Advice from Amy to Widow Who Can’t Forgive
It was more than 40 years ago, but the resentment lingers
The possible affair was 40 years ago, but this widow who can’t forgive – or grieve – is still haunted by the memory. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson has to say.
My husband died a few months ago. He was very well respected. Everyone thought very highly of him.
We were married for over 50 years.
About 40 years ago he had been working with a woman who lived in another city. He and other co-workers would travel to her city for work.
We had been married for 10 years and had three children.
I went to an award dinner held in their honor.
The morning of the dinner, he was in the shower and the phone rang in our hotel room. When I answered it, the person on the other end used her name, instead of mine.
My husband said that the person knew that they worked together and assumed she was there before leaving for the dinner.
Shortly after that, there were a couple of other incidents that made me suspicious.
A few weeks passed, and he said he wasn’t going to work with her anymore because he was starting to have feelings for her.
I brought up all my suspicions and accused him of having an affair.
He was upset and told me that nothing had ever happened between them.
I was not able to forget.
I always wondered why he told me he had feelings for her. He could have just stopped working with her, and I wouldn’t have known.
We stayed together for another 40 years, but I never could totally forgive him.
Now that he has died, I am thinking of this more than ever.
Other than that, he was the perfect husband and father.
Do you think I am using this as a reason to not mourn?
Your theory about why you are stuck might be correct. Additionally, my take is that you might now be (unconsciously) justifying your inability or unwillingness to forgive your husband over the course of 40 years – and so you are doubling down and ruminating about it, now.
Surely, his long-ago admission would have been very hard for you to take, but it seems to me that he did everything he should have done: he was honest with you, he stopped working with her, he continued on in the marriage to you.
I believe that you would find some liberation now if you worked your way toward forgiveness – forgiving him for his transgression, as well as yourself – for holding onto this so tightly.
We humans are saddled with complication and frailty. We do hurt one another. The ability to forgive is such a gift – I hope you can give it to yourself, now.
A grief group or therapist could help you to sort this out.
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from widow who can’t forgive to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson