February 10, 2014 12:00 PM

To say that things weren’t going well would have been an understatement. On Jan. 23, Tori Spelling‘s husband of seven years, Dean McDermott, announced that he was entering rehab after a public cheating scandal, “to address some health and personal issues.” While he was in treatment, Spelling would be caring for their four children, Liam, 6, Stella, 5, Hattie, 2, and Finn, 17 months, largely on her own. Yet that very same day, the actress and reality mogul took to her blog, where she blithely recommended Valentine’s Day presents, from scented candles and vintage prints to personalized cookies. “I love giving gifts that are thoughtful, unique, and from the heart,” she wrote. “[They] remind your valentine how much you love them.”

Considering that Spelling has weathered weeks of unpleasant tabloid headlines in the wake of reports that McDermott, 47, had cheated on her with a 28-year-old woman he met in Toronto – the year after Spelling suffered near-deadly health complications before giving birth to their fourth child – she could probably use a few reminders of her husband’s love. According to multiple sources around her, a “somber” and “confused” Spelling, 40, is still weighing her options, even as McDermott released a statement saying he was “truly sorry” and vowing “to become the husband and father my family deserves.”

Whether or not that means the severing of a media empire built on the brand of “Tori and Dean”- even Spelling’s Twitter handle @torianddean connects the couple – is a question that may take time, and many hours of therapy, to determine. “She said she would never split up her family,” says a source close to Spelling. But now, says a longtime friend, “she just doesn’t know what she’s going to do. She could stay with him. She could take it slow. Her biggest fear was he would cheat on her. She will never trust him again.”

Though they had their own rocky beginnings – they met in 2005 on the set of the Lifetime movie Mind Over Murder, and embarked on an affair that led to his divorce from wife Mary Jo Eustace and hers from husband Charlie Shanian – Spelling and McDermott seemed to have a passionate bond (see box, above). “Dean has always been keen on having a very active and imaginative sex life,” says a friend of the couple, who wed in Fiji in 2006 and welcomed their first child in 2007. At first, that was a request Spelling was only too happy to oblige. “She’s always made their sex life one of her top priorities,” says the close source. Spelling got pregnant with Finn just one month after giving birth to daughter Hattie – even after a C-section. Though she and McDermott defied her doctor’s orders to wait at least six weeks to resume sexual activity, Spelling explained at the time, “I didn’t want him to think that the sex was going downhill.”

But as the pair expanded their family as well as their business ventures (see box), the multitasking mom faced ever-increasing pressures. “Having four children so quickly is life-changing,” says the source. “It took a toll on her, both mentally and physically.” Meanwhile she continued balancing motherhood with the demands of being the breadwinner. (Spelling inherited a paltry percentage of the vast fortune of her father, media mogul Aaron Spelling, and told PEOPLE last fall they could not afford to get McDermott a vasectomy.) But despite what the source calls her “very hectic life,” Spelling was concerned with keeping her husband satisfied. “It’s always been important to her to keep her husband happy, even when it’s hard for her because she’s been sick or pregnant,” says the source. “So the fact that, after all that, he cheated on her so publicly is devastating.”

For now, friends say, the biggest gesture her husband could make was checking in to rehab. “Him going to rehab is like providing first aid to a gushing wound. It’s going to stop the bleeding right now, but it’s going to take a long time to heal and there will be scars that’ll never go away,” says the close source. “But it’s probably the only thing that can help them move forward as a couple.” And McDermott, friends say, is desperate to try. “He’ll do everything in his power to win her back,” says the source. “Tori and the kids are his life.”

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