DEAR ABBY: This letter is in response to the woman whose husband had recently confessed to an affair. She signed herself, "I Love Him With All My Heart." She said she didn't know of any marriages that had survived an affair -- and I want to assure her that there are many that have.
My husband and I had been married only four months when he got re-involved with a woman he had an affair with during his first marriage. When my husband broke it off, she got so upset she told her husband, and it was mayhem after that!
I told my husband that the affair had not changed my love for him, but it HAD deeply wounded me and affected my trust in him. I was willing to stay and work it out only if he was willing to go to counseling with me and work to earn my trust. He was more than willing, and we found a wonderful counselor who helped us achieve our goal -- to heal and strengthen our relationship.
"I Love Him" expressed concern that her husband would grow tired of her pain. She's correct in that she does need someone else to confide in. Her pain is a very heavy load for her husband to carry alone, and the pitfall in confiding in friends is that they are usually not as objective as a counselor would be.
If I may offer a bit of advice, as part of a couple who has successfully navigated this trauma: Find a good counselor with whom you both feel comfortable, be honest with the counselor and each other, and be patient with yourself and your husband.
Also, if you have children, don't take for granted that you can shield them from your pain and stress. Make sure that they, too, have a counselor they can talk to. -- STRONGER BECAUSE OF IT IN ATLANTA
DEAR STRONGER: That's excellent advice from someone who's walked a mile in her moccasins. Your maturity and perseverance in your marriage are to be admired. And so is your generosity in speaking out about such a personal matter.
DEAR ABBY: I am so happy that I asked you to help me find my deceased wife's relatives so that I could give them her family album. Because of your column, I was able to locate a man named Hemenover who was raised together with my wife by Mrs. A. Hemenover of 1300 San Pablo Ave. in Oakland. So I have dispatched the album to him. He is 80 years old. I hope he can identify some of the people in the pictures. I also came up with two great-grandchildren, and some valuable information about my wife's background, too. (She had told me almost nothing about her family.)
Abby, the C.I.A. should put you under contract!
The response of your readers was swift, gracious and sincere. From coast to coast, they sent information and offered their help and encouragement.
I have talked to several of the Hemenovers. Abby, you have fired up a great new interest in their family background -- an amazing feat, and all in less than one month!
An observation: When my daughter suggested I contact you, she said, "Some people read sports, editorials, finance and funnies, but EVERYBODY reads Dear Abby." She was correct. So thank you very much for being there and bringing my search to a successful conclusion. -- GAYEL CHEW, MEDFORD, ORE.
DEAR MR. CHEW: I have often said that my readers are the most generous and caring people in the world -- and your letter illustrates that I wasn't exaggerating. I'm pleased that your problem was so quickly and happily resolved. Thank you for a dandy day-brightener.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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