DEAR NATALIE: My husband has been cheating on me for months. He works in sales and travels a lot overseas. While he was in Italy, he “fell in love” and has been having an affair while there. I found out when he came back and wouldn’t sleep with me. I asked him what was wrong and he said he wouldn’t want to “hurt her.” I said, “Who?” Then, he told me what happened. He’s done this before and I’ve taken him back because of my religious faith and belief in him. But this time is different. He doesn't want to work on our marriage anymore. We’ve been together for 20 years. I am heartbroken. To make matters worse, he is flying this woman here and wants to stay in our home with her. He said they will stay in our basement (it’s a finished basement with its own bedroom and bathroom). When I balked at this, he went ballistic on me and told me to “forgive.” I don’t know what I am supposed to do. I don’t feel like I should have to move out of our home and I certainly don’t want her here. Any ideas on how to navigate this? –BROKEN HEARTED
DEAR BROKEN HEARTED: Please do not let this man and this belief system gaslight you into thinking that you are in the wrong here. He is the one who broke his sacred vows and ruined your marriage with his lies. I have always believed that if you are unhappy, either go to counseling or break up. Do not cheat. That’s like pouring salt on a wound and wondering why it hurts ten times more. He needs to move out and you need to find a good lawyer. Don’t leave the house. You have every right to tell him that you do not want her to stay in your house. They can get a hotel. Don’t engage with him further. I would contact a lawyer today and ask them what to do in this situation. At the same time, you need to start thinking about what you want. It is your time to move forward and work on healing from the abuse of this marriage. It is time to reconsider the belief system that made you think that your value was only tied to being a wife who accepts whatever is thrown at her, without any consideration for her feelings. You deserve peace. You deserve so much better. I hope you find the strength to stand your ground and kick him to the curb. Arrivederci!
DEAR NATALIE: My wife and I moved to Pittsburgh recently. We are middle-aged and both work in office settings. She has seemed to have no trouble making new friends, and is regularly out and about with them, doing yoga, going to restaurants, or going to see sports and theater. She has great social skills. That’s one of the reasons I love her. She is really funny and smart – and I think these things are also true about myself. At least that’s what my wife tells me. But I can’t seem to make connections like she has been able to. Are men just more closed off? I can have a beer with someone after work and enjoy that brief time, but I’m looking for a more meaningful, deep friendship the way I see she has been able to make them. Any thoughts on how to make friends after 40? –WOULD LIKE NEW FRIENDS
DEAR WOULD LIKE NEW FRIENDS: The amazing Jane Fonda recently said in an interview that men sit next to each other and look straight ahead – while women face each other and look into one another’s eyes. Stay with me. She was talking about how men are often together, but not as present or involved as women are with one another. Making male friends takes a little more time and effort since men in our culture aren’t socialized to be relational. I applaud you for wanting to branch out and expand your social circle. We all need multiple emotionally fulfilling relationships to be our best selves. The best way to do this is to just try. Your wife seems to invite others out for social activities. You can do that, too. Outside of meeting for a beer, what are things you enjoy? It may take time to find a few male friends who respond, but I think the world is changing. Men want to have meaningful relationships, and whether or not our society is giving them permission for their full spectrum of emotional experiences, they are tapping into them on their own terms. Perhaps your wife could set up a group date with other husbands of her new friends? This may be an easy way to connect with people that you can get to know over a meal or during a social event once or twice a month. Tell people what you want. If there are a few guys that you click with, let them know you are new to town and if they want to hang out more, you would enjoy that! Being vulnerable is often what prevents us from overcoming obstacles. It’s scary to put yourself out there. But, realistically, what do you have to lose?
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