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Why did she cheat?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  March 31, 2009 12:02 PM

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Sorry for the late posting. This guy can't let go. I get it. But help him, please.

Q: My wife and I have been married for almost 41 years. When she was 22, she had a very brief affair with her boss, a dentist, following the birth of our first child. I was in college. They were involved in a year long emotional affair while she was pregnant. She confessed to me eight years later.

She said that he had been pushing her for sex for a couple of years but she resisted but he finally wore her down and he got to her about six weeks after she returned to work from pregnancy leave.

We were not having any problems and were enjoying a full social and sexual relationship during the entire time. Still are! She maintains she does not know why she did it other than her hormones were going crazy and she had a lot of respect for his skills as a dentist and he was her mentor. He was ten years her senior and his wife was pregnant at the same time as he was pursuing my pregnant wife.

After a couple of trips to the motel, he broke it off and she got really pissed off at him because she said that after all he did to get her to have the affair that he backed out. Her plan was to end the affair when I graduated and left town a few months later.

She maintains she was still very much in love with me and had no problems with our marriage so my question is this.... WHY would a happily married, conservative wife with a new baby risk everything to hop in the sack with her boss. My wife has never been able to tell me WHY. Is she telling me the truth or is she holding something back? She has always been a mailable person when it comes to dominant men.

BTW, she told me all the details and without her knowledge, I called the doc and he confirmed what she had told me. Plus, he apologized.

Any ladies out there who can tell me WHY?

-- Bob, Virginia Beach

A: Bob, you're asking why? I'm asking the same question.

Because she was young (only 22)? Because she was thoughtless? Because, as she says, her hormones were out of whack? Who knows?

My question is -- can you forgive her and stop asking why? You've been married more than 40 years. It sounds like there's real love in your relationship.

This one's a riddle that has no specific answer. She probably doesn't know either. If I had to guess, I'd say it was age.

Learn to stop asking why. The answer is: Because.

That's the best I can do. Which leaves you with a marriage that has lasted 40some years. Pretty amazing, right?

Readers? Can you do better? Why is Bob still fixated? Tell him how to deal with his question here. Submit a letter to the right.

-- Meredith

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97 comments so far...
  1. You should divorce her. I couldn't live with someone that cheated on me like that. Also, that dentist probably wasn't the last. It's striking that her reaction when he broke it off was that she was "pissed." I also would have your kinds undergo a paternity test to make sure they're yours.

    Posted by love_doc March 31, 09 12:22 PM
  1. Honestly, it seems very odd that you would have held on to something like this for so long. I think that the "answer" you've been given sounds pretty plausible. I doubt that there is much more to the story. My advice would be for you to "let go" of this issue - has to feel a bit tiresome for your wife that you continue to cling to this - and move forward together in an effort to develop a shared interest that engages you as a couple...

    Posted by florence March 31, 09 12:22 PM
  1. Dude, you've been married for 41 years and you're worried about this NOW? EVen if you're just finding out now, SO WHAT? All that tells me is that at the time your wife was a MILF. Seriously, get a hobby or something. Fretting about something that happened when Nixon was president says something about your psyche.

    Posted by dave March 31, 09 12:32 PM
  1. I love the answer "because." At this point in time - who really knows ? And frankly, after 41 years of marriage - I think Bob needs to let go of "why" and smile with joy at all that they do have.

    Posted by Jeff March 31, 09 12:35 PM
  1. I don't mean to sound as critical as I probably do, but it seems as if it's been over thirty years since she told you about what happened. Maybe you should consider some sort of counseling?

    What does "Why?" really matter at this point anyway? The affair is long over. You're both 40 years older than you were then. Your relationship, from what you've told us, is very strong and loving.

    I think that the issue here isn't why she cheated, but by you can't move on from it. That's not to sound all, "Hey man, what's YOUR problem?!" or anything. But at this point, I think that the issue lies with you, and you need to figure out what YOU feel about the issue. But whatever it takes for you to get over it, it's NOT going to require knowing why she cheated.

    Posted by sabend March 31, 09 12:35 PM
  1. Oh my god, get some therapy and let it go. Or, are you planning on punishing your wife for it now or using it for a reason for a divorce? The way you describe it, and his secret "confirmation" of the story, it sounds like sexual harassment by her boss. 41 years ago she didn't have any job protections, and if she didn't tell you then she was probably afraid you'd be blaming and unable to get over it like you still are now.

    Posted by Anonymous March 31, 09 12:37 PM
  1. Rico - help this guy out!

    Posted by Bob March 31, 09 12:37 PM
  1. I'm with Meredith. The answer as to why she did is "Because." [Maybe she only had so much will power and he finally wore her down, maybe she liked being attractive, everyone does, and she definitely was young.] The real question is why are you still worried/asking/obsessed about it after all this time? It was a million freaking years ago, let it go!

    Posted by AreYouKidding March 31, 09 12:45 PM
  1. Of course, not knowing a thing about your wife, this is all just speculation. My guess is that she was just extremely flattered by the attention from someone she admired so much, especially having just had a baby. I've not had any children yet, but I'd imagine it's very difficult for a very young woman to deal with the changes her body goes through during pregnancy. I'd imagine it's very difficult on her body-image and that she might feel less attractive. There isn't a woman at that age, even a happily committed one, who doesn't want to feel desireable. Perhaps her boss provided a massive ego boost at a time when she was extremely vulnerable.

    I mean, seriously, who can say for sure? The only thing I'm certain of is that most 22-year-olds are pretty self-centered and don't know themselves at all. At 22, your wife was nowhere near the person she is now, so I'm not sure you're going to get far asking her to analyze why her 22-year-old self did what she did.

