January 13, 2012 at 10:10 am , by Lauren Piro
Oh, love in the time of Facebook. Such innovation. Such connectivity. Such possibility … that your high school flame will friend you and want to reconnect in a more-than-friendly way. (We’re onto what that “poke” button is for, Mark Zuckerberg. How sly of you.) That’s what happened to Jenny, 38, wife of Tom, 36. Her old sweetheart Grant came-a-clicking and before she new it, she was in a hotel room with him. Read on to find out what transpired, or check out the full story in our February issue, on newsstands now.
Jenny’s turn: Jenny was feeling trapped—Tom is a workaholic, and all the couple ever talks about these days is how to homeschool their kids. All the parents at their church do it, and the couple was supposed to take it on together, but now Jenny basically does all of the work, and occasionally Tom makes a bossy suggestion. With all of this on her plate—and all of the housework—Jenny doesn’t have time for the gym, Bible class or coffee with friends, so she started spending hours on Facebook to feel less lonely. That’s when Grant sent her a message. They started talking and texting, and Grant made Jenny feel like herself again, which she really missed. Eventually, they decided to meet up and spend the day together. Jenny lied to Tom and had dinner with Grant. Every step of the way, she knew it was wrong, but couldn’t help it—until her kissed her in their room at an inn. Jenny immediately felt awful and told him to leave, and she went home the next morning and told Tom everything, sobbing. Will she be able to convince him that he’s the only one she truly loves?
Tom’s turn: First of all, there’s no way he believes that Grant didn’t spend the night with Jenny. Does she take him for an idiot? He was shocked when Jenny confessed, but looking back on everything he can’t believe he missed the warning signs. Their cell phone log shows 300 pages of calls between Jenny and Grant, and Tom always thought she was just excited to reconnect with her friends on Facebook—not her ex-boyfriend! He knew the homeschooling was hard on her, but he didn’t think it had gotten this bad. If he ever cut Jenny off when they were talking about the kids, it was only because he hates arguing. He can’t believe she’s done this to him—and he’s not sure he can move past it.
January 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm , by Lauren Piro
Did you read that headline and immediately say, “Whoa!” So did I. Let’s dive right in and find out what was really going on with this couple, Pam, 40, and Jack, 42. And be sure to read the full story for even more details.
Her turn: Pam’s adult life was a challenge from the start. After growing up with an alcoholic mother, Pam found out she was pregnant at 17. She decided to keep the baby, Zoe, and marry the father, but that quickly turned disastrous—he was abusive and Pam eventually left him. But then things started to look up—she got her GED and met Jack in class. She thought he was charming and fun, and after two years they were happily married. Jack even adopted Zoe, and a few years later twin boys Sam and Max were born. At about that time, Pam took motherhood on by storm and Jack threw himself deeper into his work. Over time this caused tension—Pam appreciates that Jack provides for the family but he never spends time with them or helps out with parenting. And now she’s discovered the kicker. After answering his cell phone one day, she heard the voice of another woman. She confronted Jack and it all came pouring out—he’s been having one-night stands when he travels for business. He says they mean nothing, but can she ever trust him again?
Jack’s turn: Jack, too, had a rough childhood and an alcoholic mother, so when he met Pam and fell in love, he was delighted. He and Zoe hit it off, he was finally doing well in school, and before he knew it, they were married, he was a new dad, and he’d earned himself a great (though intense) job. He doesn’t know how he came to start cheating on his wife—it’s just something that happened. After working long days on his many business trips, he’d meet up with colleagues, have a little too much wine and well, one thing would lead to another. He’s filled with regret, but he’s not totally giving Pam a pass. He thinks she treats him like an outsider when it comes to raising the kids and criticizes him all the time. He feels like he comes in last, and he’d prefers to retreat into his work than argue. Still, he hopes Pam can find a way to forgive him so they can try working harder on their marriage.
November 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm , by Lauren Piro
A marriage is a marathon, not a sprint down the aisle followed by decades spent smoothly on autopilot. It needs tending, respect, and more than a few “state-of-the-union” chats. Otherwise, tiny, navigable speed bumps can grow into brick walls that smack your relationship down quicker than you realize. Kate, 39, and Alberto, 40, have reached one of these barriers in their marriage, and they turned to a counselor to help scale it. Read the full story here, or in our November issue, on newsstands now!
