Here are some questions happily married people might want to ask themselves: Can you ever exhale? Can you ever allow yourself to think, "We've made it this far, we'll be together forever"? Or are you vulnerable every single day of your life?
Janet met Steve when she was 17 and he was 18. They married four years later. That was 40 years ago. She's the first to admit he was never a perfect husband.
"He wasn't Mr. Handyman. He didn't like to travel unless it was by car and he was driving. He didn't like attending social functions if he wasn't going to be the center of attention. When the children were young, he went to sleep every Christmas Eve while I assembled Big Wheels and Barbie dollhouses. But I never minded because he was my best friend, the one and only love of my life. My soul mate."
Janet says Steve was a great father and provider. He was also a "highly respected man in the community and business world. Mr. Humanitarian. His office is adorned with plaques and awards."
And then, the bottom dropped out. Two people told Janet that Steve was having an affair. She confronted him. He denied it.
"He would say, 'Those people are crazy,' or, 'I love you.' I tried desperately to believe him. I would have driven through the Smokey Mountains with him blindfolded. That's how much I trusted him."
Steve never did admit to Janet that he was having an affair. Instead, she says he took "the coward's way out." He just went to work one day and never came home. He left his clothes in the closet, his toiletries on the bathroom shelf. That was a year ago. He's still wearing his wedding ring, even though he and his girlfriend are living together. And he's still receiving awards. He accepts them with her by his side.
No one has filed for divorce yet. Janet is in no hurry. "I refuse to let this cheap garbage become his wife so easily. She loves the limelight as much as he does. She loves rubbing elbows with the many influential people he knows. I was always satisfied taking the backseat. Steve and my children were the priorities in my life. I let him be the man he wanted to be and do the things he enjoyed doing because I didn't want to hold him back.
"If it weren't for my children, I don't know what I would do. Steve is now pushing me out of my home of 25 years while he attempts to recapture his lost youth. I guess I was deluding myself, thinking that the man I married would come to his senses.
"People are supposed to grow wiser as they age. It seems he has regressed. He has no conception of the pain and turmoil he caused not only me but also his children. He disgraced and humiliated us. He has no remorse.
"Let him continue collecting his awards. He has lost the love and respect of his children. He also lost a good, old-fashioned, faithful wife. I have just one question: If you can't trust a man after 40 years, who can you trust?"
Do you have something on your computer you don't want your partner to see? What is it? Send your tale, along with your questions and problems to [email protected]
And check out my new ebook, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."