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Betrayal having happened years ago doesn't diminish the pain

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Betrayal having happened years ago doesn't diminish the pain

Statute of Limitations?: I just found out my husband continued to date and sleep with his ex until our third anniversary. We have now been married 10 years and have two children. For the past seven years, he has been faithful. Still, I don't know what to do with this new information. It seems too late to have the reaction I would have had at the time, but I feel very bothered and raw about this. Where does this leave me?

Carolyn: It leaves you bothered and raw for as long as it takes your mind to process this new information. It's not too late, and in fact it makes sense, for you to feel just as hurt as you would have felt learning it then. There's also a logistical angle that complicates the emotional one: No doubt you're driving yourself crazy, paging through over a decade's worth of memories to try to find answers.

You didn't say whether your husband told you (and why) or whether you busted him. That adds other complications.

So while you're sorting this out, be transparent in your needs ("I'm going to need time, and I might be weird because my emotions are all over the place") and patient with yourself. If your husband shows signs of impatience with you, that's when you can remind him that he doesn't get to decide when you feel better. You will promise not to drag your feet, or pretend to be over it while being quietly punitive, and in return you'll ask him to answer your questions as they come up, but otherwise he needs to back off.

Then, slowly, you figure out what you can live with. There's no one answer that fits every betrayal.

I'm sorry. Bad news is at its worst when it shakes your most basic assumptions.

Don't be quick to judge every sniffle and sneeze

Washington, D.C.: I was hoping to ask, no, beg and plead, with all the people who have caught or will catch that nasty cough/cold to STAY OFF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION! At least three times this week I have moved away from someone who started coughing and sneezing and blowing their nose. Please, have some awareness that the hundreds of other people do not want your germs. Call in sick or drive yourself to work. I'm sorry you're sick, but please, please stop spreading your germs to everyone else!

Carolyn: Or, you refrain from touching your face until you get a chance to wash up.

Sometimes people cough for weeks after they stopped being contagious; sometimes they get sick at work and can't beam themselves home. Sometimes people can't drive to work because they don't have a car. Some don't have paid sick days. Some have allergies that make them hack and sneeze and honk at no risk to you.

Some people are rude or clueless, sure. But since you have no reliable way to tell who's who, please resist the snap judgments when someone puts Kleenex to nose. If it bugs you this much, you drive to work, or — trend alert! — wear a surgical mask.

Betrayal having happened years ago doesn't diminish the pain 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 6:19am]
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