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Q. I am an older woman who has been married 40-plus years. Not long after our first child was born (we have two), my husband started having inappropriate relationships with women he met at work. After more than 25 years of marriage, he left me for about a year for one of those women, and called her “the love of his life.” He lied to everyone about it, including our marriage counselor.
It didn’t work out with that woman, and now he says he hates her. But I’ve caught him looking up her horoscope, probably to see if there’s any hope for them. He also has a crush on one of his clients, and I know he uses a secret Facebook page to follow her.
I stick around because he says the online activity means nothing, it’s just entertainment, and I don’t want my adult children to know what a terrible husband he has been.
What can I do to come to terms with my husband’s behavior?
— What now?
A. You mention that you went to counseling as a couple, but I hope you’re now in therapy on your own. Coming to terms with a complicated marriage can be a long process, one made easier (and more efficient) with the help of a professional. Plus, it would be nice to know that you can be 100 percent honest with at least one person in your life.
You say you need to come to terms with your husband’s behavior, but after 40 years, it’s possible you have. You know he’s going to have crushes on other women, and his fantasy life (which he can now play out online) will take up a lot of his time.
It sounds like you haven’t come to terms with what it means to stay. Pretending you’re content when you’re not can be a lonely experience. The thing to talk about — in therapy — is how you can build your own happy and honest life in the context of this partnership (assuming you’re set on staying together).
If you stick around for this marriage, you need great friends and your own interests. You need to be the center of your own attention. Think about how you can build a fuller life for yourself. Know that you can.
Are you afraid of being alone? Know that there are things far worse, and your marriage is one of them. BETTYMCBOOPFACE
Your kids probably care very much about both of their parents. They’ll want you to be all right as time marches forward. Shielding them, probably unsuccessfully, from this is not something they’ll be happy to learn about after the fact. SOXROCK2
You seem content to be married to this man, so if you don’t want to rock that boat, at least go out and have some of your own fun. Find your own boyfriend, get some friends, go spend that money he’s earning. MCDIMMERSON
Change is difficult at any age but it is also exhilarating. I wish you’d get your wits about you and divorce the scoundrel. MSENIGMAColumn and responses are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters, questions, and comments to email@example.com.