My husband had an emotional affair at work

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Meredith, I wonder what your take is on this.

It's that old old story: my husband had an emotional affair with a co-worker and close friend that has disrupted our long marriage. I called him on it, he admitted it, and we have been working through couples therapy for some months now, trying to figure out just what happened there. Couples therapy is definitely helping. But here's my problem. His co-worker was a longtime single person when they were emotionally involved, but literally, within days of my raising my concerns about their relationship and my husband telling her things would need to change, she very rapidly found a guy and moved in with him. They're getting married next year.

The downstream effect of this is that I feel an incredible lack of closure. I worry that my husband didn't really choose me or the marriage; she just rendered herself inert by making herself unavailable. And they're still working together. What the heck do you do in a situation like this to regain your self-image and self-respect?

– Old Story

Your husband made the decision to work on this marriage before his co-worker moved in with someone else, right? He could have said to you, when confronted about the affair, "I love her and want to be with her." That's not what happened. There's your closure (or something like it).

My guess is that this is no longer about a specific woman and more about whether the two of you can find something you lost. Over time, people can forget how much work a relationship takes. How much maintenance and love it needs. Partners can treat a long-term commitment like one of those hard-to-kill plants that rebound with a little water, but I think most marriages are more delicate than that. They need pruning and light (feel free to throw in other plant metaphors here; I generally buy the ones you can't kill).

Shift your focus from this other woman to what's happening at home, in your marriage, which is real. Think about how you can have fun with your spouse. Take time off from work together. Figure out whether he can still make you happy.

Whenever you focus on this woman and jump on a hamster wheel about what she's up to, remember that the dynamic has already changed so much. She's living with someone, doing her own thing. You will never know her or her motives. It's better to center your spouse and see if he can do the same.

– Meredith

Readers? What about self-respect? How important is this other woman?