Dear DSO: My Wife Cheated and We're Still Together

DSO,

I’ve read a lot of your posts on your website and the Facebook groups, and I see that you are pretty firm in your belief that when a woman cheats on you your marriage is over. I wanted to tell you about my situation to see what you think.

My mom cheated on my dad when I was 16. I caught the other man leaving our house when I came home for school at lunch time. My mom wasn’t expecting me to come home since I never had before. I knew who the guy was since he was a friend of the family, and they tried to act like it was no big deal for him to be there, but I could tell what was going on. I told my dad about what I saw. There was fighting and talk about divorce, but in the end they stayed together and they’ve been together ever since (24 years later). To be honest, their marriage hasn’t been the best the whole time. There was always tension and fighting, but in the end I would say that they are as happy today as they have ever been. 

My wife cheated on me three years ago. I’ve worked hard to win her back and make our marriage work. I can’t say that I’m completely happy at the moment, and our sex life is not where I want it to be (I found your site by reading The Dead Bedroom Fix), but I do feel like we are making good progress. She made an awful mistake and she owned up to it. There were some slip ups early on (she texted the other guy and tried to hide it) but she got caught and I threatened divorce. She’s been faithful ever since.

We have two kids. I just don’t see the sense in throwing everything we have away and ruining the kids’ lives just to prove a point to her. We are a married couple and we’re supposed to work through the tough times. Like my parents, once you get past the really rough parts the really good stuff waits for you on the other side.

I appreciate all that you do and that you help men, but I disagree on your point about cheating and marriage. If we throw away marriages every time somebody makes a mistake there would be no marriage left and no family. I recently turned 40 and I realize now that family is the most important thing in the world. I have no desire to throw it all away and start dating.

John


I've used this analogy before when talking to guys in your shoes:

Let's say you're a CEO of a company. You have a longtime partner who functions as your CFO. He's been with you through thick and thin. He was there when your company made its first million, and he was there when you took your company public and made bazillions of dollars. Without him, you wouldn't be where you are.

One day an accountant alerts you to some screwy stuff going on. Turns out your trusted partner of many years was embezzling money from the company. He stole millions of dollars. Then you dig deeper and find out that the money was just the tip of iceberg. He was also lying about deals, vendors, meetings... the guy had, for years, been fooling everyone. Much of what he did as CFO was just a sham. It was an illusion that he created so that he could draw a fat paycheck and steal millions of dollars without anyone knowing.

So, naturally, you fire him and he gets arrested and goes off to prison.

Years later, the guy is out of prison and comes crawling back. He tells you that he wants to get back to the old power duo that you used to be. He wants to take the company to the next level. He's learned his lesson. He's worked on his problems. He's a completely different guy. He wants back in.

Do you consider it? Of course not. Why not? Because if you did take him back into the company, you are telling yourself, your employees, your other partners and your shareholders that your worth as a CEO... as a MAN... is on very shaky ground. Of all the smart businessmen in the world to choose from, you would consider hiring that one guy who was on the news being taken away in handcuffs and sent to prison? You would take back the guy who cost the company millions of dollars in profits?

It's ludicrous to even think about. No CEO in their right mind would consider it, and no board of directors would OK the idea if it was brought to the table.

Being a spouse is a job. It requires a set of skills and personality traits that your wife has bluntly showed you she really doesn't have. She's the shady CFO skimming money from the bottom line. She got caught. She promised to never do it again. Then she got caught stealing again. You threatened her with the proverbial prison time... and she finally quit (or was just much better at hiding her tracks).

The board of directors are watching. Your stock just plummeted. The shareholders have lost confidence in you. Your fellow executives are looking for positions in other companies. You've just announced to all of them, "Hey... this is the best I can do. She's my partner! I gotta stick by her!"

A guy with such self-limiting and self-deprecating behavior is not a man worthy of respect. I don't care how you frame your situation or apply the tenants of "honor" and "loyalty" ... you're just fooling yourself.

Take your dad out for a beer. Sit him down and ask him about the past 24 years of his life. Ask him if he has regrets. Tell him what you're going through right now. I wouldn't be surprised if your dad gets VERY serious in a hurry and tells you to run away from your wife and never look back. That's been the overall theme I've heard from men in your dad's shoes: "I should've left when I had the chance."

Regret, my man. There's nothing worse.

[bot_catcher]