Thank you for writing about your battle with guilt over your missteps in your marriage. Your husband seems to have taken a few missteps himself. Each of you broke your marriage vows, although at different times over the last year, and wove a complicated web of lies between you..
You say you both are opposed to divorce and want to stay in your marriage. That is the hopeful aspect of all this mess. The two of you have the same goal: to stay together. Sorting out your problems will take time, maybe months, or years, but it is do-able.
Here is a first and crucial step forward to the recovery of your mutual respect and love:
ABSOLVE EACH OTHER OF GUILT.
Guilt is debilitating and harmful to recovery. Guilt casts a cold shadow on your relationship. Tell your husband you forgive him, and he will tell you the same.
The idea of mutual forgiveness and banishment of guilt is expressed beautifully in this quotation from Vera Nazarian:
“Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.”
So, dear Pat, help each other to get up, do the hard work of recovery, and focus on a bright future.
Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Forgiveness is like a broom. It sweeps away guilt.