DEAR ABBY: I have a wonderful husband. "George" and I have been married for 16 years. Last summer George was going through a mid-life crisis and began shutting me out and spending most of his time at work.
A young woman -- 10 years his junior, married and temporarily separated from her husband -- began buying George lunch, complaining that she was unhappy at home, her husband was a poor lover, etc. She started praising my husband and feeding his ego.
Then one day she told him that her car was in the shop and she needed a ride home, so he drove her home and she invited him in "to talk." She asked George to kiss her. He did, and before he knew it, they were in bed. In the middle of the act, George said he realized that he was in the wrong place with the wrong woman, so he got out of bed, took a shower and came home to me. (This was his version.) He confessed, begged for my forgiveness and we prayed together. He said it was the worst sexual experience he ever had -- he didn't even complete the act.
George went to confession and told the priest everything. The priest said that technically George did not commit adultery because he did not complete the physical act. Is this true? I want to believe him. -- GEORGE'S WIFE
DEAR WIFE: Adultery, in traditional Catholic theology, does not depend on the completion of the physical act. (" ... anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28.)
George's "mid-life crisis" is a cry for help, and his lapse of faithfulness is a symptom of an ailing marriage. But since he has been a faithful husband for 16 years, you should be less concerned about the biblical definition of adultery, and more concerned about the state of your marriage. You could both benefit from counseling.
Forgive him, unconditionally, and he will remain in the right place with the right woman, and your next 16 years should be even more wonderful than your first.