Can my marriage work after my husband cheated?

by Cora
(New Jersey)

Question: My husband and I have been married since 2003. We always had a great relationship. We communicated well, had a great sex life, and always had lots of fun together. I always thought I was the luckiest woman in the world.

Last December, however, my husband came clean with me about a problem he had with p*rn. I was devastated about it and felt like I wasn't enough for him. Yet I knew he was sincere with his apology.

However, after he told me, he felt unworthy and disgusting and fell into a deep depression. He was in therapy and on medication and I was having a hard time understanding why our life was no longer good enough for him. He was so unhappy and I tried everything to help him but nothing worked. About 2 months ago he finally opened up to me about what the real problem was. Apparently, a casual conversation about sex with a co-worker led to her giving him oral sex (this happened last December right before he told me about the p*rn).

In June we moved to a new state, so he does not see the co-worker anymore, and he swears that he never spoke to her again afterward. I know that he feels horrible and that he has put himself through hell for this (his actions since it has happened tell me that), but I just don't know if I can get over it. He says he is so sorry and he wants to make it work. And right now, he is doing everything right. But I just don't know if I can get over this. I don't know if I can forget about the fact that he was able to do that to me. I feel as though he was willing to risk our marriage and he
was willing to give me up in that moment and I can't forget that. He says he was never willing to give me up and that he doesn't know what he was thinking and he regrets it, but I can't forget that in that moment he forgot about me and didn't care about how his actions would make me feel. All for quick blow job that I would have gladly done for him.

I am also really upset that it took him 10 months to tell me. He said he wanted to so many times but he just couldn't bring himself to do it - especially with all of the anxiety and depression he was dealing with. But when he told me about the p*rn, I asked him if there had ever been anyone else and he said no. And he let me leave my family and friends to move to another state for his work, without giving me the choice. It is all so hurtful and I don't know what to do. Can you really love someone yet betray them in this way?

Can our marriage really work?

Answer from Coach Theresa: Hi there Cora,

First of all, I sympathize with your situation. I can understand how upset you are that your husband allowed himself to get into a tempting situation and waited to tell you, after moving to another state. But the key here is that you've asked me the question, "Can our marriage really work?", not "Should I kick him out of the house and move back home?".

Yes, your marriage CAN work... if YOU WANT IT TO.

This decision will be ENTIRELY up to you and whether or not YOU can get back to looking at his positive aspects (things you love about him) and let go of the negative feelings towards him.

Here's my take on the situation:

First of all, you have to understand something about men. For 50,000 years their DNA told them to go out and procreate for the survival of the species. It's hard-wired in them to want to be with multiple partners to make sure our species continues. We don't have any issues with survival anymore but it doesn't make the DNA turn off. Most men WANT to be monogamous (and I don't condone cheating), but they need our help to a certain degree to bypass that DNA instinct. They need our help by having some compassion for them, and not making them wrong or criticizing them day to day. (Unlike women, they only respond to praise.)

There is nothing wrong with porn and if your husband wants to watch porn, there is nothing wrong with him, UNLESS he watches porn as a way to avoid having sex with you. For many people, porn is just a way to relax without having to please a partner or involve a partner. It is not that you are "not enough for him" or that your sex life is "not good enough for him". If you ask him point blank, he will probably say that he sometimes just needs a release by himself. It would be better for him to watch porn and feel relief than to go find himself in another tempting situation. If you have a dislike for porn, ask yourself why. Many couples even watch it together. And even if you don't like, it shouldn't mean that he can't like it. It is just personal preference like being vegetarian versus
a meat eater or vegan.

Second, he probably didn't tell you about the instance with his co-worker for 10 months because he
didn't want to upset you. I would take this as the fact that he loved you enough that he didn't want to ruin what you had even though he had made a mistake. Obviously it was a hard choice for him to tell you since now you are very upset about it and he feels awful and wants to make things right.

Third, whether or not your marriage works is up to you 100%. I understand how hurt you are and I recommend a really good tool called The Feeling Letter technique to help you move through your pain. You can find this in Barbara D'Angelis' book, "How to Make Love Work" or John Gray's "Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus". You write a letter to your partner with ALL four feelings of anger, sadness, fear and guilt until you can get to the love again and you make sure that if you have a lot of negative feelings that you balance them out with love at the end.

Get out all of your feelings of anger until the feeling moves to sadness, then do all the sadness until it moves to fear and do all the fear until it moves to guilt/sorry/my part in it. Once you get the feelings out, you ask for what you want and you add in the things you love about them.

If you feel safe enough to share it with your partner, it can bring the two of you a lot closer, especially if you both use this technique from time to time.

***However, given your current situation, I would HIGHLY recommend writing as many letters as you need to until YOU feel better, but then THROW THEM AWAY. Don't share them with your partner until you get out ALL the bad feelings and can TRULY get back to the love: (As an aside, I do private coaching, so if you need help with this, we can schedule a session and I can walk you through this with a few other techniques guaranteed to make you feel better!)

Dear (Insert husband's name here),

I'm so angry that you didn't tell me about the porn! I'm furious that I had to find this out 10 months later! I'm angry that you didn't tell me! I'm so mad that you were with another woman! I'm angry that I don't trust you now! (Continue until all the anger is gone.)

