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by Abigail Van Buren

Husband Struggles to Forgive After His Wife's Second Affair

DEAR ABBY: Several months ago, I discovered my wife was having an affair with one of our closest single friends from church. Their relationship had been going on for almost a year. This was her second affair in our 12-year marriage, and I'm about ready to cut my losses and file for divorce.

My wife has expressed great remorse for her mistake and claims that she will do "anything" to save our marriage. I am still very much in love with her -- and I have the happiness of our young son to consider. My wife and I are in counseling, but my feelings of betrayal and anger are so great that I don't know if I can trust her -- or any woman -- ever again. I feel as though I've not only been betrayed by my wife, but also by my "friend," my church -- even by God.

Is it possible for a spouse who has a history of extramarital affairs to change? And if change is possible, how do I begin to trust again when the person I loved and cared for most in the world is the one responsible for my pain and misery? I would be grateful for any insight you can offer, Abby. -- SHATTERED IN BLUEGRASS COUNTRY

DEAR SHATTERED: Yes, it is possible for a spouse who has a history of extramarital affairs to change. But in order to do so, the person must be willing to confront the reasons for the cheating. Rebuilding trust, however, can take years, because even with the most forgiving spouse, the memory of the transgression is always lurking in the background.

Now I'll paraphrase a question I usually ask my female readers: Are you better off with or without her? Only you can answer that.