    The only thing you can do at this point is decide, once and for all, whether or not you're ready to completely forgive her and move on. If you decide that you are, you cannot keep bringing the incident up - you need to let it go forever. But if you are truly unsatisfied with her explanation and feel you simply cannot put it behind you without something more, you should seek out therapy. If there is (or was) something missing in the relationship that contributed to the affair, therapy would help to uncover it.

    Posted by SRae March 31, 09 12:48 PM
  1. Of course, not knowing a thing about your wife, this is all just speculation. My guess is that she was just extremely flattered by the attention from someone she admired so much, especially having just had a baby. I've not had any children yet, but I'd imagine it's very difficult for a very young woman to deal with the changes her body goes through during pregnancy. I'd imagine it's very difficult on her body-image and that she might feel less attractive. There isn't a woman at that age, even a happily committed one, who doesn't want to feel desireable. Perhaps her boss provided a massive ego boost at a time when she was extremely vulnerable.

    I mean, seriously, who can say for sure? The only thing I'm certain of is that most 22-year-olds are pretty self-centered and don't know themselves at all. At 22, your wife was nowhere near the person she is now, so I'm not sure you're going to get far asking her to analyze why her 22-year-old self did what she did.

    The only thing you can do at this point is decide, once and for all, whether or not you're ready to completely forgive her and move on. If you decide that you are, you cannot keep bringing the incident up - you need to let it go forever. But if you are truly unsatisfied with her explanation and feel you simply cannot put it behind you without something more, you should seek out therapy. If there is (or was) something missing in the relationship that contributed to the affair, therapy would help to uncover it.

    Posted by SRae March 31, 09 12:48 PM
  1. It was the heart of the sexual revolution, her hormones were on a roller coaster (what we'd now call post-partum depression) and she was (again in today's terms) being sexually harassed by her boss. She was a victim too. Maybe that can help you forgive her and move on.

    Posted by Fishwood March 31, 09 12:52 PM
  1. I admire Bob for taking her back in the first place. Bob is a forgiving man. I don't know if I'd have that in me.

    Also, Bob should be commended for not breaking said dentist's jaw.

    That said - you made the decision to take her back. Now you need to either stick by that, or let her go for good. Because if you keep asking her, I guarantee that she'll resent you for holding her hostage on this issue and potentially damage your relationship. Even worse, find anotehr man who just let's her be who she is.

    Posted by Let it go Bob or let her go. March 31, 09 12:57 PM
  1. Bob.........it was forever ago, she's with you and thats the end of the story. Stop revisting this foolish unexplained mistake and enjoy what you have with your wife.....its a lot mre than some people will EVER have.

    LET IT GO !!!!!!

    Posted by Pam March 31, 09 12:58 PM
  1. Meredith!

    You're berating the man and telling him to let it go!! He's fixated bacause he's never received a satisfactory response, therefore he has no mental box to put it in, slap a label on it & store it away. It remains in his mind an unnamed enigma of unknown strength that may rise up and hurt him again. He's left with a vague feeling of distrust for his partner that he's suppressed for DECADES, but obviously still causes him discomfort.

    I can't help but point out that if the shoe was on the other foot, would he be just another male pig who couldn't keep it in his pants?

    Posted by Brightonguy March 31, 09 01:00 PM
  1. Don't shoot the messenger. If you don't know the answer, fine. The guy was better than most and was able to move forward. He still get's to ask the question and someone may be able give him an answer that may be helpful. The answer you gave him is the same answer to your question. Because

    Posted by George March 31, 09 01:00 PM
  1. Why wasn't your wife in college, too? Were you the only one with a right to college? Maybe she was trying to make up with her body what you denied her mind.

    Posted by reindeergirl March 31, 09 01:08 PM
  1. Bob,
    You're obviously weak. She has the dominate position in the relationship and now that she cheated and STILL has you, she knows she can get anything she wants from you. You're a fool. Get out.

    Posted by Classless March 31, 09 01:13 PM
  1. still an issue close to 40 years later? really??

    Posted by twocents March 31, 09 01:13 PM
  1. ummm get over it? my God, man ... 41 years of marriage?

    this is a serious case of someone needing to sit back and count his blessings

    i'd sure hate for people to still be holding my actions when i was 22 over my head, as thoughless and selfish and silly as i was

    i think you can be sure, after 41 years, she loves you and appreciates what SHE has ... try to appreciate the good of what YOU have

    good luck! and much happiness

    Posted by missy March 31, 09 01:17 PM
  1. Ask yourself one question:

    What carries more weight with you, the past 40 years of your marriage or the fact that your wife cheated on you multiple times 6 weeks after giving birth to your (more on this later) child with her boss who had a pregnant wife at home and the affair only ended when her boss ended it?

    Based on the fact that you are still obsessing over it and seeking answers, I'd say the past 40 years have done nothing to heal the wounds.

    p.s. I don't buy the "hormones" excuse. A six week old baby should make one want to nest and strengthen family bonds, not run off to a hotel for flings with her boss.

    p.p.s. If you are going to continue the inquisition on this, then by all means, get a paternity test and brace yourself for the results. I believe it will give you the answer as to why she has been unable to tell you why she had the affair and why she didn't want it to end.

    Hoss has spoken.

    Posted by Hoss March 31, 09 01:22 PM
  1. First--did Bob mean to say his wife was "malleable"/pliant instead of possessing the ability to be sent through the post office? If she was a pushover, then there's no mystery here. The dentist was just able to manipulate her into bed. She was 22, young, and back then, women didn't have much standing in society. (What was her relationship with her father like?)

