DEAR ANNIE: After 35 years of marriage, my abusive husband asked for a divorce. I had stayed for the children’s sake, but now know that was a mistake. Children grow up thinking abuse is normal.
Since the divorce, I have fallen in love with “Derek.” Derek and his ex-wife both engaged in affairs when the going got rough. Derek has been totally honest with me about this. He’s in counseling and is committed to being a better man.
The problem is, I can’t kick the feeling that I can’t trust him. Early in our relationship, Derek attended a reunion, drank too much and ended up having sex with an ex-classmate who came to his room. He was forthright about it and very regretful. He swore it would never happen again. We were not having a “rough time” in our relationship, so I don’t know why this happened. Do you think he’s a sex addict? Does he just like the challenge of a conquest? Does he need the excitement of a new partner? Is it to boost his ego?
It’s been four years, and he’s been faithful since. He has talked about marriage, but I’m not sure. I do love him. But the pain of being rejected by my husband was bad enough. It took a lot of counseling to regain my self-esteem. An affair in a second marriage would devastate me.
How can I trust Derek so that I am secure when he’s not with me? Is this relationship too great a risk? We’ve had counseling together and separately and discussed this issue, but I’m still confused. — Want To Make the Right Decision
DEAR WANT: One episode of cheating in four years does not constitute a sex addiction. We think it’s more a behavior pattern, and counseling plus motivation can change that. However, no marriage comes with a guarantee of fidelity. Derek is trying hard to prove himself trustworthy, but that doesn’t ensure he won’t cheat if your relationship takes a dive. All relationships require a leap of faith, although you do not need to commit to marriage if you aren’t ready.