Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships


Dear Stacy,

My husband cheated on me in the past. We have tried to do everything to get through it, including therapy. But it’s still hard for me not to question everything he does, even when we’ve worked so hard to get over it. We have kids, a mortgage, a good life, but on a regular basis I find myself thinking about whether I can trust him. I am wondering how other women get over this. Is it normal to just accept it because you have the kids and the marriage, or am I kidding myself that this can ever get better?

– Want to Forgive

Dear Forgive:

Your question goes to the heart of what forgiveness really is. It’s not about wiping the slate clean in a way that causes you to forget a betrayal. It’s something the betrayed person actually has to give the betrayer, sometimes every single minute. No, Husband doesn’t deserve to feel like a criminal every day, but he’s going to have to expect that you will be wary whenever he comes home late. That’s probably going to be part of the marriage for the rest of your lives, and it’s because of his choices, not yours.

But remember, it takes a progress-stalling toll when one person appears to forgive and then snaps right back to that place of anger and frustration. Therapy can help (and, yes, it can be irritatingly slow, but rewiring the brain to turn an unsafe person back into a safe person does take time), but sometimes forgiveness is a choice we have to make again and again. Which is why having the kids and mortgage can be helpful: They anchor you to the very hard work of renewing the marriage.

While we don’t talk enough publicly about sensitive issues – infidelity, infertility, disability, etc. – to truly normalize them, as someone who listens to people talk about them daily, I can say that all of us (repeat: all of us) have “something” to manage in our relationships. Commitment is both highly difficult and highly rewarding. This valuable coin comes with two sides.

Stacy Notaras Murphy ( is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to

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