CJ’s Infidelity Advice

I never intended to become an advice columnist—or “agony aunt” as they’re called in my native England. I contributed some articles to DivorceForce.com, an online community providing support to people affected by divorce. Then one of the site’s directors began sending me links to members’ questions about how to cope with various aspects of infidelity. He asked me to chime in and provide guidance and support, so I began adding to the discussions. Before I knew it, I had contributed to more than a dozen of them. The subjects I have written about are relevant to anyone dealing with infidelity—both the cheated upon and the cheaters. You can read all my “agony aunt” responses below. To protect the privacy of DivorceForce.com members, I have shortened and paraphrased their questions. If you want access to the discussions on the site, you’ll have to become a member too.

I aspire to emulate my advice column heroes—syndicated “Advice Goddess” Amy Alkon in America—wonderfully acerbic and well-researched, and Graham Norton of The Telegraph in Britain—he always gets to the heart of people’s problems and doesn’t pull any punches. At present, I’m only answering questions through DivorceForce.com rather than via this website—join up if you’d like a whole bunch of folks to give you advice, some of whom are professional therapists. I don’t have that training—I’m just a common-or-garden journalist.

How do you stop loving someone?

How do you stop loving someone who has been unfaithful and is now living with someone else? I am divorced and life feels empty.

“How do you stop loving someone? That’s easy,” says a cynical friend who has been through some atrocious breakups. “Just have your partner treat you like crap and you’ll fall out of love with him or her a whole lot faster.” Joking aside, I have to say that when I found out about my husband’s infidelity, just like you, I felt that emptiness and a rollercoaster of negative emotions. I did whatever I could to find ways to fill my life with people and activities I enjoyed to take my mind away from endlessly churning about what my husband had done and why it had happened. That’s the reason I decided to help other women by writing my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, which takes you through some of the ways that you can leave the devastation behind and move forward. It’s not easy to let go of all the unpleasant emotions and the attachment to a long-term partner, but over time it can be done. Some people achieve this using relaxation techniques or meditation. It’s also important to find confidants, cultivate connections both old and new, try to live in the present and find your passion. You have an opportunity to look for activities that make you feel fulfilled and give your life meaning, such as volunteer work, learning a new language, music, sports or amateur theater. You can’t force yourself to fall out of love with someone. What tends to happen is that your ex becomes less and less relevant to you. The aim is to arrive at a place where you realize that you are happier without him than you were with him.

My husband left me for a gold-digging younger woman

My husband has moved in with a much younger woman. He is showering her with money and supporting her grown kids, giving them jobs in the company we own together. I’m devastated and have filed for divorce. My ex now hates me and has pitted our adult children against each other. My daughter refuses to speak to him but my other two kids do. He doesn’t seem to care that the mistress is only with him for the lavish lifestyle he provides.

Sadly, the older married man going crazy over a gold-digging younger woman is a stereotype because it happens so frequently. When I was doing the research for my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, I came across numerous variations of this story. Often it is an addiction to an intense sexual thrill that defies logic and reason, leaving destruction in its wake. Rather than having any expectation of her husband seeing the error of his ways, my view is that the abandoned wife must do whatever she can protect her own interests and try to maintain a good relationship with all her children, even if some of them may have sided with their father. If a couple owns a business together, their joint livelihood is at stake. Lawyers and accountants in an acrimonious parting may drain the coffers dry, but good legal help is most likely essential to prevent a man blowing all the marital assets on a venal mistress. If you are the wife left behind, having to deal with all this makes it difficult to take the time to cultivate friendships and find activities that are enjoyable and fulfilling. It is important to remember to take care of your emotional wellbeing as well as protecting your personal financial future.

I found proof of my husband’s infidelity. What should I do?

Now that I’m separated, I have confirmation of my husband’s infidelity. I always suspected this, but never had the guts to look for proof before. Now that I know, what should I do about it?

In the old days a grizzled gumshoe would have to go from one place to another, hanging around in train stations, hotel lobbies and restaurants to find evidence of a man’s affair with his floozy. Nowadays, often all you need to do is look at what is on his laptop or cell phone. However, once you have discovered your husband’s infidelity, how much more do you need to know? Spying on your husband can be a double-edged sword. Are you spying to drive yourself crazy emotionally, or are you looking for specific details on whether your husband been spending family money on his mistress or other information that might be pertinent in a divorce settlement or custody dispute? If you are already separated, that doesn’t stop the knife-in-the gut-feeling you can get as you dig out more and more details about your husband’s philandering. In my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, I describe various ways to let go of your negative emotions so that you can move on and reach a place where you really do not care with whom your husband has shared his bed. You can use your situation as a catalyst to reinvent your life and discover activities and friendships that make you feel fulfilled. It’s easier said than done, but well worth striving for.

I’m divorcing my unfaithful husband but still love him

He’s having an affair and I’m still in love with him. How can I cope?

Sadly, you can’t just turn your love off as if you were flicking a switch. The trick is to focus on ministering to yourself—doing things that benefit your health and wellbeing, spending time with people whose company you enjoy, pursuing activities that make you feel fulfilled. Over time, you’ll find that your ex-husband becomes increasingly irrelevant to your life. Even if you are currently swamped with all the hassles of dealing with divorce, it’s important to carve out time to do things that give you pleasure. As far as the divorce settlement is concerned, however much you still love your ex, ensure you always look after your own best interests. Revenge and trying to take him to the cleaners isn’t the answer either. Gather advice from trusted friends and professionals, and try to stay as calm and rational as you can, so that the decisions you make will serve you well in the long-term.

My cheating husband is making me the bad guy

He’s putting all the blame on me. How can I deal with the stress of my situation?

Unless you’re a Stepford Wife or a zombie, when you find about his philandering, sooner or later something that could be described as a complaint about his infidelity will come out of your mouth. Right away he’ll typecast you into the jealous bitch role. That’s not to say that you won’t feel all kinds of negative emotions. So how do you let go of toxic feelings? How do you decide whether to stay or leave? These are subjects I cover in detail in my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not. Most importantly, I show how to use the shock of the betrayal as a catalyst to work towards making your life happier and more fulfilling than before, with or without your partner. Whatever you do or say that does not serve your husband’s interests will make you into the bad guy as far as he is concerned. It’s human nature that he will prefer to find a way to pass the blame onto someone else. We all want to be the heroes of our own story. Your main job is to ensure that you look after your own long-term interests. Don’t make decisions in a hurry. Take advice from trusted friends and/or professional advisors. It’s time to find out what you really want out of life and go for it.

My husband refused to have sex so I had an affair

My husband would barely even talk to me, let alone sleep with me. After he discovered my affair, we separated, but I still love him. I was wrong to be unfaithful. How can I fix this?

As I write in my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, celibate marriages are a common cause of infidelity. If your husband was not providing you with any physical affection, it’s human nature to look elsewhere for it. Don’t beat yourself up with guilt about it. The way you describe your marriage makes it sound like a miserable house-sharing arrangement rather than a loving relationship. There may be a lot more going on than you describe in your post. What was causing your husband to behave like that? Was he suffering from depression, for example? To even have a chance at staying together would most likely have needed extensive counseling and a lot of work by both parties. Your husband doesn’t sound like he was willing to do that. You can’t go back to how it was before he found out about your infidelity, nor can you return to what you and your husband may have had together earlier in your marriage. Tell yourself the relationship is over. Move on. Think about what you enjoy and what makes you feel fulfilled. Take the time to build yourself a good circle of friends and work towards becoming a more complete, creative and joyful person, with or without a partner.

How can I stop texting my unfaithful ex?

I discovered that my husband had been cheating for years so I made him move out. We had a happy marriage and he told me that if I had not found out, he wouldn’t have left. Going to therapy hasn’t helped me stop texting my ex. I’ve tried everything. What can I do?

You’ve got to find some way to break the pattern. A good therapist might be able to help you achieve this. If the person you saw couldn’t do so, perhaps working with a different therapist might be the answer. Here are my suggestions: Take up a new sport, learn a foreign language, volunteer for a charity you believe in. Cultivate friendships both old and new. Fill your mind up with activities you find enjoyable and fulfilling so that there’s no mental space left to be endlessly churning about your ex. It’s typical that your ex would say if you hadn’t found out he wouldn’t have left. Of course. He wanted to have his cake and eat it. Loving wife at home providing all the wifely services, and a succession of babes for passion. Sounds like he’s blaming you for finding out rather than taking responsibility for his own actions. Maybe you should do something else instead any time you get the urge to text the cad. Put a dollar in a jar for charity or to go towards something you’d like to buy. Do a set of push-ups. Clean out a closet. Chat with a friend. Just believe that over time, things will improve.

My wife is leaving me for another woman

What can I do? I’m overwhelmed with the financial and emotional stress.

I can understand how difficult things must be for you. A male friend in a similar situation to yours told me that his mind was full of disturbing thoughts. He worried about whether he was manly enough. Whether his wife had always preferred women and was living a lie throughout the marriage. Had he done something wrong to cause the situation? He felt angry and deeply depressed. I told him that the most important thing was to forget about the reasons why and who was to blame, but to put all his focus on moving on and rediscovering how to love life. Even if you are mired in all the financial aspects of a split, make sure you allow yourself the time to engage in activities that you enjoy. Looking after your own long-term interests not only covers material things but also finding out what makes you feel fulfilled and complete without the need for a partner. You have been given a kick in the pants that with time and effort, you can use as a catalyst to make your life better than before. The support of good friends and/or professional counselors may be able to help you get to that place faster.

Should I try again after a year apart from my cheating ex?

How should I deal with my soon-to-be ex? We’ve been living apart for a year while he’s been with another woman, but he now wants to get back together.

I have some questions for you. If you describe your husband as your soon-to-be ex, does that mean you have already decided to divorce? Are you happier with your partner or without him? If you have children together who are still living at home, you will have a stronger incentive to try to keep the marriage intact. However, it is important to consider why your partner wants to come back. Does he genuinely want to make a life with you or is he perhaps trying to avoid the hassle and financial ramifications of divorce? Is he no longer with the other woman? If not, was that his choice or hers? Repairing a marriage is very difficult if the man won’t let go—both physically and emotionally—of his mistress. Nevertheless, if you and your husband have both decided that you truly want to reconcile and are prepared to work at rebuilding the relationship, perhaps with the help of counseling, you have a very good chance of success. While I was doing research for my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, I came across a middle-aged couple who had done just that. The husband left his wife for an old flame. After two years apart, the man ended the affair and returned to his wife. To date, ten years later, the husband and wife are still together and consider their relationship to be better than ever.

How do I get rid of feelings of anger and betrayal?

I found out about my wife’s affair a year ago and we are now divorced. Meanwhile she has had affairs with two other married men, both of whom were friends of mine. She’s acting as if she’s done nothing wrong. Our young son doesn’t understand why we’re no longer together—I try my best to answer him without giving him too many details.

Sadly it’s all too common for a person to expect others to put up with behavior that he or she would never be willing to put up with from someone else, especially in the realm of human relationships. From your description, it sounds like you are well rid of this woman as, for whatever reason, she seems to be incapable of being in a committed monogamous relationship at this time. The fact that she became sexually involved with friends of yours isn’t surprising—after all, if a person is going to stray, it’s likely to be with someone whom they either know socially or from work. You are absolutely right to take the high ground as regards answering your son’s questions about why you and your wife have split up. She will always be his mother, and painting a very negative picture of her to him could cause all kinds of long-term damage. You do not want to put your son into a position where he has to choose between you or her. Those feelings of anger and betrayal that you are experiencing do indeed diminish over time. In my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, I write about how to let go of negative emotions and use the shock of what has happened as a catalyst to take a long, hard look at how you want to live the rest of your life in a way that makes you feel fulfilled and complete, with or without a partner. It helps to build a strong circle of good friends and focus on activities you enjoy doing. What are you passionate about? Who can you laugh and have fun with rather than feeling down? The trick is to find positive things to fill your mind to displace all those churning thoughts about your failed relationship.

After my two affairs, my husband isn’t sure if he wants to stay

I’m fed up, living in limbo for more than a month, waiting for my husband to decide if he wants our 12-year marriage to continue. Any suggestions?

You need to look at the reasons why you had affairs. Were you in a celibate marriage? Were you and your husband frequently apart? Was something missing from your marriage? One brief affair might be an aberration; two is more likely to show signs of a pattern. Do you still have any attachment towards the other men? Do you genuinely want a committed relationship with your husband? Do you have unreasonable expectations of what he should put up with? How would you feel if he were the one having affairs? The bottom line is that both you and your husband must decide if you really want to be together for the long haul and be prepared to put time and effort into repairing the marriage, perhaps with the help of a good counselor. You talk about a month of living in limbo—well it can take a lot longer than that to let go of all the negative emotions surrounding infidelity and learn how to forgive. Do many marriages survive infidelity? Absolutely, if that’s what the couple really wants. However, I don’t recommend some post-affair relationships I have seen where the unfaithful party feels permanently guilty and the cheated-upon spouse remains angry and unhappy, unable to regain trust in his or her partner and constantly on the lookout for signs that he or she is cheating again. That’s purgatory, not a marriage.

My army husband lied about his affair being over. How can I split?

How do I exit this marriage? What’s best for my family? I have three kids and want to avoid collateral damage. I moved into a spare bedroom but he still comes in for sex whether I say no or not. What should I do?

Your husband sounds like he will do exactly what he wants as long as you put up with it. Why are you still having sex with him if that is not what you want? If he is having sex with you by force, that is serious abuse. You need to enlist as much help as you can from your community – for example, family, friends, your church if you belong to one, army counseling services etc.—to help you genuinely separate from him. I’m sorry to say that there is no way to avoid collateral damage in your situation, particularly with young children involved, but from your description, it sounds as if staying with your husband would leave you in purgatory. The best thing would be for you and your kids to stay in the family home and have your husband move out rather than you and your children having to leave. There is also the chance that once your husband realizes that you are really serious about separating, he might be shocked into dumping the other woman to preserve the marriage and not lose his kids. When I was doing the research for my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, I came across another army wife who left her husband, taking the kids with her. Her rival was booze rather than another woman. By leaving him, she forced him to address his alcoholism. With the help of his church community, he managed to overcome his addiction. The couple reconciled and are still together. The man had used the bottle to help him deal with the emotional turmoil of losing comrades in combat. This brings me to my final point—has your husband been on the front line? Might he have PTSD? Is he behaving differently than he used to? Is he just fundamentally a lying, cheating cad by nature or might his behavior be connected to psychological damage from the battlefield? If he’s willing to do it, counseling might be very helpful for him as well as for you.

My husband cheated and blamed me for not giving him enough love

I don’t understand how he can tell me his cheating is all my fault.

I can just imagine this guy as a kid. When his mom caught him stealing cookies from the cookie jar, he’d point at his sister, whining, “It’s not my fault! SHE made me do it!” It seems to be a common story that when a cheater is found out, he or she doesn’t want to accept blame. It’s gotta be someone else’s fault, and the wife or husband is an easy target. In an article on Huffington Post, I describe a dozen clueless excuses adulterers have given their wives when their philandering has been discovered—take a look if you want some black humor—after all, laughter is one of the best antidotes to feeling down. None of those excuses has been made up, and some of them are truly outrageous.

