Dear John: I'm a 41-year-old man married for 16 years to a great woman. Unfortunately, many times during our marriage, I have lied to her regarding simple matters, because I thought they were no big deal, and I didn't want to get her angry. For example, I would stop and have a beer on the way home, and then lie to her about my whereabouts. We married young and immediately had our first child. We put sex on the backburner.
Recently, I engaged in paid phone sex, which I lie about as well. I finally admitted this to her, and, needless to say, she is very angry. I don't know if she'll ever forgive me. I've entered counseling and have truly examined my actions as a person and have sought the advice of my priest. I am doing everything I can to make amends for my past, but I'm afraid it may just be too late. — Praying Not to Lose Her, in Jackson, Miss.
Dear Praying: You've come to realize that your actions speak louder than words, and that is a major step toward salvaging your relationship. To reinforce these efforts, stay honest and open with her. Also, take the time to write her a letter about your actions, your regrets and your desire for her forgiveness. In that letter, outline the steps you are taking — and will continue to take — in order to be the husband she needs and deserves. Above all else, follow through on what you promise. Don't hesitate to invite her to meet with you and your counselor if you are having difficult issues that an impartial individual might help you to overcome. Most importantly, remember to take one day at a time. She may well come to forgive you, even if she does not forget the past. That is all you can ask for. Demonstrate love, passion and commitment, and eventually, she will do the same again.
Dear John: I have been living with my boyfriend for five years, and I am still having trouble understanding his need to look at other women. He works only with men and occasionally looks at girly magazines around the office. I've begun to think that he is unhappy with the way I look. Is there something I can do to cope with him looking, or am I being fair in asking him to keep his mind on me instead of other women? — Me and Me Only, in Corvallis, Ore.
Dear Me and Me Only: When men look at a woman's physical attributes, they are following a basic biological instinct. This is not to say that your guy can't be a gentleman, at least in your presence. Ask him again to avoid looking or commenting on other women while you are around, because it makes you feel uncomfortable and unloved. Come up with a mutually agreed-upon signal — for example, a gentle tap on the arm — that lets him know he's forgotten his promise. If, after that appeal, he still does his version of shock and stare, then he's definitely not the guy for you. Manners can trump instinct when a man truly cares and respects the woman he claims to love.
John Gray is the author of "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus." If you have a question, write to John in care of this newspaper or by email by going to www.marsvenus.com. All questions are kept anonymous and will be paraphrased. To find out more about John Gray and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.