I thought this letter in this week’s The Ethicist column in The New York Times was particularly interesting:
I’ve felt emotionally abused by my wife — before, during and after the affair — but I love her. I don’t think it’s a very healthy relationship, but it’s what I’ve got. I feel that her keeping the photos is a way to keep her power over me.
I know I was wrong in the past and would like to move forward, but I find it difficult when my wife keeps the photos. Should I confront my wife or just let it be? — Name Withheld
I agree with the columnist’s advice and would go a step further and say that this marriage sounds totally doomed. There’s no trust, true forgiveness has not been granted, and there is a poison that continues to grow. That the LW felt emotionally abused before, during, and after the affair speaks volumes. Nothing has changed. The relationship has only gotten more toxic. Love isn’t enough to sustain a marriage. It’s like trying to bake bread with only flour. You have a main ingredient, but what good is it without the other ingredients? Even the most basic recipe calls for sugar, salt, yeast, oil, and water. You know what you have with just flour? A mess. Love is a mess when it has no accompanying ingredients to bake something wonderful. This marriage is a mess and it’s time to move on.