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Q: Hi Meredith,
My wife and I have been married over four years. We went through a rough patch after our second child was born. We had no time for ourselves or each other and we were both very stressed out. We weren't communicating with each other at all and grew apart. She started cheating with someone from work and started talking to me about separation and divorce before she told me about him. We lived together for about two months after her telling me about him, and for the most part things were good. We got along well and had great conversations. I didn't want to lose her or the family so I made the effort to treat her as well as I could.
I joined a dating site because I thought it was only a matter of time before she actually filed for divorce. I started talking to other girls just to try and meet other people and start the next chapter of my life. My wife and I got into an argument one night and we decided to live apart for a while so I moved in with my parents for a couple weeks. While back at my parents' house, I decided to meet one of the girls I was talking to and I ended up sleeping with her. The next week is when I was planning on moving back to my house, and the other girl knew this and understood. I told my wife what happened and she finally admitted to me that she had slept with the guy she was seeing. (She never admitted it before that.) The other guy broke it off with my wife while I was gone from the house.
I mentioned to the other girl that my wife had dated girls in the past. The day I moved back to my house, that night my wife and I went to the other girl's house and we spent the night together. It was great. We were on a "high" from that experience for about a week and things were great. A few weeks later we're sort of back to normal. Full time jobs, two kids, stress, not much time for each other. We're sort of falling into the same old rut.
It's also hard for me to get out of my head what she did. I know I cheated too, but I never would have joined the dating site if she wasn't planning on divorcing me. It's not so much what she did with him, it's the fact that I asked her a million times if they slept together and every time she said no. It'll be really hard for me to ever trust her again. She says she's stopped talking to him, but how I do I know for sure? Plus I'll always feel like she never really chose me -- he broke up with her and she came running back to me. It's not like she ended it with him to be with me. And the girl I was seeing for that short time was really great and we had a great connection. How do I know that my wife won't do this again and I'll be missing a great opportunity with this other girl? I know it's a risk I have to take and I'm willing to take it.
I'd love to hear some advice from anyone out there who has gone through a similar situation. About forgiving someone who has cheated and lied about it. About trying to move on and forget about what happened. (About trying to keep that spark in the relationship without resorting to threesomes.) We are planning on going to counseling soon which should help.
– trying to start over in the suburbs
A: Counseling will help. Time will help. There's no way to guarantee that she won't do this again -- but if you guys can learn to be happier in the relationship on a day-to-day basis, you'll both have less reason to stray.
My advice is to spend your therapy time talking about how to cope with routine. If the rut is what caused the bad behavior, how do you avoid it? Get graphic about what makes you happy -- and about what aspects of the routine make you miserable.
As you discuss the rut and what happens next, remember that you and your wife share these questions and insecurities. You're worried that she might go back to the guy -- or that she only returned to you because he broke it off -- but she has to worry about why you went online so quickly, and whether you prefer this other woman. You're both taking a leap of faith to try this again. If you're choosing her despite all that's happened, why shouldn't she choose you?
Get to the counselor. And keep us posted.
Readers? How can he trust her again? Should they be together? How can they make the most of therapy? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.