QUESTION: I recently discovered my husband had a one-night stand five years ago during an awful period when my mom was dying. He says he regretted it, but I’ve banished him to the spare room. He says that if we don’t resume sex soon, the marriage will end. But surely he shouldn’t dictate how long I need to recover?


ANSWER: No one can tell a wounded soul how long it will take to mend - least of all the perpetrator of that wound.

Maybe “mending” is the wrong word. Pain is part and parcel of our life’s experience and will be folded into us over time.

This is also why it’s dangerous to wait for your heart to mend before you can forgive. What if it takes you three years to feel you’re not smarting on a daily basis? Are you going to keep your husband in the spare room for that whole period? In my experience the process of forgiving helps the mending of heartache - nurturing this kind of grievance can only ever make it worse.

The circumstances were horrifically insensitive, but also help to make some sense of your husband’s moment of madness. Deaths and long illnesses put enormous strains upon family structure. It’s hard for a spouse to feel like a bystander in a drama that often excludes them. These strains can manifest themselves in self-destructive manners.

If you truly want your marriage to work you will have to draw a line under the recriminations. Even the most grovelling of strayers starts feeling unrepentant when no amount of apologies is ever acceptable.

Have one final talk where you give yourself free rein to express the extent of your hurt. But equally tell your husband he can also take the floor.

You don’t need to leap into sex but you can start with holding one another and re-learning the art of intimacy. You have every right to state the pace. It won’t be easy, but it has to be better than the status quo. - Daily Mail