Questions and Answers


Excerpts from 
Reader's Digest Canada 'Ask the Expert'

Q: Dear Dr. Hedva: 

My husband had an affair a few years ago. We had at that point been together almost 20 years. The other woman was a prior girlfriend . Through a lot of tears and talking we reconciled. Months passed and because I really wasn't sure if it was over I did my own investigating and discovered the story he gave me of their chance meeting was a lie. He refuses to discuss this anymore because to him it is in the past, over and done. How do I learn to trust him again? Especially when we reconciled based on a lie.


A: Dear Alberta:

This may not be so much about trusting him, but about trusting yourself, and your choice to be with him. You sensed something was ‘off’ in his story, so you investigated your hunch. You you found out that he did not tell you the whole truth about how they ‘met’. But, you did not mention that he was still seeing his old flame. Thus, I gather this relationship was (and is), in fact, over. 

So if you want to open to trust and are truly ready, take a moment to think of whether you have ever, in your entire life, had prior experience with lies? Have you, perhaps, ever withheld information to spare someone else pain, or perhaps to spare yourself from their reaction? If you did, can you have compassion for that part of you, (however old you or ‘she’ was), for being afraid to tell the whole truth? Becoming more conscious of our unconscious motives is called ‘owning your shadow.’ 

It is easy to see our partner’s foibles, but if we search our own hearts, we will discover that we all suffer from vulnerability and insecurity due to a need to be loved and approved of. It’s possible that he was motivated by similar fears and needs when he confessed. If he is able to discuss these kinds of deeper feelings, including what you both need to feel safe in order to discuss uncomfortable topics, you may open greater understanding and trust between you. For more help go to the exercises at 

If it helps to reflect on another perspective: It sounds to me like he chose you over her twice: 20 years ago and again a few years ago. Now it is time for you to choose whether you want to be with him, in all his human-ness -- including the shadow of his vulnerabilities and fears. With respect,

Dr. Beth Hedva


Q: Dear Dr. Hedva,

I recently found out that my husband has joined a website, which caters to married people looking to have an affair or have cybersex. He even created a profile, which discussed how far he would be willing to go.

I became very angry and confronted him about this. He claims he did not act on anything, but only looked at other women's profiles as they contained dirty images. He would not however tell me what his profile entailed.

I do not trust him now, and can't be sure if he is being completely honest with me. He has his own business and works a variety of hours.

How can I trust him again when I am not even sure of how far he actually went? We have five children together, and they are sensing an unhappiness in me. My mistrust is definitely affecting our relationship. 


A: Dear Help!

To re-establish honest communication and trust, the two of you will need to find a way to feel safe sharing very intimate and delicate material with each other, including definitions of fidelity. Your husband may be turning to cyberspace for what he might believe is safe recreational release -- without thinking about how it might impact you. Because there is no physical touching, many cybersex users compartmentalize their experience, and put this in the same category as using magazines or movies for self-stimulation. Sexual excitement is objectified -- not personal. As to not sharing his profile: The anonymity of cyberspace may allow him to explore parts of his sexual nature without fear of turning you off, or risk being judged and feeling shame. 

True intimacy is a risk, and includes sharing our deepest thoughts and most vulnerable feelings. Do you feel you understand and empathize with each other? If you take the initiative, this crisis may be an opportunity to open up to each other. Is it possible for you to discuss what he gets from his cyberspace contact? What turns him on? (Example: Is it the novelty; doing something forbidden; the sense of adventure or risk; any particular fantasy?) Have you ever shared your desires, needs, or fears with him? You may be able to use this discussion to open communication, clarify needs, and increase the fun/recreational quotient in your marriage (adventure, novelty, emotional closeness etc.) as you each bring some of what the other desires back into your lives, (even with 5 children and a household of responsibilities).

