It’s very confusing when the man that you love repeatedly denies the affair that you strongly suspect and yet asks to “move on” or requests “forgiveness.” This can leave you wondering what, exactly, there is to forgive or to move on from?
Someone might say: “I am almost one hundred percent sure that my husband has been cheating on me. Three different sets of friends have seen him out with the same woman. When the first friend came forward, my husband denied it totally and said my friend must have been mistaken. However, when the other two people came forward on two separate occasions, my husband admitted to being out with someone, but insisted that she was a co-worker and that they were discussing business with nothing inappropriate happening. So I asked him if it was all so innocent, why did he not mention it to me? His response was that he didn’t know that he needed to make an announcement to see a coworker. He also said that he didn’t think that he needed permission like a child. His tone made it sound like I’m the one in the wrong. After we had this conversation, we had a few weeks where things were very chilly between us. Frankly, I just don’t buy his explanation. I honestly do think he’s having an affair. Even if ‘the sightings’ with the other woman had never happened, he’s been acting weird and distant outside of that. So I fully expected for my marriage to start to crumble. But about three weeks after I confronted my husband, he told me that he wanted to move on and that he wanted to be forgiven. I sarcastically asked him what he wanted to be forgiven for, if there was nothing inappropriate and he felt that he didn’t need to ask my permission. He then admitted that things would be easier if he had told me about the coworker, so he’d like to be forgiven for that. Part of me would just like to do exactly what my husband asked and move on. I want things to go back to how they were. But another part of me thinks that he’s getting away with something and that if I ignore this, I am ignoring all common sense. By the same token, if he is innocent, then I don’t want to wreck my marriage. Should he be forgiven if he refuses to admit the affair?”
Well, let’s take things one thing at a time. He has admitted to dinner with the other woman at least twice. He most likely did it three times, but didn’t exactly tell the truth the first time that this came up. You can and should address the dinners with the other person. Even if you assume that it was all innocent, he should have told you about it. He would certainly want you to tell him if the roles were reversed. It is up to you whether or not you think that he has done enough to earn forgiveness for either an omission or lie (depending on how you are looking at it.)
As far as the affair, I don’t think that you can forgive something that he hasn’t yet owned up to. Affairs have a way of being discovered, though. So I think if an affair took place, the odds are in your favor of finding out eventually. The question, then, is what do you want to do in the meantime? Only you can decide if you want to participate in your marriage as before or if you want to explore the mistruths and omissions a little more.
My suggestion would be this: He’s admitted to behavior that isn’t quite honorable and this has hurt you and probably changed your marriage somewhat. These set of circumstances would make counseling wise. Ask him if he’s willing to go to counseling to strengthen your marriage. I’d suspect that any good counselor would ask follow up questions, which is even more reason that the affair would eventually come out (assuming that it happened.)
If there was no affair, well, any marriage can benefit from counseling. You will be relieved, your marriage will be strengthened, and you will have the reassurance that your husband cared enough to go to counseling for the sake of your marriage – even if there was technically no affair to admit to. Either way, his agreeing to counseling is a good sign – because it indicates that he wants to save or strengthen your marriage regardless, or that he has nothing to hide. If you are both against counseling, then ask him to participate in some self help resources. You want to at least see that he’s willing to work on this with you in some capacity.