Wednesday, September 05, 2007

He's Cheating On Me. What Should I Do About It?

Dear Terry:

How about we women who are married and know our husband is cheating and can't get a divorce due to reasons beyond our control? Are there ways to peak our husbands' interest, become more mysterious, and make him wonder what he is missing?

I vascillate between wanting to be charming around him and being so angry that I want nothing to do with him. I've read
How to Get Your Ex Back, but what about when you are still together and not getting what you need from the relationship? There are no consequences for his behavior; therefore, he has no reason to change. I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.



Thanks for writing, K.-

First off, let me say how sorry I am that you're even in this situation. Nobody deserves to be cheated on.

I don't blame you for vascillating between anger and wanting to charm your husband. Since it's hard to make sense of things when you're in the middle of them, talking to a good friend, therapist, or member of the clergy may help you put things in perspective and come to terms with your very justifiable anger.

I've known several excellent women who've been in your situation. One of them, an extremely attractive, smart, talented, kind, and funny person did all she could to right her relationship. She sought therapy, and because her religion frowns upon divorce, spiritual counseling. In the end, everyone she consulted encouraged her to end her marriage. She didn't have the financial resources at the time, so she made it her goal to prepare for-- and get-- a job that would allow her to shake her husband loose.

She succeeded.

If you decide to try to make your husband realize what he's missing, I guess you'll have to forgive him, which is no small feat (I wouldn't be able to do it myself, but other people can and do).

But if--say, by some act of God-- I managed to forgive the jerk, here's how I'd resuscitate his affection for me:

-I would be smiling, serene, jovial, funny, whenever my husband had the good fortune to be in my presence. Then I'd disappear for a bit, even if it meant running out to the drug store. I would systematically and methodically limit his time with me.

The key is to stop being taken for granted. I'd be unpredictable (without being irresponsible). I would alter my routine.

-I'd immediately replace my underwear. Any white briefs cluttering my drawers would give way to lacy new gear in colors that make me feel great (if I couldn't afford La Perla, I'd hit Target; they've got some lovely stuff).

-I'd buy a few bras that look alluring drying on the shower curtain (and look even better on me). I would absolutely not hop around the place in the new undergarments in an attempt to seduce my husband. I would enjoy wearing them because of the way they make me feel. Let him wonder what I look like in them.

I would, however, leave them on said shower curtain. That should have him thinking of me in flattering terms in no time.

-If I'd given up doing my hair (or getting it cut regularly) or wearing makeup or caring for my hands, I'd take it up again. I'd also slowly rub cream onto my calves, feet, and ankles before bed and let my husband watch. Then I'd roll over and turn off the light.

-Since I do most of the cooking these days, I'd do less of it and let him fend for himself. Since we have children, I'd probably hang around more to chat with other parents after piano, soccer, Religion, church, whatever. I'd also make frequent plans to meet other adults for coffee or to take the kids out for pizza. I'd be be out of the house more than usual.

-If I felt like it, I might leave a note for my husband telling him I wouldn't be too late, but that he should probably help himself to whatever's in the fridge. Then I'd come home looking my best in the prettiest clothes appropriate to the day's activities. (The idea is not to turn myself into eye candy, but to let the man wonder why I'm suddenly looking so good all the time.)

-If I had a job outside the home, I would agree to meet colleagues for drinks spontaneously and often. I would wake up 10 minutes early in the morning and leave the house looking smashing, even if my job involved wearing a vest and a nametag.

-Repeat: I would be smiling, serene, jovial, funny, whenever my husband had the good fortune to be in my presence. Then I'd disappear for a bit, even if it meant running out to the drug store. I would systematically and methodically limit his time with me.

-I would not try to make him jealous, take up with another guy, and so on (that could backfire).

-I would tell the truth on all occasions ("Mary and I are meeting at the bookstore to look around and have a cup of tea," for example) and let him wonder what I was really up to.

-I would never mention his other woman (or women) under any circumstances. I would not call her names or snipe about her. After all, she's irrelevant. He's the problem.

If the guy is capable of giving you what you need in your relationship, these tips could do the trick. I must warn you, though, that he may not be capable. If this turns out to be the case, it's not your fault.

In the end, all you can do is all you can do. You cannot make any relationship work without the consent and participation of the other party. (Read that again: It took me ages to learn it!) Even if you do manage to make your husband "see what he's missing," there's no guarantee he won't revert to his dishonorable ways.

Again, if this happens, it is not your fault.

I hope this helps, and I wish you all the best in everything.