But I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a minute and look at your circumstances from your husband’s point of view. When I was doing research for my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, I came across numerous celibate or close-to-celibate marriages where one partner had strayed because he or she was getting virtually no sex within the relationship. If you ain’t getting fed at home, you’ll get yourself a take-out. Thus, an excuse that I found cheaters often used was number 11 on my list: “I have a stronger sex drive than you do.” Sadly, in long-term marriages, passion often does fizzle, buried under the drudge of daily life. Sex with his new babe may be all candy—no problems with the kids, the business, the taxman, the house or anything like that will intrude into the bedroom. Ironically, just like your wayward husband, you too might discover that your previously lackluster sex drive skyrockets to the stratosphere if you find a lover outside the marriage. Counseling and an open, frank discussion about what you and your husband really want out of your marriage, especially as regards emotional and sexual issues, might help you and your husband reconcile if that’s what you both genuinely want to achieve. To succeed, he needs to accept some blame, and you need to be able to forgive him.

Even if you want to move on and/or he has already left the marriage, it is vital to work on letting go of the negative emotions his betrayal has created in you. Try to use the shock of what has happened to discover how you want to live the rest of your life in the most fulfilling way possible, with or without a partner.

Married 7 years with 5 kids. He’s cheating and no longer loves me.

I’m pregnant with another child. He says he’s been out of love with me for a long time. I want to fix our relationship, but he’s not interested in doing that.

In many cultures having a lot of children is the norm, particularly when there are extended family members who pitch in to help take care of them. In America, this situation is less common. Despite the rise of feminism, some men are not that interested in children or doing childcare—they consider it to be the woman’s job. When I was doing research for my book, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not, one man told me, “I married Mary because she got pregnant. We weren’t that well suited. After our second child, I really didn’t want any more kids, but she insisted on having three more. I’d get home from an exhausting day at work and the kids would be crying and fighting with each other. I couldn’t cope with it and didn’t feel like I got any peace at home. Mary never had time for me. I just spent longer in the office and ended up leaving her for a woman I worked with.”

Your circumstances may be very different to this, but it sounds like your husband has already made up his mind to end the marriage. Don’t expect him to do anything except protect his own interests. You have the much more difficult task of having to look after not only your own needs but also those of your children. Try to get as much help as you can from friends, relatives, and your religious community, if you belong to one. Learn as much as you can about your family finances. Seek legal advice to find out what kind of settlement and support for the children you might be entitled to in a divorce. It is important to be as civil as you can manage towards your husband to ensure that your children maintain a good relationship with their father and are not forced to choose between him and you. It will be tough to do all this, but you will get through it. You’re stronger than you think.

Staying silent despite cheating ex misrepresenting me to adult kids

At our daughter’s wedding a year ago, my husband told me he was leaving me for someone he met on Tinder. I’ve stayed silent because I don’t want to ruin my children’s relationship with their father but I hate him for unburdening himself to them, leaving out a lot of his wrongdoing and making me seem like the cause of the breakup. I’ll be starting grad school soon but all I feel right now is anger and pain.

Many would applaud you for keeping quiet about what happened, but I take a contrarian view. It sounds like you are punishing yourself for your husband’s betrayal. Staying silent is eating you alive and destroying your relationship with your kids. You have a right to set the record straight. You don’t have to play the martyr. You can be a strong woman standing up for yourself. You are right to want to preserve a positive view of your husband for your kids and not try to make them choose sides. However, if your husband has been dishonest or left large omissions of the facts when telling your children why your marriage failed, they should know the truth. You don’t have to paint your husband as a demon—just try to give your kids the facts in as straight and balanced a way as you can. They are adults and should be able to handle it. You are clearing your name rather than acting out of revenge.

In my book, “Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not” I describe how to use the shock and anger of betrayal as a catalyst to take back your power and gain independence. You’re already moving in that direction by going to graduate school. It will give you the opportunity to broaden your mind and your social circle. Rather than sitting at home feeling down, force yourself to go out. Make time to do things you enjoy. Take up new activities where you can make new friends with similar interests. Think about how you want to live the rest of your life in a way that makes you feel fulfilled. Remember that the sweetest revenge is to get past the need for it. Over time, you will rebuild your life and realize how much happier you are without this man.

Bigamist husband has left to be with his other family

I was married for 34 years and discovered that my husband has had another family for the past 30 years. He chose them and I’m in a complete panic.

There’s good reason why infidelity is legal yet bigamy is a crime. It takes the scale of deception and betrayal to a whole new level. Aside from the massive emotional fallout for all concerned, there are two sets of offspring to consider and complex issues regarding asset ownership and inheritance. Even if your husband didn’t go through a second wedding ceremony, he is in effect, a bigamist. Your whole family would benefit from counseling to get through this exceedingly difficult time. Your children, whom I presume are grown if you’ve been married 34 years, have to learn to cope with not only their father having lived a lie for most of their lives but also the fact that they have half-siblings, with whom they may or may not want to have a relationship.

Don’t make any snap decisions based on the roller coaster of emotions you might be going through right now—anger, sadness, anxiety, jealousy and the desire for revenge are natural feelings to experience, but they won’t help your decision-making. Take a step back and put major decisions on hold till you feel more on an even keel. Try to work on moving forward rather than looking back and dwelling on the massive deception you have been subjected to. Easier said than done, of course, but it is important to always put your own long term interests first and protect your children’s inheritance.

