Her Turn to Cheat
Q: I've been married for 20 years and have always been faithful. The trouble is my husband left and cheated on me 9 years ago, and I have never gotten over the ordeal. Since that time, he's been accusing me of everyone under the sun, and I can't stand this anymore. I have recently been chatting with and texting a man, and I did meet up with him and we had sex, which I later regretted. My husband is unaware of this. I'm too scared to tell him. Now I constantly find myself thinking about and needing to see the other man, who is married. I felt like if I cheated, somehow I could forget what my husband has done to me, but that isn't the case. The other man says he is eventually going to leave his wife and that he doesn't care for her. Everything they have is in her name, and he says he can't leave the relationship without losing all of his stuff. Please shed some light on this and try to make me see some kind of reasoning. -- Mary, 38
Dr. Susan: Reasoning is difficult when your hormones are in a tumult. The part of you that regretted your one-night stand is the wiser part of you. You can't trust your lust for this new fellow to guide you toward a good decision. Cheating to get even just doesn't work for most people. All it does is complicate the mess. But here you are, in a secret relationship with a guy who is lying to you. And I can assure you, he is lying to you. When a man says he'd leave his wife if everything weren't in her name, or that he'll "eventually" leave her, or that he has no feelings for her anymore, he's not being honest. He wants his comfortable home life, and he wants the thrill of chatting, texting, and, most of all, sleeping with another woman. And you're "the other woman." Your anxiety will get worse, until you finally tell your husband, who will be furious (all his suspicions confirmed). Or he will find out another way, which will be ugly. Understand that this new guy is simply playing a role in your life, a role that a lot of other men might have played just as well. If your marriage is hopeless, and you've given therapy a serious effort, tell your husband you're ready to move on. You needn't tell him you're "in love with" someone else, since I'm quite sure it's only a sexual attraction right now. If you want to be ethical, stop communicating with this man. Do not sleep with him again. You're both married. This relationship is going to end in major tears for you. (By the way, some men will say anything to get you to bed. Toughen up and stop being gullible. Actions speak loudest of all.)
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
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.