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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Is Appalled by His Response to News of Father's Cancer

DEAR ABBY: I'm at a loss and need some outside advice. I'm a man, married for two years. My husband and I have a great marriage, but last week my father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and I'm having trouble processing it. My husband is super supportive and has had my back 100 percent. But yesterday I woke up and a friend of mine wanted to meet with me and we ended up having sex.

What's wrong with me? I have never cheated before. I have been cheated on in the past, and I know how much it hurt, so I vowed never to do it. But it just happened. I regret what I did, and I feel gross. Why would I do this? Is it my way of coping with Dad's illness? I need to understand what the hell happened. Please help. -- OFF THE RAILS

DEAR OFF: I, too, suspect that your infidelity may be related to trying to deal with your father's diagnosis. It is not as unusual as you may think for people to react to grief, trauma or death by doing something uncharacteristic. However, if this becomes your default coping mechanism, discuss it with a licensed psychotherapist so it doesn't destroy your marriage.

P.S. Unplanned sexual encounters can have unplanned consequences. To make sure this one hasn't, contact your doctor about being checked for an STD. And consider coming clean to your husband, because it would be disastrous if your friend let the truth slip out accidentally. (And, of course, if you've developed an STD, tell your husband right away.)

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce | Death | Health & Safety | Mental Health