Shayne on You: Infidelity isn't always physical

Dear Maggie,

First of all, I love your books!

As for my problem ... A few years ago, my husband and I reconciled after a three-year split. Weíve been happy Ė for the most part Ė and weíre now expecting our second baby.

During our time apart, at some point a really good female friend of his whom heís known for years admitted to him she was in love with him. Mind you, this woman is married and had three kids at the time Ė now she has five. She even told her own husband (poor guy) how she felt about mine during a fight they were having. Since it all blew up, she is always sending my husband lovey-dovey text messages and cards and buying our son presents. She begged my husband not to get back together with me, but he did anyway. He told me all of this himself. Even though we got back together, her behavior hasnít stopped.

I really donít think anything ever went on between them, mainly because if heíd wanted her, he could have had her instead of getting back together with me. He claims heís told her to cool it, but she wonít. What irks me is that I think the situation is entirely inappropriate and it makes me uncomfortable. There is always that thought in the back of my mind that if we ever have a really big fight or something, he knows he has somewhere else to go ... and maybe the only thing stopping him is the fact that sheís still married and has five kids. I would be happy if he would terminate all communication with this woman, because even though they have known one another since they were very young, she crossed a line. He refuses to sever contact because her father and her uncles are his best friends and he canít just cut her out. They all know about this now, which is very embarrassing for me. And I found recent evidence that instead of trying to get her to stop, my husband does nothing but egg her behavior on (yes, I was snooping; itís so hard not to when youíre dealing with this!).



Because she is such a close friend of his, she expects to be at EVERYTHING, like my sonís birthday parties, or any functions we might have, and I cannot stand her. It drives me insane, and trying to discuss it with him at this point dissolves into nothing but an argument. He thinks itís all harmless and Iím letting it get to me too much, while Iím ready to unleash all the wrath of my raging pregnancy hormones upon BOTH their heads. If I had some guy chasing after me like this, he wouldnít stand for it.

Do you have any advice for me?

Sincerely,

Pulling My Hair Out!

Dear Hair-Puller,

This isnít your raging hormones. Youíre not being unreasonable. Infidelity isnít just physical. Itís emotional too. Heís cheating on you by placing this woman, and her uncles and her father, above you. Heís hurting you to accommodate them, and that shows you where you stand in his list of priorities.

Itís your house, and your son, and you have every right to say who can be at family functions. On that, at least, you can put your foot down. And thereís no earthly reason he canít cut her off without cutting off her father and uncles. Thatís bull. You canít control him, though, and the problem isnít her. The problem is him. Heís the one who promised to love, honor and cherish you. She didnít promise you anything, and her marriage is her own issue.

And for the rest, after gathering input from others, not wanting to get this one wrong, most strongly suggest marriage counseling, because heís never going to take your word that this is wrong. Heíll need outside confirmation. If heíll go. If not, have him read this. ďHey, dummy. Yes, Iím talking to you. Youíre blowing it big time, and if you keep it up youíre going to find yourself divorced, seeing your two kids every other weekend and paying dearly for the privelege. Is this desperate, unfaithful other woman worth all that? Is she really more important to you than your pregnant wife?Ē

Now that Iíve vented, letís take a deep breath and talk about you. You are OK. Your happiness doesnít depend on what he does, or on what she does, or on anything outside yourself. When you get a real handle on that, and realize that you can be happy with him, or without him, and that the choice is entirely yours, youíll be in much more solid, stable position to decide what youíre willing to tolerate and what you are not. And then you can tell him that itís her or you and the kids, and you can mean it, knowing youíll be just fine either way.

I know you feel like youíll be miserable without him. But right now youíre miserable with him, too. And the heartache of leaving him will pass. Unless he changes, the heartache of staying with a man who values your feelings so little, thatís going to last for as long as you let it.

Donít lay down the ultimatum unless you mean it, though. Get strong, get aligned, get zen, and find the inner you. The one your really are. Get in touch with her. Know what youíre worth, know how deserving you are of good things. Know theyíll come to you, with him or without him. When you do all of that, youíll be ready to make a decision about all the rest of this. Your well-being is up to you. Just keep repeating that. ďIím in charge of my own happiness. Itís up to me to find it, claim it, and settle for nothing less.Ē

Iím terribly sorry youíre going through such a difficult time, and if you want to email me privately, we can discuss some more. Itís really tough to address such complex issues in the length of a column. Even if he refuses counseling, I can recommend a great therapist for you, one I adore. So drop me a line if you like.

Best,

Maggie

Dear Readers: Itís been pointed out to me, that nearly every column I write generates speculation among the locals that the letters are really thinly disguised episodes from my own private or family life. They arenít. I donít accept letters from family members, and I donít write about my own issues. Really. The curious will just have to wait for my autobiography.

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