Go on vacations? Just enjoy life together? She may be afraid that I will wonder again, but I assure you, I won’t.
A: You can hardly blame your wife for being very cautious. You betrayed her not once, but twice! How is she to really, really know that you won’t do it again? She is happy to have your help with the practical issues of life but it sounds like she hasn’t been able to bring herself to trust you with her heart. She’s therefore going out with another, and much younger, man to meet her needs for intimacy and devotion. She doesn’t believe you can do that. On the other hand, the other guy can’t possibly understand her or partner her with the children the way you can.
You don’t have to convince me of your intention to be faithful. You have to convince her. All you can do is continue what you’re doing. Be there for her. Apologize profusely and ask her what she needs you to do to have confidence in you. Then do it and give it time. If she’s willing, some sessions with a couples counselor might also help the two of you reconcile.
In the meantime, it’s wonderful that you can be involved with the children and enjoy each other as only good friends with a long history can. Only time will tell if she can forgive you enough to be your partner in every way again.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Apr 2013
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Divorced Against My Will. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/04/05/divorced-against-my-will/