Wife Wants Out

Q: My wife had an affair a year ago. I am willing to forgive her for the sake of our two daughters, and because I really love her, too. But she is the one that keeps saying she doesn't love me and she wants a divorce. It is very hard to believe, because she was a perfect mother and wife for many years. Do you think I should keep trying? -- Marty, 41

Dr. Susan: When you thought she was being the perfect wife and mother, perhaps she was. Or it's possible that her dissatisfactions built up slowly and she didn't communicate them. Instead she had an affair (which, by the way, people have even when they were happy before). It's possible that she's having trouble getting those old contented feelings back. When she says she doesn't love you, she may mean that she doesn't feel the old excitement she once felt for you (and that she found for a while in her affair, only because it was new and forbidden). She needs to be encouraged to open up further, to let you know what's really going on for her, or there's no way you're going to salvage this marriage. Perhaps a couple of sessions with a good therapist would make it possible for her to be more honest. If she won't agree to keep trying, and to try some new things (therapy, genuine honesty, changing your lives in some way that provides a fresh injection of energy), then you may have to give up. That would be a shame all around, so don't stop trying too soon. Read all you can about affair recovery (my own book Loving in Flow may be helpful, as are numerous others you can find on the Internet or bookstores).

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