I Want More From This Marriage

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I’ve been married for 34 years and had an affair six years ago with my first love. It lasted two years. My spouse and I have been separated since then.

So much is written about men cheating, but I don’t find much to guide me through the guilt and shame as a woman. I know it might not make sense, but I do love my husband. Let me rephrase that – I love who my husband used to be. After he hit 50, years ago, it felt like all he wanted to do was go to work or watch TV and go to sleep. I’m the woman, and I’m the one begging for sex, which we both used to enjoy immensely. I was the only one planning date nights. I get that we’re getting older, but we’re not dead yet.

That’s the biggest reason I believe I had the affair. I want fun and excitement in my life. I’m not content to just get old and die. As long as we were in the same house, he was content and thought that was spending time together. We’ve gone back and forth trying to work things out, but he just can’t forgive me. Says he has then gets angry and throws the past in my face. I’ve tried to explain, but he sees it as me making excuses. I can’t win.

Our adult children can’t forgive me for breaking up our “perfect” family. We have a long history and I can’t see my life without him in it. He says he feels the same way, until his head starts swimming in the past. How, or can we, get past this? Yes we’ve tried counseling, both separately and together. We’ve both been celibate for 10 months. I thought if I cut off the good stuff, he might see things differently. But really, he hasn’t done much to be more like he used to be. It’s seems like he’s just gotten comfortable doing nothing. Do I just deal with it and reconcile, or do I just keep waiting and hoping he’s missed me enough to make an honest effort? Thanks. Horrible mistake I made.

– Mistakes


You weren’t happy in the marriage before the affair. You’re still unhappy, now that the affair is over. You need more than forgiveness to get your relationship to a good place.

It might be time to let go. You can’t imagine not having him in your life, but can you consider a path where the two of you care for each other as ex-spouses? You share children and many memories. Maybe you can become something new – with space that allows both of you to live the lives you like.

You want fun and excitement. I’m not sure your husband seeks the same version of happiness.

Ask him to go back to counseling, even for a one-time visit with your former therapist, to talk about what a new beginning – as former partners – might look like. What would you miss? How could you both benefit? You’ve tried to withhold sex as some kind of lesson, but all you’ve learned is that he can take the status quo. It’s the kind of life he liked before the affair.

This kind of almost marriage isn’t good for either of you long-term. You’re miserable – and that only adds to the resentment.

Apologize to your adult children for the deceit, and tell them you love them. Let them know that the state of your marriage doesn’t change how you feel about them. They’re grownups, but it sounds like they still need to hear that kind of thing.

Then go back to therapy for a real plan. Talk about your dream life – how you’d like to spend your days as you get older. Include travel, sex, romance, and all kinds of experiences. Ask your husband if your aspirations match his at all. Even if he can forgive what happened in the past, it might be best to move on.

– Meredith

Readers? What happens to this marriage if there’s no work being done? Should the LW accept what she has? Any advice for dealing with guilt and shame after an affair?

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