How can we get over a betrayal?

“Still Angry,” in Corte Madera, wrote me to say that about a year ago her husband had an emotional affair with a friend and they ended up having a one night stand. “Still Angry” didn’t think her husband and her were having a tough time in their marriage at the time when that happened. According to “Still Angry”, her husband did seem to be spending a lot of time at work, more than he needed to be. He acted normal. He was loving and nice towards her. They were even making love. She thinks he was seduced because the friend was always all over him. She’s confused because she thinks he doesn’t truly love her, even though he asked for her forgiveness and he’s trying what he can to make it up to her. She has tried to forgive him, but her emotions are still raw and she doesn’t seem to be able to get over it. She doesn’t want to characterize him as a bad guy, but it’s hard to forget what he did. She wants to know “how do I get over such a betrayal?”

“Still Angry,” you just learned that he can act two faced. It’s different when you have been a complaining, whining,  un-sexy wife when he was hungry, so he decided to eat a meal elsewhere. There is a difference between that and a guy who can play games on both sides of the court. Seduced? I don’t think so. Unlike popular belief, men are not animals that can’t control their impulses. A man who loves his wife and is faithful cannot be seduced. Does he love you? I can’t answer that question; but I would say that what he did was a very unloving act.

I don’t know if you were being a bad wife and he was hungry or he just has a personality that can play on both sides of the court. In the latter case, I can truly understand why you would feel the way you feel because you can’t trust him. If there was no reason for his betrayal, (because- according to you – you were a terrific wife and as far as you knew, he was happy, never complained, was never forlorn and didn’t feel neglected) he’s just not a nice guy.

“I am all confused … “ How can you be confused? It’s either one or the other. He was either a hungry and neglected husband or he was a bad guy. Which is it? “I don’t want to characterize him as a bad guy because I love him…..” I understand that perfectly because there are some women who love a guy no matter what. Their guy can be in prison for murdering people, can beat them up, and can molest children …. and the women still want to be tied up to them. I am not surprised, “I love him no matter what he’s done,” is kind of sickening, but it is what it is.

“Still Angry” mentioned forgiveness. We cannot forgive if there is no real remorse, if there is no taking responsibility, or not doing whatever it takes to make it right. Now, according to “Still Angry”, he apologized. He bent backwards to make it right. And if that’s the truth, then to still be angry about it is out of the question.  She’s simply being hostile and holding it over his head. It’s not fair, especially since she decided to stay. For your own peace of mind “Still Angry”, you have to let it go because you did accept his apologies.

The fact that you’re still angry is very telling. You have not accepted his apology; and until you do, you will keep these feelings of anger going because it gives you a sense of security, power and safety. Reminding him of his misdeeds is a huge power trip. But if you do accept his apologies and let the anger go, you will have to trust him again even though it’s much easier to hold on to the anger. Often people in your situation say “I’m trying to let go and it’s hard.” If you really want to let go, you just do it. You make the decision and follow through. It is that simple.

I understand, though, why you’re holding on to your anger. The last thing anyone of us wants is for our lives to be turned upside down. That’s why denial is so important. The, “but I love him,” becomes a refuge. You can’t let go of your anger because your instinct not to trust him is stronger than your desire to have everything be the way it used to be. How do you get over a betrayal? You may never get over it (I wouldn’t, so staying for me would not be an option) but if you decide to stay you will have to let this one go. In the end, you are going to have to make a decision of either staying or leaving. Hold this one over his head long enough, and let’s see how long he’ll stick around. Not everyone is fond of being beaten up constantly.

Infidelity rises when she makes more money than he does.

*Mark has been trying to get his entrepreneurial business off the ground for the past six years while his wife is the bread winner and spends a lot of time at work. They have been together for 8 years; but three weeks ago he found out that his wife was having an affair with her boss. Even though he felt incredibly hurt by her betrayal, he decided not to leave and give the marriage another try. However, he is turned off by her sexually. Every time he looks at her when he wants to be with her, the image of her and her boss comes to his mind and he can’t be turned on. He wants to know why she did this to him and what to do to get passed that.