If it is too hard to have this conversation on your own, consider talking with a professional, ideally one who specializes in sexual and relationship issues. For a list of qualified therapists contact the Ontario Board of Examiners in Sex Therapy and Counselling or call the Sex Education Council of Canada (tel) 416-666-5304 (e-mail) . To help him understand your point of view also try reading and discussing this 48 page book: ‘Straight Talk About Betrayal: A Self-Help Guide for Couples’ by Donna R. Bellafiore. 

With respect, Dr. Beth Hedva


Q: Dear Dr. Hedva: 

My partner and I are giving it another go around in terms of a relationship. When things began to go sour I turned to another man's arms. This of course did not happen overnight, as it took a couple of years of us being crude to one another for it to escalate to this. I told my mate that it was over and since telling him did not cause him to raise an eyebrow, I guess I took things a bit farther. We are now back together after a year and a half separation and I am willing to give it another go and obviously he is too. Unfortunately communication is still not the greatest and I know that without this we will not stand the greatest of chances. What would you recommend to be of some help in this case. He is a good man and we are a year apart. I am 45 and he is 46. We have no children except for animals. I have a son who does not live with us as he is grown.

A: Dear 'Giving it Another Go,'

Since you are ‘giving it another go’ this makes me think that there is a significant bond between the two of you -- and there is more to learn from each other. We often come together with our beloved to learn significant ‘spiritual’ lessons. Eastern traditions call this ‘karma.’

There are always personal life lessons to be learned. To discover these lessons, go to your heart, use your intuition, and ask: “What is the purpose of this relationship?” “How have I grown, and how can I grow more?” “What are my barriers to personal growth, to being all that I can be with my partner?” “How can I eliminate these barriers?” Finally, “How can we help each other grow and fulfill our greater purpose together?” A communication hint: speak only for yourself, and let your partner speak only about himself, without interruption. 

Equally important to communication are acknowledgment and acceptance. When we know and accept ourselves it is easier to extend understanding and acceptance to our partners, and they feel respected too. (Instead of feeling ‘wrong' -- a side effect of wishing they were different, or trying to ‘change’ them). To break the pattern of name calling and crude language consider a communication or conflict resolution course. Look around, here is one resource: . Sometimes a trained or mutually trusted facilitator can help. (see “Dear Ontario for URLs).

Dr Beth Hedva


Questions from Readers of
Journey from Betrayal to Trust
and Betrayal, Trust and Forgiveness

Dear Dr. Beth
Perhaps you make some sense with self trust. I actually had the same idea. I searched on the word trust and landed on your site and realized there isn't one soul I trust. What does that even mean when used in reference to trusting "another". That they won't lie? That they hear what you're saying? I don't even get what it means.

I was abused by a therapist and told by subsequent therapists (no offense, but you do all stick together, just like any other profession, I guess) that I need to trust. I think I need to not trust. Plus I am incapable of it. I don't think people should be shamed for not trusting. That's what I get now. If any therapist would admit the power differential which makes relationship inherently unhealthy, I would applaud that person. But then where would I be? in an unhealthy relationship with an honest person? At least honest in that one instance. My parents are two of the least trustworthy people on the planet. I have no foundation, but a "great personality" and that's just surface. 
Thank you for your response,
Healing from Therapist Abuse

Dear Healing from Therapist Abuse,
I am sorry to say you are not alone in having your trust violated by a therapist who abused you (I am assuming it was sexual -- but any kind of boundary violation is serious). As I am sure you know, you may have legal recourse to take action against that therapist. I am sorry to say, in my personal experience, legal settlement tends to perpetuate betrayal wounds, often victimizing the victim even further.

According to Angeles Arrien there are 3 universal powers --the power of position, the power of information, and the power of presence. In my opinion, the therapist (or any professional -- or a parent for that matter) holds the power of position just by virtue of the fact that they hold a title.

But the truth is the client holds the power of information. No one else can be an expert on the truth of our own experience -- we each are individually the holders of the truth of our experience, and we each have the power to make sense out of our personal life experiences, to tap a greater healing 'presence' within our own being. (on rare occasions we meet someone who seems to radiate a presence that seems to have a positive effect on us. . . .but part of the challenge is to discover that power within our own being-- we are here to also learn to acknowledge the position we hold as human beings --instead of just the power of title awarded by an external authority).

True power comes from our own authority -- not from an external source.

Sadly, the academic/medical/hierarchical model tends to train therapists to think that power is indeed external --and that a Ph.D. therapist, for example, holds not only the power of title/position, but also the power of information.  This leaves the clients in not only a one -- down position, but they are not even the 'expert' on their own experience. This is the first abuse -- the first dis-empowerment of the client.

But the truth is this: your own internal authority spoke up and told you that that was wrong! A deeper part of you knew and knows how false, how damaging that kind of relationship is. While you have been injured, you also clearly know what was 'right' and 'wrong' for you -- what feels 'violating' and what doesn’t. The key is to continue on the path of self-knowledge and self-healing. There are many resources, books, videos, self-study, maybe friends, philosophy, art, nature -- all these can reflect back to us the truth of who and what we really are. And, fortunately, there are some therapists who are truly here to 'serve the client, through empowering the client in self-knowledge' instead of being self-serving (whether it be solely for fees, prestige/status, or even worse, domination and personal gratification).

With Respect,
Dr. Beth Hedva


Dear Dr. Beth Hedva,
I would love it if you'd share this with people. I felt alone when going through it, and maybe, through my story, somebody out there will realize that they aren't alone. Maybe they'll see similar patterns, or share similar experiences. Sometimes hearing somebody else's life story makes you realize the severity of your own experiences. It was therapeutic for me to write my story, helps me see my growth. To live through the stages, without having to 'live' through them again. Great to see my progress, on paper, and now I know that I was growing. 

Well I can say from the start there were flags, but I chose not to see them. I was in love, and thought that it was forever. Two weeks after moving in with him I discovered that he had been cheating. I felt stuck, angry, hurt, shattered all around. I had put my trust in this person, and now my whole life was revolving around him, only to realize that he had other itinerary. I confronted him on the subject, and he remained quiet. I did retrieve some info, but he only gave me the 'safe' stuff. The incriminating details came from my source, and he wouldn't admit to them, although I knew they were fact, because he didn't deny them either.

I went into denial, to stop the pain I guess. I knew what had happened, I was aware of his behaviors, yet I chose not to face them. Life was easier that way. Having just recently packed up and moved to be with him, now I felt that I had nowhere to go. At least with him I knew what I had, and I chose to tolerate it. So day in and day out, I went about like nothing had happened. But there were reminders. Like when the holidays came, and I could only recollect that on our first Christmas while I was with my family telling them what a great guy he was, he was with her exchanging gifts, and whatever else. They have a daughter together, so my understanding was that they would be at his mothers, for his daughters sake, so that his mother could see her open her gifts. 

He made it clear that it wasn't going to be a good time for him, in fact, he declared how much he despised his ex. I had no reason not to trust him, or so I thought, so I let him go. I felt safe with that. Come to find out, among other things, that they had taken their daughter to see Santa together, gone shopping together, even exchanged nice gifts on Christmas. They were having their little trysts, while I was at home, or work, or at meetings and I had no clue. Meanwhile, he was telling me that he hates her, etc. and the only reason he deals with her is for his daughter. There were many other instances, where I gave him the benefit of the doubt, trusted to the fullest extent, only to find out later that once again he had lied to me. I just kept playing the victim. How could you do this to me,... Why is this happening to me...., I'm so stupid for trusting him...., How could I let this happen?... I was accepting it, time and again, because I was afraid. I only worked part time, and felt I couldn't afford to move. I wasn't sure if I wanted to leave, because, sometimes we had really good times together. (I told you I was in denial!!) Sometimes he was a great guy. (this is comical now).

