Q. Two years ago I found out that my husband had been visiting those websites where you find escorts. I saw that he had been visiting the sites at least once a month for the past four years we’d been married. He says he was just looking, and he claims he never met up with or slept with anyone from the site. But I can’t be sure. Of course I went to get tested for STIs, and everything was negative.
I chose to give him another chance, but I can’t seem to forgive him. I’ve been going to therapy, but I feel so hurt and betrayed. He doesn’t understand how much he hurt me. He said he has changed — and I do see a change in him. He seems like he doesn’t need that in his life. He’s allowed me to check his phone, but I can’t trust him, and yet it’s hard to get a divorce. What should I do? I’m still not over it.
A. Ask him to join you in therapy to talk about what happened here. Allow your therapist to help you navigate your questions. Maybe your husband will give different answers in the presence of someone new.
Also talk about how you’ve felt over the last year or so. Something has kept you stuck. It would be helpful to know why there’s been no movement forward.
This seems to come down to whether you believe what he tells you. It’s also about your happiness. You didn’t say anything about enjoying your time with him. I wonder whether this is a joyful relationship otherwise. When you say he’s changed, what do you mean? What else needed to be different? What wasn’t working?
Divorce is difficult, and you’re not there yet. But if you can’t believe what your husband tells you, and you’re not mostly happy, it’s time to ask yourself why you’re married.
Bring him to the place where you can figure it out.
I don’t think you can get over this. Going through his phone is not the solution you seek. Maybe this thing has run its course.
“It’s hard to get a divorce...”? Is it easier to spend the rest of your life working yourself into an ulcer because you’re married to someone you don’t trust?
It’s about betrayal and a secret life for four years. Is it true he never acted on it ? Don’t know (a negative STD test doesn’t prove it). Checking his phone doesn’t mean he can’t have another phone or search online while he is at work or alone. What made him change? The fact that you caught him.
I’ve been married 25 years, I’ve looked at those sites for the past 30-plus years. Rather than look at pornography, it makes it more real to look at escort listings. My girlfriend (now wife) has no problem with it.
It’s OK to shop as long as you don’t buy anything ... or try anything on.
Sometimes people we love mess up, even badly. I bet you’ve messed up in life once or twice. Can you forgive him and move on? Do you want to look further into forgiveness? Only you can decide, but if he’s an excellent husband and you love him, I wouldn’t do anything rash.
You say he doesn’t understand how much he hurt you — and it seems like that’s what’s missing. What would tell you that he understands? Would whatever this looks like help you to trust him again? You need to identify what it is that you need from him and then ask for it. Right now, forgiveness is a nebulous idea to you because you haven’t defined the conditions under which it would be possible. If you can’t articulate this, then that’s OK, but after two years in limbo, the kind thing for both of you would be to let him go.
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