"I really don't know what to do, Dr. K. My wife has no interest in doing any of the things you recommend for building trust after an affair. I learned about her 2 year affair with a friend from High School last Thanksgiving. Since I found out, she's seen him at least once, talked to him a few times, got her own cell phone and refuses to let me see her emails, Facebook, etc. If she is not willing to do anything to make it better, what can I do?" - Jeff, California.
Hi Jeff. Ugghhh... I am really sorry to hear this. It puts you in a terrible spot!
Since it's been a few months since you found out and you're still wanting to work on things, I imagine you dearly love her and really want it to work. You must be really suffering, too. It's incredibly hard to heal from a betrayal all by yourself.
So here's what I'd ask you - can you think of a way you can trust her without her doing some of the things I mention in the affair recovery roadmap? If so, how can you ask for these things? Is there any room for compromise?
In my experience, to heal from an affair, we need to do these things in order...
- Have the affair end and no (or very, very little) contact with the affair partner ever again.
- Have a conversation with our partner where they tell us everything about what happened (except for graphic sexual details).
- We need to see that they are truly, deeply sorry and really care about how badly we are hurting.
- We need to see them go out of their way to help us feel better, safer, and rebuild trust.
- We need there to be no more secrets.
So, if your wife is willing to do some of these things, that might be enough.... you are the judge. You are the one who has to decide if you can forgive based on her efforts.
I always think it makes sense to compromise and if you can work with her to come up with a plan that feels good to both of you, great... please do that.
But if you can't, and you just can't get over what happened, and you find yourself really hurt, angry, and broken about it all.... you're very normal.
Sometimes we can't forgive, especially if someone isn't willing to make amends. I would like to think that you're worth all the hard work that your wife needs to do to make things right.
Ultimately, we can't make anyone do anything they don't want to do. If she truly doesn't want to do anything differently, you have to make a decision that you can feel good about.
I wish you all the best!