Information is power—you need to educate yourself about all your family finances, including bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, business assets, insurance policies, estate planning documents and property ownership. This also includes any assets your husband may have bought for his second family. You should also learn about divorce law in the state in which you reside so that you know your legal rights. You are in great need of professional legal and financial advice. If this man has been able to hide another family for 30 years, he’s likely to have spent a considerable amount of money on them and hidden a lot of his assets too, so you may need to enlist the services of a forensic accountant. Sadly neither accountants nor divorce lawyers come cheap, and in most states it is illegal for them to work on a contingency basis. You have to be vigilant about checking fee structures in advance to make sure you aren’t overcharged. Collect recommendations from people you know who have gone through divorce, and check out a few different professionals—many offer a free initial consultation—before deciding which ones to use. This is a time to draw upon as much help as you can from relatives, friends and whatever community you might belong to, religious or otherwise. Rather than staying home on your own, try to make time to do activities you enjoy, such as hiking outdoors or going out with friends who can make you laugh and lift your spirits.

Remember that you are not alone—other women have gone through similar circumstances and over time have managed to come out stronger and happier at the other end. When I was doing research for my book, “Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not,” I came across a British woman who had enjoyed a high standard of living with her husband for decades. The man had kept another family secret for five years. Out of the blue via email, he told his wife that he wanted no more to do with her or the grown kids they’d had together, but instead was going to be living permanently with a Brazilian woman with whom he had fathered two young children. Over time, the husband had salted most of the family money away to Switzerland and left his spouse barely able to pay essential bills, let alone pay for divorce lawyers. The wife just kept slowly moving forward, one step at a time, and eventually got herself out of the morass. She’s now glad to be rid of him.

He’s physically and verbally abusive and has cheated. Should I divorce?

He’s been unfaithful several times. Sometimes he’s verbally and physically abusive, but says sorry afterwards. He’s promised to see a counselor for anger management and wants us to stay together. What should I do?

He’s angry, prone to violence, verbally abusive and keeps cheating on you. What’s to like about this man? However good the sex might be, however sweet and loving a partner can be when not in a rage or however wealthy he is, physical abuse should be a deal breaker in any relationship. Saying sorry just doesn’t cut it. Even if you might consider the physical abuse to be mild right now, it can always escalate to something far worse. You haven’t given a lot of details about your husband, but from the little you say he could be seriously mentally ill.

You might find it helpful to read an article I wrote for Huffington Post entitled “Abuse and the Code of Silence.” It’s a step in the right direction that you are willing to admit that your husband is physically abusive. Many women suffer in silence.

Some couples manage to overcome infidelity and what constitutes verbal abuse can often be a gray area. What one person would hear as verbal abuse, another might shrug off as not a big deal. But adding physical abuse to the mix creates a toxic, dangerous and untenable situation.

Try to keep a cool head rather than getting dragged into the emotional roller coaster of this man’s moods. Put your own interests first at all times. Make sure that you are fully informed about family finances and what your rights would be in a divorce. The most important thing is to get this man out of your life. He may even be on best behavior if he thinks he might lose you, but he will never change. For whatever reason, that demon seed is deep within him, and you need to get yourself out of the firing line right now. Don’t wait to see if things get better. Don’t expect a counselor to work miracles for you. Get out of this relationship in as safe a way as you can. You do not have to do it alone. Make sure that you take advantage of relatives, good friends and perhaps whatever resources for battered women you can find in your area to help you make a safe exit.

Over time, your pain and heartache will ease. Counseling might help you get back on an even keel sooner. Just make sure that next time around, you chose a man who treats you with love and respect. Don’t ever go through this cycle again. You deserve better. Every woman does.

Men cheat, so why do they mistrust women?

Usually it’s men that do the cheating. If that’s the case, why do so many of them have trust issues with women?

Infidelity and hypocrisy go hand in hand. Even if a husband feels bad about being unfaithful, this does not guarantee that he will compensate by being extra nice to little wife holding the fort back home. On the contrary—guilt may impel him to somehow blame her for what he did. Both male and female cheaters will come up with all sorts of reasons to justify their actions, and everyone wants to be the hero of their own story. Perhaps a cheating husband might believe that his wife wasn’t attentive or supportive enough, wasn’t giving him enough sex or had let her appearance go. He might accuse her of flirting and being unfaithful too. He might blame her for spying on him or reacting angrily to his cheating. He wants her to stop making a fuss and happily continue giving him all the wifely services she was providing before. That’s why a husband tries to keep his infidelity secret—he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He knows that his wife will change her attitude towards him if she finds out that he has a mistress.

Virtually no spouse would willingly choose to share his or her partner’s affections with another. Amazingly, this is often the case even for the husband or wife who has decided to leave and live with someone else. The spouse who chose to end the marriage may become angry and jealous when the person left behind finds another partner. In effect the cheater is saying, “I don’t want you, but you’re still mine and I don’t want anyone else to have you.”

