Dear Annie: Back in the '90s, before cellphones, I discovered that my husband was having an affair with the manager of a store he owned. It had been going on for seven years, and everyone knew about it, including their mothers and all the employees -- everyone but me.
I did have my suspicions, though. He'd come home late from work, and I would ask where he'd been. He claimed he was paying bills and the like. It seemed fishy, but I couldn't very well put the kids in the car and go look for him. However, one day I went to his store and walked into his office and they were both in there. Fortunately, they were fully clothed. But before they saw me, they touched each other, and I knew. I stood in the doorway, which forced her to walk past me. I yelled and threw something off his desk. Then he got down on one knee and begged forgiveness. He didn't want to lose our kids.
We both wanted to save our marriage.
That was the secret -- lots of talking, which led to changes on both our parts. Marriage counseling and hard work and not taking each other for granted were essential in our path toward closeness again. And I forgave him. He lost his manager but saved our marriage. Twenty-five years later, a total of 40 years married, and we're still good. Both parties have to want to stay in the marriage, and there has to be open communication. It won't work for everyone.
I tried to keep our kids out of it. They didn't know for many years. They were very hurt, but I hope they've forgiven their dad. I tried to change my behavior also. Too often in the past, I raised my voice and was angry he worked so much, and he didn't help with the kids as much as I would have liked.
No one is 100% to blame in a relationship. Take a good, honest look at yourself and see how you can make life better for your partner. -- Happy We Made It
Dear Happy We Made It: This is a wonderful story about your commitment, and your husband's commitment, to keeping your marriage and family intact. The fact that you worked so hard on saving your marriage and that you wanted to stay, and he wanted you to stay, is a tribute to both of you. Thank you for sharing your story. You will help other couples more than you know.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.