DEAR HARRIETTE: I am so upset right now. I just found out that my husband of five years has cheated on me. I suspected it for a while, so I did what I knew could get me in trouble: I read his text messages when he put his phone down. I saw a long text trail between him and another woman that included intimate talk of times they had been together. I am devastated. And I feel so stupid. I didn't mean to pry into his phone, but when I have asked him what's going on, he has always dodged my questions. Now that I know, what should I do? I don't want to leave him, but I don't want to share him either. -- Unfaithful, Shreveport, Louisiana
DEAR UNFAITHFUL: I am so sorry that your marriage has taken a bad turn. In order to have a chance at restoring trust, you have to talk to your husband. First, decide what you want. Do you want to fight for your marriage? Do you believe that there is hope for the two of you? If so, proceed with that top of mind. Rather than confronting him through anger or tears, be as calm as possible when you approach him. Tell him that you know that he has cheated on you and your heart is broken.
Make your plea for your marriage. Ask him if he is willing to walk away from the other woman and work with you to strengthen your bond. Ask him to go to therapy with you so that you have a mediator to help you walk through your marriage and identify what may have led to your husband straying as well as what you two can do to reduce and potentially eliminate the temptation for him to stray again.
You do not need him to admit his indiscretion. You know it already. If he continues to lie and say that he has done nothing wrong, continue to tell him that you know he has and that rather than get into the details of what he did, you want to build a future with him. Be sure to listen to his reaction. You cannot do this alone.