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“I decided to forgive,” she says. “Then when the painful memories came back, I put them out of my mind.”

It would take another six months for the sadness to finally leave.

Bottom line, she says, it takes 2 1/2 years for a marriage to escape the grip of an affair, provided both spouses work at it, and the betraying spouse is scrupulously honest and determined to rebuild the trust.

Affairs happen to good couples, Mrs. Vaughan and Mrs. Bercht both say. “My goal,” adds Mrs. Bercht, “is to make BAN as available and as well-known as other support groups.”

Next week: How to prevent affairs.

Cheryl Wetzstein’s On the Family column runs Tuesdays and Sundays. She can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.