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Q. I had a one-night stand years ago, and my husband still brings up the fling every time we fight. Yes, I was wrong, but how long do I have to pay?
Susan Healy Demosthenous, C.S.W., an individual and family therapist in Merrick, New York, answers:
A. A partner's infidelity is a piercing wound that can take a very long time to heal. For some wronged people, their faith and confidence in themselves is forever damaged. You, as the betrayer, have to acknowledge that and examine your own behavior. Could you unwittingly be sparking your husband's mistrust? Are you consistently considerate, attentive, and loving toward him? Do you flirt with other men, no matter how innocently? Do you come home when you say you will? You need to be trustworthy and extra sensitive to his feelings -- not just once, but a thousand times -- so that he knows he comes first in your life. Trust must be earned over time.
At the same time, your husband must acknowledge that his inability to move on is poisoning your relationship. Yes, his anger is justified, but continuing to harbor his hurt feelings -- as well as using his anger as a weapon against you -- aren't serving his best interests. To preserve the marriage, he must find a way to rebuild his trust and let go of his anger. If he can't, a professional counselor can help.