The following are leftover questions from my live online chat, After an Affair (Feb. 5):
My fiancée had an affair, and we went to counselling. She said it was from the stress of the wedding plans, my mothers’ criticism of her, and because I didn’t stand up for her.
I was angry, and hurt, but the therapist said her reasons were valid.
But my fiancée won’t tell me what went on, she just says it’s over, and we need to focus on our problems, not her affair. How can I get over picturing her with someone else, when all she does is blame my mother?
The affair was a crummy response to problems. However, now is the time to focus on those problems, or she’d be wise to stall the wedding.
You’re hurt, understandably. But where you go from here, isn’t about your pride, it’s about a mother who may destroy your relationship for years to come.
Your fiancée needs you to show the strength to speak up, and tell Mom to back off.
Don’t insist on hearing details of how it happened until you’re on track together again.
Even then, you don’t need graphic information or imagined scenes. See and enjoy what’s real between you two.
(If you split up over this alone, your mother will have accomplished what she set out to do.)
My wife and I both had affairs after three years of marriage. We were part of a successful crowd who played around. Eight years later, we have two school-age kids, and we’ve never discussed the past.
I know whom she was with, but no details. She doesn’t know I had two affairs, not just one. I feel we’ve lost closeness by not being open about it. We’re together, committed, have sex, but something’s missing.
What’s missing is truth. She likely feels the same lack of real intimacy. The affairs are long past, but the re-connect hasn’t fully happened.
You need The Talk, with both aware of the risks. You can’t “fudge” what happened (but, again, graphic sex details are NOT necessary).
Both must express how you felt at that time, then how and why you each decided to focus on your marriage, and how you feel about it and each other now.
It can bond you very deeply. Whereas the not-so-secret past can continue to shadow your life together.
My college professor’s married, but has been flirting with me. Anytime he can speak to me alone, or “bump into” me, he’s out there about how I look, and how we’d have a lot to talk about if we ever got together.
I really like him, and I’m unattached. So for me, it’s not really an affair. I know he could get into trouble if anyone knew, but I’d be very discreet. I’ve heard stories about professors and students who fell in love and married, so maybe it’s worth it.
The time for discretion is NOW, by avoiding temptation and resisting. You don’t want him to get fired, which is usually the policy when a professor has sex with a student.
Don’t fantasize that this is about love and marriage. It’s about sex. Even if he’s “unhappy at home,” that’s for him to resolve. Or he can separate and date when he’s free.
You’re risking your own emotional well being if you give in, because this affair’s bound to have fallout, including the antipathy of his wife and children toward you.
While dating, I cheated on my then-boyfriend. My ex had tried to re-connect while my guy was away; I lost my resolve, and had sex with him.
I later confessed to my boyfriend, because I was sure he’d find out. He was hurt, upset, yet understanding. He forgave me, but over time has showed me his limits.
I don’t flirt with other men, don’t have private lunches with men unless it’s a business meeting, and always tell him about the details.
We’ve been married for 12 years and have a close, trusting relationship for which I’m thankful every day.
A Good Man
Lucky you to have a husband with a generous loving heart, and a strong sense of his own boundaries. Wise you to respond practically to those limits, without resentment.
You accept what bothers or worries him, especially after that early, regretted tryst. You want to be with him and keep his trust, period.
Tip of the day:
Affairs have causes, but usually risk hurting many people, including yourself.