Kate’s turn: Kate’s job requires her to spend four days a week on the road, leaving Alberto alone with the kids—and his new friend, Nina, another mother from their children’s school. At first, Kate was glad her husband and kids had found someone to hang out with while she traveled, but the first time she met Nina, she sensed something was off. And when Nina visited their house, her familiarity with her way around their home (and Alberto) seemed like a big red flag. Sure enough, two weeks later, Kate came across a note from Nina to Alberto that was not so innocent. Kate’s convinced they’re having an affair, but Alberto staunchly denies it. Sure, he may have flirted with the idea, but he claims nothing happened. They tried seeing a marriage therapist to help them talk about everything, but when Kate felt like Alberto still wasn’t telling the whole truth, she quit going. She’s ready to work on their marriage, but can’t pretend they’re communicating while he’s lying to her.
Alberto’s turn: The whole story? He is, in fact, lying. Privately, Alberto revealed everything to the therapist: he did have sex with Nina, and on more than one occasion. Alberto feels lonely and overwhelmed taking care of two kids and working 60-hour weeks. Kate doesn’t call much when she’s away and seems tied to work when she’s home. When he met Nina, he wasn’t looking for a relationship but was glad to have a companion whose kids were friends with his kids. As they saw each other more, it became clear Nina wanted to pursue a romantic relationship, and Alberto didn’t stop it. And once they’d slept together, what was the harm in doing it again? He felt guilty, but justified it since Kate was absent, and Nina made him feel wanted. When Kate found the note from Nina, he panicked. It was never his intention to break up his family, and he’s afraid Kate will leave if he owns up to his mistake.
July 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Between pop-up ads, risque tabloids, celeb gossip sites and spam email, sometimes it seems like online porn is everywhere. One thing’s for sure: If you’re looking for x-rated content on the web, you won’t have a problem finding it. The accessibility and (relative) discretion of viewing the content raises tons of issues for couples like 29-year-old Mia, a stay-at-home-mom, and her 30-year-old realtor husband, Carson. (Read the full story here.)
Mia’s Turn This isn’t the first time she’s caught her husband looking at online porn. She discovered his habit three years ago, they had a huge blowout and he promised to stop – but clearly he hasn’t. He also blames her for it, saying he wouldn’t need the sites if they had sex more often, which infuriates her. It’s his problem, not hers! They have a 4-month-old son and she’s so tired all she wants to do in bed is sleep. He’s also a huge flirt, hugging and chatting up other women, and it drives her crazy. Carson’s father used to make lewd comments about women in front of Carson’s mother and no one made an issue of it. Mia’s own parents were proper and buttoned-up, so her father-in-law’s behavior and her husband’s porn habits totally appall her. She feels as betrayed as if he physically cheated.
Carson’s Turn He feels completely sexually rejected by his wife. He hates fighting about it or upsetting her, so he does what he needs to do in his private time. Looking at online porn is just a physical thing – he doesn’t have a steady “partner” he chats with so there’s no relationship – and he feels he has no other choice since his wife shuts him down all the time. He’d never have an affair and thinks she should be happy he’s not running around with someone else. He understands his flirting makes her uncomfortable but doesn’t see the harm since he’d never actually cheat; it’s innocent. And though he’s embarrassed by his dad’s sexist comments, too, he still thinks Mia should ignore them.
The Counselor’s Turn Just as an affair can indicate that a marriage needs a wake-up call, so can a habit like Carson’s. They were both uncomfortable talking about sex, for different reasons, so they never discussed their unhappiness. Carson’s viewing tastes tended towards standard sexual situations, so his interest in porn was pretty normal. Mia had to understand that his porn-watching didn’t mean anything about her – that she was unattractive or that he didn’t love her – but she also had to accept that her constant rejection of his advances helped in part to drive him away. Men equate sex and love, and if he felt desired and wanted, the counselor thought he’d stop looking elsewhere. Mia also withheld sex to get back at him for flirting and for when he ignored her valid concerns about his behavior. Carson first needed to limit his flirtations with other women, which he succeeded in doing once he realized how much it hurt his wife. Once she saw the improvement, Mia began to accept his advances more and learned to gently decline when she’s not in the mood. As for the porn, Carson quit the habit cold-turkey, and since their sex life has improved he hasn’t felt the need to use it anyway.
March 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Affairs are clear no-nos. Sleep with a person other than your spouse and you are pretty indisputably in the wrong. But what about unconsummated relationships? Does an affair of the heart equal an affair of the flesh? Or, in plain terms, if you fall for someone else but you never get it on, are you still a cheater?
