My Husband Slept With A Prostitute—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek,

I'm grappling with coming to terms with the end of my 32-year marriage. Two years ago, I discovered my shy husband was cheating on me with a prostitute, going so far as to sneak her into my home when I was moving our older son out of college during the first COVID lockdown.

We tried marriage counseling. He refused to be transparent and continued to text/phone/see the same prostitute. He felt his privacy was infringed on when he was told I should have access to his phone, that he was being held hostage because he couldn't take out thousands of dollars in cash each week to spend at a casino (where he initially met her).

He refuses all communication from me and has not seen our adult children in a year. He is still paying this prostitute, his "karmic connection," and our sons are livid. He attends raves and listens to techno music, which he never did before. He's 55. The prostitute is 36.

My husband cheated with a prostitute
A stock photo of an older woman crying with her head in her hand. This week's reader letter was from a woman struggling with the end of her 32-year marriage after he husband began an affair with a prostitute. Marjan_Apostolovic/iStock/Getty Images Plus

I need closure. I cannot move on until I know why this happened. The prostitute is covered in tattoos, piercings (things he previously despised).

How can I trust anyone ever again? He told me I was old and ugly and he deserved someone young, dangerous, and worthy. He has literally thrown his entire life away— he's lost his career, is involved with drugs, and his siblings feel so sorry for him. What about our children? He tells them to "move on" and "accept things for how they are."

He's liking and commenting on the prostitute's social media pages (cash app conveniently linked). It's beyond embarrassing.

Lisa, Arizona

Accept What You Cannot Change

Gary Schuller is a Marriage and Family Therapist based in London, UK.

What you describe is a deeply traumatic experience. You say you are 'reeling'. I can only imagine your pain, the unsettling and ungrounding experience of having your world turned upside down.

Of course you've tried what you can to make some sense of the chaos, who wouldn't? Whenever we suffer, we try to find meaning in our suffering, it's what we humans do. It takes courage to explore our wounds and take responsibility for the hurt we inflict on others. From what you describe, your husband is unwilling to engage with you in that process. Your decision to move out of a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship seems to me, a healthy decision.

How do you move on? That is the question. Focus on what you can change, on what you have control over. Think of your life as a garden. What elements will nurture your garden. What kind of people will understand the environment you want to create. What do you need to do in your life now, so that one day you can rest in your garden, look around at the environment you have created and feel proud, at peace, and content.

You explain in order to have closure you need to understand "why this has happened'. This might be one of those areas where you need to accept what you cannot change. In order to understand, your husband would have to dig deeply into his own wounding, his own pain, take responsibility, and share his thoughts and feelings with you. He won't do that. You have no control over that, and so, how can you ever know. His abusive comments directed at you and his insensitive responses to your children's distress are an expression of his own deep, unresolved self-shame.

How can you trust again? Dear reader, be kind to yourself, be patient, this healing will take time. Opening the heart after it has been broken takes courage, an evolving wisdom, the commitment to "enjoying every moment at a time" and the surrender and accepting of "hardship as a pathway to peace".

It's also probably a good idea to avoid following any social media that will retraumatize you. You will find nothing in those spaces which will nurture you, seek out environments and people who inspire with an honest, loving approach to life.

He Has No True Interest In Reconciling With You

Moa Lundstrom is an Existential Psychotherapist and Clinical Director of The London Practice.

You have my complete sympathy, what an awful situation to find yourself in - I imagine you feel very much hard done by, and rightly so.

Unfortunately, infidelity is not too uncommon in a marriage, but how it is dealt with is fundamental to how the parties move on. It is apparent that he had no true interest in reconciling with you, but chose to continue down his new path. Everyone has the right to set their life on a new course, but it should be done respectfully to the ones that are affected by one's actions. His behavior on the other hand sounds utterly selfish and disrespectful, not just towards you, but also to your children.

My advice is to remove yourself from him and the situation as best you can. An abrupt end can be experienced as a death, only the person is still alive. It is hurtful, and you will go through stages of grief, denial, anger and sadness. It is human nature to want answers, but you may never find them. Chances are he himself doesn't know why he's acted the way he has. Don't allow the anger to become bitterness.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to find acceptance and focus on the new chapter in your life. I understand you feel embarrassed, but remember you are not alone in going through something like this, and you are not at all responsible for his actions. Your trust was broken, but don't let him set the tone for your future. It might be helpful to have a therapist support you through this transition.

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