Sex Q&A: Confront a Cheater

Get Cheaters Out of Your Life!

Vanessa asks:

I know my husband is cheating but I can’t seem to bring myself to confront him.

Liam’s Response:

Greetings, Vanessa. It seems to me that your current conundrum seeps through many layers of your existence. And I see you having problems in all aspects of life as a result of certain perceptive glitches you harbor. Your use of the term “cheating” in reference to your husband’s suspected dalliance speaks loudly of a sense of entitled possessiveness, as well as a good bit of self-righteousness. As I have told so many others before, you do not own your husband’s sexuality. His body… his pleasure… and his inner sexual world are a sacred domain that belongs solely to him. If he has slept or is currently sleeping with someone else, there may be many reasons for it. But when you get down to plain old brass tacks the fact is that people have sex with other people, marriage or no marriage. That is human nature. You would do it too if you came across a deal that appealed to you enough to make the effort. And you’d find a million ways to justify your indiscretion. So let’s dispense with the moral charade and talk about the real issue here.

Now, it is true that a person’s sexuality is personal and sacred and many long, relatively happy marriages do quite well with the participants being careful never to ask questions they might not like the answers to. You, however, seem the type who has an expectation of at least some level of honesty in her relationship. For that, I applaud you. The happiest relationships are always ones where people feel they can be open and honest, even if the things they have to talk about are painful. So much of the time people involved in arguably the most intimate relationship we humans can have, feel they cannot talk to one another for fear of judgment, criticism and misunderstanding. These couples live side by side for years, each trapped in their own insular vacuum—a lonely place of isolated souls where nothing is ever shared or discussed. And then, when an affair or some other challenging situation arises, we end up with exactly what you describe… a husband who can’t talk to his wife because he fears her anger and retribution and a wife who can’t talk to her husband because she fears him period. I know this is not the marriage you want. All truth begins with self-truth, so before you talk to your spouse about anything, I want you to do some serious soul searching about why you’re in this marriage, what you want out of it, and what your husband’s affair means to you.

Once you’ve done that, make a choice and go with it. The silence you have been maintaining on the matter to this point will only ensure you get more of the same. If you choose to make a new start with this man—one of honesty and openness—then move forward with patience and good intention. If you approach him like a member of the Holy Inquisition, it will only lead to defensiveness, resentment and eventual divorce where a basically sound marriage might otherwise be saved. Instead, be prepared to actually hear and understand him. And be ready to speak your truth to him as well. If you’re hurt, tell him why. For real. Don’t make your hurt his failure or spout angry tirades about promises and broken trust. Approach him in wrath, and you will reap what you sow. If you really want to get to the hard truth at the heart of this and move past it, then you must act with dignity and grace. It’s a difficult and scary prospect, I know, but it could very well lead to a whole different way of life for you—an entirely new and honest beginning. And I think that’s exactly what you want.


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