DEAR HARRIETTE: I could really use help from you and your readers. I need to know if any of your readers have had a spouse cheat on them. Did they stay together, or did they file for divorce? What was the effect on their children?
My husband had a lengthy affair with a woman who was 10 years his senior. We spent 14 months in counseling to try and work things out. I think I have an understanding of why the affair happened in the first place. But I cannot get past all of the hurt, the lies, the mistrust and the failure to honor our marital vows.
I recently moved out of his house so I could get a better grip on getting over the affair. This really hurts, and I need some advice. -- Heartbroken, Philadelphia
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: I'm so sorry this happened to you. Your feelings of devastation ring through your words. It sounds as if you did the right things, from getting counseling to moving out after you felt you weren't healing.
Some couples are able to weather an affair and reclaim their love on the other side. To do so, both have to want the relationship and be willing to talk out any issues that come up as they finally forgive each other for everything that led up to the break in the marriage vows. Is this an easy process? No.
Because you have children, it's essential that you remain respectful of each other and connected to your children, regardless of what happens between the two of you. Resist the temptation to speak poorly about each other, no matter what happens.
You should continue to get counseling support for your personal healing. Be sure to give your children extra attention, because they are living through this hell, too.
I invite readers to share their insights.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I love to read your column in the Examiner. You have such good advice!
Every year, I get presents for my long-lost relatives in Connecticut, and they send me broken, used stuff or nothing at all, and no thank you.
I know God grades on what you give, not what you get. That's what I'm REALLY worried about! Still, this year I'm feeling like I'm boiling over about it. They're very well off, and I just have this cottage industry transcribing legal documents. It feels like they don't even want to be related to me. Do I get them stuff anyway? -- Feeling Dissed, Washington, D.C.
DEAR FEELING DISSED: You are correct that you should not give to receive. At the same time, if you get no joy from giving to these people, stop giving to them. Clearly, they don't value gifts in the same way that you do.
Instead of sending them something that you have bought, consider sending a lovely holiday card with a personalized message. This connects you in a loving and meaningful way, with no need for a reply.