Suffering from His Own Folly

Q: I am married with two kids. I had an affair with a 32-year-old woman from across the country. She came to see me three times. I told her many times to leave me because she deserved better. Well, she did, and now I am devastated and paralyzed. Please advise as I am badly depressed! -- Ed, 54

Dr. Susan: You were probably right that she deserved better than being an occasional affair partner. Certainly your wife and kids deserved better than having you betray them. And of course you're devastated. The excitement and illicit thrills have gone out of your life. It takes a long time to get over an affair and rediscover who you are in this marriage and family.

Did you know that depression is one of the causes of affairs? The jolt you got from your secretive behavior temporarily made you feel very alive all of a sudden. Give yourself some time to get over this. Either urge your wife into marriage therapy with you, or talk to someone on your own about how to get through what sounds like a standard midlife crisis. (I say that not to belittle what you're going through, but to point out that millions have endured the very same thing.) If the depression lasts for months, consider whether you need help with that specifically. Not another affair!

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