I often went to work, upset and hurt. We worked for the same company, so we had mutual acquaintances. A good friend of mine used to listen and give his advice, from the male point of view. He'd tell me where I might have overreacted, or reaffirm my beliefs about the situation. Either way, he was a great listener, and fair. Well, through his advice, and many other supporters, I decided to leave. Thing is, I wasn't ready. I packed up all my stuff one day while he was at work, and before he got home, I was gone. I had warned him that I was gonna leave just a couple of weeks prior to that. I think it was a last ditch effort to hold on to him, or get him to take me seriously for once. I said that I was considering moving, and he responded with the ever so sympathetic words of "Just remember, all the big ticket items are mine". Real winner. Sure the TV and Couch, and Table, and weight bench were his, BUT, ask him how he got by that first night without my pans to cook with, or my bed, or my silverware, or my dishes, or my towels, or my shower rod, or my little decorations that make it look like a home. The list could go on, but I think I've stressed my point enough.

He owned the "big ticket" items, but he couldn't make it a home. I made it just that. Well, after a few hours, and being in my mother’s spare room, I got to thinking. My God, what did it feel like to come home to the emptiness I left him. Guilt set in. I called him at 11pm to see if he was ok. He didn't answer. He came to my workplace the following morning. I agreed to meet with him on lunch. He seemed upset by my leaving, and I felt he was finally taking me seriously. I allowed myself to be talked into meeting with him, and to be talked out of canceling the utilities. He invited me out that evening, like a date. Maybe we could work it out. I agreed. I really thought I had gotten to him. He didn't say sorry though. Not ever.

Well, back in the rut, my things still at my mothers, but me with him. I went to work one day, and came home to an empty trash can, which I had just thrown the night before. The house wasn't clean, so there was no reason, in my mind, to empty it. I had asked him why he threw the trash, he said it was full. I knew he wasn't home all day, softball games, etc. Also, the phone bill only had a cover page. How many phone bills come with one page? None. The phone company is famous for 'killing trees'. I suspected he threw the remainder of it out, to hide any numbers he may have called. I bitched, he argued. Told me that I have to learn to trust him. 

Of course I reinforced why I couldn't trust him in the first place. Go for the dig, that's what I did. Got really good at it too. About a month later he let me use his car for work while mine was being repaired, and I was uncontrollably compelled to search his trunk. Well, during my search, I found one of two journals that I had thrown away, from the trash that we had argued about. So here I am, sitting with an old journal in my hand, from 5 years before I even met him, and knowing that he had read it, and
can only wonder what happened to the other one. I was livid. I went home, and confronted him about it. Rubbed in his face that he claimed I had to trust him more, when he knew he had lied to me. Also told him that I was no longer the person that he had read about in that journal, he had no business in it, or making judgment on it. I was previously married, and the journal had entries about sex life, trying to have a baby, and daily entries. All my past, nothing to do with him.

Over time, things continued to happen. Lies continued to happen, but I was more aware of his behaviors, and less inclined to believe him. He often tried to make me out to be the bad guy. At first that worked, but I learned that his behaviors were bad, and I was only reacting to them. I wasn't the one creating the problem. Although, I later learned, that I was fueling them with my own reactions. Not to mention, every time I caught him in a lie, he just got better at hiding them. We were both learning, it seems.

Everyone lost faith in my ability to leave. I knew I didn't want a family with him, that I didn't trust him, and that I saw no future with him. I told people, but they didn't believe. I even lost some friends because I stayed with him. They couldn't stand by to see me hurt, over and over again. And I didn't take their advice. I started telling people that I was gonna leave someday, as soon as I went full time. I knew that by telling people, they would later hold me accountable to my words. I know myself, and if I don't tell someone, I'm less inclined to go through with it. So I told, and told, and told. I didn't want them to see me as the stupid girl anymore. I wanted them to know "Hey, I'm aware of what's wrong here, and I'm gonna do something about it.". I waited till I was selected for full time. Took about 2 more years, and I dealt with the same stuff, over and over again.

