I’ve been sitting on this question for a couple of weeks because I worry about backlash, believe it or not. I chose to write this answer today because it won’t take much time, and I have a TON of things to accomplish for my radio debut.
I have a feeling my answer is NOT going to be popular. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, please!
Love the blog. Obviously I am using a dummy email account so my identity can remain secret. Background on my story: I’ve been married 15 years. My wife and I have one child who is now a freshman in high school. We both work although I work about 60 hours a week and she works roughly 10-15 (realtor). I bring that up because I think I resent how much I work compared to her. Maybe that is part of the problem that led to my cheating on her about 6 months ago.
My job entails a good deal of traveling and is very high-pressure. For the last few years, my wife and I have had an ongoing battle over our sex life. I would like to “be” with her at least 3-4 times a month. I’m lucky if we have sex once a month. It’s been this way since our son was in the 4th or 5th grade.
Up until 6 months ago, I had never been unfaithful to my wife, even though I have had plenty of opportunity. I love her and I don’t want to lose my family and I know cheating would be a MAJOR problem for my wife.
6 months ago I finally gave in to one of the women who has been flirting with me for about 2 years (we don’t work at the same company but we are in the same industry and we were out of town at a conference.) It was great at the moment, but almost immediately afterward I felt guilty, depressed, anxious and all-around awful.
I’ve felt this way ever since. I am starting to think the only way to feel better is to tell my wife what happened. I have had no contact with the other woman since the conference and I don’t think I will ever cheat again, since it made me feel so terrible. I need to repair my relationship with my wife, including our lack of intimacy and money issues, and I think confessing what I did could be a very powerful beginning to breaking down the marriage and rebuilding it into something better.
So, Robin, should I tell my wife I cheated? And if so, how should I tell her??
No, you should not tell her.
You cheated (you did not “give in,” take some ownership for your behavior) and you instantly regretted it, although I hope you were at least able to enjoy 10-20 seconds of the afterglow, something it sounds like you haven’t experienced enough for several years. You have felt like shit ever since and you are resolved not to ever cheat on your wife again.
That’s the good news, believe it or not: you felt and continue to feel guilty as hell for your indiscretion and you think (I say “think” instead of “know” because I’m not so sure) it won’t happen again.
If I were simply going to answer the question you asked me, I could stop here. No, you should not tell your wife you cheated on her, unless you are extremely passive-aggressive and this is your way of initiating a divorce without having to be the one who leaves.
I don’t get that vibe from you, but I know that sometimes a “true confession in the best interests of the marriage” is actually a “fuck it, I’m outta here but I don’t want to be the one to leave so I’ll make her kick me out.”
You didn’t ask for advice regarding your marriage in general, but of course you know I’m going to give it to you anyway. As I mentioned above I am really pressed for time today, so rather than bore everyone with my petty psychoanalysis and making it all about me I am going to get right down to brass tacks:
1. You casually mentioned that you might be resentful of your wife’s cushy schedule as compared to your 60+ hour workweeks.
We had a few emails back and forth and you indicated that you have discussed several times with your wife your desire that she contribute more to the household financially. You made a very valid point that with only one child and the fact he’s in high school, it is unreasonable that she not work more.
While the real estate market isn’t that hot in your area of the country, working 10-15 hours per week isn’t really working at all – it’s a hobby. You told me she cleared $15,000 last year, so obviously this is a vanity project, not a profession. You have a very serious issue in your marriage which basically comes down to money, as so many marital problems do.
Your wife’s unwillingness to do more to help the family must be extremely frustrating to you. In my opinion, it shows a real lack of respect for the marriage in general and you in particular, especially since you also shared with me that your 401K dropped by 32% in the last few years and you are underwater in your home – an expensive home which you did not want but she insisted upon immediately before the real estate crash.
Wow – she sounds like a great realtor, that one.
(Actual photo used by an agent on a listing)
You also told me she spends a lot of time with her friends at the gym and that she likes, nay, LOVES, to spend money. Although you praised your wife’s dedication to keeping fit (I think you said her butt was tighter than it was in her 20s), the fact is you aren’t tapping that ass on a regular basis, so who cares? It’s like having someone dangle a Kobe ribeye in front of you and then snatching it away, only to offer you a salad (self-pleasure) instead.
Wow. Terrible writing is creeping in… time to wrap it up. Here’s my list of what you need to do/not do:
1. Keep your mouth shut about your one-night stand. This was not an affair – it was an accident, like slipping on wet pavement and falling into a vagina. You’ve learned your lesson so move on.
2. Get a marital counselor STAT. Sex and money problems are the two biggest causes of divorce* and you have both, so I suggest you find a professional who can help you sort out these issues.
3. You say you love your wife: do you tell her that? Are you affectionate and loving? Have you ma
de time for romance, or have you simply given up and made the Nightly Rollover part of your bedtime routine? You and your wife have some work to do with a counselor, but amping up the romance and sweet talking is never a bad idea unless she is PMS-ing, in which case you might lose your dick if you approach her at the wrong time.
4. Start initiating some very difficult conversations about your resentment (and yes, you do resent her) over her refusal to contribute in a meaningful manner to the family income and how her rejection of you physically is impacting your marriage. While much of this work will take place with a counselor you should also start those talks now and have them on a regular basis.
5. Be sure to ask her how you can improve as a husband. She may have some very good reasons for her behavior, and maybe she is punishing you for something. Again, a pussy passive-aggressive move, but one that people often use when they are too scared to confront serious problems in a relationship.
6. If nothing changes and she doesn’t make any effort to meet you halfway, I’d consider divorce if you find yourself cheating again or fantasizing about her sudden death in a tragic plane crash that kills only one person.**
Good luck, Guilty. Please check in and let me know what’s happening.
*Not sure this is really true but if it isn’t, it should be
**Sounds funny but I know several people who have had this fantasy. It’s as common as the “masseuse seduce” fantasy, or is that just me?