Cheated on Her With His Wife
Q: I've been dating a man for almost 10 years. For eight of those years, he was still married and living with his wife, while I lived alone because my husband worked away. I had stopped having sex with my husband shortly after meeting my new love. He told me he had no physical contact with his wife, saying things such as, "I couldn't touch another woman. It makes me sick to even think about it. I only know how to kiss you, hold you."
Two years ago he left his wife, and I'm in divorce proceedings. Six months ago, I asked him to please tell me the truth about his relationship with his wife. It turns out that he'd been sleeping with her all along. He even used some pills I'd helped him buy (for potency) when he was with her. He offered a laundry list of reasons, including, "I blocked you out for that moment. I wanted to feel good. It was greed. I didn't think you'd ever find out. It was purely physical." I told him I look at it as if he lied to me every day and nothing we had was real. He insists that he loved me the entire time. When I try to get him to understand the hurt I feel, he goes ballistic and says, "You'll never get over this, I'll be hearing about this 30 years from now. Either forgive me or forget me."
Please don't judge me and say I got what I deserve. I need to know if he's right. Should I be able to get over this and start trusting him again? He has done several things since then that have further destroyed my trust. He went to porn sites several times just because he was curious what kind of people went there, but he put in all of his correct data and lied to me about doing it at all. He blames his lying on me to avoid being dogged or badgered by me. I am so lost. -- Maddie, 50
Dr. Susan: The only thing I'm going to judge about you, poor Maddie, is that you've managed to remain ignorant of the real world for so long. I realize how cynical that sounds, but really, how can you even begin to take his word for why he goes to porn sites? He lies about it because he's doing something of which you don't approve. Rather than be honest, which would be a nice change for him, he continues his decade-long pattern of covering up. If he'd been honest about his relationship with his wife, he'd have lost his chance to keep both of you. He has always taken the easy way out, by lying and then insisting that it's your fault he lies. But it isn't your fault. Only when he gave you his laundry list of reasons was he even remotely telling the truth. And it was hardly a list to make a woman swoon with love for a guy.
What to do now? Give him a choice. Either he behaves with decency from here on out, or you're gone. Number one decent thing: He sits down with you and allows you to vent about how his behavior has hurt you. Consider getting a copy of my book "Loving in Flow" and read the chapter called "Hitting Bottom." Without being "allowed" to express yourself, it's unlikely that you'll get over his multiple betrayals. If he would validate your legitimate viewpoint, then you could get beyond this and not need to bring it up endlessly. Forgiveness takes a long time and can't be forced. As for the porn, accept that he likes the stuff and will continue to use it. Set some parameters, if possible, and then let go of your insecurity and distaste. You did get yourself into a major pickle, but it's still possible to work your way out.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.