 I was still afraid to leave, but each day made the idea more agreeable. I pretended to be in a relationship with him, no longer denying, just accepting what I had, and knowing it was just for today. Continued to tell people that I was leaving. Some people started telling other people. Every instance that came up, I didn't have to say a word, someone else said it for me. They all knew, and I'm sure that he knew. Work was my life. I put in extra hours, drove home as slowly as possible, joined Yoga, etc. Anything to not be near him. I even stopped working out because he would be in there too. I saved my money, and just kept making small steps to getting away. I guess you could compare it to the prisoner who finds freedom, after years of digging through the wall of his cell, with a spoon. It was long, and slow, but I eventually came to that point.

I was coming up on 30. UGH. All that kept crossing my mind was that I wasn't where I wanted to be in life, and he was holding me back. I had to learn to hate him. It sounds awful, but he didn't respect me, he didn't support me, he continued to lie to me, all even after he saw the pain it caused me. It didn't take much to 'hate him' when I broke it down like that. It fueled me more. How dare he treat me that way after all that I've done for him. After all the support that I've given him. How does anyone do that to someone and not feel horrible about it? I came to the conclusion that he was without a soul. He, in my book, was the devil. And since he was my major setback, I started looking for an apartment. At first, I wasn't too serious about it. Just reading, browsing. Till one day I drummed up enough nerve to call. Started calling one after the other from my cell phone. I made appointments. Looked at apartments. Leaving was now becoming my reality. And I told people. They wished me luck, meanwhile, he was starting to cling. More than ever. He realized he was losing his grip on me, and he clung. Small things, at first, then bigger ones. Life changes. But I wasn't biting. He'd done that before, only to go back to his old ways. I was stronger, because I was ready. I was doing it for me this time.

I went away, as I did every year, for my two week training period in the National Guard. That was Flag Day 2002. Well, I decided, while I was away, that I didn't want to go back. I knew that all I could expect was the fake "I love and miss you", and the discovery of new lies and of his lifestyle while I was away. I just didn't want to go through with it. Not again, not anymore. So I spoke with a friend, and stayed at his house. I never went home. I didn't call. I didn't go. And he tried to call my cell phone, tried to threaten me about going to get my stuff when he wasn't home, etc. I hung up on him. And later, just didn't answer his calls. It was like 'Dialing for Dollars' ; he let it ring so much. I turned it off. I began looking for work in the National Guard, full time. Got my name out there. I kept going to work, and avoiding him, whenever possible. And, one day, I took the day off, and moved. By myself. No help. I was supposed to get help, but one niece died, and another was in the hospital in Maine. I let my sister and brother-in-law grieve, and I did it alone. I was leaving no matter what. I made 7 trips in my Saturn that day, and my new neighbor let me use his truck for my bureau, which I took down 2 flights of stairs alone, and loaded it into the truck. Nothing was stopping me this time. I left. He found out where I had moved to, and left things in my mail. I called him and told him to never come by again unannounced. Ha.

I applied for full-time jobs in the National Guard, and eventually got one. I no longer have to see him, because I work in another state. So today I'm not even in the same apartment that I moved to when I left him. It's only been 6 months, but feels like days ago that it happened. 2002 flew by. I feel like a whole new person. Like I can be myself, and it's OK. I found me again. I set boundaries. When flags go up, I knock them down. I don't let anyone step on my feet. I'm not sitting another 5 years out, like I did for him. I used to feel bad about standing my ground, setting boundaries, but now I realize the impact of being a doormat. I did get something good from this whole experience. He taught me a lot about trust. He taught me a lot about myself. He taught me how to be the kind of person I never want to be again. I got ugly, hateful toward him. I didn't like myself. And he began to look like the good guy, if you were only looking on the surface. I didn't like myself when I was with him, and it was because I couldn't like him. I don’t think that I ever really knew him. His whole existence with me was a lie, so who is he really? Or is that a lie too. He'll have to figure himself out, I'm done trying to do it for him. I've got enough with trying to figure me out. Thanks to him, I'm one step closer to me, and I like me. 
Thank you, 

Dear Diana,
Your letter aptly described all the phases of betrayal to trust and forgiveness: the shock, the mini-steps to awakening, the slips back into denial and fear. . . and the ultimate gift (what this whole journey was for-giving you) the chance to learn to trust yourself, champion yourself, act on your own behalf to create a 'good' life for you. Very important life lessons!

