Should I be able to just get over my husband’s affair?

Dear Dr. Patty Ann,


My husband and I have been happily married for 23 years – or so I thought. A few months ago my husband, Steve, told me he had an affair with a colleague 21 years ago. This news has ripped my heart apart. I want to forgive Steve, I really do, but every time I try to discuss this affair he refuses to talk about it and just says: “It happened a long time ago. I’m happy now so don’t worry about it.” I know it happened a long time ago and I do want to let it go but I need some answers first. We went to a marriage counselor who basically just agreed with my husband when she said: “He’s right, it happened a long time ago – get over it.” Should I be able to just get over this affair without having any of my questions answered about it? Please help me Dr. Patty Ann because I am driving myself crazy.

-Heartbroken in Houston

Dear Heartbroken in Houston,

In my humble opinion, the marriage counselor you saw with your husband should lose their license. Anytime I hear the expression: “get over” and there are a bunch of TV personalities who use it all the time, my response is: “if people could just get over something that is causing them pain and distress, don’t you think they would?” Your husband needed to rid himself of his guilty conscience and so he dumped knowledge of his affair onto you. Well that’s all well and good for him but that doesn’t help you one bit. Yes, you deserve to have your questions answered and if he wants your forgiveness, which you seem more than willing to provide, he needs to do a little bit of work to get it. Confessing his affair to you does not provide him with a “get out of jail free” card, so to speak. Contact another professional (or myself) to get the support you need to allow you to work through this affair with your husband – together. You did not create this problem – it is not yours to work through alone!

Dr. Patty Ann
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