I was listening to Dr. Joy Brown on AM radio as I shuttled kids to day camp. A guy called in with his "problem." He's been unhappy in his marriage. So has a woman he knows at work. They've become friends (you know where this is going, don't you!). They began an affair. And now, he doesn't know what to do.
Forget the fact that maybe he should have given some thought to what to do BEFORE he did it – ya know, kinda like we teach our kids from the time they can toddle over to the electrical outlet. Think BEFORE you act. However, he at least is willing to give his next actions some consideration.
And I find myself incredulous. Yep, even after everything I've gone through, I'm still amazed (and not in a good way) at how just-plain-dumb some people can be.
Should he try and work things out with his wife? Should he confess, anticipating that she'll kick him out, effectively forcing his hand? Should he leave and move in with the other woman, who would also have to leave her husband? Oh, the poor fellow just doesn't know what to do!
While I managed to refrain from yelling at my radio (my kids think I'm crazy enough, thank-you), I did mutter a bit under my breath. Something along the lines of, "you stupid ass..."
But since he asked (though, he technically asked Dr. Joy, whose advice re. cheating generally sucks), I'll give him my opinion:
Dear Stupid Ass Who Called Dr. Joy:
What should you do? Ask yourself a simple question, one everyone even considering an affair should ask himself:
Is my marriage worth saving?
If so, do everything you can to save it. You'll save yourself grief, heartbreak and a whole heap of lawyer's fees if you can.
For you, however, the question becomes a wee bit more complicated because you've now allowed a third person into your marriage. Even if you think she's completely apart from your relationship with your wife, you're deluding yourself.
So, forgetting for a brief moment that you're a liar and cheat yourself, ask yourself why you want to be with a woman who would lie to and cheat on someone she promised she would NOT do that to (her husband, dumbass!). Then when you've considered that, ask yourself whether any marriage, including yours, has much chance of survival after one of the partners starts sharing intimacy (and I don't mean just sex!) with someone outside of the marriage.
Your marriage is shaky? Of course it is. You're sleeping with someone else...and in order to justify what is dishonest and hurtful behaviour, you've likely cast your wife as a total shrew. Step back and determine whether she's truly as bad as you've convinced yourself (and probably your affair partner) or whether she's still the person you fell in love with...just with a few years on her treads and perhaps a lot of resentment built up because you're either a) wining and dining the OW instead of her or b) emotionally absent or c) nasty to her because you really hate yourself right now.
If you decide your marriage is worth trying to save, you've got a LOT of work ahead of you.
First, you need to come clean. Forget what Dr. Joy said to you about keeping it to yourself. As long as you have a secret of this magnitude in your marriage, you'll never be able to completely relax and give your best self to your wife. And, of course, she deserves total honesty from you in order to determine if she wants to spend the rest of her life with someone capable of such deceit. That's her call, not yours.
If she decides to work through this with you, you'll need to be completely honest and transparent. She'll have a helluva road ahead of her and you can make it smoother by always being where you say you are, with whom you say you're with and not hiding anything from her. Her healing depends on your ability to support her while she rages and sobs. And your marriage's survival depends on your ability to earn back her trust – slowly and steadily.
I ache for your wife. You've betrayed her in the worst possible way. I even feel sorry for you – you've created a real mess that I doubt even you intended to do.
What should you do? Well...you should've done it a long time ago. Figure out whether your marriage was a good one, worth working for...or not. Not after you've detonated the betrayal bomb...but before.
But it's a little late for that bit of wisdom.
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- Share Your Story: Multiple Affairs PART 2
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- Separating or Divorcing, Part 3 (Part 2 is FULL)
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- Feeling Stuck Part 20
- Feeling Stuck? Part 21