If you wish to take the growth and learning to an even greater level you might enjoy doing the questions at the end of Chapter 1 --Explore, what was the origin of the pattern for you? the family pattern of even past life pattern of not listening to yourself. What motivated you to not pay attention to flags, to 'lie' to yourself under the guise of denial.; Was the denial mechanism one that was 'familiar?' as in 'of the family.' Were there parents or grandparents who used the deceit/denial pattern in their relationships in anyway? Or the fear, insecurity, financial/emotional insecurity. You may have broken an ancestral pattern, not just a personal pattern.

Your personal healing heals the collective -- your ancestry, society, and our world! According to the Basque tradition, our deceased ancestors are standing behind us, in spirit, lending us our support-- specifically to heal the those negative inherited patterns, (wounds and dysfunction) that come to us through our ancestral lineage. In healing ourselves we heal those who came before us (as well as making the way easier for future generations). They may not have had the opportunity, freedom, support, time in history/societal support, to break the negative or dysfunctional patterns -- but you have! For example, the oppression of women through financial dependence has made it difficult for our women ancestors to be in their full power. Today, we do indeed live in a world (in some cultures) where women have asserted themselves, men have supported them, and the collective consciousness has the power to evolve. As Basque teacher, Angeles Arrien says, that stand at our side rooting for us, saying "Maybe this will be the one (born) to break the negative family patterns. Maybe this will be the one strong enough to do it. Maybe this will be the one who discovers the truth. Maybe this will be the one to bring live in truth and bring (her/his) beauty into the world."

Many times we face this soul journey alone -- no one can go through it but us. And you, with your strategy to free yourself, to become truly free starting with a step-by-step strategy for saving money -- and even the 7 trips in your Saturn car, plus moving the bureau down two flights of stairs all alone -- helped you prove to you that you can do it. You did do it. You have the power and resource and ability. No one can take it from you. You heal not only ancestors, but future generations with this kind of learning, for now your future, and the future of those you touch will be different. Thank you for sharing your journey from betrayal to trust.

Dr. Beth Hedva


Dear Dr. Beth

I know for myself, the concept of trust makes no sense. What does it even mean? My "journey" has shown me that since we are all flawed, trusting our lives to another flawed person is folly. I believe all this "trust" stuff is b.s. Another way for self-help authors to cash in on universal human pain.
 from a reader in Madison, WI

Dear Madison Reader,
I can hear in your brief email that you are in tremendous pain and caution -- and rightly so. That is the natural reaction to having our trust crushed. The real point is to rebuild self-trust first -- what in you can you trust? your instincts, your feelings, your perceptions, what you know? If you can not trust yourself, then it is very hard to discriminate, to make sense of everything that comes at you, or to make choices.

I trust that you will 'know' the truth, from your own insides, and it is not about trusting your betrayer, or anyone outside -- over yourself -- it is truly about cultivating Self-trust. . . .and you sound like you are on your way.

I invite your to read Chapter 1 on this website. Perhaps you will see yourself there. 

With appreciation,
Dr. Beth Hedva 

Other Comments from Readers and Visitors

“What a valuable resource your book Journey from Betrayal to Trust has been to me... a profound source of new knowledge...” —London, England

“A good book full of useful wisdom... [it] came at a good time to support my resolution... where I have betrayed and been betrayed, where I have trusted and been trusted.... Your book is terrific!” —Mook, Holland

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relations... those thoughts I have only heard in my own heart were finally expressed out loud, for others to see! . . . I feel validated in the deepest core of me...” —San Diego, CA

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