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Frequently Asked Questions

All questions are answered by Larry James. When you are finished with this page, follow the links listed after the Q & A to go back to "FAQ Topics" or to read the "next" question and answer.

Q I just found out that one year ago, my husband had sex with my best friend. We have been married for 4 1/2 years, and we have three kids together. She was the maid of honor at my wedding. I felt the ultimate betrayal. He says it didn't mean anything, and I have decided to let him stay. I still love him very much and I can't believe we were almost finished. I thank God that he didn't fall in love with her and leave me. Is that sick?

I have all of these unanswered questions inside me, and I cannot, deep down, forgive him. I find myself wanting to know details, explicit details. I want to know how it happened, everything they did to each other, whether or not they enjoyed it. It is just eating me up inside. And the fact that they both hid it so well for a whole year. I can't get over that.

We still all went out together, and we went over to her house for parties, her and I spoke at least once a week. I never even suspected. She was the one person I thought I didn't have to worry about, the only person I trusted with my entire life, which he is. They both hurt me so much and I don't know what to do. It is eating me up inside to the extent that I can't even concentrate at work, and I drink more at night in order to get their faces out of my head. My marriage seems forever changed, and I lost my best friend, as well as myself. I don't even know who I'm married to anymore and we can't afford to go to marriage counseling. I'm dying inside. . . do you have any suggestions?

A Having sex with someone other than your marriage partner is the distinguishing factor that makes an affair a betrayal. A betrayal of the heart is devastating. The secrecy of an affair makes honesty impossible.

An affair is often only the tip of the iceberg. There are problems below the surface that you must be committed to work on TOGETHER. It's a complex and painful situation to be in. If there is a desire for BOTH love partners to move through it, you must work together to resolve the anguish of betrayal, to rebuild trust, to agree to change problematic behavioral patterns and to discover TOGETHER the real issues that caused the affair in the first place. Each love partner must agree to openly discuss the deep-seated and potentially explosive issues that are a result of affairs.

Surviving the emotional crash of an affair IS possible!

In her book, "After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful Janis Abrahms Spring says: "Trust CAN be restored and the relationship saved IF 3 things exist: #1. Unfaithful partners have to be able to experience compassion for the harm they have caused and be able to feel remorse and apologize; #2. Unfaithful partners have to be able to look honestly and deeply into themselves and understand WHY they strayed; #3. Unfaithful partners have to be willing to do the work necessary to EARN back trust (and be patient with their partner while they do)!

The betrayed partner has to be willing to FORGIVE! If you think you CANNOT forgive, then recovery may not be possible!"

Learning to trust again takes time; lots of time, perhaps even years. Talking with your partner about the affair when the need to talk surfaces is another important factor of healing the relationship. Your partner MUST learn to listen and offer whatever support you need without becoming defensive or angry. The guilty partner needs to know that patience is a virtue that MUST be practiced for the relationship to heal.

Effective communication is a requirement of a healthy, wholesome, happy and successful relationship! There is no other way. TRUST is the very foundation of a healthy love relationship! There can be no trust without conversation; no genuine intimacy without trust.

When you are getting your needs met in your own relationship, most people agree that you are seldom tempted to look elsewhere! The 3 most primary needs for a woman are affection, understanding and, most of all, RESPECT! The 3 most primary needs for a man are appreciation, acceptance and trust. There are many others, AND when you are not getting your needs met, some people go where they can. This is NEVER a good idea while you are still in the relationship!

You BOTH need to look at what was missing in your relationship that caused this to happen.

An affair doesn't have to signal the end of a relationship. In fact, if BOTH love partners are willing to work hard, an affair can bring problems that were lurking in the depths of the relationship up to the surface for the purpose of healing. It can also be the means for drawing the couple closer together.

For the relationship to go forward, however, saying "I'm sorry" isn't enough. Just because your husband is no longer cheating doesn't mean the problem has disappeared. If he wants another chance, he must immediately break off ALL contact with the other woman; no phone calls, no letters, no e-mail, nothing! He also needs to explore, both in his own mind and in discussions with you, WHY he had the affair. "I don't know!" is NEVER a good answer. Saying "I don't know!" stops the inquiry!

While you may "feel" that you want to know all the details, that would be a mistake. That would not assist you in completion, but only open up the wound again.

You only NEED to know two things: (1) what caused the affair, and (2) what assurance you have that it will NEVER happen again! Although the one betrayed may think they need to know ALL the details, they don't. This is NEVER a good idea! That would only cause deeper feelings of hurt.

By the way, an affair is seldom, if ever, only ONE partner's fault! Always remember, relationship problems are SHARED problems! Each partner must take their share of the responsibility for what happened!

If the betrayed love partner really loves the other and is willing to work through the pain of a changing relationship, the other partner hopefully will thank their lucky stars that their partner is willing to give them another chance and MUST work their butt off to earn forgiveness, respect and trust that the relationship must have to survive. BOTH partners need to set new goals for your relationship and develop new ways to create intimacy.

There is nothing that cannot be forgiven. Nothing! Read: "Forgiveness. . . What's it For?" to better understand the truth of this statement. I suggest that you focus your attention on forgiving him rather than anguishing over knowing the details. Remember, forgiveness is for YOU. The hurts won't heal until you forgive!

Another recommendation. . . stop drinking! PERIOD. That will only make it worse.

I also suggest that you seek out some referrals in your city for therapy. Some churches and counseling centers offer counseling to those who cannot pay. Look around. You cannot afford not to BOTH work together to rebuild your relationship.

Larry James is available for one-on-one personal relationship coaching by telephone. Click here for details.

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