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How do I trust my husband again?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My husband and I have been married for 13 years and we have five children. I have been stay at home to virtual school the kids. He is 32 and recently met his father for the first time, we were having money issues, and his best friend is dying. Then he starts to chat up his ex from 16 years ago and hides it. He out of the blue asks for a divorce(no one saw this coming). A lot of lying goes on. In only two months what was to all appearances a good marriage is on the brink of divorce. Now he has realized that he does love me and I want to put this in the past. We will all be going to individual counciling. How do I show trust though? I refuse to spend our marriage looking over his shoulder and checking up on him, but I also don’t want him to think that if he could do it once he can do it again. I love him but I refuse to let my children grow up and think that it is okay to be someone else’s door mat. How do I strike that middle ground???

It sounds to me like your husband was under an enormous amount of stress. Not being able to cope, he sought to escape his responsibilities and his feelings through a brief fantasy that he could turn back the clock. He got to the brink of losing everything and then came to his senses. I’m guessing that he is full of regret and doesn’t know how to win back the trust he so thoughtlessly threw away. It would be equally senseless for you to throw away what has been a good marriage in the wake of a lapse in judgment that occurred under such stress.

You are right: You don’t want to spend your life looking over his shoulder. He can’t spend his life feeling his wife doesn’t trust him. From my point of view, you two need couples therapy for awhile, not individual. You both need to gain some understanding about why your husband didn’t feel he could turn to you when things got so hard for him. He needs to help you gain confidence in him again. You need to feel safe in your marriage. That can’t happen in separate offices across town from each other. I think you would be better served by using the safety of a couples counselor’s office to delve into your feelings, to forgive the past, and to learn new ways to be supportive of each other. Thirteen years of marriage and 5 kids are worth the hard work of improving your relationship.

I wish you both well.
Dr. Marie

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