Dr. Eris,

My husband and I have been married nearly 5 years. He was in the military and suffers from severe PTSD. We would argue constantly and he has moved out several times over the last 5 years. 

The last time he moved out, I began seeing my ex. At the time I was seeing the ex, my husband had filed for divorce and was downright nasty to me. In my mind, we were separated, going through a divorce process that I did not initiate, therefore I felt justified in my decision to pursue my ex. 

Fast forwarding several months, I’d broken things off with the ex and moved back with my husband. My husband was moving furniture while I was at work and discovered an old cell phone that contained LOTS of explicit, racy text messages between the ex and me. He became LIVID. Not only has he not forgiven me, he brings the situation up repeatedly, even when I’ve gone on and forgotten about the issue. 

I understand the hurt and devastation (he carried on MULTIPLE online affairs, but feels since there was no physical contact, it’s not “cheating”- which is far from my stance). Yet I also feel, again, we were separated.

My question is, what is the best method for overcoming infidelity in a relationship?


Dr. Eris Suggests,

I think that the first thing that needs to be addressed is your husband’s PTSD. The Army estimates that up to 20 percent of those deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan — half a million men and women — will suffer the disabling agitation, nightmares, and emotional withdrawal that characterize posttraumatic stress. This is difficult for any individual to live with, and when untreated ads stress, strain and arguments in any relationship.

I suggest that your husband find a therapist. I understand that going to seek help for most military is embarrassing and socially stigmatizing because they want to heal their internal battle wounds on their own. It would be wonderful if you could encourage and support him to seek outside support, which is 100% confidential. This could help you in your relationship.

I also suggest that you see your own individual therapist to understand what your husband is going through and to learn tools to support him.

The next thing that needs to be addressed is the infidelity. These are some steps that you can take:

1. Take Responsibility. You should not be defensive in this situation even though you were separated. This is not about “winning” and who is right and who is wrong. If you want to heal your relationship, you must take responsibility for what you have done. Even though you have ended things with your ex, do not accuse, blame your husband or make any excuses. Own up to what you have done. This does not mean that your husband hasn’t done anything wrong. All that you have control over is your part in this.

2. Show remorse. You need to show your husband that you are genuinely sorry for exploring another relationship while the two of you were separated. Assure him that the relationship is over and that you are willing to go to counseling with him to work on your marriage so that you can get past this.

3. Repair the damage. Because the trust in your relationship has been lost, your husband needs to see that you are actively doing things to better cope with your relationship. You will both need to learn better communication skills and learn tools on how to make your marriage stronger. A commitment to the relationship and working together to repair the damage is important in moving forward. I suggest that since there are many layers to what is going on, you seek some counseling together.

4. Ask for forgiveness. Since your husband is holding onto resentments, ask for his forgiveness. Realize that it takes time to heal broken trust.

I realize that you have also been hurt in your relationship due to your husband moving out, his multiple online affairs and continuous arguments over the years. However, all you can do right now is work on yourself and take responsibility for your part. Hopefully your husband will too. I suggest that you seek a solution focused therapist to help you through this difficult time.


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