Ms. Vicki: Did My Affair Help Save My Marriage?

Ms. Vicki
Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

Is it possible that my affair helped to save my marriage? All of the clues inform me that it did. I don’t mean to sound callous about it, but I had a one year long, heated affair and I was ready to walk out the door. The other man was strong, powerful and very attentive. In other words, everything I was missing at home.

I know most women write you to talk about how their husbands, fiancés or boyfriends cheated on them and left them penniless with nowhere to go. My situation is different.

My husband is an Army officer and I am very well educated with a career of my own. I met the other man on the job. When I was ready to walk out on my marriage, my husband found out that I was involved with someone else. Instead of blaming and berating me, he said he understood how it happened. I stayed and now my husband has changed so much. He’s not worrying about his next rank, his next school or command. He comes home from work instead of taking on extra assignments. He is very attentive, loving and less grouchy. It’s been six months and so far, so good.

This is why I pose my question: Did my affair help save my marriage?


Affair Behind Me?

Dear Affair,

Honestly, I’m not sure that it did. From the tone of your message, I think you really enjoyed the affair with the powerful and attentive guy.

Perhaps you would be still having the affair if your husband hadn’t found out. You were ready to move out and leave your marriage to be with someone who wasn’t promising you a future. Years of hearing from people in similar situations tells me that odds are good that you weren’t the only woman the other guy was hooking up with, either.

Lots of things are beaming out at me in your letter, but for the sake of time, I will only mention two. First, you never mentioned love. Not once. This leads me to wonder if you even love your husband or are in love with him. You see, when your husband was busy in a stressful career, you had a choice: you could be a wife who understands or you could be one who thinks selfishly and starts a sordid affair. You chose the latter.

It’s not like your husband is a “do nothing-bum” with no aspirations of a good future. It sounds like he’s a young man who is working hard to build a future with you and you don’t appreciate his efforts.

Second, I’m baffled by the way you signed your letter “affair behind me” with a question mark. To me, that suggests this affair is not behind you. Maybe it is still going on or you are just waiting to start another affair with someone new.

Now, to answer your question: many marriages survive affairs and can even become stronger after an affair -- when the couple is open and honest with each other. This is particularly the case when they seek marriage therapy and work through what caused the affair. I would highly recommend that you make an appointment to see an individual therapist and also that you enter into marriage therapy with your husband.

I have to be honest, with you -- I don’t think you are ready to be in a committed relationship. Thanks so much for writing to me.


Ms. Vicki

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Family and Spouse Marriage