After almost 40 years of marriage I just discovered that my husband has been unfaithful. He admitted to me that he has been so at different times during our marriage but currently this is not one of them. This discovery came to my attention a few days before one of our grown children was to be married and our other children were returning home for this celebration. We decided to put off further conversation about this until after the wedding and departure of our other children. I held all of my hurt and anger inside of me and when the wedding and time with our children was over, I exploded and asked my husband to move out. I then preceded to clue my daughters in on what had happened between their father and myself. They were very disappointed in their father and gave me unconditional support in my decision, feeling proud of me. Three weeks later I allowed my husband to return home with the feeling that after almost 40 years of marriage we could resolve this issue. My children cannot believe that I have allowed him to come back and do not think that he can change. They are very disappointed in me and have cut off all meaningful contact with both myself and their father. I am feeling devastated and am not sure what to do?
Let me see if I can help you untangle this. I believe that when trust has been broken in a marriage or long term relationship, and once we allow our feelings of shock, anger, disappointment and hurt to subside, it becomes a wonderful opportunity to work on the marriage. I am impressed with your husbands honesty with you about having been unfaithful at various stages of your marriage. This to me would be the beginnings of an honest open discussion about your marriage with him. When we allow our ego to get the best of us and stand in a defensive posture we become reactive instead of responsive. I would love to see you take a step back and ask yourself if you are interested in understanding where the lines of communication may have broken down in your marriage first from your own perspective and then from your husbands. This gentle and loving exploration for both of you of your almost 40 years of marriage can only strengthen the bonds between you regardless if you chose to remain married or not. Now onto the second piece of this, your relationship with your children. Our relationship with our children must remain separate from that of our spouse. When we draw them into our martial relationships and ask them to take a stand it becomes very confusing for them. You said that they are proud of you and support you because you asked your husband to leave and that shows strength on your part. Well, forgiveness is also a strength and one that you can model for them whether they are ready to see it and understand it just yet or not. This is really not about him staying or going what it is about is how the two of you are going to move forward and recreate a relationship based upon open communication. You already have the most important ingredients to do this which is love for one another. When you love yourself you are open to allowing another to express to you what they are truly feeling and you in turn allow yourself to do the same.Please tell your children that you appreciate their love and support and (when you are ready) you are going to move beyond all of the emotional hurt and begin to really understand how to move forward with your husband, which does not necessarily mean staying with him and does mean creating a new and loving understanding between the two of you. This can be a golden opportunity for you, your husband as well as the relationship that you have with your children.