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Do I take him back?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: My husband of 1 1/2 years (together for 10 years) recently told me that he had cheated on me about 1-2 years ago. We have an 11 month old daughter & I just found out that I am 6 weeks pregnant. We have had a rocky, but strong relationship — both of us had relationship issues that we had to get through.

Before I got pregnant the first time I had major women’s health issues. I was diagnosed with Endometriosis about 3 years ago, and it took them quite awhile to diagnose me. In the meantime I was given pain killers to allow me to still go to work & make money. Anyway, sex was very difficult & painful for me so it was very rare for me to hand it out. I would basically have to be on my painkillers & have at least 3 drinks in order to not cry during sex. After my 2nd surgery in ’06, I did feel a little better, but was odd with sex at that point, which is the same time my husband stepped out on me with a girl at work. He said it did start to get emotional & they decided to end it. He also said that he never would have left me for her. He said there were a couple other girls too, but nothing serious. I am usually a very strong person & years ago would have looked at myself now & said “Leave now!”, but when you’re in the situation it’s different. I really don’t blame him for looking elsehwere for sex when he barely was touched by me once a month.

A week ago he was talking of a divorce to “start fresh”, but after telling him about being pregnant he decided to hold off. Right now, I am staying at the house with our daughter & he is staying with random friends & sometimes sleeping in his truck if he can’t find a place. I didn’t kick him out — we both agreed it would be best for both of us to have some time apart to think. He’s stoppped by the house every couple days to see our daughter & to talk about things. He stopped by today & after me asking if he’s talked to this girl again.

I haven’t told a single soul about this happening. My mom, whom I am very close to, still thinks that my husband is just having some sort of early midlife crisis (he’s 32). I just couldn’t stand anyone else to have a bad opinion of him & I really don’t feel it’s their business. In the past 3-4 weeks we just started having sex more often, like we had in the past, which is why I think he had to admit to me what he did because I was finally giving him what I should have all this time & he wouldn’t have done what he did.

Also, he says that because I “stepped out” on him 3 years into the relationship, that he may have felt compelled to get his too. There was a guy at work i was talking to & my husband was being a complete selfish jerk at the time. So, I told him I needed space & went on a couple dates with this guy. On the third date I had too much to drink stayed the night at his house & we didn’t have sex, but he performed on me. It ended that day with that guy because he was a little too eager, and my husband was waiting for me at my house when this guy drove me home the next morning. Anyway, my husband just asked specifics now & blames that partially for what he did. He was always the guy someone could look up to for being moral, so I think he’s just trying to justify what he did?

Anyway, sorry for the long story. I just want to know if I’m doing the right thing in even considering to give him another chance. I feel like I have to at least try for my kids, because I always told myself that if I got married it would be forever if we had kids. Will I have the anger inside of me forever or will it fade? What can I do, other than cry, to help get rid of the anger & hurt? How can I regain my trust in him without having him report his every move to me?

Thanks so much for whoever took the time to read this & respond. I am desperate at this point & figured what better place thn the internet to talk about something I don’t want anyone to know about.

The question isn’t whether you should “take him back.” The question is whether the two of you can make a real marriage. There’s been lots wrong for a long time. You don’t have a corner on anger and hurt. You both have reasons to be disappointed, angry, hurt, and ashamed. The first step is forgiving each other for not dealing with issues before they reached crisis proportions.

In my opinion, you should both give this a chance. You have two children to consider and you have both invested a lot of your time and of yourselves in this relationship. You’ve been together since you were 19. You’ve grown older together. Now it’s time to finish growing up.

I do think you are wise to keep your business to yourself for now. It is so easy for other people to judge. It is only too easy for people to take sides. Only you and your husband know what is best for your family. If you do decide to stay together, neither you nor your husband need for relatives to be thinking it’s a mistake.

So what to do now? My best suggestion to you is to get yourselves to counseling. You have some major rebuilding of this relationship to do. If you could have done it by yourselves, you would have done it already. A counselor will help you feel safe enough to talk about things you have never talked about so you can work them through. With commitment to the process, you two can become better partners for each other and better role models of an adult relationship for your kids.

Further, if sex is still painful, you need to be more aggressive about finding some medical help. You also could use some expert advice on how to have a mutually satisfying sex life even though your medical condition may make it challenging. There may be ways to make intercourse easier. With a more adventuresome approach to sex, you might also find other ways to please each other and to be close.

I hope you and your husband will make the commitment to give your marriage a chance. With honest communication and a willingness to confront the hard stuff, you will learn a lot about yourselves and each other. The end result can be a safe and loving family for the two of you and for your children.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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