I have been married for 30 years. I just turned sixty and my wife is fifty years old. Our marriage has had its ups and downs like most marriages, but I thought ours was not bad as we seemed quite happy. You can imagine my shock when I recently learnt that my wife had an affair with another man about ten years ago.
Dorothy, I feel betrayed at the revelation of this affair. I am emotionally devastated. I don’t know how to deal with this matter. We have three lovely children, the youngest of which is now twenty-one. Honestly, I am contemplating divorce as I am not able to bring myself to handle this betrayal. Please advise.
Betrayal through disloyalty from a partner evokes strong negative emotions deep in our innermost being. When we are betrayed our thoughts usually go to how to get back at the person who hurt us—as deeply and as excruciatingly as they have hurt us. But you should try to rise above the situation and forgive your wife. When we are faced with infidelity, our trust in others erodes if we don’t take the necessary steps to process the reality of the betrayal and work through its painful impressions.
Forgiveness should not be half-hearted as if you are bestowing a favour on the offending party. You should resist the temptation to dwell obsessively on how you were wronged and wallowing in self-righteous pain. You can choose to act in ways that make you stuck reliving this bad experience for the rest of your life or put it behind you for good. You decide your path. Forgive. Forgiving does not mean accepting the wrong behaviour of others, it means letting go of the pain, bitterness and hurt buried within. Forgiveness frees you from the burden of wallowing in self-pity because as long as you harbour hatred or anger against your wife, you cannot be free to enjoy your life.
Examine in depth where you are hurting. Why you are feeling so let down and wounded? Why you think you cannot forgive the hurt, let go and move on? Ask yourself: what am I gaining by harbouring all these feelings and emotions? Where are all these emotions and feelings leading me to? Will it end in my being miserable and unhappy? Will it lead to my mental and emotional well-being or the opposite? Usually what lies ahead if a person does not take steps to heal is a life of misery and emotional distress.
You may seek professional counselling to help you deal with the situation or confide in a person who has experienced the same betrayal and has overcome his or her own betrayal positively.
You have to take the steps to heal from this betrayal otherwise your life will never be the same. As terrible as betrayal is, forgiveness is the only balm that when applied can soothe the pain, heal the wound and restore the soul, leaving you free to live your life without dwelling on the past, what was or what might have been.
I wish you the very best.