    The dentist was older and accomplished. His attentions/desires were probably flattering for a young, inexperienced woman. He probably wooed her, said all sorts of lovely things, and made her a lot of pretty promises. Maybe she was feeling overwhelmed with the new baby, unattractive in general, and maybe she didn't think LW found her desirable any more. I know it's a 21st century thing to say this, but what was Bob doing during this time (post-baby) to help his wife feel cherished and supported? How was he helping her recover, handle the home, or raise the children?

    Maybe she saw in the dentist the things she wasn't seeing in Bob. Maybe she was subscribing to a romantic fantasy. Women were conditioned back then that being married and a mother was the highest purpose to a woman's life. Nobody tells them the real work begins after the wedding reception is over. Maybe your wife realized the fairy tale was a sham and a crock of baloney, and the dentist gave her some validation that she wasn't getting from Bob.

    At any rate, it sounds like the dentist liked the chase. Once he had what he wanted, Bob's wife, he got bored and moved on to the next tootsie. Bob's wife is probably not the first woman he seduced. Or maybe he wanted a bit of no-strings fun and felt Bob'swife was getting too clingy and posed a threat to his domestic bliss. Maybe his conscience kicked in because of his imminent kid and he wised up and felt guilty. I don't know.

    So the dentist ends it. And Bob's wife probably feels like a fool and used. She now saw the dentist for the liar and loser he was, and she was ashamed she jeopardized her marriage on this man who clearly wasn't worthy of her esteem and favors. So she wonders what she ever saw in him in the first place. Or her guilt is such that she blocks out every reason she gave herself to justify the infidelity so she could cope and return to being . So when Bob's wife says she can't remember, she's either telling the truth, or she still feels so ashamed at the trivial reasons why she strayed in the first place, it's easier not to discuss it.

    Bob, she doesn't want to bring it up again. It hurts her, and it hurts her to know you can't let it go. So by not telling you why--whether she does or doesn't remember--she's trying to fight for your marriage to stay on track. Let it go. Yes, it stinks she betrayed you. But it was probably that one time, she learned her lesson, and managed to be a decent loyal wife and mother for more than FOUR DECADES. Count your blessings.

    Posted by Madra March 31, 09 01:27 PM
  1. HeyBob...you need to let go of this really old baggage and move on.

    Just a suggestion!

    Posted by ANON March 31, 09 01:32 PM
  1. Something tells me that what's really eating at Bob is wondering how many more times she cheated. Cheaters don't just cheat once, the y cheat serially. I think, deep down, Bob knows that.

    Posted by Schlippittz March 31, 09 01:42 PM
  1. She carried on the affair with her boss because this behavior is (im)perfectly normal for us, the human species. Trying to rationalize why she did it is like trying to rationalize why you wanted pasta last night and not roast beef. The complexities of human emotion and chemical composition of the brain and body cause us to do things which only through tradition and familiartiy are considered abnormal. The dog is not questioned for this behavior and are we not like Rover, just an animal? You have to decide whether your own behaviors and impulses will allow you to continue to love your wife and want her company. I say stay.

    Posted by introspective guy March 31, 09 01:43 PM
  1. You're asking WHY a 22-year-old woman full of pregnancy hormones did something???? Good lord... have you ever been around other women at all in your life??????

    Dude -- just be glad she didn't legally marry her Toyota Camry, or run off to Africa to become a Ghanian pop singer, or decide that she absolutely needed all of the Beatles album covers tattooed on your back RIGHT NOW or she'd kill herself, or something equally bizarre and inexplicable. 22-year-old women ARE CRAZY. If she's been good to you over the years, and you're happy with her, LET IT THE F-- GO.

    Posted by DaveR March 31, 09 01:51 PM
  1. Seriously, I think the question is really more WHY can't you let go of this? I feel sorry for your wife if you are still obsessing about this after 40 years. What a waste. Did you forgive her or didn't you? Maybe you should get some therapy to help you work this out.

    Posted by move on March 31, 09 01:53 PM
  1. It's too bad that Rico isn't lady for answering to your question.

    Posted by KL March 31, 09 01:53 PM
  1. 41 years later dude, either get past it or leave but just pick one. To continue to badger your wife all these years asking the same questions and getting the same answers is just stupid. You got your answers, you just didn't like them so you want different ones but those don't exist. Nothing this woman says is going to satisfy you so stop asking. Move on already and let everyone heal. It almost sounds like you're quite the drama queen and just love to keep the wound open to get some sick jolly out of it.

    Posted by Anonymous March 31, 09 01:59 PM
  1. what's wrong with you. Let it go.

    Posted by billy bob March 31, 09 02:06 PM
  1. Why? Because people do dumb things. Especially 22-year-old people. Especially 22-year-old people who are under a lot of stress because they just underwent a major life change, such as having a baby. My question is, why can't you let this go?

    There's a moment in Woolf's "Orlando" where, in the midst of a perfect romance, the title character bursts into tears over the thought that one day the romance might not be perfect, might even end. Seems to me you're doing that retrospectively. You're letting this one incident define your marriage. But you can't live like that. 99% of it has been wonderful: let that beauty be the story of your marriage.

    Posted by Beth March 31, 09 02:09 PM
  1. We've all done things at that age that we didn't think through or realize the consequences. Maybe she liked the attention while Bob was in college. Working with someone means spending a lot of time with them. Being in a situation like this with your boss brings up questions too - what happens if you say no, what happens in the office when it's over, etc. Anyway, no marriage is perfect, and the fact that Bob's lasted 40 years and counting means it has more qualities than problems. What bothers me is that it sounds like the dentist wanted the thrill of the chase and once he caught her, he was done.

