Dear Abby: Confession to decades-old infidelity devastates wife

Dear Abby
Jeanne Philips

Dear Abby: Two years ago, my husband of 50 years confessed that 46 years ago, shortly after our son was born, he had a one-night stand with a total stranger he gave a ride to. She offered sex to him, and they went to a hotel for the brief encounter. He said he had totally forgotten about it until recently. He said he was very upset when he remembered, to the point that he felt sick.

He decided to tell me because he didn’t want any secrets between us, and he asked me to forgive him. I forgave him, but I have been devastated ever since. He was a virgin when we married, and he has been unfaithful only that one time.

Abby, I cannot get over the fact that he did this to me. Not a single day goes by without the pain and the images of him being unfaithful in a marriage that I considered to be nearly perfect until then, take hold of me and make me very sad. I don’t cry as much anymore, but the intensity of the pain hasn’t subsided.

Jeanne Phillips

I haven’t talked to anyone else about this. My husband loves me and has been very supportive, but it hasn’t been enough to heal this pain. Your words of wisdom will be appreciated.

— Wounded in Florida

Dear Wounded: So your husband chose to ease his guilty conscience about this one-time infidelity 46 years ago and lay it on you. It would have been kinder had he “confessed” to his spiritual adviser.

Focus on the fact that what happened (once) four years into your marriage is less relevant than the quality of the relationship you have shared during the ensuing nearly half-century. Because it has been two years since your husband told you and you are still in emotional pain, consider enlisting the help of a licensed marriage and family therapist. Talking it out may help these feelings to dissipate so you will no longer be haunted by the images in your head. Please do not wait to do this. Your physician is the first person to ask for a referral.

Dear abby: I have read about how narcissistic, angry, depressed people shame others and spread lies on social media. May I take a moment to remind your readers that they do not HAVE to have social media? I stopped looking at it two years ago, after the death of my sister. People said some horrible things, so I decided enough is enough -- I’m done. Not only have I not missed it, I’m much more peaceful and less stressed. I connect with people I love through email, texting and sometimes good old-fashioned letter-writing. That works for me.

— Freedom Regained in California

Dear Freedom Regained: I have received an increasing number of letters from people about problems in which there is a social media element. For those who have become overwhelmed, I recommend limiting time spent online. For people who have been victimized by trolls, another solution is to simply block or delete them.

I’m sharing your suggestion for anyone who might need it -- and I suspect there may be quite a few. However, disconnecting from social media does take more effort because the dropouts must decide not only who they wish to communicate with but also by what means to do it.

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