Dear Ms. Petraeus,
Like everyone else I was shocked to hear the news of your husband’s resignation as head of the CIA because of his extramarital affair.
No doubt you were reeling in shock, disbelief--and then, perhaps, anger! Any spouse who has discovered an affair of the other spouse can empathize with you right now. I hope you are getting lots of support from friends and family, but if I may, here are a couple of suggestions:
Take time to process your feelings. Don’t decide today, or tomorrow, whether or not you want to save your marriage. Although this does not make your pain any less, you are not the first nor will you be the last spouse to have to deal with infidelity.
That is why there are dozens of books that offer advice and guidance. Here are two that have received good reviews: Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity by Gary Shriver and Mona Shriver (Nov 1, 2009). Surviving Your Worst Nightmare: A Guide for the Betrayed by Patti Snodgrass (Jul 11, 2011)
And here is one for your husband: How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful by Linda J. MacDonald M.S. (Nov 24, 2010)
I hope that that you have a good therapist to talk to about this, either on your own or with your husband. Both of you have a lot invested in this relationship and by all public accounts, you are a partner who is his equal. You do not sound like the type of women who will say, “he did me wrong and I want to hurt him at any cost.” You could do that, and who would blame you?
But your children will be hurt and the anger will last a lifetime. If you do decide to get a divorce, you may want to seek out an attorney who is skilled and knowledgeable in the complexities of a divorce with military service, as there are unique tax and retirement issues from his time in the military. Perhaps, if you do decide to work through this, why not write a book aimed at military families?
How to deal with the emotional toll of long separations and the reality of divorce from your perspective? That is one way for you to make something good come out of this terrible situation that you did not create, but find yourself in. I personally never wanted a divorce, but after several attempts at marital counseling and years of his unacceptable behavior, I decided to divorce my X.
Only after I initiated the legal proceedings, did I discover that the X was involved in some kind of inappropriate relationship with another person. It was a shock to me and others. I have no regrets with my decision, even though the X has continued to battle me in the courts for almost 10 years!
Good luck, Ms. Petraeus! If half of what we read in the papers is true, it seems that your husband has the decency to admit his mistakes and take responsibility for it. That should count for something. I hope you are able to work through this for a stronger bond.
Best of luck!