By Jody Valley
Forgive or get out
Q: “Patrick” and I have been together for 21 years. I’m thinking that he has the seven-year itch, 14 years late.
The reason that I became suspicious of his having an affair is that he had taken to working late; he never has worked late before. I didn’t think there was any late work to be done at his office, as there never had been in the past. Patrick swore that because they were having more work and less people working, he had to work those later hours. I had read about that sort of thing happening because employers didn’t want to hire new people, so I figured maybe that was true.
I just couldn’t believe it after awhile, anyway. I didn’t know why he was so late, like after 2 a.m. some nights. Working late is one thing, but until that late? He also had worked some weekend nights. One night I just couldn’t keep the faith, so I drove over to his place of work. There were no cars there; the building was black with no lights to be seen, anywhere.
When Patrick came home that night, I confronted him, admitting to him that I had driven over to his place of work and saw no signs of life. He immediately became defensive and acted insulted that I had gone to his building. However, he said that of course he wasn’t at his building because he was over to a co-worker’s place working on “the project.” I asked him if this was the first time that he had gone to his co-worker’s house and he said, “no.” He said that he has done that at other times because he and the co-worker find it “more pleasant” to work on the project (after hours) in a place away from the office, especially since they have to spend so much time at the office. I understand that, but I asked him why he never had his “co-worker” over to our house; we have a big home and they could have their privacy and not get bothered! Patrick fumbled around with that and finally admitted that he was cheating on me, but not until after a pack of lies and nasty words to me.
I feel like my world has been flipped upside down. I’m crushed. I’m sorry that I ever went to his place of work because Patrick said that the relationship had ended that night. I do believe him about that because when he came clean with me, he spilled a lot of what had happened and that he felt very guilty and had broken it off. He even gave me the guy’s phone number so that I could confirm his story. I called the guy and he validated the break-up and even that Patrick felt guilty and didn’t want to leave me.
Patrick said that he has never cheated before and that he didn’t know what had gotten into him, like I said, perhaps it was just the seven-year itch way late. If I hadn’t gone, it would have just run its course and I would not have known. Now, I am burdened by the knowledge of what happened.
I really don’t have a question; just want to get it off my chest, as I don’t feel much like talking to anyone else about it. I read your column every week and just sort of feel like you are someone I can talk to, so that is why I wrote to you.
I will stay with Patrick, but I don’t think I will ever be able forgive him, though he has asked me to. I feel very angry and hurt, but I love him. That’s my burden, too.
A: If you decide to stay, you need to also forgive; that is mostly for you, but also for your relationship, and lastly, for Patrick. If you can’t do that, you, your relationship and Patrick would be better off if you left. Holding on to anger – non-forgiveness – is a poison to the person holding on to it, and everything in its path. It’s ugly, destructive, and a hell on earth. You really need to ask yourself if that is what you want.