Dear Cheryl: I'm a 40 and unhappily married. My wife has had mental health issues for 15 years. She refused to seek treatment until a month ago. This has driven a huge wedge between us. If not for the kids, I would've left long ago.
Prior to her seeking help, I reconnected with an old friend. She's also unhappily married. We talk everyday and have lunch every week. This has been going on for five months.
The relationship is platonic, but to be honest, I want more. I don't know whether she does. I'm getting mixed signals.
I don't know what to do. My wife is making the effort to become well. However, I have so much anger I don't know whether I can put it behind me.
Do I tell my friend I have a crush, or work on my marriage? — Too Young to Settle
Dear Too Young to Settle: You owe it to yourself and your family to see whether your marriage can be salvaged. You and your wife should be in couple's therapy. After three months, assess the situation. Are you making progress? Is it worth continuing? Or is the marriage dead?
While this is going on, separate yourself completely from your friend. No more calls, no more lunches.
Be honest with her. Tell her the friendship has become important to you — too important — and you need to invest your energy in your marriage.
Can This Marriage Be Saved? Part 2
Dear Cheryl: I've been married 13 years to a man I loved and admired. I even bragged to my friends about his integrity. We have two young boys who worship him.
Three months ago I found inappropriate text messages from a woman he works with. He admitted that they cuddled during an out-of-town convention, but it was nothing more. He said that if she hadn't stopped him, they would've had sex.
I was caught completely off guard. I had no idea he was so unhappy. He never said a word.
We've been in individual counseling and marriage counseling for two months. Even though we've made great strides, I'm so angry and hurt I don't know how I'm ever going to get over it. I don't trust him. He's still working with this woman. He's looking for another job, but not much is happening.
Am I ever going to stop feeling this way? Am I ever going to feel that respect and love again? What do people do in this situation? — Slowly Going Insane
Dear Slowly Going Insane: People get over this, and you can, too. But it's really hard, and it takes time, and you have to really want to get over it. And during that time, you have to be really good to yourself. Eat well, exercise and do whatever makes you feel good.
Therapy is a good start. There are books written by women who have survived adultery that you may find comforting, as well as websites that have good advice.
In the meantime, there are a few things I'd like you to think about:
—People are flawed. They make mistakes. But that doesn't make them evil. I don't buy the "once a cheater, always a cheater" argument.
—Just because your husband cheated doesn't mean he was that unhappy. Sometimes people just do stupid, impulsive things.
—This doesn't define you. You're not "the woman whose husband cheated." You're much more than that.
—At the end of this, you could have a stronger marriage with a more committed partner than you had before.
Got a problem? Send it, along with your questions and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-book, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."