I cheated on my husband -- how do I heal my relationship?
This week, one reader wonders how she can get her husband to forgive her for an affair, while another wonders whether she should stay with her boyfriend when she feels no spark. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.
Q: I had an affair for 11 years. It finally blew up in my face. My husband and I are working this out because neither of us believes in divorce. This all started because I wasn't strong enough. It wasn't ever about the sex. It was the companionship, and how he treated me, complimented me, and called me every day just to say hi and to see how I was. My husband was going through a mid-life crisis, and was critical, sarcastic, and if anyone ever disagreed with him, he got pissed. I also could never get him to talk. When I asked him to go to a counselor, he said we didn't need one.
It’s been over a year since this all came out. The bad thing is he sees the other guy every day because he delivers our mail. The other problem is I’m going through menopause, and my sex drive has dwindled, and my husband feels he can't get me excited anymore, while the other guy did everything right. I never had an orgasm with the other guy. It wasn't about the sex. I don't see, talk to, or drive by the other guy. I have been faithful and honest with my husband now. I want to help him heal and make this pain go away. Please help me! —Done Cheating
Dear Done Cheating,
My ebook, “How to Win When Your Mate Cheats,” explains the many reasons cheating is rarely about the sex: partners feel ignored, they fear they’ve lost their mojo, they’re angry with their mate, and more. For women, orgasms often revolve around feeling loved. For men, seeing a therapist often requires the admission of failure. Each disconnect is a relationship test.Since you guys choose to stay together, you need laughter therapy to pave a rosier path. In the hilarious play, “You’ve Got Hate Mail,” the wife of a cheater announces to a friend, “We’re going to therapy. I love it.” But the cheater grunts, “I don’t know how therapy can help!” Take notes on the universality of your issues, and find your funny bone to diminish the pain and accelerate your healing. —Dr. Gilda
Q: It's been almost 6 years since I met my first boyfriend. Granted I've had a few after him, but I can't stop going back to him. Our families don't get along at all. When we date, I get bored of the relationship, or I don't feel that spark. But when we're not together, I just want to talk to him and be with him. Am I trying to hold onto a past that should just stay in the past, or am I afraid of commitment? —Confused and Don't Know What To Do
Dear Confused and Don’t Know,
We typically choose mates with opposite traits, and whose worst characteristics from our parents we unconsciously recognize. In this way, we boldly assume we’ll right the wrongs of our childhood, like your two clashing families. Newsflash! You and your guy may have nothing in common except the past you refuse to relinquish, especially during relationship drought.
In her song, “Can’t Let Go,” Heidi Newfield expresses your kind of waffling: “It's over, I know it, but I can’t let go.” My Gilda-Gram™ warns, “To ignore your past is to repeat your past.” Accept the family discord you and your guy have shared for years, and acknowledge that this familiarity is not enough for romance. Girlfriend, the sooner you’re totally single, the quicker you’ll find the right man for you. —Dr. Gilda
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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.