Dear Cheryl: I've been married two years to a wonderful, caring, loving, kind man. We have a 1-year-old son together and he's raising my older son as his own.
This past summer, I was reunited with an old flame from high school, and we had a very intense affair. He's also married but separated and has three children. I told him several times to go back to his wife and try to work things out. But within a few days or a week, we were back to talking and seeing each other again. It was a very emotional, as well as physical, affair.
Finally, three weeks ago, I told him that I just couldn't do it anymore. I was lying to my family and friends, and I was becoming someone who I didn't like very much. I was also afraid my husband would find out. The guilt, shame, worry and stress were not worth the brief excitement I got from being with him. All relationships have peaks and valleys, and I've learned that I should have put the energy I was putting into the affair into fixing my marriage.
I can only pray that my husband never finds out and that I'm able to forgive myself and move past it. I love my husband dearly. He didn't deserve it. I considered telling him, but I feel that would have been even more selfish and cruel of me. I'm the one who did this, so I'm the one who should have to shoulder the consequences of shame and guilt. Any advice? — Ashamed in the Midwest
Dear AITM: Figure out exactly why you had the affair, either by yourself or with a therapist. We're all tempted from time to time, but we don't usually give in. Why did you do so at this particular time? What was lacking? Was it something in your marriage or in your life in general? Was it excitement? Adventure? Feeling wanted? Feeling beautiful? A chance to relive your youth? Escape boredom? Be someone else for a while — not just a wife and mother, but a sexy adulteress? A wild woman?
If you know why you cheated and you deal with it in a healthy way, if you add the things to your life that you were missing in a positive manner, the chances of it happening again will be greatly reduced.
And by the way, I completely agree with your decision not to tell your husband. Why should he suffer for your mistake? Be the best wife you can be and get on with your life.
Dear Cheryl: I read somewhere that men never leave a long-term relationship unless they have someone new lined up. Do you think this is true? — Longtime Girlfriend
Dear Longtime Girlfriend: I do. Of course there are lots of exceptions, but I think, in general, men like to go from one warm bed to another.
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