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Q: My husband and I have been married for 14 years and we have a 6-year-old daughter. A few months ago, he told me he was leaving for a while. When I asked why, he said it was because we were both unhappy. Two days later, I discovered that he is having an affair a woman he met outside his office building during a smoking break. She's also married. I'm so angry and hurt. I want a divorce, but I also want this woman to pay for destroying my family. When we were married, all my husband did on weekends was sit around with his brother and drink beer. Now, apparently, he has time for romantic getaways. I love my husband very much and I can't stand the fact this woman has the relationship with him that I've always wanted.
Bonnie Eaker-Weil, Ph.D., author of Make Up, Don't Break Up (Adams Publishing), and Adultery: The Forgiveable Sin (Hastings House) answers:
A: The shock and pain that you feel is understandable. And so is your desire to "get back" at this woman. But don't rush toward divorce -- the best way to get back at her is to be happy and put your marriage back together. Believe it or not, there is still time to do that. Clearly, your husband has been as lonely as you've been and he's either been unaware, or unable to communicate his emptiness and despair to you. It's time to turn toward, not away from each other -- if only for the sake of your daughter.
An affair is always a wake up call, and a cry for help. Your husband may have felt betrayed by you in some way at home and you both need to figure out why. In my experience, when someone goes "away" for a while, they have time to think and assess what they're doing and what they stand to lose. My best advice: Fight for him and your marriage. Make an appointment with a therapist and ask him to come home and work on the relationship with you instead of running away. Most marriages can survive and even prosper after an affair as long as both partners are willing to work at repairing the relationship. However, in the end, if the marriage was not meant to be, you will at least know that you did your best. Plus, you'll have the skills to manage on your own and to find a new partner who will give you what you deserve.