"I Can't Get Over His Two-Year Affair"

Greg and Diane are still reeling from the damage of Greg's long-term infidelity. Can they move on from the past? Can this marriage be saved?
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Her Turn

Too Good to be True

"My son just announced that he's getting married. But I can't share the joy of this moment with my husband, Greg," said Diane, 39, who runs a home-based stationery business. "We go through the motions of being this happy couple, but our marriage hasn't felt loving or intimate since his affair five years ago -- or maybe for years before that."

"Greg was literally the boy next door. I'd had a crush on him since I was 13. He didn't pay any attention to me, though, until I was about 16, when he came home from college one weekend. We started dating and quickly fell in love.

"Actually, love was something of a foreign notion to me back then because I came from such a troubled home. My mother was an alcoholic and was abusive to my father. They divorced when I was 12; my younger brothers and I lived with my mother. Some days, after long nights out drinking, she wouldn't get out of bed. I remember being very worried that I'd have to take care of my brothers.

"Because I grew up in such a dysfunctional family, my dream was simple: I wanted to get married, have children, and be happy. Even though I took classes at the local community college, I never liked school much. So when Greg asked me to marry him after his college graduation, I was more than happy to quit school and focus on him. He had landed a good entry-level job at an insurance company. We rented an apartment in our old neighborhood and, soon after our first anniversary, our son Scott was born. Peter came along 14 months later. Life was good: Greg enjoyed his work and was getting regular promotions; I had started my stationery business and was loving it. By the time Greg walked in the door each night, I'd have dinner on the table. We were happy, and to me it felt too good to be true. Maybe it was.

Parenting Disagreements

"Looking back, I think we started to have our first real fights about seven or eight years ago, when our son Peter was in junior high. Peter fell in with a bad crowd and started getting in trouble: skipping school, drinking, and smoking pot. Once we caught him sneaking out the bedroom window when we thought he was asleep.

"Peter's rebelliousness pushed all of our buttons. I'm fairly strict, but Greg is like a Marine drill sergeant. We argued constantly about how to set limits and mete out punishment. For instance, when I found pot in Peter's room, I confronted him. Peter swore it was the first time he'd ever used drugs and that he'd stop. I felt I had to give him the benefit of the doubt, but Greg thought I was completely mishandling him. 'You're afraid of your own child,' he used to tell me. 'You're walking on eggshells with him!' Well, maybe I was, but I didn't have a clue what else to do. I was so absorbed with him, so worried about getting him back on track, I didn't realize how much our disagreements about how to parent our son were driving a wedge between Greg and me. Our communication was strained. We only bickered, never talked. By the time Peter was a high school sophomore, he had thankfully straightened himself out. But our marriage was a mess.

Continued on page 2:  Her Turn, continued


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