DEAR ABBY: Adultery seems to be an accepted fact of life these days. Everybody's doing it. No problem.
It's no problem, that is, until you are the injured party. Then it's a very big deal. The hurt is so deep, it's hard to believe that someone who claims to love you has intentionally and selfishly inflicted this pain on you.
People say marriages can be salvaged and even improved in the healing process. However, I know for a fact that it will never happen without remorse on the part of the adulterer. In my case, there is none. My husband boasted, "I'm not sorry I did it. I'm glad. I had a great time."
After much soul-searching, I had to face the truth: I married a loser. I'm a kind and decent person who never expected or deserved to be treated so poorly. But I'm also strong, and although I'm deeply wounded, I'll be fine because I've been able to see why he had the affair. It had nothing to do with me. You see, with her he could pretend to be someone other than who he really is. He could pretend to be a successful businesseman when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. He could brag about his children like a devoted family man. In truth, he is a workaholic and not at all involved in their lives or upbringing.
For years I begged him to go for counseling. It was easier for him to find a sympathetic lover who was willing to hear how his wife didn't understand him. I understand him, all right -- too well. He is a charmer. However, he can also be mean-spirited and vengeful, a side he would never let her see.
He is in denial and takes no responsibility for his actions. When I told him he had to leave, he didn't go to her. Maybe it's because he's married, although that didn't seem to bother them before. Or maybe he knew eventually she would see through his charade. The reason doesn't matter. It's over for us.
I have some advice I'd like to give to your readers who might be considering having an affair: If you are unhappy in your marriage, get counseling or get out of the house. But do not get a lover. Affairs cause only trouble and very deep pain. -- SLOWLY HEALING IN FREEPORT, MAINE
DEAR SLOWLY HEALING: That's sage advice -- given by someone who obviously has not yet put the pain behind her.
I agree that adultery is not the solution to an ailing marriage. Only by having the courage to confront problems head-on can they be resolved. And it is that process, in addition to building love and respect, that creates successful partnerships.