Sadly, it’s human nature for someone to expect another person to put up with something one would never be willing to accept oneself. Nevertheless, there can be significant differences between the behavior of men and that of women. There’s no question that wives cheat too, but most studies show that men are more unfaithful than women. Furthermore, it seems that women are much more likely to stay with a cheating husband than are males willing to stay with an unfaithful wife.

Sexism around the subject of infidelity is deeply entrenched in cultures past and present worldwide. More often than not, societies expect women to put up with unfaithful spouses and remain loyal to them. Male infidelity is considered quite natural. The husband may view any negative reactions by his wife towards his adultery as unreasonable jealousy. Yet the unfaithful woman may suffer beatings or worse. History is littered with the corpses of women who have paid for adultery with their lives, yet in the majority of cases, this has been seen as a totally appropriate way for a man to protect his honor.

I lost my husband to bar girls in Thailand

My husband left me to go to Thailand and hang out with girls he meets in bars there. Have a lot of other wives had to go through this? Why does it happen?

When I was doing the research for my book, “Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not,” I came across several stories of men running off to Southeast Asia to find themselves hot young babes and enjoy the tropical climate. Some of these guys were divorced, some still married; some of them were middle-aged, some in their 60s and even 70s. Most wanted no responsibilities and no baggage, just a good time as if they were reliving their teenage years, but with much more buying power. You can get much more for your dollar in Thailand than in the United States.

A man who has neither the requisite wealth nor social status and is too old, fat or ugly to attract a sexy, young American girl can go to Thailand or the Philippines, where he will be in high demand. Women quickly lose their marriageable value in Southeast Asia, so a man from the United States would be a sought-after match as a good provider. The women may be in such dire economic straits that even a short-term fling with a Westerner is welcomed, as he is likely to shower them with gifts during the affair. “I’m invisible at home, but a god when I go to Asia,” one overweight, balding guy in his 60s told me.

However, sometimes life for Westerners in Southeast Asia can go sour very quickly as a result of illness or political instability. They can’t rely on services and infrastructure taken for granted in America. There may be no network of relatives and friends to provide assistance when needed.

Some Western men go to Southeast Asia looking for a bride to bring home because many regions there have a culture of female subservience to men. According to popular stereotypes, Asian women expect to do all the cooking and cleaning, serving their husband hand and foot. They will also attend to all his sexual needs in a skillful fashion and are supposedly more tolerant of his infidelity, as long as he is a good breadwinner for the family. In reality, the expectations of these women once they come to America may be quite different from the stereotypes. The man may be expected to financially support not only his new wife, but also her entire extended family; this often includes children from her previous relationships. I heard about a couple of cases where, right from the start, mail-order brides from abroad had no intention of staying married once their US residence permits were secure and their financial needs taken care of. One Thai woman stuck with her American husband just long enough for him to put her daughter through college and then unceremoniously dumped him, making out quite well in the divorce settlement.

But where does all this leave you, the woman left behind while your husband hangs out with Thai bar girls? If you haven’t already done so, try to ensure that your husband does not squander joint family finances in Thailand. Most likely you will need legal advice to learn the best ways to do this. You may also find it useful to read my answers to other questions about infidelity issues as some of them might be relevant to your situation. Good luck!

After my husband’s infidelity, I don’t know who I am

I was devastated when I found out my husband was cheating. It destroyed my sense of self. How do I find myself again?

Many women, particularly in long-term marriages, are so busy taking care of their spouses, the kids, the home and maybe a family business, that even without any infidelity happening, their sense of who they are is completely buried in serving others. Often whatever wives do for their families never seems to be enough—new demands are always made upon them.

It’s easy to invest your whole identity in a marriage. But you are not your relationship. You are not your family. You may feel a huge amount of emotional pain at your partner’s betrayal, but you are not your pain either. It’s just a stage you’ve been forced to go through. Can you go from being a victim of your husband’s philandering to taking control of your own life, not needing him to feel complete in yourself? I describe ways to do this in my book, “Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not.” Your husband’s infidelity has given you a kick in the pants to look at how you want to live the rest of your life, with or without him. Don’t make any rash decisions based on raging emotions. Step back and give yourself time to calm down. Try to protect your own best interests at all times.

Focus on taking good care of yourself, both physically and emotionally. Many wives find close friends they had prior to getting married drop away over time. It is important to have enriching connections that are independent of your husband. Take the time to begin cultivating a community of friends and relatives that you can rely on and whose company you enjoy. Think back to the time you were growing up, when you were a student, before you were married. What were your aims and ambitions? What did you enjoy doing? The aim is to find activities you can do now that bring you joy and fulfillment. For example, there are numerous meetup.com groups, sports and educational classes, as well as travel and volunteering opportunities in which you can choose to participate.

Counseling can help you find yourself again. In addition, I would recommend two excellent books to put you on the path to rebuilding your sense of self. The first is “Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation” by Daniel Siegel MD. He shares some fascinating insights into the nature of personal happiness and describes tools to achieve it. The second book is “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington, which shows readers practical ways to lead a more meaningful, satisfying life.

Over time, your emotional wounds will heal. If you are willing to work at it, you might also discover that you have become a much stronger, happier and more creative individual than you were before.

