QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: I’ll try to keep this kinda short, because I know I could go on and on. I’ve been with my husband for thirteen years and married to him for seven. A few months ago, I found out he cheated on me with a co-worker. She is half his age. At first he said it was a one-night stand and broke it off, but then he started seeing her again. I told him I was done and to enjoy his life with this girl once she gets divorced (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that part. She also has a baby). This girl is the same age as his own daughter, who he didn’t raise. He gave both of his daughters up to their mother and step-father, who adopted them, but that’s a different story. We are together right now, even though I moved back to our house we lived in before his job moved us an hour and a half away. He says he will move down here with me and drive a hundred miles each way until he finds a different job. She, by the way, still works there. I said I would give our marriage one last try. I’m not sure if I took him back because there’s still some love left or I feel sorry for him. I just know this is the last chance we have to save anything. I think I’m being a fool. I don’t think I know the difference between love and hate anymore. I’m confused on what to do.
As I did last week, I’ll leave this open to the advice of others before weighing in here myself… Before I even read your question, just at seeing the subject of your email, my answer is yes. I’m not going to get all religious on you, but your question is about forgiveness, and it’s only once we’ve forgiven someone that we’re able to put it behind us, and live a lighter, happier, and quite frankly healthier life.
Grudges don’t help anything unless you’re on "The Hate Diet". But you can forgive, let go, and say goodbye. And it sounds like that is what you want to do, say goodbye. But a part of you, a frightened part, wants to be told, "No, work it out. Forgive him." Because sometimes, status quo seems easier, less scary, than the unknown. Even when status quo is suck and a half. Because at least you know what that’s like.
And I think that you know this. "I think I’m being a fool," is what your intellect tells you, what your get tells you, but your fear says, "Stay, feel sorry for him, give it one last shot." Because you’re afraid to change things and face the unknown. And I can tell you, without doubt, change is scary, but it’s when we do the most growing in our lives, and I hope a time will come for you when you look back on this moment in your life and think, "Thank God I loved her enough to leave." Because that’s who you need to protect now, her, the girl you were before you met him, the girl who had dreams of who she’d be when she grew up, the girl who could imagine anything and go for it. You need to honor and respect her.
I strongly suggest you see a trained professional in your area, someone who can walk you through the different options, the patterns of behavior, the roles you’ve both taken in the marriage, and what your next steps should be. My heart goes out to you and your family. Genuinely.
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