Ask an Expert: My Husband Had an Affair in AA

By Stacey Rosenfeld 04/17/15

Today's question is on how, and whether, to forgive your spouse if they had an affair while trying to get clean.


My husband had an affair for several months with someone he met in rehab. Now he says it's over and he wants to go on like nothing happened. I'm glad he got sober and is now back in AA but I wonder how this could get by his sponsors and whether these character defects are just never going to get fixed in an addict. I am not trusting him and can't forgive him for the infidelity, though I do care about him. I clearly need some guidance here and an overall plan. Do you think this is fixable or should I just move on, given how he has revealed himself. - Laurel


Stacey Rosenfeld: This sounds like a difficult situation, but the good news is, you have a say in how things proceed. I'd conceptualize this as less an addiction issue and more a marital concern at this point. We might debate whether or not someone can recover from a character defect, but what seems more useful is determining if your marriage can recover from this affair. 

Does the relationship seem salvageable? Is your husband willing to acknowledge the pain he's caused? Does he seem committed to working on the marriage? What is keeping you in the relationship at this point? What could your husband do, if anything, to earn back your trust over time? These are some questions to consider. A course of couple's counseling might help you and your husband determine whether the relationship is fixable and, if so, guide you through the process. Individual therapy could provide you with support and a place to process your feelings and develop a plan that feels right for you.



Stacey Rosenfeld, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who treats patients with eating disorders, anxiety/depression, substance use issues, and relationship difficulties. A certified group psychotherapist, she has worked at Columbia University Medical Center in NYC and at UCLA in Los Angeles and is a member of three eating disorder associations. The author of the highly- praised Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight, she is often interviewed by media outlets as an expert in the    Full Bio.

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