Cheating wife abandoned me and our kids because I was on porn and dating sites

My wife has been unfaithful before and has now left me for someone who has already been divorced three times. She says it’s because of my internet use. My wife says she doesn’t love me anymore and hasn’t been happy for a long time. We’ve been married 15 years and have two sons, for whom I have primary custody. They feel abandoned by her.

You paint a picture of a very dysfunctional marriage but leave a lot of questions unanswered. What was the extent of your internet use? Many men look at porn at certain times in their lives, particularly during their teens and early twenties when they are frustrated by raging hormones and having no women to bonk, but you would be past that stage. Spending a lot of time on porn sites can be addictive behavior and many women would consider it to be as bad as or worse than infidelity. If you have an addiction to porn, you need a skilled therapist to help you deal with it. Viewing porn on the internet is especially problematic with children living in the house who could be exposed to it inadvertently. If your wife also discovered you looking at dating sites, she might have seen it as an obvious sign of your desire to be unfaithful and of your sexual dissatisfaction with her. Thus she may have felt quite entitled to seek relationships outside the marriage. Try to work out why were you looking at porn and dating sites. Did the behavior begin before or after your wife’s affairs? Had your marriage become celibate? Was your behavior a result of her infidelity? Or was your viewing of porn and dating sites a major source of your wife’s unhappiness that pushed her into finding solace with other men?

For your own well-being, as well as that of your children, it is important to try not to beat yourself up with guilt about having driven your wife into the arms of another. You also need to deal with any anger and resentment you might have towards her. You don’t want all these negative emotions to burn a hole inside you and cause endless mental churning. There are many ways to improve your state of mind, including counseling, outdoor exercise, developing new interests and cultivating a good circle of friends to have fun with and provide support. You can also find enjoyable activities to do with your kids. However, sitting alone in your room spending long hours on the internet or watching TV is a recipe for depression, lethargy and hopelessness.

Why do you have primary custody? Is it for practical reasons or did your wife uncaringly abandon the children to run off with her boyfriend? Is your wife’s living situation unstable? You imply that her new partner is unreliable, having already had three failed marriages. It seems that she has jumped from one dysfunctional situation to another. I can understand that, whatever the circumstances, your children would feel abandoned by their mother leaving, but you need to ensure that you are not making the situation worse by preventing her from having much contact with them or by speaking ill of her in front of them. In my book “Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not,” I caution against battling spouses dragging kids into a war zone. Both you and your wife might be tempted to throw a lot of blame at each other. If you criticize your wife in front of your children, you are putting your offspring in the horrible position of having to choose sides. This kind of behavior will not give you happiness and is likely to bring not only your wife but also your kids a bucket load of emotional misery. Furthermore, you may think you are turning the children away from her, but you may find them withdrawing from you instead.

Although it is much easier said than done, however wronged you feel by the woman you married, she is still the mother of your kids, and it will serve you better not to criticize her in their presence. Think whatever you like—just bite your lip and do not say it aloud. If you can do this, it might encourage her not to criticize you in their presence either.

Marital problems can make kids feel invisible and abandoned. If you are overwhelmed by internet addictions and by conflicted emotions towards your cheating spouse, you could find yourself giving less attention and affection to your children. In addition, most likely you have been forced to deal with the practical, legal and financial considerations of your breakup. This will drain even more of your time and energy. So you have to make even more effort to ensure that your children do not get forgotten at this difficult time when they need your support more than ever.

All family members would most likely benefit from counseling, but not necessarily together. It would be useful for you to get guidance on the best ways to approach your kids. At the very least, consult with a trusted friend or two before talking to your children about mom and her boyfriend. Be circumspect and take your time. Don’t go off half-cocked just because you feel lousy about what either she has done or you have done to break up the family. Once you say something, it cannot be taken back, so you had better be sure that whatever you tell your kids is what you would want them to remember when they get older. The point is not to vent or criticize but to inform, so that the kids can gain an understanding of what is going on between their parents in order to feel more, rather than less, secure.

My husband had an affair with a married woman. Should I tell her spouse?

I’m now separated from my husband and planning to divorce. He claims he’s no longer seeing the other woman but I think he’s lying. She’s still with her spouse whom she never told about the affair. My life is ruined and I don’t see why she shouldn’t have some consequences too.

From what you are saying, perhaps you have a desire to hurt the other woman as much as you feel you have been hurt by the affair she has had with your husband. It sounds like you want her marriage to break up just as yours has done. You would be acting out of revenge, which won’t heal the devastation you feel. You certainly don’t seem to have any concern for what might be in the best interests of her husband or any children she might have with him. It’s unlikely that you are aware of the true circumstances of her marriage. You don’t know if it would be better or worse in the long run for her husband to know what she has done. There is no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether or not you should let a spouse know his or her partner has been unfaithful—every situation is different. For example, what if someone is having a lot of affairs with different partners and putting his or her spouse at risk of getting STDs? In contrast, what if the affair is over, the spouses still love each other and there are young children still living at home? Or what if the marriage has become celibate—a very common story—yet the spouses still want to live together? There is no doubt that a marriage has a much higher chance of failing if a third party tells the cheated-upon spouse about the other partner’s infidelity rather than if the adulterer confesses. I’m no fan of infidelity or the deception it almost always involves. Nevertheless the greatest probability of a marriage surviving is if the other spouse never knows about the affair. As far my own circumstances are concerned, for good or ill, I would still be with my husband if I had never found out about his mistress.

