“Last year, during lockdown, I found out that my wife had been having an affair.
Because I was at home all the time, she couldn’t meet up with her lover as she had been doing.
She became very moody and eventually admitted to what had been happening. We had a nasty confrontation, which ended in me having to move out, even though she was the one at fault.
“At the time, I didn’t want to make things any harder for the children than they already were, so I agreed to this.
Besides, as their mother, she probably would have got full custody anyway. It hurt, but I gradually got me life back on track and when were able to, I even started going out again.
Since the latest lockdown, I’ve had several online dates but nothing else. It showed me that there could be a life for me after our divorce.
“However, last week my wife floored me by asking me to come back. Apparently, the affair is over, and although she’s not sure whether she loves me, she wants us to be together for the sake of the children.
“Now I don’t know what to do – if I go back and it fails again, I am sure that this will be bad for the children.
It would be bad for me as well – and I’m not sure what to do about my relationship with her. If she doesn’t love me, what sort of life will I have with her? I’d obviously welcome more contact with the children, but what will be the cost to us all?”
“Generally speaking, children do benefit from contact with both parents – but if the parents are living together but separated, or the dynamics are unhealthy, it can be very disturbing for them. It very much depends on whether the parents can get on with one another, in a civil manner, or not.
“If there is constant arguing, fighting or a generally disagreeable or tense atmosphere, it can be far more damaging than where the parents live apart.
Further, if the children think they are responsible for the problems – especially if they feel the parents are only together for their sake – it can be very hurtful for them. It can give them all the wrong signals and can also create feelings of guilt.
“I get the sense that, despite the beginnings of a new life, your marriage still holds some appeal for you?
Or if, deep down, you are seeking permission not to go back – then please do think carefully and be honest with yourself. At the end of the day, only you know how you really feel.
“I agree with you that, if you do go back and the relationship falls apart again, it would be difficult for your children.
They may have started to adjust to having separated parents – seeing you away from their mother, perhaps in your new home. They may very well wish and hope the two of you will get back together again, but if the two of you can’t make it work, a second separation could hit very hard.
If you do decide to go back, counselling sounds like a good idea…
“If you do decide to go back to live with your wife, then please consider spending some time trying to understand what went wrong before.
Living together after you’ve lost trust in one another is going to be difficult, and if you’re going to try to get this marriage to work again, you’re probably going to need help.
“Perhaps you could even make this process a pre-condition. Suggest to your wife that you’ll come back only if she’s prepared to work at it too, by talking to a Relate counsellor (relate.org.uk).
You don’t say whether the idea is that you move back together to just share the house, or whether she is expecting you to be intimate again and live as a couple. If that’s the case, then I think counselling will be essential.”
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