Question

I still love my ex-husband very much after 24 years of marriage even though he cheated on me with his ex-girlfriend and later with a family friend. He broke my heart. I remain single eight years after our divorce. I feel I will never meet my soulmate again. I would really like to dance with my ex-husband at our son’s upcoming wedding this Fall. Is this inappropriate to ask him if he would dance with me?  

Answer

My heart aches for you as I read your question. Clearly you lost someone dear and special to you and it’s been impossible for you to heal and move forward. Even though it’s not certain what type of wedding reception your son and his fiancé will plan in light of the ongoing world pandemic, it’s important to be prepared for this big event so you don’t further wound your heart and prolong the pain. Most importantly, you deserve some closure and resolution with the losses you’ve experienced.

You’re still grieving the loss of your soulmate husband. I know nothing of your marriage, but 24 years is a long time to bond with someone. Even though he cheated on you multiple times and your marriage ended in divorce, he still holds a significant place in your life story. It’s impossible to ignore the impact he’s had on you. While I don’t advocate that you harbor bitter feelings toward him for his betrayals in the marriage,

Your question may seem simple on the surface, but it’s important to closely examine why you’re feeling conflicted about this. Are you unsure because he’s moved on and is remarried? Do you worry that letting yourself get close to him again will break your heart again? Do you secretly hope he’ll realize he made a mistake in divorcing you? Do you long for him to miss you? Are you looking to make peace with him and have closure? You need to get honest with yourself about why this dance matters so much to you.

You are convinced that you can’t move on because he was your true soulmate. I don’t want to diminish the connection you shared with him and I certainly don’t know how your marriage ultimately ended. Your grief and loss are palpable, and you deserve to have healing for all that you’ve been through in losing this man. However, he’s not choosing to get back into this relationship with you and I want to discourage you from putting so much emotional weight into this one dance with him.

If you’re pining for this dance to soothe your grief and loss, I am almost certain it will do the opposite. Additionally, I worry that you will prolong the unhealthy belief that he’s the only person out there for you. I believe that if you have truly healed and integrated the loss of this relationship into your life story, you could take or leave a dance with him. Since you’re still hurting, I hate to see this extend the suffering you’ve experienced over these years.

It’s also important to consider the feelings of his wife (if he’s remarried), your son, and your other children (if you have them). This could be hurtful and confusing to them, especially if they sense that you’re still longing for a connection with him.

You have to decide if dancing with him will do more harm than good. Only you can know the truth about your intentions and desires. Talk through it openly with someone you trust who will listen, ask honest questions, and give you a space to make sense of your delicate feelings.

Regardless of what happens with this wedding dance, your healing matters. If you believe he’s the only person who can help you feel whole, you’ll stay in unresolved grief and loss as you hope for his return. True healing is a spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical experience that isn’t as simple as being with the right person. Plus, your peace and wholeness can’t depend on any one person since, as flawed humans, we regularly let each other down. Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained why the first commandment protects us from putting all of our trust in other people:

“The first commandment is first for a reason. And the second commandment is second for a reason. True, the second commandment is like unto the first, but it isn’t the first commandment. We worship the perfect object of that first commandment, God, because of His spiritual supremacy. We do not worship our neighbors. We are to love them but not worship them. This recognition of God’s supremacy on all counts is why that commandment is first and why it is completely safe for us to submit to Him.”[i]

As you release your ex-husband as your only hope for healing your broken heart, you’ll open up to healthier and more effective ways of healing. Since submitting to God is the only safe submission, as Elder Maxwell put it, you can start there by crying to Him to heal the pain of losing someone so important to you. He can, through the Holy Spirit, “show unto you all things what ye should do.”[ii] You’ll discover customized ways to heal, meaningful relationships, and personal strengths you couldn’t access when you were fixated on your ex-husband.

Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at [email protected]

If you’ve broken trust with your spouse and want a structured approach to repairing the damage you’ve created, I’ve created the Trust Building Bootcamp, a 12-week online program designed to help you restore trust and become a trustworthy person. Visit www.trustbuildingacademy.com to learn more and enroll in the course.

About the Author

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples, pornography/sexual addiction, betrayal trauma, and infidelity. He is the founder of LifeStar of St. George, Utah (www.lifestarstgeorge.com) and Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com). Geoff is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, the host of the Illuminate podcast, and creates online relationship courses available at www.trustbuildingacademy.com. He earned degrees from Brigham Young University and Auburn University. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.

You can connect with him at:
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Website: www.geoffsteurer.com 
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[i] https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/neal-a-maxwell/sharing-insights-life/

[ii] 2 Nephi 32:5