    Posted by Jolene March 31, 09 02:12 PM
  1. Bob, it may come down to the simple fact that an older, self-assured adult was telling your wife what to do at a time of great confusion and change for her--nothing like having a first baby's life in one's hands to make a woman feel frightened and unsure of herself. Also, you went to college. Did she? What kind of job did she have at that dentist's office? Hard to imagine it was rewarding work good for one's personal development and self-esteem. Maybe that's why she seems so "malleable." Bob, time to move on, be glad for your enduring marriage, and remind yourself of your own character flaws. We all have em.

    Posted by gc March 31, 09 02:23 PM
  1. She cheated because she was a selfish jerk. Maybe she's grown up by now. Maybe it still haunts you because she's still a selfish jerk and you're having trouble recognizing that.

    Posted by elizabeth March 31, 09 02:24 PM
  1. Dear Bob -- you've been together 40 years, you love her, she loves you, presumably she's never given you any other reasons to not trust her, it was a long long time ago, let it go and enjoy the fact that your marriage has withstood some tests and trials and you've come through the test of time quite happily. She answered you as well as she could, perhaps she doesn't understand her "reason" any better than she has explained it. Give yourself the gift of peace and stop dwelling on an unanswerable question.

    Posted by Inf March 31, 09 02:29 PM
  1. Hoss is right again. The dentist boss is also the father of the baby. You know it and that's why you haven't let this drop for 40 years and your wife knows it and that's why she still hasn't come up with an answer.

    Posted by Bob Dwyer March 31, 09 02:31 PM
  1. It was youth, stupidity, and selfishness. If she had feelings for him, she probably would've confessed to it when she confessed to everything else.
    Maybe even having her be that young with a boss so insistent, she really didn't know how to handle it without giving in.

    Posted by ll March 31, 09 02:32 PM
  1. Bob, as a woman in the workforce for more than 35 years, I have been sexually harassed in the workplace many times by my male superiors. That's what happened to your wife and the dentist is a heel for taking advantage of her like that, especially given her marital status and his position of authority to fire her if she said no. If this had happened today, she could take him to court for sexual harassment in the workplace. But thirty plus years ago, this behavior was acceptable and almost expected and women were afraid to say no, especially if they really needed the job which seems to be true in your case. Thank goodness we've become enlightened about this (thanks Anita Hill) since women are fully involved of the workforce.
    One thing I know for sure: that there are some questions in Life which can not be answered and they are the Mysteries we have to learn to live with. I have mine, and once in a while, I look over my shouldar as one of them catches up to me, and give it a I wink of acknowledgement. It no longer drives me crazy to figure out the answer. It just IS.
    Your wife is obviously devoted to you and has stood with you through thick and thin. Celebrate what you two have together and that you're still in love after all these years. Let go.

    Posted by exvermonter March 31, 09 02:33 PM
  1. One thing I can say is that having a baby changes a lot of things. It can be very hard on a relationship. It changes each person's role and how each person interacts with the other. A woman often loses her sense of self as she becomes "Mom". In the end, it may not have had anything to do with you or her love for you. Congratulations on your long and overall happy marriage. You are blessed.

    Posted by aNewMom March 31, 09 02:36 PM
  1. Hey, go easy on Bob. He's in his 60s and probably taking stock of things, trying to understand his life, having a Talking Heads "Well -- how did I GET here?" moment.

    Bob, obviously your wife was/is a hottie. She had a lapse but she came back to stay. To Meredith's age theory I would add, looking back on your life as objectively as you can, you were just a kid yourself. All potential and nothing to show for it yet. He was a dentist with his own business, a bona fide established grown-up in her eyes. Maybe he was good-looking and sexy to boot. Plus he was her boss and so an authority figure.

    You obviously had potential and ambition but new moms face uncertainty and tons of responsibility. She was probably scared and fell into a trap. She probably couldn't articulate the reasons, maybe still can't. Obviously she loves you. And now, at the other end of the line, you've got ten years on him -- so forgive her and enjoy what you have.

    Posted by Spuckey March 31, 09 02:39 PM
  1. 22yr old woman has an affair.

    60+ year old man obsesses about it for the past 40yrs.

    Who has the problem?

    Posted by OTC March 31, 09 02:39 PM
  1. An affair is perceived as a blow to one's ego and raises questions about one's ability as a lover and a spouse. So it's natural to find an answer to *why* someone cheated on you when everything was going so well. While not condonable, if someone cheats when things are not going right, there is a plausible "justification" for it.

    Your best bet is to take this punch to the gut and let it go. Drop it. It was a momentary lapse of reason, she admitted to her mistake, both of you are happy with each other and there's really no explanation that will satisfy you. That would be the mature thing to do, though it may take some effort on your part and your thoughts and feelings won't magically disappear. You will have to counter those thoughts by reminding yourself that it was a mistake and nothing more, besides there's nothing to be gained by remaining stuck on it.

    If it really gnaws at you to the extent it starts to negatively affect your relationship with your wife and you are unable to move past this issue of her infidelity, then your other option is to hire an escort girl and go wild for one night. Then shut the door on the past after your 'quid pro quo' and move on with your wonderful life with your loving wife.

    Posted by TheDude March 31, 09 02:41 PM
  1. Rico, where are you?

    Posted by Damian March 31, 09 02:42 PM
  1. Oh, and Bob, while it's very tempting, don't even think of carrying this on your mind and then two-three years down the line, have an affair to get back at your wife and justify it by her act. That would not be healthy at all. Make a decision and stick to it.

