DEAR AMY: I have been married to a terrific guy for almost 20 years. We had a strong commitment and were the relationship that many of our friends told us they wished they had.
We recently went through a rough patch when I discovered he was having an online affair with an old college friend. They never got together physically, but he shared intimate details of our life together — the kinds of things that should remain between two married people and not be shared with others. They also had several rather sexually heated conversations and made promises to each other to get together to be physically intimate.
We went to counseling, at his initiation, and made some progress toward repairing the breach in trust between us. It's been six months. There has been no contact between them.
Despite my efforts and his, I've found I do not trust him anymore. Not even a little bit. While I realize this is a minor infraction on the infidelity scale, I can't seem to get past the betrayal. He is a good husband. I truly believe he's no longer carrying on with this woman, nor has he picked up with any others.
Will this discomfort and distrust fade with time, or am I doomed to be haunted by this one-time fumble? — Want to Trust
DEAR WANT: Your husband is motivated to move through this rough patch quickly, but trust has its own timetable. It isn't one decision but a series of daily choices, and it is a process in which he must participate. That includes ongoing therapy until you are ready to stop.
You are not doomed. Your discomfort and distrust will fade, but first you need to believe that trust is possible. You also need to wrestle with the concept of forgiveness.
Your husband has an important part to play (of course), and he needs to be transparent, patient with your discomfort and not rush you toward a specific feeling or reaction — or judge you if you don't get there easily or quickly.
Take this journey one day at a time. The good days will gradually outnumber the bad days. You will see that forgiveness and trust are gifts to your own well-being, as well as your marriage.
Couples who survive infidelity sometimes report that their relationship strengthens through this particular fire. If you are very gentle with yourselves (and each other), you may recover a mature kind of tenderness that admits to problems, flaws and failings — as well as the confidence to know that you can get through the worst of it together.
The must-read book for anyone wrestling with this issue is: "Not 'Just Friends': Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity," by Shirley P. Glass and Jean Coppock Staeheli (2004, Atria Books).
DEAR AMY: I have several tattoos. I found a tattoo artist whose work I really admire. She wasn't accepting any new clients at the time and recommended another artist at her shop, who has now done a couple of tattoos for me.
I like my current tattoo artist, but the one I was originally interested in does amazing work, and I would still like to get inked by her.
Would this lead to hard feelings by my current tattoo artist? It's a small shop, and they are all good friends.
How can I tell my tattoo artist that I want to get work done by her co-worker without ruffling feathers? — Inked
DEAR INKED: I took your question to my neighborhood "body modification studio" (yes, I have one). The manager generously answered that great studios welcome "collectors" such as yourself who want to be inked by different artists.
Both artists should welcome your enthusiasm to build your collection within their studio.
DEAR AMY: I was taken aback at your mean-spirited response to "Overly Concerned Mom," whose son was dating a young woman who had recently gained a lot of weight.
I can totally understand why this mother was worried. With her son's long-term happiness at stake, she should do everything necessary to protect it. — Another Mom
DEAR MOM: This man's overweight girlfriend (as well as his long-term happiness) is his business, not his mother's.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamytribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter askingamy or "like" her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)
By Amy Dickinson
Tribune Media Services