Dear Margo: A Skunk Is a Skunk Is a Skunk

Finding trust after betrayal. Margo Howard’s advice

A Skunk Is a Skunk Is a Skunk

Dear Margo: A few years ago, my husband of 15 years started an affair with a girl half his age who lived with her husband and child just a few houses from ours. They not only cheated, but lied about it for months and joked to neighbors that they were involved. I knew it deep down; I just couldn’t face it. Prior to this, I trusted my husband.

Well, the girl broke it off and moved away. Then my husband made a promise to make me happy again and work on our marriage. During this time, my best friend needed to leave her abusive husband. My husband and I loaned her money, and she moved in three doors down. Guess what happened next? I saw 250 text messages back and forth proving it. It was like history was repeating, but it felt much worse. This was my best friend, and she knew the pain I’d been through.

Having learned my lesson, I moved out and, two years later, do not regret that decision. My question is: How do you deal with betrayal from people who are supposed to love and protect you? I’m not sure that I can trust anyone. — Trying To Get It Together

Dear Try: For reasons I have never understood, “the best friend” is often the interloper. Just as they say blood is thicker than water, for some people sexual attraction must be stronger than friendship. Think of it as people being conscience-free. Dealing with betrayal is hard. You just have to know in your gut that some people are skunks, but by no means everyone. There are no warranties, alas, about fidelity and loyalty. If you’re obsessing about these past events, try letting a therapist help you put the hurt and anger to rest. — Margo, historically

A Drug-Addicted Family Member

Dear Margo: I am 45, female, with two siblings. My younger brother, “Joe,” is 41 and married with four children. Six years ago, my husband committed suicide in our home. Joe and his family welcomed me with open arms into their home for many months following the death.

In early 2009, Joe lost his job and asked to borrow money. I was happy to help. He found another job soon after, but for less money, and his borrowing money began again. It was usually a tearful call asking for money for the mortgage or some other necessary expense — always accompanied by the request that I not tell his wife.

Fast-forward to September 2010. I told him I could no longer give him money, having no more to give. Of course, this realization came $18K too late. Talking with my mother, sister and Joe’s wife, I realized he was on drugs. The entire time I was giving him money and hiding it from his wife, I was enabling him.

My question is: What do I do? I don’t know whether my brother’s wife is equipped to deal with this. Joe is not aware that we have all been comparing notes. I want to talk to him, but I’m afraid to tip my hand and tell him that we know. The family cannot pay for rehab. Obviously, my brother needs help, and I think it will have to be in-patient. I have heard horror stories of people going to rehab multiple times but never getting clean. — Desperately Looking for Answers

Dear Des: The family should have an intervention. Do not consider the people who fail. Tell Joe of your fears, and if he wishes to get straight, the family should look for city or state agencies that can provide treatment. Should he resist, family members should go to Nar-Anon so that his addiction will not wreck everyone else’s life. — Margo, proactively

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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35 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW2 – Most health insurance covers drug and alcohol rehabs – for at least one time.  Check his policy. They generally cover from 14 to 28 days.  Most employers will hold the job while the employee is there unless they have caused too many problems on the job.  It is generally more cost effective for the employer to not have to re-train someone.  And many companies have a employee help plan in place.  There is hope.  Many people go to rehab only one time – they see what they could lose and realize it is not worth it. But the family must be invested in his recovery.  Go to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and attend any and all family therapy the rehab provides.  I have been there and done this, both as the addict and as a family member. Unfortunately, it took me longer than most as my family was not at all supportive. All they did was put me down.  But eventually, I got to a place where I was sick of myself, sick of my life style and sick of being sick and tired.   Prayers to you and your family.  and best of luck to you all. 

  2. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Re Letter Writer #2:  Kate’s advice about checking the health insurance policy is a good one.  Also, it is true that most large employers will hold the job for the rehab period.  Smaller companies may not have the wherewithal to do so.  I would caution you to get a professional to help with the intervention and follow Kate’s advice about the therapy and Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.   Ultimately, however, your brother’s addiction is HIS problem…not yours.  You shouldn’t feel guilty about enabling him when you had no idea about the addiction…although I guess your story is a cautionary tale.  If someone asks you to keep something secret from their spouse…it is probably not going to have a good result. 

    Re Letter Writer #1:  You really did get hit with the skunk stick.  Therapy might help you resolve your trust and anger issues.  If I were you, I’m not sure I could resolve them completely.      

  3. avatar Tyra Gray says:

    For LW 2: Having worked quoting Behavioural Health benefits I have to say that when you call to verify benefits, make sure you check your insurance card and call the number for your Behavioural Health carrier, as your primary insurance usually won’t have that information.

  4. avatar Lesley Morgan says:

    You’re assuming Joe has health insurance.

  5. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: I’ve faced a nasty double-whammy too (not sexual however). Took me a full year to get over it, but not after a lot of emotional anguish AND physical symptoms. I did seek counselling, had that for 4 months. Shortly after, THE impact of it all hit me. Time will be a healer, but yeah — it’s difficult to trust. Your “best friend” was nothing but an opportunist and predator. In the future you must look for patterns: Who you’re attracted to both romantically and in friendship, and avoid involving yourself with potential skunks. Fact is, there are a lot of selfish assholes. I hate to say that, because it sounds so jaded, but it’s true: It’s all about ME and who cares about you? Just because they’re supposed to (friend, spouse) care doesn’t mean they will. Look at all the parents who’ll chuck their own biological kid under the bus for their latest squeeze. Keep this in mind, if anything: Karma. What goes around comes around; they’ll get theirs.

    L #2: Your brother needs help. Confront him.

  6. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: When you look back at the failed relationships with both your husband and your “best friend,” I predict that in time you’ll see the cracks that were there all along that you chose not to see. In your husband’s case, you willingly gave him a second chance—which is on you, not him. With your best friend, I’m betting you’ll realize this person had some personality characteristics that were less-than “best-friendly.” My own friend in a case life this was actually a terrible bully. When you’re able to see these qualities in people BEFORE and not AFTER the fact that they’ve hurt you, then you’ll be able to trust not only people again—but yourself as a judge of character of the people you allow into your life.

    LW2: Interventions sound great. They rarely work. Be prepared for defensive behavior, followed by tears, followed by promises that are usually empty. This doesn’t make me cynical and distrusting—this makes me someone who has experienced the exact same thing with multiple people and multiple issues. I would distance myself until Joe hit bottom—but keep in mind this may take years, if ever. Since your family can’t pay for rehab anyway, there’s not much point in prepping someone to go. Distance doesn’t mean that the problem goes away, but it’s something that doesn’t have to hurt or irritate or intrude on your life nearly as often. 

    • avatar KL says:

      That’s a little harsh, David.  Sure, she decided to give him a second chance, she took the risk and lost.  But it’s still on him.  He’s the skunk.  Now, if she did it a third time, I’d say that’s on her.  But I think a lot of people would give loved ones second chances — they just shouldn’t give them third, fourths, and fifths, etc.  

      When you’re a loving person, it means that you have to take a risk in trusting others.  Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong.  Some people are exceptionally good at deception and manipulation.  But when it keeps happening, then you’ve got to look at yourself and figure out your blind spots — what is preventing you from seeing these people for the untrustworthy people they are.  I’d venture it’s that they give you something on a psychological level that you need so badly that you overlook all the other crappyness of their character.  And if you figure out what the wound/hole they’re filling is, heal it yourself, you’ll be less vulnerable to others being able to manipulate you as a result.  

      It’s a hard lesson to learn and really difficult to do such soul searching, but it’s totally worth it in the end. You can figure out why you choose poor partners sometimes and learn to make better choices in the future.  There will always be risk, but you’ll be better at choosing more wisely.  Best of luck to you — that’s a hard cross to bear, but many of us have walked the very same path you’re on, so there’s hope too!

      • avatar mayma says:

        David said the exact same thing you did, so I’m not sure why he’s “harsh.”  LW flat-out stated that she knew all along but didn’t want to face it.  

        Anyway, I think that the point of looking at “what did I deny?” is not to condemn oneself, but to build the skill of listening to one’s own intuition, which is amazingly intelligent.  Then — voila! — you don’t have to be on high-alert all the time, because you’re able to see easily who’s who.  The LW doesn’t even know it but she’s asking how to trust herself.  

        As for the husband and the best friend, their lives are their punishment. 

        • avatar KL says:

          I think the statement “In your husband’s case, you willingly gave him a second chance—which is on you, not him” is a little harsh.  If you give someone a second chance and choose to believe someone again and they betray you, that’s on you and not on the betrayer.  I think that’s total hogwash.  

          Yes, it’s always easier after it’s all said and done to say “it was obvious” and maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t.  But, the alternative is a one-strike policy where no one can make a mistake, change or make amends.  And I think that’s harsh, and more importantly, hurts the one betrayed even more by not forgiving or trusting people anymore.  It’s not easy to forgive or to trust again once you’ve been betrayed, but if you don’t, then you’ll forever lock yourself away in isolation, never making true connections with people anymore because meaningful relationships require trust, vulnerability and taking a risk to build that connection.  So if you want to be always safe, then you’ll always be alone.

          That doesn’t mean you go about it blindly or foolishly, but I think it’s better to strike a balance between the two — between being a compassionate and forgiving person who is aware that no one is perfect and being wise in who you invest in and seeing reality for what it is rather than what you wish it were.

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            I bet her husband used that exact same logic on her, KL. 

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            There are certain situations that deserve a “one strike policy”. My first husband hit me because he unexpectedly arrived home from work early, and I didn’t have dinner hot and ready on the table. I laid him out with with a two handed strike to the side of his head, and reminded him during the ten minutes it took him to get back up that I had warned him never to hit me. Ever. I did not give him a second chance.
            My second husband treated me like a love doll, maid and ATM card…and was verbally and emotionally abusive. I kicked him out and never looked back. Should I have given him a second chance?
            Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me. The LW did willingly let a man, who not only cheated on her, but told everyone and their brother what an entertaining joke it was that he and his “baby-girl” were making a complete fool out of her, back into her life. He immediately took up with her suddenly needy, my-husband’s-an-abusive-wretch best friend. One has got to wonder if the first chickie-on-the-side moved on because he was already playing games with the best friend who o-so-conveniently moved in three doors down.  
            You have to own your mistakes in order not to make them again. That’s how to get past it all and move on. I should never have married either of my exes. I absolutely knew with the first…I was young, desperate, drinking and smoking too much pot, and deep in depression…and there is a picture of me at my wedding in which I am crying. Crying because I damn well know that nobody is going to give a bride $500 and a hoopty car and tell her “Fly thee away to the border, dumbass”. I wasn’t as sure with the second…I thought I was in love. Shame. On. Me.
            But I don’t have any regrets, and I have moved on, and I can laugh about the past. And I am very careful about who I let into my life.

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            This is dead on. No one needs to rub LW’s nose in her mistakes but LW needs to realize these are HER mistakes. There are affairs of the one-night stand variety, and then there are affairs with best friends that go on and one and become running gags. I’d like to see LW’s logic for allowing her ex back into her life the first time, other than “he said he was sorry.” 

          • avatar patricia says:

            The only other thing I bring to this discussion, Why do you think Hillary did not leave Bill ?

          • avatar R Scott says:

            B&H have a business/political/career partnership and leaving him would not have been prudent. They were better together than apart at that time. Smart people.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            If you give someone whom you knew was, for example, cheating on you and laughing at you with his mistress about your gullibility and spinelessness, a second chance…then it was your choice to do so, and your own hurt when this feckless, dishonest, person does it again.
            You kept yourself by his side while he merrily screwed your much younger neighbor and they sneered at you, you never confronted him with his cruel infidelity and making a fool out of you, you took him back when the affair ended (only because SHE moved away…not because he was remorseful, admitting culpability, or struck by conscience)…and you took him back with full awareness of his nature because he “promised” to be good without a moment’s intelligent thought. He immediately took up with your BFF who had conveniently moved in three doors down while running from her mean old husband and needing the comfort of not you…but your hubby.
            The betrayal YOU need to be coping with is that which you dealt yourself. Own your denial, neediness (he promised to “make me happy again” sounds about as empty as a promise can get), inability to cope, and weakness, accept that you had enough strength to move out and see enough light to get away from him…and learn to trust yourself. Only two outside individuals have betrayed you…and you allowed it to happen when you realized he was cheating and didn’t take immediate control…one way or another.
            Two people in an entire lifetime proving untrustworthy just isn’t enough to say “I give up on the human race”. A lot of people never have a single human being that they can rely on for anything most of their lives…and still learn to trust themselves, find love, and even those spare, fleeting moments we call happiness. Own it, embrace it, learn from it, evolve and move forward.

          • avatar patricia says:

            …you said it best…I agree with you 100 %…when are we women ever going to stop being victims ?
            When we empower ourselves to take ownership of our feelings, we recognize that we can have the life we always dreamed of…We do have to put in the work…Knowing your true self requires assessing your strengths and everyday re-affirming those strengths. In your weakness you will find your strength…you needed this work now…consider this a blessing…

  7. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – your question is how to get over the betrayal.  You probably won’t ever really get over it but you may be able to isolate it and compartmentalize it. I think the advice to see a therapist is excellent to help you sort it out.  I’ll offer another way to look at this:  maybe see this as your husband and best friend doing you a favor.   Let him go be her problem.   Life is short and nobody needs to drain your precious energy.   I get you spent 15+ years with him and you probably feel it was all for naught.   But concentrate on what YOU achieved during those years and don’t look back on them as wasted.  You don’t regret having left which is a great start so please keep looking forward.

  8. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – What a slap in the face. Wow. Sometimes I think the word ‘trust’ is thrown around like ‘closure’ and ‘intervention”.* Enjoy, love, laugh with and be engaged with others but never put all you eggs in their basket and don’t be surprised and defeated when they misbehave. People are wonderful and tricky. “Trust but verify” (I can’t believe I’m quoting that buffoon).

    *see below
    LW2 – Interventions make for great reality TV or soap operas but have very little to do with in real life. His wife knows. Your mom knows. Tell him you all know and then go wash your hands of his mess. Why the concern about “tipping your hand”? I don’t even get that. This is between Joe and his wife and family. He will probably end up in the gutter or worse before it gets any better and the sad truth is that is what will probably need to happen. At that time you all do what you can to support the survivors.

    • avatar wvdonna says:

      I don’t know.  I don’t think LW #2 can walk away from her brother.  There are four children to think about here.  He may have to “hit rock bottom” before he cleans up, but they have to consider the kids.  They deserve a healthy, secure home.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        ” They (the kids) deserve a healthy, secure home.”
        They are not going to get that from, or with, Joe. Not anytime soon. The LW doesn’t have to walk away from the children.
        But she does need to walk away, without a single look back, from Joe.

  9. avatar R Scott says:

    Last sentence: “At that time you all do what you can to support the survivors”.  I agree.

  10. avatar mayma says:

    LW2, get it out of your head that rehab is some kind of magic bullet. It’s not, at all.  Also, stop with the secrets.  That indicates that his addiction is running the whole show in your extended family; dismantle that ASAP by being honest.  (Honesty is an extremely necessary model for those four kids; they need to see that people aren’t going to hide and act all weird about daddy’s illness.)

    “I can’t give you any more money to buy drugs.”  “Daddy is sick.”  Stuff like that.  Don’t cower.  

    Start going to Nar-anon and Al-anon, as Margo suggested, and bring your sister-in-law and mom with you.  The kids already know that something is terribly wrong, and those groups (or an addictions counselor) will tell the family how to address it with the kids.  

    Tell him he should go to Narcotics Anonymous.  He may or may not listen, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t talk openly about it.  Let him know help is available, and that you all are not going to dance around the subject.  The likelihood of his getting better is low if everyone continues to lie.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      “He may or may not listen, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t talk openly about it… The likelihood of his getting better is low if everyone continues to lie.”
      One of the best things you could type, and oh so true. The worst part of dealing with an addiction is the lack of responsibility, and how the fallout affects YOUR life and YOUR choices. Do you upend your own existence to take care of Brother’s problems, or do you let them all go through the experience with the hope that he’ll see what kind of destruction his behavior is causing? At what point does support become enabling behavior? These are questions you need to ask a professional, and seek support for, rather than write an advice column. 

      As far as the comment above about being “harsh,” regarding LW1, she chose to give someone a second chance. That someone happened to be her husband, and the second chance was over an affair. I bet he begged. I bet he pleaded. I bet she had reservations and didn’t listen to them. That’s not a garden-variety mistake, and my point is that people who hurt us often do so in little ways first that we choose to overlook—they have personality flaws and characteristics that we chalk up to life or gloss over for them or some such. I’ve done it repeatedly, and so have other people I’ve known—it’s human nature to be blinded by the need to be right about people, and not to admit you’ve let some asshat waste your time and love. This is why other people who can see your relationship from an objective perspective are often right about predicting that your sig-o sucks.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      NA, Nar-anon and AL-anon all involve the same principals, and the 12-step program, which is essentially religious in nature no matter how it is phrased. They most emphatically do NOT work for everyone…especially those addicted to methamphetamine, heroin and crack cocaine. These do generally require detox first, followed by intensive periods of in-facility rehab of 90 days or more…which most insurance does NOT cover. The relapse rate on all of these drugs is very. very high.
      Time for brutal honesty, cutting off all money for drugs, a place to use and crash, sympathy when he’s hurting, ten bucks “for food”, listening to him rant about himself and how no one understands his pain and how bad he feels and how everyone has betrayed him. All of that is noise. An addictions counselor is better than Nar-anon, in my opinion, because there is a little less of the “daddy’s trying”, and “daddy can’t help it” garbage. “Daddy’s sick” will do for younger children, “Daddy needs to decide to get help, because he’s an addict…and it is NOT your fault” is absolutely necessary for teens. Because Addicts blame and manipulate so very well.
      All masks off, no more secrets, no more little white lies and furtive hand-outs and rides to “meet a friend” means no more elephant to ignore and be trampled by.

  11. avatar lebucher says:

    LW#1 took a calculated risk that I probably would not – when a spouse has a drawn out affair and jokes about his cheating to others, s/he has totally made a joke of the marriage.  I would have a much easier time forgiving a one-time encounter than the situation LW#1 described.  I do not think I would be up for giving second chances on hers.  But all people are different.  She gave him another shot, he proved he’s a slimeball.

    I think LW#2 is ashamed that she was inadverdently a party to enabling her brother and therefore is uncomfortable with the full ‘outing’ of his addictions and her part in it.  She was lied to, and probably bought whatever excuse he gave her for not informing his wife of the monetary help being provided.  She was duped rather than a willing enabler and should forgive herself for that, and the entire group needs to know what really happened.  I doubt they are going to blame sis for trying to help her brother with what she thought were bona fide financial issues.

    Being betrayed by a family member or spouse is very painful.  All she can do now is not fall for his tricks again.

  12. avatar strongernow says:

    Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in their shoes. I’m sure most people have heard that phrase. There is a reason it is said so often.. I believe in a situation like this it is true. She had a good relationship with her husband for 15 years, probably most of her life so far. She probably loved him very much. Out of no ware suddenly her life is changed, and not by her choice. Her worst nightmare comes true, twice. She probably feels humiliated. Her husband did make the marriage a joke and in front of all the neighbors, people she has to face everyday. Opinions are one thing, but in reality there is no guide book or rules on what to do. What’s right and what is wrong? I agree that karma will win in the end. In fact, I know. I wrote this letter. I don’t regret any of my decisions. I stayed true to who I am and never compromised my morals. People can disagree with me how I handled things but in end I am the one who has to live with my actions. I sleep well at night. I can’t say the same for the ex’s. Someone mentioned that you can’t truly get over something like this. I think that’s true to an certain extent, but I have learned to live with it through anger management and just talking with a professional unbiased person. That made all the difference in the world. There are two important things I have learned from this. I will never ignore my gut feelings, I should have stood up for myself when I first became supious. Bur, the best for me is somewhere along the way I discovered that is the grass is so much greener than I ever imagined.

    • avatar patricia says:

      Dear  strongernow –
      You said this very beautifully…We do find through healing and forgiveness …the grass is greener…and love still comes our way if we want to find it again? 

      • avatar KL says:

        Strongernow — I agree with you.  I think it’s terrible what your ex did to you and perhaps if you knew all the details, you wouldn’t have given him a second chance.  But I also hate so much of the victim blaming that some people seem to use here.  He lied to you, betrayed you and it’s your fault?  That’s ridiculous!  If you were giving him a third, fourth, fifth, etc. chances, yeah, I’d say you brought a lot of that on yourself by failing to protect yourself from a known slimeball.  But a second chance after 15 years?  I think 15 years buys you that, and some things don’t come out like they should.  Some people hit middle age and freak out and really greiviously hurt those they love because they can’t deal with how they’re feeling and their fear.  I’ve seen it happen more than once.  But starting over at 40, 50, etc. isn’t so easy either despite how much these “one-strikers” may urge such things.  There really is no good choice — just the lesser of evils, and you chose what you thought was best for you at the time, taking into account what you knew then.

        Hindsight is always 20-20 and your ex was unfortunately a slimeball, regardless of this rationalization.  But I think everyone has to make their own call about such things — follow your heart and do what will help you to have the least regrets.  For some, that’s a one-strike policy.  For others, it’s not.  I think infidelity is definitely one of those situations where there are several different paths and how I would decide would greatly depend on the individual circumstances.  In certain circumstances, I wouldn’t give a second chance, in others I’d be willing to take the risk as you did.

        I think it’s always easy to declare black and white rules, but for the most part, life hangs out in various shades of gray. 

        • avatar patricia says:

          KL – This morning at 8:30am I think I was a little self righteous …If I offended you and betrayed in any way it was not intentional ..I too was the victim …You said to betrayed that she may never get over the hurt…It’s thirty years later and I can tell you I still feel the hurt of that betrayal…no you don’t get over it but when you find love again  – The hurt gets lighter…
          There is a song I still hum the words to in quiet moments with myself: from a song by Simon and Garfunkel …I can’t remember what song it’s from…

          …so I continue to continue to pretend flowers never bend with the rainfall …
                                                                                             …says it all

          • avatar KL says:

            Patricia — my comment about people being too harsh about strongernow’s situation wasn’t directed at you, though I can see how it may look that way given that I followed your reply.  I put my reply here more as a sign of support to strongernow and I feel like some people’s “one strike” policy is just too harsh for all situations.  That it may work for some people, but I don’t think it’s a universal rule for everyone and some people seem to indicate that it’s her fault for taking a risk on him a second time and being forgiving.  And for me, that just strikes far too close to blame-the-victim mentality.

            I think it’s important to be smart, wise and self-protective.  But I also think it’s important to be compassionate and forgiving.  And sometimes it can be very hard to strike that balance or realize others would strike the balance differently.  Sometimes, you get screwed when you’re a loving, giving person.  You live and you learn.  But the husband’s bad behavior is all his own.  Strongernow did a hard thing and gave him a second chance that he ultimately didn’t deserve.  But as she says, she sleeps well at night and has been true to her values and morals.  And now definitively knows he’s a scumbag, not a good human being who deserved her trust or the second chance.

          • avatar patricia says:

            Thank you…I wasn’t sure, and I agree that some of the comments were harsh… Being a victim  myself, I have no place to be unkind …My mom was the kindest person I have known in my life…and I always thought she was too kind…In 2005 we buried her and the amount of people that showed up was astounding to me…She always said “if you don’t have anything nice to say-don’t say it at all”…Of course it was usually some  time that I was being critical towards others.
            Fast forward to 2009 and Cancer, and Chemo and Radiation and I was met with nothing but love and support from husband, friends, family, and neighbors…I never felt until right this moment as I’m bawling my head off that I was deserving of all this kindness…I guess I’m my mom whether I wanted to be or not…Thank God…

      • avatar strongernow says:

        Thank you! I understand the point being made regarding me owning my decision to give my husband a second chance. Yes, it did come back to bite me in the butt and Its all on me. (Just to be clear the promise was made before we helped the best friend.) But, even if I had to go through it all over again, I would not change my decision. He was completely faithful to me for over 15-years. He was my other best friend and I trusted him without issues until this happened. We had an awesome life before he cheated, for me it was the right thing to do. I don’t see it as a mistake, more like a life lesson. It was the worst thing I have ever dealt with so far in my life. My problem was not the cheating, it was figuring out how to deal with the anger and hurt from the betrayal. At times I was so angry that it scared me because I’m a very calm person. They both were a part of my life for 20-years and the two closest people to me in the world. Since I wrote the letter to Margo, I got anger management help. It really helped me let go and and like my user name..I’m stronger now. And again I say the grass is greener. A part of me almost feels like this was all meant to happen, because it opened up a whole new world for me. I even have a bucket list now and I am enjoying life my way, making my dreams reality. Hawaii..check.., learning to fly a on the list.

  13. avatar patricia says:

    Betrayed…when the one you love and trust betrays you, with another woman It is beyond devastating …when I was in my thirties, my soul mate (thought at the time) abandoned me I wanted to die..

    The good news you do eventually heal and you get on with your life…I now see that the love I felt than in minuscule to the loving relationship I have now…My husband has been a business partner, lover, friend and best of all loyal…I had cancer and he was so loving and supportitive during this time that a deeper love has surpassed the level of love that I thought I had with the guy that betrayed me…Believe in love and it will find you…Also you might try forgiving and being a friend to the skunk…I opened the door to a friendship with the ex boyfriend…you might not be ready yet…but it is healthy…once you love someone and the relationship ends for what ever reason…the love never dies…

  14. avatar Briana Baran says:

    In the wake of all of the accusations of “victim” blaming”, and reversals of opinion, allow me to clarify, for myself at least (and no, I do not consider any of these comments personal in nature, or soley directed at me), my position.

    I have never had a spouse be unfaithful. I do NOT think it is necessarily the ultimate breech of trust. I do come from a background in which there was absolutely no one to turn to, with those whom I should have been able to count on for at least a modicum of honesty and protection where virtually and emotionally only present as abusive, dishonest, cruel and manipulative. I have been literally betrayed by my parents, by friends whom I treated with kindness and generosity, and by one who would be a mentor, and brutally and systematically assaulted me. Both of my former husbands were emotionally and verbally abusive, and the first made his attempt at physical abuse. I was my family’s scapegoat for everything that went wrong…long after I moved 1300 miles away chasing the first ex’s job…and couldn’t possibly have influenced a thing happening in their lives.

    I am not a cold, cruel person, or lacking in compassion. I am not “blaming the victim”, nor do I think that the others on this thread who are being accused of such were doing so. Learning to be accountable for your own actions, to be responsible for yourself, to own what YOU did in a given situation, is critical to being able to move forward and leave the past behind. Is strongernow’s husband the person who cheated? Absolutely. Could she have suffered this the second time if she had taken the knowledge she had and refused to let him back? Absolutely not.

    In L#1, strongernow spoke of not being able to trust anyone because of her husband’s infidelity. In her rejoinder in the body of this thread, she still doesn’t mention this issue, although she mentions learning to “trust her feelings”. She feels fine with her decisions…and he has to live with the consequences. She “sleeps well at night”. I don’t see any owning of her own responsibility in allowing him back in her life. I don’t see her saying, “I made a mistake”. Owning that mistake is not negative…it’s realizing that her gut is sometimes wrong…that she does not always judge wisely…that she is, in fact, both fallible and still vulnerable. The grass is definitely NOT greener. It still hides worms and things that bite. If you don’t accept and own your own potential to make mistakes…you will never truly move forward.

    I don’t understand “forgiving and forgetting”. What I do understand is accepting, understanding, owning and letting go. I now have an everyday, rational relationship with my mother, and both of my sisters, who can’t upset or emotionally entangle me. I have the ability to deal with my second ex, with whom I share a legally adult, but very troubled and troubling son, dispassionately and without allowing him a single crack to slip his chisel into. I have good friends, a wonderful marriage, and an outgoing, brilliant, funny, delightful younger son. I volunteer with an animal shelter, and am trusted and well liked by the people in the charity.

    I owned my mistakes: marrying men I knew were going to cause me pain, staying with them far too long, being a “Superior Wife” (look this up for an explanation), dwelling on the past, but not getting past it, never seeing how I could change me, but not others, yet that I could change their behavior towards me…and learning to own it, accept it, and roll on by.

    I am not an “easy” human being by any means. I am not warm and fuzzy. I can say, “No, Back Off, I Won’t, and Go To Hell” with impunity. I am not a person to cross, or try to victimize…because I really do trust myself now. I have learned…and I suspect that the others on this thread truly talking about owning one’s mistakes and responsibility have learned as well.

  15. avatar patricia says:

    To stronger now – the bigger question that’s begging for an answer, not necessarily now when your still vulnerable, but some time after you’ve had a chance to heal…Do you ever forgive the skunk ? There is a book by Diane Henriques, called The Wizard of Lies – Bernie Madoff and the death of Trust…Talk about betrayal…That skunk cornered the market on betrayal? Do you think any of his victims will forgive him?
    I can’t decide for you, you’ll have to decide…
    For myself I’ve gone to higher levels of spiritual growth that I might never have got to in this lifetime …For me forgiveness is the key to my current happiness…