    Posted by TheDude March 31, 09 02:43 PM
  1. I hate to saythis, but she does know why. The I dont know why excuse , is an easy cover to avoid either hurting his feelings, or admitting her feelings to herself.
    The hormones thing is also a joke. She had long range plans for the affair and it was well thought out ,as she says tht she would end it after her husband graduated. And the statement that he wore her down?? SO if you aska woman to have sex with you every day, eventually she will say yes? Sorry not true at all. That being the case, you can throw out that defense. Especially since they, as he said, were having a sexual relationship as well while she was having sex with her boss, so she wasnt unsatisfied. So based on this letter we know:
    1. She was in a fulfilling relationship.
    2. The affair was well planned.
    3. It was not a one time thing.
    4. She has never faced any punishment (not exactly the right word, repurcussions perhaps?) or had to take any responsibility for the afair.
    5. She was mad at her boss, when he stopped the affair, meaning she wanted it to continue!

    Plain and simple, its wonderful they lasted this long in marriage. But it seems like he has had hs head in the ground the whole time. She is probably afraid to confront her feelings, or afraid to say something like, he was an older man , while she was a very young 22, they worked closely togther, she repected him, probably found him handsome , charming, etc, so she took her chances and had an affair. The ral question is did she love him? The answer is of course, thats why it happened, the whole, i love you more, thing is a cop out used after she got caught. Now also a very telling part is that she says he initiated affair, however, most of the time, affairs are not ended by the aggressor, she sounds like the aggresor plain and simple. Until she will finally say why she had the affair, there will always be doubt, and rightfully so.

    Posted by steveh March 31, 09 02:48 PM
  1. Wow, this is a toughie! I'm a 27 year old single woman & I have yet to even think about marriage. For me, my 20s have been a time of ups & downs and completely worth the stories. I have enjoyed my freedom & taken advantage of it. If I get married, I envision that I will be with my best friend knowing that I've gotten everything out of my system. That way, I will be completely faithful and not wonder if the grass is greener elsewhere. I think excusing what your wife did isn't necessary, especially since she waited 8 years to fess up. I think it's time you forgive, although you don't have to forget. Clearly, there are reasons she's stayed with you this long. I would chalk it up to immaturity, but know that she has chosen to stay with you regardless.

    Posted by Jennifer March 31, 09 02:49 PM
  1. 40 years ago it was not uncommon to get married that young, but it does not mean that biology has changed. Who in their early 20's really knows who they are and what they want out of life?

    Perhaps Mrs. Bob was afraid, afraid of "missing out" or afraid of being reprimanded in some fashion by her employer for not complying (hello, "Mad Men"). Perhaps it was just the hormones, or perhaps she succumbed to a fantasy. I think if she really knew the reason why, she would've told you. After confessing to an affair, what did she have to lose?

    Bob, you need to put this to rest. Is the pain you feel from repeated questioning really worth it? Assuming this was an isolated incident, you don't need to keep asking "why". It happened, and you've moved on together, which in and of itself is a rarity.

    Posted by Lolita March 31, 09 02:53 PM
  1. Bob, I can't believe she was planning to continue the relationship until you finished school... She has some nerve being mad at the dentist. for ending the affair..I feel that she is/was very selfish and she knows "why" but doesn't have the courage to tell you because you are a good man...She has not been a good wife/woman. New baby is no excuse.

    Posted by Gigi March 31, 09 02:59 PM
  1. #6 Anonymous -- I think you might be on to something here. Bob, have you considered that maybe she was forced into something she didn't want to do and she was embarrassed about it? Forty years ago, things were very different for women.

    Get some therapy, Bob. You need to move on in your life. You want to take this to your grave for some reason?

    Posted by jenny March 31, 09 03:10 PM
  1. The Dude- she never admitted her mistake..thats the whole point.
    She admitted what she did, but not that it was a mistake, or that she shouldnt have done it etc.
    that the whoe point she basically told her husband , that she had an affair ad doesnt know why so take it or leave it.
    thats not an admission of guilt nor an apology.

    Posted by steveh March 31, 09 03:10 PM
  1. My question would be, why is she telling him after so long? Probably for the same reason she had the affair so long ago--she desired attention, felt unattractive (after being pregnant), or like she was being ignored. If you look back at that time, could it be that she felt invisible and her boss was giving her attention? Why is she telling you now? Could she be feeling the same way and giving you some kind of warning? A lot of times, you might think the marriage is just great (because it is for you) but the other person is really unhappy for whatever reason. I think you need to find that out.

    Posted by Debbie March 31, 09 03:13 PM
  1. His wife had no reason and had nothing to gain by being honest with LW about her affair. The fact that she owned up to it shows a level of bravery and honesty that most people lack. Why, after coming clean about it all, would she lie about the paternity of the child? She told him the physical affair didn't start until after the baby wasborn. She was angry the dentist ended the affair for the exact reason she gave- because HE was the one who pursued her and pressured her into sex, and then he decided he didn't want it after all.
    LW needs to let it go or let his wife go.

    Posted by Noel March 31, 09 03:21 PM
  1. Let me guess, the baby that was six weeks old when the affair supposedly started, went on to become a dentist and bears an uncanny resemblance to Bob's wife's boss?

    There is no statute of limitations on an apology or an explanation, Bob. Your wife still owes you both of these things as well as the truth about when the affair started. I find it incredibly hard to believe that the dentist tried to persuade her to have sex for 2 years and she said no, but then suddenly six weeks after giving birth, she started a sexual relationship with him. Your son/daughter probably deserves to know who his / her Dad really is. I have my doubts it's you.

    Posted by xtina March 31, 09 03:29 PM
  1. SteveH -- maybe she doesn't see it as "an affair" if she was coerced into having sex with the boss. I believe there is more to this story than meets the eye. Having "confirmation" from the boss doesn't mean anything here.