Mark, I don’t know your wife and I can only speculate why she did it. One thing that I did learn when I used to be in the health industry was that infidelity happens more frequently when the woman makes more money or when the woman is the bread winner. Sometimes after the veil of love is removed and real life intrudes, it’s tougher for the woman to see her man as a “MAN” because she is the boss.  She doesn’t see her man in a good light. She doesn’t see him as the stronger one; the hunter; the protector. But to know that for sure, you have to not be afraid and have a conversation with her. You need to face whatever the answer is.

According to your email, you decided to stay. I am sorry Mark, but I don’t have a brilliant answer for you. The fact that you’re feeling crappy and can’t forget what happened is perfectly normal. You’re a human being, what you’re feeling is a normal and natural response, however, since you decided to stay, you’ll just have to endure those feelings until you get past it. It’s going to take some time and as the time passes, you won’t feel as hurt but you will never forget it. Remember not to keep reminding her of her indiscretion. It’s not fair because, after all, you decided to stay. We all have choices in life and you made yours.

After you have a frank conversation with her, and you find out exactly why she cheated, it may be a little easier to get past the betrayal, or it may not. Perhaps you will make another choice about your marriage entirely. Good luck.

*Names have been changed.

Do people change?

Corrine from Hayward told me she has been dating her boyfriend for a year. He was married for 24 years to his ex-wife, who he often cheated on throughout his marriage. Her parents and siblings have told her that people around town told them that her boyfriend is famous for being a stalker and a peeping Tom. She thinks that he’s a good man, that if he did what he did, it must be because he was very unhappy in his marriage and was looking for something that he was lacking in his marriage. She believes people can change. What do I think?

I don’t even know where to start. I’m frightened for this gullible woman who, at the tender age of 46, should know better. She has been warned by the most important people in her life. I believe when more than one person starts saying the same things about another person, we really need to listen. I understand that there are women who, when they want a man, will let nothing come between what they want.

Corrine, listen to your parents. He was unhappy and you think he found what he wanted in you? It’s like murderers in prison who find women who know what they’ve done but marry them anyway. The women think the murderers “just weren’t happy” before, but now “they find happiness in me” and will change. Really?

Corrine, you think you’re special enough that he won’t do any of his previous behaviors again? I am sure his ex-wife thought she was special too, and really hung on for a long time. I guess her love, caring and attention weren’t enough to make him stop his inappropriate behavior ways.

You have been warned. You can choose to listen to your parents and siblings and leave this poor excuse of a human being, OR you can stay and have the fantasy that, with you, he’ll be different. I would pick the former. However, I’m just a stranger that you don’t know but asked for an opinion from anyway. I wish you well.

Cheating partners, fiancées, spouses …

John Louis was betrayed by his fiancée and now he thinks every women is a “woman of the night” kind of girl – he used a more colorful word. In general people who are in a committed relationship (engaged or married), don’t have one night stands, affairs or cheat in any way if they feel loved, wanted, important, safe, sexually satisfied and appreciated. When they are getting all those things and they still fool around, have affairs, then it’s a character flaw and a bad one. Bad character can’t be fixed.

In relationships when one or the other has not been a good boyfriend/spouse, then people often find themselves vulnerable to where they are getting their emotional needs met elsewhere. You need to ask yourself “have I been a good boyfriend? Could I have been better?”

Thinking about who she did with, what they did, where, etc …. it’s a futile exercise. The better way to think is “if I want to keep this woman, I need to give her what she needs. She may have done the wrong thing but I pushed her”. Have an honest talk with her and ask her questions about you two (not the fella she did with), find out where things went wrong that she needed to step outside of your relationship in order to get what she was looking for. Once that is done, re-evaluate your relationship and decide if she has bad character or if what she did was a onetime thing.

If it was a fluke, a onetime event, then if you decide to stay with her, remember that you will never forget it, but you cannot bring it up ever, in order to use it as a club every time you may get annoyed with her over something totally unrelated to it. Now if you decide that she has bad character, then leave because it is not going to change, she will do it again. Good luck!