Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I have been crying non-stop for the past two weeks and am completely torn as to how to proceed. Every time I think I’ve come to the right decision, I start to second-guess myself. There is nobody I can talk to about this as I don’t want anyone to know what is going on. I have children in the shidduch parsha that would totally be destroyed by this.
I have been married for twenty-seven years to a man I thought was the beginning and the end of my world. He is respected by all who know him, goes to minyan twice daily that I can vouch for and has a nightly shiur that I can attest to because his chavrusa is my uncle. If you asked anyone intimately involved with my family they would swear that we had the best marriage, the closest and the most loving relationship. We never had an even mild disagreement in public or in private, and are always considerate of each other. It in this environment that we raised four beautiful children, two boys who are bnei Torah u’mitzvos and two girls who are the role models for true b’nos Yisroel in their physical and spiritual hanhaga. I can’t think of a time where we ever differed in our outlook, expectation or our shared ideals.
About two weeks ago, I was going through the pockets of my husband’s Shabbos suit, to give it in to the cleaners, when a letter fell out of one of the pockets. It was a letter for a relatively fancy hotel in the city, confirming the reservation for myself and my husband and a notation that they were reserving our regular room. Mrs. Bluth, I never accompanied my husband to any hotel or had a regular room reserved anywhere; we aren’t the kind of people who took small get-aways from our children. My heart was pounding and I called the hotel thinking this was surely a mistake and that our name appeared on this statement in error. I introduced myself and before I had a chance to explain the reason for my call, the receptionist started to apologize profusely about the room change and that we would indeed be able to have our regular room reserved for the coming Monday evening. Suddenly weak-kneed, I had to sit down. My husband, who often goes away for short periods for business was due to leave on Monday. I asked the girl if she could tell me the phone number for the room, as I misplaced it and needed to leave it for the babysitter, and she readily gave it to me.
I kept this to myself, hoping and thinking it was all a mistake. On Monday, my husband left as he always does with loving salutations and the promise to call me when he could, which he did at five o’clock, saying he would soon be going out to catch mincha before going to a business meeting. I sat by the phone, waiting to get up the nerve to call him in his hotel room. Finally, at about 9:30 in the evening, I called the number to the room that I and my husband were supposed to be in and hoped against hope that my husband would pick up, or no one would answer at all. But the voice that answered the phone was that of a woman, a much younger woman. I don’t remember hanging up the phone, I don’t remember very much at all, except that the next voice I heard was my husband’s telling me he was on his way home and would explain everything, just please not to do anything until he got here.
That night we had our first major fight, or more accurately, I almost had a nervous breakdown. I screamed and raised my hand to him in such bitter anger at his betrayal and his lying. All he could do in his own defense was fall to his knees, weeping and begging me to forgive him, saying that he deserved every blow I gave him, that I had every right to my anger and that he didn’t deserve my love, devotion and loyalty, but was begging for my trust and understanding that it would never happen again. I told him that I couldn’t look at him, that the very sight of him and the sound of his voice were like daggers in my heart. I asked him to leave the house, go stay with his brother, until I could process all that had happened and how my life just changed forever.
That was two weeks ago and I have done nothing but think and rethink and the only thing that is constant and keeps me sane is that I cannot deny that I still love him, even after what he has done. I don’t want my children to know about this because they love and adore him and it would absolutely destroy them, not to mention their chances of getting good shidduchim. That’s why I’m turning to you for sound advice on how to proceed from here. If you think there’s a chance that his explanation will be truthful and show that he is remorseful, might there be a way in which I could learn to trust him and we could go back to being the way we were?
What sadness and sickness there is in our world and I am not referring to physical maladies. I refer, unfortunately, to the sickness of the spirit and the soul. Yet, Hashem Himself accords His wayward children the benefit of teshuvah – can we afford to do any less? If forgiveness is present, even on the tiniest chance, are we still entitled to look away? Herein lies the gift of bechirah, personal choice. We have the power to move forward and achieve the best results from a bad situation.
Trust and forgiveness are polar opposites that can only be fused together by one element: love. Broken trust may take an eternity of good behavior to regain and forgiveness is a spontaneous act that yields immediate results, yet one without the other usually achieves very little change. A strong and enduring love, one able to look past the failure and fallacy of human weakness, can create miracles. The moment you said you still loved your husband and wondered whether things could go back to the way they were, I knew that there was, indeed, hope that things could change from terminal to life saving in a marital sense.
You need to understand that nothing ever stays the same, even under the very stablest of circumstances. People change with time, ideas and desires change with varying experiences, both good and bad, and the outcome of choices, right or wrong along with the ability or inability to withstand the pull of bad ones is often dictated by a persons state of mind. Sometimes succumbing to an impulsive act in a moment of super-human weakness can lead to the destruction of a lifetime of morality and virtue. And sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes, there is that special combination of forgiveness, trust and love that allows a couple to try and create a new normal. It gives them another chance to grow old together and an ability to reconnect on a new and different level.
But it will never be the same; it will be different. For this chance to succeed, I strongly urge you to seek immediate couples counseling so that both you and your husband begin the process of healing in a safe and therapeutic environment. An empathetic and caring therapist will help you understand what brought all of this about and will help you find ways to rebuild your trust in him. A therapist will also help him realize what he stands to lose. Though, I think he already knows.
I respect you for wanting to protect your children who obviously love and look up to their father, and for your strength and tenacity in giving your marriage another chance. May your endeavors bring you the best of outcomes and may you and your husband walk all four of your children down to the chuppah together in pure joy and happiness.