At What Price?
I'll try to be brief. A marriage of 24 years, he finds a younger woman, leaves me seven months ago, and finds the grass isn't as green as he thought.
Recently he contacted me. I still love him. He still loves me! How do we get back on track? He is a wonderful man, but somewhere he got lost. I'm willing to try, though he hasn't asked to come home yet. I know forgiving him isn't a problem. It's him forgiving himself.
I want things right again. With work it could be better than ever. Just where do we start?
Terri, you are forgiving him while he continues to commit the act he is being forgiven for. Hmm…let's think about that. Doesn't he need to stop first?
It is a truism among experts in risk management that focusing on a single outcome leads to overestimating the likelihood it will occur. You are projecting into the world what is within you, and projection is one of the hardest things for people to stop doing.
You are in want mode. But what he did is not a lark. He turned your life upside down. If he were back in your house, a thousand thoughts will rear their heads.
When he complains to you about her, you'll wonder how much he complained to her about you. Your mind will go to, is this his first affair, or the first one I found out about?
His family knows, your family knows, all your friends know. Will the people around you try to pretend this didn't happen? Will you try to avoid friends who know too much? At the very least this will create spinach-in-the-teeth moments.
For the cheater it sets up the dynamic of being the lesser party. She's the saint and I am the sinner. The sinner quickly gets tired of playing the sinner role, and they seek to even the scales, even though they were in the wrong.
If the victim of cheating says, "I can't get over this," the unfaithful party says, "I don't want to talk about this anymore. It's in the past." But it's not over for you. You are going to be dealing with an overflow of emotions if he comes back.
That's what's missing from your letter. Where is your anger? He left you. He left your marriage. Where is the revulsion? He's talking to you while still with her. Those emotions are in your head and in your gut, but you are not letting them out. Technically, he is cheating on you with her and on her with you.
Then there's the darker future. His first concern is not you but himself. You think it's a choice between his mistress and his wife. But there is a third option. He chooses neither of you. Is he just using his conversation with you to get a better deal in a divorce?
Let us suggest a different path.
Ask, what would your life be like without him? Start planning and thinking about that. He thought his life would be better off without you, but without him, especially without him coming back after betrayal, what could your life be?
It is only prudent to consider all possible outcomes. Experts in risk management warn that focusing on a single outcome leads a person to overestimate the likelihood it will occur.
Wayne & Tamara