I feel sad that you didn't tell me. I'm disappointed that you have been with someone else. I feel so sad that I don't trust you the same way now. I feel sad that I'm unsure about our relationship now. (Continue until all sadness is gone.)

I'm worried that you have been holding back other information from me. I'm afraid that I can't trust you again. I'm afraid that you are going to keep secrets from me in other areas. I'm afraid that you won't tell me the truth. (Continue until all the fear is gone.)

I'm sorry that I didn't make you feel safe enough to tell me this before. I'm sorry that I got so angry. I'm sorry that I made you feel judged. I'm sorry that I had an unreasonable expectation about how all men should act. (Continue until all the guilt/sorry is gone.)

******If you don't feel some relief, go back and add more feelings on this subject only until you feel love again. If you can't find the love, go back and add more feelings.

****Then go to the love part:

I love that you always take me out to dinner and hold the door for me. I love that we laugh and giggle together. I love that you put your arms around me. I love that you always hold my hand. I love that you always give me a big hug and a kiss whenever we see each other. (Add as much love as you have put in anger to balance it.)

Then go to what you want and hope for:

I want us to be close again. I want to trust you. I hope that we can work this out. I want you to feel like you can tell me anything without getting in trouble. I want to feel happy and passionate about you again.

After writing this letter and getting all of your feelings out, you should be feeling a lot better! Trust me on this technique! It can work wonders for staying happy and passionate about someone over the long haul.

After getting back to the love, make a list of all of the wonderful qualities that your husband possesses, even going back to when you were dating and the things that made you fall in love with him... and then re-read this list and add to it as often as possible to keep yourself in a good place.

From a Law of Attraction standpoint, he will rise to the occasion and become more of this list. The point of making the list and re-reading it is not to change HIM, but to make YOU feel good because when YOU feel good, the good parts of him will be a part of your experience.

I KNOW you can do this. You have put a magnificent relationship with him in your "vibrational escrow" and you can make this work! I really hope this helps. Please let me know how it goes.

Take care,
Coach Theresa

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Thank you!
by: Cora

Thank you for your advice. I will do my best!

As for the porn, I never thought there was anything wrong with it. And my husband and I did watch it together before all of this happened...again, we had a great sex life. I was so upset about it when
he told me that he had been watching it alone because I thought it was something that "we" did together. In addition, we joked around about it a lot in the past, and he insisted that he never did it alone (come to find out he was just too embarrassed about it to tell me). However, I do believe that he got a little too caught up with the porn, and I just didn't see it. And I think that his fascination with it had a lot to do with his betrayal.

At this point, communication about how I (we) feel about everything is not a problem. I've written him many letters, and expressed how I feel.

Right now though, I just feel stuck in this place where I can't seem to forget that he was able to do that to me. I know that my husband loves me...I don't question that. He was a good husband before all of this and
he is a good husband now. So why can't I just let go? This image of him allowing another woman to touch him just won't leave my head...and I hate it. And even though in my heart I believe that he will never do
something like this again, I am scared. So I guess it is my fear that is holding me back...because I trusted this man so completely; and I just can't believe he did this to us.

Thank you again for your suggestions.

by: Coach Theresa

Hi Cora,

Right now you are caught up in the fear because any time you focus on a single thought for as little as 17 seconds, the Law of Attraction will bring you more thoughts like it. You can't de-activate a thought, you can only focus on something else. So, here is your homework:

1) EVERY single time you think "I'm scared. How could he do this, etc?" you need to STOP, TAKE A DEEP BREATH, AND FOCUS ON SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR HUSBAND. You can think of a favorite pet you had as a kid, a happy baby, butterflies, or how beautiful the clouds are. It doesn't matter what it is as long as you think about it for 17 seconds to distract yourself.

Then move on with your day until the thought comes up again and do that process again and again and again.

It may take a week or two to dial down the fear with this method, but you need to be diligent if you want to feel better. Don't try it 3 times and tell me it doesn't work. It takes practice to replace an old habit of thought. That fear is just an old habit of thought.

2) Now then, you say that you've written him letters telling how you feel, but because you still have so much fear, I don't think that you got out all of your feelings and followed the "feeling letter technique" or you would feel a lot better. Your second part of homework is to write up 3 feelings letters the way I EXACTLY described them and include as much fear as you can find, as well as the other feelings, until you can get back to the love. You don't need to give them to him. This is for you to get your feelings out.

3) Once you've done three letters (and they should be at least 1-2 handwritten pages long), your third part of homework is to make his list of positive aspects/things you love about him.

If you still have fear after writing 3 letters and trying to make a list of positive aspects and stopping and changing your thoughts, I will have to give you another tool. It's hard to explain all the tools via email, so if you still need help after this, I'd suggest we do a private coaching.

I use all of these tools with great results with my private clients but it's up to you to do the work.

I hope this helps. I know you can change your situation and feel better and create the relationship you want!!

Let me know how it goes.

Take care,
Coach Theresa

thank you!!
by: Anonymous

I just want to say thank you so much for this post. Everything I have been reading online to help me through this has been about women's husbands in actual affairs with emotional attachments and sex involved. This is the exact situation I was placed in (except for the length of time it took for him to tell me). I think the letter idea is amazing. My therapist told me I was never "allowed" to get past the anger stage and it STILL causes problems cause I'm constantly finding excuses to get angry with him. I'm definitely going to try this. Thank you!

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