"I Caught Him, Red-Handed, Cheating on Me!"

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His Turn

"I Lied the Whole Time"

"It was the most humiliating moment of my life," said Gary, 41, in a trembling voice, recalling what happened. "I feel so terrible for doing this to Cheryl, to our marriage. Cheryl has given my life focus and meaning: I love her and want to be with her forever -- if she'll have me. 

"I've arranged for Shannon to work at a clinic that's closer to her home but more than two hours from my office. I swear I will never see her again. I know this sounds cliché, but it really was only about sex. One night, seven years ago, Shannon came on to me when we were the last to leave the office. Why didn't I stop her? Because I was flattered. She made me feel sexy, virile. It was easy -- and I had no willpower. After our first encounter, I guess I figured that since I had already violated my marriage vows once, that one more time wouldn't change anything. Then one more time turned into two more, and so on, till it was seven years running.

"I kept up the lie all that time. Even when Cheryl and I went to a therapist a couple of years ago, I denied that I was having an affair. I was sure if I came clean, she'd leave me.

Forgiving and Forgetting?

"I'm not excusing my behavior, but it's not as if Cheryl and I had a perfect marriage. We had problems long before I met Shannon and had the affair. Sometimes Cheryl likes to make me feel like a stupid kid who never gets it right: I drive too fast, I don't discipline the kids the right way -- the slightest thing sets her off. When she lashes out at me, I want to get as far away as possible. When she's not fighting with me, she's totally focused on the kids. So much so that I feel invisible. And sex? We rarely make love anymore. This was true long before I got involved with Shannon. I don't even feel like she's attracted to me; she never initiates sex. And I feel like when I do, she treats it like a chore.

"But it's the nonstop arguing that's the hardest to live with. My parents never yelled. There was a lot of tension between them, but no fighting. My father was a businessman, a smooth-talking charmer who'd flirt with every woman he met. I'd bet anything he had affairs. My mother, who ran a local art gallery, never said a word to him as far as I know. She was very distant and kept her emotions to herself.

"I was a good kid who tried to do everything to lighten things up and please my parents. I even went to the same Ivy League school my father did. You'd think that would make him proud, but I never got the feeling that he cared about my accomplishments. His only concern was that I make him look good. 

"I'm extremely sorry for what I did, but it's not enough to get Cheryl to trust me again. I promise this: I will change. If she ever forgives me, I will never, ever hurt her again." 

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn

 

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