Words-Only Flirtation Could End Marriage

Q: Let me start by saying I love my wife more and more every day. We have been through everything together. She is my best friend. Let me tell you what I did. A co-worker and I were sending dirty messages back and forth, and my wife saw the text. But that is all that happened. I did not sleep with her or anybody other than my wife in 24+ years. I know it was wrong, but I don't know what to do. She thinks she wants to split up because she thinks I am having an affair. Can you give me any advice? -- Richard, 52

Dr. Susan: You can start by opening up every nook and cranny of your life, including your text message history, so your wife can see you're not hiding anything. You can explain why you did what you did, which was flirty and naughty and foolish but not up to the level of blatant infidelity. You can reassure her that you never intended to act on those dirty messages, that you participated because you got a little illicit charge out of it, but that you would never ever have an affair and will never do such a thing again. And that you realize you've hurt her and eroded all those years of trust and want to do whatever you can to show her your love for her. Then find some ways to have fun together to recharge your life as a couple. Doesn't have to be sexual (not that that would hurt).

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