    Posted by susan March 31, 09 03:32 PM
  1. Bob, your wife was not happy. Not sure I'd excuse infidelity it with hormones.

    Some considerations:
    She felt neglected as a woman. She fell in love with this guy [in a teacher/student way] and doesn't want to admit it to you. Women generally do not betray their husbands just after having a baby and post pardom blues usually doesn't bring on sexual desire.

    Meredith, I believe that forgiveness in this case can only happen if the wife told him what he wanted to know. How does one forgive what you don't know what you are forgiving? If it were me and my H had an affair, I'd have to know everything in order to make a healthy choice whether to stay in the marriage, rebuild trust and offer my heart fully. One CANNOT do this if the truth is unknown. Sorry, but my question is, forgive what? Maybe this husband has struggled with the idea that she was always in love with someone else. How does one build a marriage on a false premise?

    Note to cheaters: PLEASE consider what it is like to be on the betrayed side of life. The emotional scars are deep, painful and a traumatic ordeal to work through. Whether a marriage is great, mediocre of experiencing tough times the boundaries of marriage should be respected. The spouse who decides to become attached to someone else with an affair (physical or emotional) is violation the trust of someone who most likely is not treating them with the same shameful disregard. Potential cheater: “Get divorced – do NOT cheat!”

    In this case, Bob's wife continued her self-centered ways by not being forthcoming about the infidelity and reasons for it. Bob has lived with this pain for a very long time. He may have made a decision to leave the marriage because of the reasons she may have stated back then. My guess is that she understood this and wanted to keep him. The minute she cheated, she lost that choice. Now perhaps she must deal with the fact that she prevented him from having a more fulfilled relationship with someone more deserving of his love.

    My heart goes out to you Bob. You deserved more respect back in the time to make the hard choices for the rest of your life. You cannot get that back. She stole that from you. She violated your trust, she lied to you, she prevented you from healing fully.

    Preemptive strike to those who say, 'get over it'. Betrayal of this sort is extremely traumatic for the betrayed spouse to endure. Bob is not the exception. He stayed with someone who betrayed him but who never respected him enough to tell him the truth (another betrayal of trust). If I were her and loved him, was truly sorry, I'd want him to remain with me with an open heart and mind. She took that from him and he's been paying for it all these years. Real love is never selfish. I question Bob's wife's loyalty and commitment to him through the years. This has to have been brought up time and time again.

    Imagine loving someone you think may be secretly in love with someone else? What if that someone else decides to show up available some day? ByeByeBob? He had the right to consider all truths back then when he had a fuller life ahead of him.

    I just don't know what good it will do now? But my guess is that somehow his heart wasn't able to fully embrace their marriage and that is very, very sad. I would not call a year-long emotional affair brief. For me, that's a deal buster. This woman was probably in love with the doctor. Bob remains riddled with doubt and questions WHY?

    Posted by marj March 31, 09 03:36 PM
  1. I love how most of the women here are just telling him to let it go. If the tables were turned, Bob, you would be another deadbeat Dad who couldn't resist a younger woman. Give me a break. What's good for the goose is good for the gander...

    Posted by Robbp March 31, 09 03:37 PM
  1. Bob,

    If you really want to know, keep asking until she tell you the truth. You deserve the answer. However, you should prepare yourself for some additional information if she is ever going to come completely clean. A woman never cheats only once.

    Posted by Kay-man March 31, 09 03:40 PM
  1. Women cheat for a variety of reasons, but the most common is that they feel emotionally neglected by their partner. Maybe this was the case with your wife, or maybe not. But, after forty years of wondering why your wife decided to have an affair, you have a simple choice to make. You can either stop worrying about what happened forty years ago and enjoy what you have, or decide that you can’t move past your wife’s affair and divorce her.

    Posted by mike March 31, 09 03:40 PM
  1. Well who cares WHY at this point? If she confessed 8 years after it happened and you've been married for 41 years, then you've known this for 33 years. The question is WHY are you even still thinking about it?? It's not like it just happened!

    Posted by bumbly-bee March 31, 09 03:46 PM
  1. jenny-his wife said she was planning on continuing the relationship and was mad the dentist broke it off. so how do you possibly comeup witht he forced ( i.e. rape) situation?
    His wife said , she admired him as her mentor and his skill, etc.
    why are you so ready to apologize for her, when she has never apologized herself??

    Posted by steveh March 31, 09 03:47 PM
  1. Moral of the story...NEVER GET MARRIED BEFORE THE AGE OF 30......Most women (especiallly if they're hot) force a guy to marry them in their early 20's and then complain that married life sucks. You shouldn't have married her....but you're 60 now so what's the point......

    Posted by nash March 31, 09 03:50 PM
  1. I agree with Dave. It's sad that it happened, and there is no excuse, but you evidently love each other after 41 years. If you're willing to stop asking why then I'd say just enjoy each other's company and forget the questions.

    You may even want to consider couples counseling, it may help.

    Good luck.

    Posted by Liz March 31, 09 03:52 PM
  1. I knew the answer at one time, but I forgot it 30 YEARS AGO!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by joemac22 March 31, 09 03:54 PM
  1. steveh,

    Thanks for that correction - Bob doesn't mention whether she said it was a mistake, and she only mentioned having an affair. Still, it doesn't change what I said, since it has been more than 30+ years since Bob's wife admitted to her affair.

