DEAR NATALIE: I recently discovered that my new husband cheated on me with a stripper the night of his bachelor’s party earlier this summer. We were married a week later. He went to a strip club with his friends and apparently things got completely out of control. To say I am disgusted is a total understatement. As of now, he is sleeping on our couch and I don’t know what to do. He told me over drinks one night last week, saying he was so sorry and felt so guilty and couldn’t keep it from me any longer. I had an idea that something had happened, but didn’t interrogate him about it at the time because I was so obsessed with the wedding. Now I don’t know what to do. He claims it was a one-time thing and feels terrible for hurting me and breaking my heart. We were both crying. But how can I ever trust him again? I contacted a divorce lawyer yesterday to weigh my options but I am having trouble deciding what to do. Can you help? --BETRAYED BRIDE
DEAR BETRAYED BRIDE: Ouch, this is tough. On the one hand, people might say DUMP HIM IMMEDIATELY. Throw his stuff on the front lawn and change the locks. No one would fault you. On the other hand, you could try counseling and working through this. If there is any love in your heart left for him, there could still be a chance to salvage this relationship. He did a terrible thing. Not just the cheating, but the lying and betraying made it so much worse. He looked you in the eye on your wedding day and pledged vows to you that he had already broken. If he was able to do that, what else is he capable of hiding from you? Now, I’m not trying to make you paranoid, but just keep your wits about you. If you feel deep down that you need to try and save this marriage, then go for it. But, don’t do it because you are trying to save face. Do it because you truly love each other and want to get to the bottom of why he chose to make such a bad decision. None of this “boys will be boys” patriarchal nonsense. He needs to own what he did and recognize that there are consequences to his actions. He needs to rebuild not only his relationship with you, but also work on himself, as well. If he can do that, and you can get to a place of forgiveness, that is wonderful. But, if he can’t or you just can’t carry that emotional weight, then let go. At least you can say you tried.
DEAR NATALIE: I really want to get in shape this fall but my wife is making things difficult. She also has acknowledged that she needs to lose some weight, and I thought it would be great if we worked on getting healthy together. She seems to be against the idea, however, and has been cooking all of my favorite (and fattening!) foods the last couple of nights in a way to deter me from working out. When I didn’t indulge, she flipped out. What is her problem? Why doesn’t she want to support me? How can I get her to join me in losing weight? --ON MY OWN
DEAR ON MY OWN: She’s clearly not emotionally ready. Instead of being supportive of your goals, she is sabotaging the both of you so that she doesn’t have to confront her own health issues. Plus, she might be jealous that you want to improve your health and is worried that if you do, you may think less of her. There could be a lot swirling around in her head that she isn’t expressing, so instead, she’s being passive aggressive. The only thing you can do is just be patient with her and cook your own meals in the meantime. You could also offer to cook dinners a few nights a week and make healthier versions of the foods that you know she loves. Even small swaps like olive oil instead of butter can help make the mental switch and won’t overwhelm her. Be kind. She is clearly hurting and the more you support her and make space for her to join you on this journey without forcing her, the more likely she will come along for the ride. Maybe it starts with just a walk around the block after dinner. You can reconnect and stretch your legs while getting in a little exercise. Not only will that feel good physically, but it will boost endorphin levels and she may just start to feel a little better.
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Dealing with a close talker? This isn’t just a joke on classic ‘Seinfeld’, this really happens! Sometimes people do not recognize personal space or boundaries. Instead of backing away and looking annoyed, try angling your body away from them so that you don’t feel as claustrophobic. Plus, it can open you up to spotting someone else in the crowd that you can invite over to widen the group. Whatever works!
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)