Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater?

Duped wife seeks advice

I’m a straight lady in my mid-30s and I just found out my husband of six years and partner for 10 has been cheating on me for the last five years. As far as I knew, we had a perfect marriage—probably the best relationship, sexual or otherwise, I’d ever been in. If this was a one-off affair, I think I could work past this—counseling, open marriage, some sort of solution. But the fact that he’s lied to me for the five years and that the sex was unsafe (I saw video) disturbs me. My heart doesn’t want this to end—he’s been my best friend, lover and support system for 10 years—but my brain is telling me that even if we renegotiated the terms of our marriage, he’d deceive me again. I’m working with a therapist, but what’s your take? Once a cheater, always a cheater? I don’t expect an all-knowing answer. But a little perspective would be helpful.

— Duped Wife

For most of your marriage—for most of a marriage you describe as perfect—your husband was cheating on you. My perspective/two cents: Instead of regarding everything that worked about your marriage as a lie, instead of seeing every loving moment as just some part of your husband’s long and very selfish con, you might want to see what was good about your marriage and what was bad about your husband as two things that existed side-by-side. So instead of telling yourself, “This was a lousy marriage, it was all a lie, I just didn’t know it,” tell yourself, “It was a good marriage despite his cheating, it wasn’t all a lie, but it was a lot less perfect than I thought.” That’s where you’ll need to get if you want to stay in this marriage—and that may be the biggest “if” you’ll ever confront in your life. And while there are no studies that prove “once a cheater, always a cheater,” studies have shown that someone who has cheated is more likely to cheat again. Not certain to cheat again, but more likely to cheat than someone who’s never cheated. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, particularly now.

Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage, visit savagelovecast.com or email [email protected].

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