    Posted by TheDude March 31, 09 04:03 PM
  1. I think a lot of people have answered why she cheated on you. Something that could help you finally get over it... After making this mistake it looks like she realized the real person she wanted to be with was you. Sometimes it takes making a mistake like this for someone to realize what they have. Maybe by getting "really pissed" at him she realized she wanted to be with someone that made her really happy (you). I'm sorry she had to do this to realize what she has-- She is really lucky to have found someone who stuck by her in this :)

    Posted by Jillian March 31, 09 04:12 PM
  1. I think steveh is on to something. Bob doesn't say that she ever apologized. Bob may also be unsure that there haven't been other episodes of infidelity.

    Posted by itsokbob March 31, 09 04:14 PM
  1. Wait....several decades after "True Confessions" you are still taking umbrage? Dude, that train has so left the station. As for the dentist: Is his name Needleman? He's an oral surgeon? Drillin', drillin'. Whoa, I am having an SNL flashback!
    Hmmmm....yes...this is more serious than I thought...this cavity must be filled immediately!
    No, all has not been forthcoming. And likely it never will. But I am not a lady and cannot tell you why.

    Posted by Bony Melon March 31, 09 04:19 PM
  1. I cheated once and only once. Only after many years have passed have I been able to figure out some reasons why.
    1. I was young and hormones were raging, absolutely raging. It felt chemical more than emotional.
    2. I convinced myself that fantasizing about someone was OK, and nobody's business, but the fantasizing turned into obsessive thinking.
    3. My partner was taking me for granted.
    4. My partner was distrustful of me before I cheated. I was fed up with being good and getting no credit for it; and convinced myself that I might as well be bad.
    5. I had put myself up on a pedestal thinking I could never, ever cheat, so I was unprepared to deal with the warning signs, and nip it in the bud. This is one reason I believe your wife will not cheat again. She has learned from the experience. She is not 22 anymore. Are you the same person you were at 22?

    You need to realize that you are not perfect either. Get down from your pedestal. You just haven't been tested to the degree she was. She was human, and you are human. You need to love her for who she truly is, a flawed individual who loves you very much. You are so fortunate. Don't blow it.

    Posted by Anonymous Female March 31, 09 04:34 PM
  1. Jennifer (#45) - Good for you and your life's choices, but this was the early 1970s, not the first decade of the new millenium.

    And Bob - Maybe, just maybe, there was some resentment on your wife's part that you forced her back to work right after she had the baby? And as others have said, you were in college, and she was in some crummy office.

    I feel the dentist's wife as well as Bob's wife.

    Posted by reindeergirl March 31, 09 04:34 PM
  1. Jennifer (#45) - Good for you and your life's choices, but this was the early 1970s, not the first decade of the new millenium.

    And Bob - Maybe, just maybe, there was some resentment on your wife's part that you forced her back to work right after she had the baby? And as others have said, you were in college, and she was in some crummy office.

    I feel for the dentist's wife as well as Bob's wife.

    Posted by reindeergirl March 31, 09 04:36 PM
  1. I agree with the first poster on one thing: I would have the kids undergo a paternity test as well, not out of punishment or anger, but because they have a right to know who their father is if it isn't you. They have a right to know their family medical history.

    Happened to a friend, they were diagnosed with a rare genetic disease and it turned out that their daddy and their father were two different people.

    Posted by crespo March 31, 09 04:46 PM
  1. Thanks to all... you have made valid points and some were better suited to me than others. I would like to say that I am four years her senior and a Viet Vet, in combat. I first put her through college then it was her turn. She was his dental hygienist and did admire his work and attitude with his patients. I completed four years of college in three years, summer, fall and spring semesters with a 3.6 GPA. The last semester I was taking 21 hours and taking care of our son in the day time and attended classes at night. I went on to a successful career in media marketing and management. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful answers. My wife is a very good person and I am just curious as to why she did what she did at the time she did it.


    Posted by Bob March 31, 09 04:47 PM
  1. @Beth #30. I like your take.

    Posted by Sasha March 31, 09 04:58 PM
  1. Rico is very sorry he didn't answer earlier...had to attend to business (my real job)

    Rico thinks that Bob is a very fogiving person and while that is very comendable he is also not the type to forget. Forgive and forget or do neither otherwise you will go to the grave always wondering. I know it is hard to forget so the other option is not to forgive and just let out the anger. That doesn't mean I am saying divorce or to have your own affair, just that I am saying you need an avenue to let out that anger. Good for you to go 41 years with a woman that cheated. Rico would've kicked her out immediately since Rico is very trusting and once the trust is broken you are then an outsider to him.

    While I saw someone actually suggest a paternity test I am going to disagree on that. They have been married for 41 years with this child (now adult) and regardless this person is his child with a test or not. This is not springer or maury, this is an intelligent man with some deeply hurt feelings.

    Bob, take my advice and let it go and go talk to someone to let out the anger. I don't like therapy or the idea of it and don't think it can do much at all but in this case someone to lead you in the right direction might be of help. Maybe golfing, running, biking or some other hobby to help you clear the mind of this negative energy would be best.

    Rico has always said once a cheater always a cheater and in this case that very well could be the case, however that is not what Bob is troubled by. He is troubled by the thoughts in his head of why this happened to him/his marriage. Not very much different from when a person becomes ill and says "why me". If you lost the trust for her and the love then moving on after 41 years is hard but maybe the right thing to do. I assume the child(ren) are moved on so it might just be time for Bob to have his fun in the sun.

    Let Rico know how you do with the advice, he feels for you.