Rather than obsessing about the other woman and her spouse, try to work at getting yourself on an even keel and so that you are no longer at the mercy of your emotions. A good counselor might be able to help you do this. I also recommend that you read my free mini eBook, Overcoming Infidelity: Tools to Tame the Roller Coaster of Negative Emotions. Put yourself first and forget about your ex and the other woman. It’s time to think about how you want to live the rest of your life in a way that makes you feel fulfilled. Try to fill your time with things you enjoy doing to replace all those churning thoughts with positive experiences. It may not feel possible to you right now, and it won’t happen overnight, but you really can get to a place where you are more complete and contented than you were before you even found out about your husband’s infidelity. Good luck with your journey!

My ex is ignoring our daughter and has an online fiancé younger than her

He’s never met his bride in person—she’s in the Philippines—and showers her with gifts. But my ex rarely contacts our daughter. She’s been devastated by the divorce and we’re both having counseling.

Man marries girl young enough to be his daughter—it’s such a common story. The recently deceased Playboy magazine mogul, Hugh Hefner, was a champion cradle-snatcher. His last wife was Crystal, a model who was 60 years his junior and young enough to be his great granddaughter. She certainly wasn’t going for Hef’s looks or virility.

Nevertheless, you have to take the long-term view. Do what you can to try to help maintain at least a decent connection between your daughter and her father despite his flaws. It’s best to avoid so great a rift developing between them that they can never reconcile. Maybe your ex is being callous towards your daughter now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t want to be closer to her again in the future. He appears to be acting like an obsessed, lovestruck teenager with his fiancé, throwing caution to the wind and ignoring everything else in his life. He may well come to sorely regret his behavior. Perhaps he is drawing away from your daughter because she is older than his fiancé and makes the reality of the massive difference in age and maturity between the couple too painfully obvious. You have no way of knowing if the relationship between your ex and his fiancé will last. Sometimes a man indulging in a “passionate” online relationship with a girl from a Third World country gets a rude awakening when he meets her in person. Her behavior may be totally different from what he saw online. She may expect the “rich” American to support not only her relatives, but also her children that she did not tell him about during the online courtship phase.

As well as the emotional impact of your husband’s behavior, I can understand both your and your daughter being angry and anxious about the financial implications of this online relationship. I hope that you were able to get a good divorce settlement, but it would be wise to also look into inheritance issues for your daughter. This might involve negotiating with your husband to provide for her in his will. Otherwise everything might automatically go to the new wife.

It’s good that both you and your daughter are getting counseling to help you get through this very difficult period. In addition, here are six things I found very helpful when I was dealing with my husband’s infidelity that you and your daughter might consider doing: 1) Find confidants/mentors who have your best interests at heart. 2) Cultivate connections both old and new. 3) Laughter Therapy—hang out with people who make you laugh rather than bring you down, and watch comedies not depressing dramas. 4) Love your body and become beautiful—eat well and exercise to get healthier and banish the blues. 5) Be the happy hedonist—make time to do things you enjoy rather than keeping your nose to the grindstone. 6) Live in the present and become more mindful—try to be fully engaged in what you’re doing right now. These are some of the topics I cover in my book, “Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not.” My free mini eBook, Overcoming Adultery: Tools to Tame the Roller Coaster of Negative Emotions might also give you some useful tips.

He cheated and wants to reconcile, but I wish he’d go

My husband has been unfaithful for several years. The evidence was there but, stupidly, I just didn’t see it. Now that I’ve found out, he’s trying to do everything he can to patch things up with me, but I don’t believe his behavior is sincere. He wants us to stay together but I wish he’d leave.

Should you stay with him or split? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. So many variables play a key role, including the specific circumstances of the infidelity, the ages of your children if you have them, your state of health, whether or not you are caring for elderly relatives and, of course, finances. Don’t make any hasty decisions, especially ones based on raw anger or a desire for revenge. The best revenge is to get past the need for it—that’s the mantra of my book, “Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not.” There’s no substitute for the passage of time to get over the hurt of a betrayal. Wait till you’re more on an even keel. Work at dealing with the inevitable negative emotions that arise—maybe a counselor can help. You might also find my free mini eBook, Overcoming Adultery: Tools to Tame the Roller Coaster of Negative Emotions useful. It contains excerpts from “Adulterer’s Wife.”

If you stay with your husband, finding a way to forgive him is essential, otherwise you’ll have purgatory, not a marriage. Even if you do part ways, it’s still best to forgive and let go in order to move on and become free of the hurt. He cheated and lied to you for several years about the affair, so it’s natural for you to feel that every move he makes to reconcile is a sham, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Infidelity is drearily common and I can’t tell you if he will continue to cheat or not. Try to remember what it was that brought you together in the first place. What was it you liked about him? He must have had some redeeming features for you to have wanted to marry him. Once you’ve dealt with your emotional reaction to his cheating and can look at your situation more rationally, then ask yourself whether you would be happier with him or without him.

Infidelity breaks a lot of marriages apart but I know many couples who stayed together after one partner strayed. Some of them have even stronger relationships than before, but both spouses must want to get to that place.