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Ask Audrey: The Citizen's new advice columnist offers words of wisdom to a man who has discovered his wife has had another affair

By The Citizen  |  Posted: May 28, 2014

Ask Audrey James

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Everyone needs some advice and counselling sometimes.

The Citizen has launched a new weekly advice column with counsellor Audrey James.

This week the dilemma is about a man who has discovered his wife has had a second affair:

My wife and I have separated recently after she cheated on me for the second time. She says this time was a drunken mistake and we should try and make it work for the sake of our two young children. I still love her but I’m not sure we can recover from this again as I will always be suspicious. How can I judge if it’s worth salvaging and where would we begin?

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With all relationships, whether they are with children, work colleagues, friends and in this case marriage, there are boundaries that need to be in place.

All boundaries come with consequences when they are crossed. What we have here is adultery – a significant betrayal of trust by one partner.

Unfortunately, since this is the second time a betrayal of this sort has occurred, I see a theme/pattern emerging.

The one doing the betraying is both justifying their behaviour and placing blame somewhere else – “this time was a drunken mistake”.

To do this is to minimise the hurt that has been done to you and the breakdown of the relationship.

A betrayal of trust, as in this case, does not mean the end of your marriage. One of the questions asked – “how can I judge if it’s worth salvaging and where would we begin?”

You have already begun when you say “I still love her”. Unfortunately, to love is to take risk of being betrayed again.

One of the things I explore with clients is the words they use.

Allow me to look at and use as a metaphor one of the words you have used – “salvaging”.

Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes salvaging as: the act of saving something (such as a building, a ship, or cargo) that is in danger of being completely destroyed.

The process of salvaging is messy, takes time and can be very painful.

The process is also a productive one as some things will need to be got rid of. The gems you find and discover can be used to rebuild a stronger marriage.

As you clean up the mess there are things that must be thrown overboard.

Salvagers do not work alone.

So, the question is does your partner want to work with you to save the marriage because she loves you and sees it as valuable enough to risk saving?

To want to save it “for the sake of our two young children” could lead to future ship wreck(s).

Next week’s dilemma:

A new partner is 12 years older than me – I am 21 and he is 33. While age has never bothered me and it’s great having someone who is mature, sometimes he disapproves when I go out clubbing with my friends. I have asked him if he wants to come but he says his days of going out like that have passed. But he doesn’t want me to go either. Can I keep him happy without compromising my own wishes?

Audrey James is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Association for Pastoral and Spiritual Care and Counselling and the founder of Restore Counselling Service, a private practice based in Barton Street, Gloucester.

To find out more about Audrey’s work, visit restorecounsellingservice.co.uk or alternatively contact 07717 633 846.

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