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by Abigail Van Buren

Pain of Husband's Affair Still Lingers After It Ends

DEAR ABBY: I've been married six years, and just learned that my husband recently had an affair. The night he confessed, he called the other woman, allowing me to listen to their conversation, and told her it was over between them. She asked him to call again, but he said no, and I believe that was the end of it.

My problem is: How do I get over this? I asked him why he had the affair, and he insists that it was his fault; that I wasn't the problem. But I believe problems in a marriage are a two-way street. He says we just weren't talking enough and he thought I didn't love him anymore. I tell him every day, and always have, that I love him, so I think there's more.

He lets me wake him up at any time to cry, and he'll talk to me for hours. But I'm afraid he'll grow tired of my pain. I have a friend who helps me talk this out, but it's my husband I need to cry on and be held by. I don't want him to keep apologizing -- he's done that -- I just want comfort.

Do you think I'll drive him away again? Can a marriage survive an affair? I don't know any that have. -- I LOVE HIM WITH ALL MY HEART

DEAR LOVE HIM: Your husband said you did not drive him away; he drifted away on his own. Also, he is willing to hold you and let you cry, and talk to you for hours in the middle of the night. He sounds like a man who wants his wife and marriage back. Remind yourself of this when doubts arise. It will take time and effort from both of you. You must let go of the past, and he must earn your trust. Many marriages survive an affair.

I recently printed a letter from "Dave in Montana," who deeply regretted his recent affair with his much-younger secretary. It may be reassuring to read one of the responses to his letter:

DEAR ABBY: I just read the letter from "Dave in Montana," the married lover.

I went through three years of pain while my husband of 25 years carried on an affair. Finally he made the decision -- he wanted a divorce.

We were in the process of informing friends and family of our divorce when my husband did an about-face, claiming he must have been crazy and that he did not want a divorce after all!

I told him that in order to repair the devastation he had created, he would have to go to counseling, and if he still wanted to save our marriage and be a faithful husband, I too would seek counseling and decide if I felt the same way.

Well, it worked! We eventually had joint counseling and developed a closer, more loving relationship than we had before.

In the aftermath, he has suffered terribly from his guilt, and has had to deal with my pain and anger. I wasn't sure I could forgive him, but we both hung onto our commitment. The process was excruciatingly difficult, but it has paid untold dividends.

We have now been married 35 years and look forward to enjoying and loving one another for many, many more. -- MR. & MRS. COMMITTED

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