This week’s Can This Marriage couple, Larry and Liz, are dealing with that very issue. Larry, a partner in his family’s contracting business, has been married to Liz, a stay-at-home mom of three boys, for 10 years. He chose their anniversary dinner as the venue to tell his blindsided wife about his emotional affair.
Liz’s turn She should have seen this coming. Larry’s been spending all his time at the office or the gym, getting fit for his new love, and they haven’t had sex in ages. Liz gained significant weight with each pregnancy, so she’s not surprised her husband isn’t attracted to her anymore, but it’s not as if he couldn’t have guessed she’d put on some pounds: They met at a Weight Watchers meeting. In the early years of their dating, they worked out together and kept each other in check. Now, Larry works out with the other woman – a receptionist at his office who’s fitter and younger than Liz. Larry tried to sleep with the coworker, but she turned him down, saying she didn’t think of him that way. What hurts Liz the most is that Larry seems to think it’s okay since he didn’t physically cheat. Read more
January 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
By this point in time, pretty much everyone on the planet – and their mother, neighbor and dog – has a Facebook account. That may be an overstatement, but with over 500 million active users, the tally isn’t too far off. And while it’s a great place to reconnect with old friends, share photos and updates and generally keep up-to-date with the people in your life, it’s also an easy place to get into trouble. And not just the computer-hacking, home-robbery-when-you’re-on-vacation type of trouble, either. In the Can This Marriage Be Saved? column from our February issue, one husband used the social network to get back in touch with an old flame and start up a new affair.
Sue, a 40-year-old working mom of twin teenage girls, is married to Carl, also 40, who travels frequently for business. As Sue found out, he ended up traveling for more than just work.
Sue’s side She’s totally blindsided by her husband’s affair. The other woman, Jill, is Carl’s high school girlfriend who dumped him not long before Sue and Carl went on their first date. When they met, Sue was wary of getting involved because he seemed hung up on Jill, but by their second date he seemed to have forgotten about her and they fell in love quickly. Now they bicker constantly because Carl seems to think that despite her full-time job she doesn’t need help around the house, and they also don’t have anything more than surface conversations – and definitely don’t have sex. She loves Carl and wants to save the marriage, but at the moment she can’t even think straight.
Carl’s side He didn’t want the affair to happen and had no intention of sleeping with her when they reconnected through Facebook, but when he saw Jill in person after suggesting they meet up for coffee, he felt the past evaporate and his old feelings rushed back. He now talks to Jill constantly and has slept with her several times, and he can’t seem to stop himself. He’s totally unhappy in his marriage and thinks Sue talks down to him, is always anxious and acts like a micromanager and a dictator. In his eyes, the marriage has been in trouble for a while and it’s only come to a head because of his affair.
The counselor’s take Many people don’t consider the implications of reconnecting when they hit “send’ on a friend request, but adolescent relationships can leave strong marks that are tough to erase. Sue and Carl were terrible communicators, trading accusations and brushing their true feelings aside, and it’s tough to save marriages like theirs because the anger and blame runs deep. Since Carl’s affair had flourished via email, the counselor recommended he and Sue communicate that way, too, so they could speak honestly and really hear each other. He also had to vow not to talk to Jill for at least 6 months while he and Sue worked on the marriage. They had to slowly work their way back into sex after he violated her trust so badly. They started to go on dates, just the two of them, to restore their intimacy. After 6 months of counseling and steady progress, Carl told Jill that he and Sue were a team and planned to stay that way.
What do you think? Is it too easy for old flames to reconnect on Facebook? Have you ever gotten back in touch with a past love?
Don’t forget to pick up our February 2011 issue for the full story, on newsstands now!
November 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
To be sure, infidelity in a marriage is a particularly sensitive subject. There are your high-profile celeb cheaters (the list seems to grow every day . . .) who really just seem like scummy jerks, and there are your egregious cheaters who get it on right and left and seem to believe that marriage vows expire (a la the entire cast of Mad Men). But far more often there are couples for which cheating is the result of some denied unhappiness, or a reaction to a tragedy, or a myriad of other reasons that are a little more complex than an obvious right-versus-wrong situation. Clearly, cheating on your partner is never right, but whether it’s forgivable is another question entirely.
In this week’s judgment session, we have Kelly, a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom, and her husband, James, an accountant of the same age. They’ve been married for 10 years and James has cheated three separate times: once with a temp from his accounting firm, once with a receptionist at his gym, and finally with a fellow guest on a cruise ship while on a trip with his wife. Read their stories and decide for yourself if you think Kelly should forgive James’s cheatin’ heart.