I am at rock bottom. I love my husband more than anything in this world, but I cheated on him. I kissed another man—twice. He wants a divorce. I want to spend the rest of my life with him, but things between us have been frayed for some time now. For the past six months, every conversation we have had has been filled with irritation and defensiveness. It doesn’t seem like he likes me at all. We both have been preoccupied with our phones and no longer communicate at all. He doesn’t seem interested in me and I have often wondered if he wanted to leave me. The only time he seems happy with me is when I do my chores and contribute to the housework. He is very stressed and overwhelmed, but we both work full-time and I do my best to help around the house.
He has a wonderful daughter whom I love dearly. There has always been pressure on me to be her full-on mother, and I think those expectations are stressful for both of us. He never seems satisfied with my level of contribution or participation, and as a result, my relationship with his daughter can feel strained. I have communicated that I want to be a trusted adult she can have fun with and am his backup support when he needs me. I want to cook for her, take her shopping, and watch movies. He needs me to be her June Cleaver.
My husband is a wonderful person, but we both come from traumatic backgrounds. While he doesn’t have a drinking problem, he is a bad drinker, and all of his trauma comes out in a way that is upsetting to me. I have expressed my discomfort with his drinking many times over the years and he brushes me off. I felt alone, unliked, and unwanted, and I looked to someone else to remind me that I am a person worth talking to. My husband and I only talk about chores and money. We are capable of so much more, and there is a real, profound love between us. I made a huge mistake in kissing someone else, and I feel disgusted that I could hurt him like this. I would never do this again. He has agreed to counseling, but every day he changes his mind and says he wants a divorce. He wants to talk to the man I kissed, and I agreed—but actually I think that would be unwise and unhelpful. I want to prove to him that I love him and am committed to rebuilding our marriage. Prudence, he trusts you and listens to your podcast/reads your column regularly—what do I do?
—Desperate for Forgiveness