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Reality Check

I have been married for 11 years. My husband and I dated in college, lived together after graduation and waited, I thought, long enough to be sure before getting married. We have since been mostly very happy. We have a couple of kids, a nice house. We both like our jobs, and we go on vacation a couple times a year, etc. So, I was not only devastated but totally shocked when I learned of his recent affair. I haven’t even looked at another man in years. Even when I still noticed cute guys I would never consider talking to any of them, much less having an affair.

I had begun to think that something was up a few months ago. He started getting calls at odd times (he claimed that they were work-related), coming home late from work and being more secretive about his comings and goings. I finally figured out what was going on because I caught him in a lie he couldn’t get out of and he confessed. He has been apologetic and remorseful. He has said all of the things he thinks he’s supposed to say (that he still loves me, thinks I’m beautiful, is attracted to me sexually, that he’s not in love with this woman, etc.)

I want to forgive him, of course, and just get on with my life as I thought it was. But I don’t know if I can. I have never been particularly self-conscious, but now I find myself wondering if I’m starting to look old, worrying about my figure (I wear the same size that I have since my late 20s, so it’s not like I’ve let myself go), and watching to see how he reacts when a beautiful woman walks by. This is all so pathetic and cliché. I know that he is truly sorry, and I don’t think that he will cheat again, but how can I be sure? I don’t know if I can ever trust him again. It has been a month since I found out, and I still can’t get over it. Now I’m afraid that I might never get over it. What can I do? How can I get my life back? Will things ever be the same?


I think you can safely assume that things are never going to be exactly the same. You are clearly ready to forgive, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to forget. Give yourself time. A month is a really short time for you to process all of this. Consider counseling, both for yourself and for the two of you together. Having an outside person help you talk through some of this stuff can be helpful. Infidelity doesn’t have to be the end of a marriage, but it isn’t something you are necessarily going to recover from quickly, either.

I graduated high school a couple of years ago. I took some time off before going to college and stayed in the town where I grew up, working to save some money. I have always felt pretty out of place here, like I didn’t fit in and wasn’t like other girls my age. Most of them have the same boyfriends they have had for a couple years, and they’re planning on getting married and having kids and stuff. I love all of my friends, but I always thought they were crazy. I can’t wait to leave. The only reason I haven’t left yet is because I want to save enough money so I don’t have to come home for the summers and stuff. I would like to move my whole life to wherever I go next, and I don’t plan on looking back. That doesn’t mean I won’t talk to anybody, or that I am never coming to visit, but I am not ready to get married or settle down or make big life decisions right now. I want to see some of the world first, and get an education, be different.

So, my problem is that I met a guy and I really like him. We have been dating for a few months, and even though I don’t plan on leaving until the fall, he can’t stop talking about how he doesn’t want me to leave. I keep telling him that it won’t mean the end for us, that I am only going two hours away, that he can visit whenever he wants to. He has a decent job here, but nothing special. He doesn’t have any ambitions to leave here. He says he’s happy here, even though I know he isn’t. He gets bored as much as I do, talks about places he would like to visit but we never go when I suggest it. He is pretty smart but he didn’t do well in school.

I don’t know what to do because I am starting to fall for him but I don’t want to stay and miss out. I am already accepted to school and I am going. I don’t even necessarily want him to come with me or anything, I just want him to stop worrying about it all the time. We would have more fun if we didn’t fight about this stuff. My friends think I am crazy because he is really hot and all the girls have always been after him. They think I should just stay here and marry him and be like them. I don’t know what to do because all I know is I’m getting frustrated and sick of talking about it. What’s your advice?


Don’t change your plans for this boy, Anonymous. The hottest guy in your hometown is still in your hometown, and that is a place you have already outgrown. What he’s doing is trying to wear you down and guilt you into giving up your dreams so that he can stay in his comfortable life and have what he wants. But how is that fair to you? Stick with your plan, go to school, meet new people, explore the world. You can always go back later if that’s what you want.

In the meantime, ask the guy to agree not to talk about you leaving anymore. Tell him you would rather spend the time that you have left together having fun instead of fighting about something that hasn’t even happened yet. If he won’t agree not to talk about it, then you should break up with him. I know that sounds harsh, but in the end you will be saving yourself a ton of grief, and when you look back years from now at this time you will be surprised at how important it seemed. Trust me. I am not trying to stand up here on my old lady high horse and tell you how it is, but I am telling you that I do know how it is. If this guy is really a big deal then he will still be around later to prove me wrong.

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