Part Two of leftover questions from my online chat, “Why People Cheat” (July 30):
I’m a man who cheated because it was easy, and I was too pumped up from it to think where it could lead.
I was with my wife since high school, but over 16 years together we’d changed in very different ways.
I admit that I should’ve encouraged her more to have a life of her own, but by the time I was saying that, she’d lost the confidence or interest to go back to school or just get out there and work at anything that gave her new purpose beyond the house and kids.
After a wild ride of several years going out with “the boys” to bars and strip clubs, my work-mate asked me why I was “running” so hard and what from, and I fell in love.
We’ve been together for three years and I have no desire to cheat and would never risk losing her.
It’s an age-old but sad story of the high-school romance that didn’t grow up. You were busy “advancing” and only later recognized that your wife hadn’t had the confidence or the opportunities to do the same, after staying at home to back you up by raising your kids and maintaining your home.
In your case, you even used the old high-school mode of “running” from home, rather than confronting what wasn’t working.
There’s often a chance to save a marriage IF a couple catches onto their problems early enough, talks it through, and makes adaptive changes in their life together, all with a goal of trying to make it work. Lots of people have done it.
But many people don’t… they fear changing themselves, and see only what the other person needs to do differently.
Breaking up a marriage and a family is a painful way to get smarter. Unfortunately, it’s what some people feel they have to do, after they’ve tried making changes, while others don’t really try at all.
My close girlfriend’s married with three children. She ran a family business but the stress got to her and she quit. She loves her husband but has started to go out at night when he works late or travels.
She dresses up, goes to bars, and flirts with men. She says she’s never gone home with anyone, nothing’s “happened,” but I’m worried that she’s on a dangerous path to cheating.
It’s a funny thing about stress – there are people who can’t live without it. Also, there’s good stress that energizes you with motivation, and bad stress that eventually depletes you. Your friend’s gone from some bad stress at work to flirting with worse.
She thinks she can manage/control what happens – by just feeling the excitement of the night. But she’s dealing with the unknown: Strangers who have their own agendas.
You can’t be responsible for her, but you can air some thoughts. She’s obviously got time and energy to spare, and there are countless exciting projects and people in this city who could benefit.
She can participate in the positive energy of a start-up company that needs her experience, or bring her expertise to the board of an outreach project improving people’s lives, etc. Talk it up with her, offer to help with the research to find her niche.
You may be helping save a family as well as your friend’s safety.
I was married to a man who was a partner to me in name only, though he was a good father when around. There was little intimacy and less emotional support.
His work and his own interests/recreation always came first. I was alone and lonely most nights. I’m not proud that I cheated with the first man who paid real attention to me.
It gave me the courage to divorce, and I’m grateful to have found true love 12 years ago.
It’s unfortunate that cheating’s sometimes the impetus to look at where your life is heading or know that it’s time to make a clean break.
However, when children are involved, it’s crucial that the unhappy spouse gets some counselling (even better if both partners do this) and tries to see if the marriage can be improved.
If not, counselling can help with how to best support the children emotionally, through and after the split.
Tip of the day:
If unhappy in a marriage with children, you can save heartache for many by seeking counselling before resorting to cheating.