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by Abigail Van Buren

Confession to Decades-Old Infidelity Devastates Wife

DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, my husband of 50 years confessed that 46 years ago, shortly after our son was born, he had a one-night stand with a total stranger he gave a ride to. She offered sex to him, and they went to a hotel for the brief encounter. He said he had totally forgotten about it until recently. He said he was very upset when he remembered, to the point that he felt sick.

He decided to tell me because he didn't want any secrets between us, and he asked me to forgive him. I forgave him, but I have been devastated ever since. He was a virgin when we married, and he has been unfaithful only that one time.

Abby, I cannot get over the fact that he did this to me. Not a single day goes by without the pain and the images of him being unfaithful in a marriage that I considered to be nearly perfect until then, take hold of me and make me very sad. I don't cry as much anymore, but the intensity of the pain hasn't subsided.

I haven't talked to anyone else about this. My husband loves me and has been very supportive, but it hasn't been enough to heal this pain. Your words of wisdom will be appreciated. -- WOUNDED IN FLORIDA

DEAR WOUNDED: So your husband chose to ease his guilty conscience about this one-time infidelity 46 years ago and lay it on you. It would have been kinder had he "confessed" to his spiritual adviser.

Focus on the fact that what happened (once) four years into your marriage is less relevant than the quality of the relationship you have shared during the ensuing nearly half-century. Because it has been two years since your husband told you and you are still in emotional pain, consider enlisting the help of a licensed marriage and family therapist. Talking it out may help these feelings to dissipate so you will no longer be haunted by the images in your head. Please do not wait to do this. Your physician is the first person to ask for a referral.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce