Dear Abby: My husband wants me to ‘forget’ his 20-year-long affair

Dear Abby counsels a woman whose husband has been having an affair for 20 years.
Dear Abby counsels a woman whose husband has been having an affair for 20 years.

DEAR ABBY: My husband had an affair. I found out after seeing a motel charge on our bank account. I asked, and he confessed that it was with an old school sweetheart. I asked how long it was going on. He said two years. He then called her and told her I knew. He told me he had told her if I ever found out, it was over for them.

When I got on the phone with her, she said he was lying, and their affair had been going on for 20 years! He invited her to his mom’s visitation when she passed. He invited her to other things as well. Now she no longer wants him because he is a liar, and he expects me to go back to the way it was. I don’t know if there’s time to go through it all — he also had an affair with someone at his work. He said it was a one-nighter. Who knows?

I’m having so much trouble with this and all the things they did together. My husband didn’t do anything with me — he skipped funerals, weddings and engagements. I was going everywhere alone. People always asked where he was, and I always had to say “working.”

The way things are now is not comfortable. He doesn’t care. He just wants his way and to not let anyone else in the family know. It’s been two years and it’s still fresh in my mind. I don’t know what to do. Counseling hasn’t helped. He wants me to forget everything. I’m going crazy. How do you trust after that? — LOST FAITH IN MISSOURI

DEAR LOST FAITH: You are not crazy. You are married to a lying, narcissistic womanizer. For you to “forget everything” might require a lobotomy. Are you willing to do that? (Don’t answer too quickly; some people would rather do anything than be alone.)

I think it would benefit you to discuss this with a licensed mental health professional. Talk with your friends and your family as well. You need all the support they can give you. Your husband has plenty to be ashamed about.

A marriage without trust is no marriage at all. If you were to separate, your life would not be much different than it already is. It might even be better. From what you have written, you have already been alone for a very long time.

DEAR ABBY: My partner and I have miscarried five times over the past four years. We are heartbroken, defeated, overwhelmed and exhausted. We are struggling emotionally, physically and financially because of this journey.

We do not feel any real emotional support from our families. They have been sympathetic, but after the initial “I’m sorry. I’m here if you need me. We’re thinking about you,” that’s it. They expect us to attend all holidays, family gatherings, trips, etc., and we aren’t always feeling up to it.

I am angry with them for not understanding what we’re going through. I have started distancing myself and skipping these family functions. Is this wrong of me? — BOWING OUT IN NORTH DAKOTA

DEAR BOWING OUT: No. Under the circumstances, skipping a family gathering in which you would be forced to socialize isn’t a bad idea. If this causes hurt feelings, remind the host that grief has no set timetable, and you will celebrate with them again when you are up to it. Period.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.