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Oct 18, 2018 11:43AM
 Dear Matt,
My husband and I are in the process of a divorce. He says he needs time to think about whether or not he loves me and wants to be with me. Now, even though the divorce is still proceeding, he has decided that he loves me and wants to be with me. I am now the one who is questioning whether or not I love him and want to be with him. Can you help? P. In Wayne

It sounds as if you are both second guessing your marriage. Everyone has doubts, especially in a divorce situation. At least your husband was honest about his feelings for you instead of going off and having an affair. After some `time-out,' he has decided that he wants you and now it's up to you to decide how you really feel about him. Forgiveness is easy when we think of how imperfect we all are. Is it the thought of his questioning his love for you and going through with the divorce that hurts, or have you really lost how you once felt for him? Spending some time in marriage therapy would help both of you clarify your feelings for each other. If you do decide to stay together, it's important for you both to talk about how you can strengthen your marriage and your commitment to each other.

Dear Matt:
I am a 40-year-old woman whose husband had an affair half a decade ago. I have worked things out with him but still feel hurt and betrayed when I see or hear something that reminds me of his iR. In Paolinfidelity. He doesn ’ t like to talk about it anymore since he is trying to move on. 

It doesn ’ t sound as if you ’ ve worked things out with your husband at all. It sounds as if he ’ s struck a one-sided deal ” he doesn ’ t have to talk about the affair in the name of "moving on" while you’re stuck with the untenable task of forgiving and forgetting his humongous transgression. Your husband violated the rules you thought you were both living by. It ’ s not his place to determine when he has restored your sense of trust in him. He has to prove his trustworthiness to you. In addition, you and he have to renegotiate a new relationship from the ground up ” one that works for both of you, not just one of you .

Dear Matt:
My husband and I have been married for four years. We are just not connecting with each other lately and I've been unhappy for a long time. Nothing seems good between us anymore. He doesn't want to do anything, just comes home from work and plops himself in front of the TV. Our anniversary came and went without a card. So did Mother's Day and my birthday. We haven't exchanged anything beyond a hug for months. What do you think I should do? R. In Chester Springs

The key to a successful long term relationship is communication. Even at your worst moments, the lines of communication need to be open, and it seems that in your case, they have already shut down. Have you told your husband how you've been feeling? Have you asked him what's going on in his life lately? He may be under unusual pressure at work, or be having a physical problem that he's not discussing, or something else that neither of us can guess. Try preparing his favorite meal, or going out to his favorite restaurant--doing whatever it is that will create a comfortable climate for you to discuss your relationship.

Try not to attack him as a person, but to discuss from both points of view how you've been acting towards each other. Before assuming or attacking, give him a chance to say what's been going on and do your best to state how you've been feeling and what your part is in the perpetuation of this low point in your relationship. Hopefully, you can come to a mutually agreed upon conclusion to the discussion, including further conversation and, hopefully, some renewed awakening in your relationship. If you still feel that you need help, think about a marriage counselor or therapist. If your husband does not want to go for counseling, then go by yourself . Build your self-esteem so that you do not totally rely on your husband's attention. Go out with your own friends, try some volunteer work, take yourself out for a long walk or a pleasant lunch. Whatever happens, don't be afraid to communicate. It can only make things better in the long run.

Dear Matt,
I have been married for 6 years and have a 6 year old daughter. In our fourth year of marriage I had an affair. I told him about the affair, asked him to leave, and soon after, broke up with the other man. My husband also had a relationship when we were separated. We reconciled and have been together for a year since our breakup. Now he says that he thought that he had forgiven me but he really hasn't. He has always been angry about what happened in the past and says that he doesn't think he loves me anymore. I love my husband so much but he is afraid that I might stray again even though I have been faithful for a year and have every intention of staying faithful. He is not emotional with me and doesn't give me much attention. Is it over or can we get past this? F. In Villanova 

It might surprise you to know that many relationship issues can be resolved, but only if both parties are willing. Yes, you did wrong but you did admit your affair, you separated and he too was with someone else during that time. As far as I'm concerned, the past is the past if people can forgive and forget. For your husband to continually blame you for all his pain and anger is not reasonable or fair. Don't accept all this guilt. You were honest with him and accepted responsibility for what you did. Now you need to insist that he come to grips with his antagonism and disillusionment. We're all in charge of our own feelings. If he can't get over the past, your life will be miserable. It will be very difficult for both of you to move on if he continually questions your love and commitment and is emotionally unavailable.

Dear Matt,
I'm in love with a married man. I really need your advice and counseling on the matter as I am so confused. R. In West Chester

It's not my place to say whether or not you should have started an affair with a married man. What concerns me is that you come out of this experience as painlessly as possible with maximum lessons learned. Let me say straight off that married men are often still in love with their wives and have no plans to leave their marriages. So, if that is the source of your confusion, you can clear it up right away by accepting the situation for what it is. If you hope for more of a a future commitment, you might end up very hurt and disappointed. If, on the other hand, you believe this man has real feelings for you, make him prove it by refusing to continue with him until he has finalized his obligations to his wife and is ready to be with you. I do believe seeking some counseling would be a very good idea.

Dear Matt,
I'm just wondering whether you can give me some advice. My partner and I have been together for three and half years. We have two girls from previous marriages, and our wonderful son who is 18 months. We have just recently bought our dream house and are very happy together. My problem is that my partner had a very brief six month marriage before we met. It ended very bitterly. Also his first long term relationship did not end well. He says that this time it's so different and he feels in his heart that this is real love. I know that he does love me but is afraid of getting hurt again. I would love to get married but I'm not sure how to approach the subject. We talked about it early in our relationship but I sense that he is very reluctant to discuss marriage. Can you help, please? M. In Philadelphia

I agree that your guy is probably a bit gun-shy and it's understandable given his background. Unfortunately, this is his issue to resolve and you can only offer support, not a remedy. I think you need to trust that the future will work out since you are both so happy. Although, I realize, after over three years, you might be getting a bit impatient, but it's the old story of `if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' A marriage license is only a formality. You already have it all. I believe that you feel a bit insecure because of your partner's history. Marriage won't cure that. You have to be strong enough to love without promises and he has to be strong enough to eventually put aside his fears. Try to broach the subject of marriage again, gently, without pressure. If that doesn't work, maybe you could both benefit from some counseling.
 
Matthew Weldon Gelber MS  Psychotherapist The Weldon Center - Main Line
20 Mystic Lane Malvern, Pennsylvania 19355 Phone - 610.310.5898
Website- www.mattgelber.com