Wife's A Lying Cheat
Q: I have been married for 16 years to the woman I thought was the one for me. Then I was cleaning up her hard drive and found that she had been involved with another man over the internet. They'd been exchanging gifts and photos, and talking about what a bad husband I am and that I just don't give her what she needs. Well, if she would tell me what she needs I may have been able to help. So I confronted her about this and she said he was just a friend! But in her letters to him it was, "You are the only one for me, Love you, and I will call you when he's asleep." After about a month I asked her if she still wanted to be married to me. She said yes, and I thought we were doing great until I found a letter to another guy who she'd been talking to for at least two months. I just want to know if it's even worth being married to a liar and cheater. I feel like I'm a fool for trusting her, but I still love her. I just can't take it anymore. Is there a way out without hurting my kids and still keeping my dignity? -- Pete, 43
Dr. Susan: Let's put the issue of dignity aside for now and focus on what matters. You love your wife, and she repeatedly lies to you and hangs out (online, offline, wherever) with other men. You're right to want to protect your kids from the fallout as much as you can. Optimally, if you do split, the best you can do for the kids is to part in a friendly manner. That will be difficult because you are understandably hurt and angry. You're not a fool for having trusted her -- she's your wife, after all - - but rather she's a fool for what she's done. She's going through a typical phase of needing excitement, and the Internet makes such affairs way too easy. I would insist she go with you to a good therapist, and both of you opening up about what's wrong with your lives and how you are willing to make things better. She, of course, would have to stop (full stop) communicating with strange men and you would both have to deal with her betrayals. If she won't stop, or won't be truly honest, then you're right that it may not be worth the torture to stick around.
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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.