    Good luck and love always,


    Posted by Rico March 31, 09 05:11 PM
  1. I see absolutely nothing wrong or unhealthy or "angry" about wondering why a person you love did an inexplicable thing decades ago. Some people are simply students of human nature and will always wonder what makes people tick. And that's what this sounds like. This gentleman is far more sophisticated in his thinking than most of the respondents, especially those who suggest that he divorce now over something that happened a zillion years ago, or that he can't move on, or that his wife is still cheating on him. This is what happens when people watch too much bad television: everything looks black-and-white to them, and melodrama is confused with life.

    Infidelity - sexual or emotional - happens sooner or later in most marriages, but couples have a choice to either break apart or use it as an opportunity to learn, forgive, and strengthen their bond.

    Other advisers have suggested some plausible reasons for why a woman in Bob's wife's circumstances might cheat. I think the answer is simple: it was the natural progression of an emotional affair. Read up on emotional affairs on the Web and you'll see how common they are and how removed from reality the participants are. These affairs usually happen in an intense work situation, between people working closely together. It can become very easy to compartmentalize "work" and "home" — especially when there's an imbalance of power between the the two people, as there was in this case. And yes, on top of that, 22 is a young, dumb age, and her hormones probably were indeed way out of whack.

    The result of this affair, and your moving beyond it, has probably helped you and your wife to gain wisdom on making your marriage work and treating each other respectfully. Be grateful you're still together and enjoy your life.

    Posted by Dr. Freud March 31, 09 05:43 PM
  1. For the people suggesting a paternity test: what are you thinking? Why would he want his 40-year-old son or daughter to get a paternity test? So that he can snub his son or daughter on holidays? To make sure his child will feel punished for his parents' indiscretions? To make certain that his child will not feel the need to support the only father he ever knew in his old age?

    Really, this "child" is beyond the age where his father is likely supporting him. It is more likely that the child offers help and support to his father, or will in the near future. Bob - ignore the advice of the bitter and just move on.

    Posted by Margot March 31, 09 05:48 PM
  1. No one is going to like this but I think it's the wife who needs to get out of this marriage. She made a mistake as a young woman searching for her identity and has suffered the consequences for 40 years with this guy who is STILL obssesed with his own bruised ego. The affair wasn't about him. It was about her youth being sucked away by the inevitably of life, babies, commitments, maturity. I'll bet she has hated herself ever since and may have stuck with Bob out of guilt and devotion to her child. Again, Bob, her affair had little to do with you.

    Posted by Neena March 31, 09 06:33 PM
  1. i think that you should sleep with the dental assistant, next time you go in for a check up.

    Posted by barry s March 31, 09 07:14 PM
  1. Bob, Meredith is right that your wife was really young at the time. She had just given birth and a lot of women start to feel really ugly when they're pregnant when they get big. She was probably over tired, worn out with the baby, feeling depressed b/c of a little post partum.... This was a thrill. She was still really young and perhaps too immature to control herself. But I doubt it was any more than (a) some attention from a power figure in her life (hey, everyone wants the captain of the football team) and (b) a thrill to alleviate the hormonal depression of giving birth.

    It sucks. I'm sure it STILL sucks for you to think about this. But Meredith is right. She was young and she did something really, really, really stupid. You say you have kids. Do you remember when they were babies and tried to eat dirt? Or when your teenagers did stupid things? At 22, officially an adult, but some people mature slow.

    Posted by Lisa March 31, 09 07:54 PM
  1. I think steveh is one of the few who really gets it. I think there is a place for restitution. Even if his wife had apologized and sought forgiveness (and, again, it doesn't appear she did) she should have gone a step further in order to make things right--in Bob's eyes. I don't get the sense she has done this at all. I doubt Bob will have peace and be able to go forward until his wife humbles herself and strives to make things right. I speak from experience. Trust is earned, not blindly given.

    Posted by Suz March 31, 09 08:14 PM
  1. #68 - reindeergirl - you have GOT to be kidding me. Trying to blame Bob for his wife being a lousy, two timing, fornicator. Give me a break.

    When you marry someone you do it FOR BETTER OR WORSE. If you husband needs you to go back to work for a while so he can finish his degree so he can make more money to take care of his family, it does not give you the right to be a cheating, lying, adulteress.

    He should be over it by now, but seriously blaming the victim here is just sick.

    Posted by Chris P March 31, 09 08:15 PM
  1. I have to disagree with Rico that once a cheater always a cheater. Not always. I do believe that people being human will make mistakes and that forgiveness, while tough, can be a great bonding experience in these circumstances. Rebuilding a relationship after an affair can be incredibly rewarding. Rebuilding trust is the toughest and it is vital to be able to forgive (one would never forget).
    Even if the reasons may seem petty or difficult to tell, the betrayal experience is tougher. At some point, his wife should have realized this and and consider his need to understand the truth. Honesty is the key to healing, forgiving and moving on.

    I understand the wife wanting to put it behind them but her not being honest at any point has made this an open wound for him. On one hand I believe that he missed out on what for him was an essential part of the healing process and to deny him this request just seems wrong to me. On the other, I have to agree with others that if they have had a good marriage in the last 30 years, that DOES count for a lot and should be a comfort to Bob.

    Since it did happen so long ago, no matter what the reason Bob should not use it against her. They decided to stay married so they survived this together - she's had to deal with the fact that she hurt you and that s*cks too. IF she finally tells you Bob, brace yourself, deal with it and thank her finally. Don't ever bring it up again - I'm sure she feels badly enough about hurting you to be reminded over and over again makes her relive being the 'bad guy'.

    Posted by marj March 31, 09 08:43 PM
  1. Easy on Bob. 40 years, 1,000 years is never long enough to recover from such a betrayal. Never. Ever.

    Posted by citykitty617 March 31, 09 09:06 PM
  1. maybe whats bothering you is the fact that HE broke it off. Are you left wondering what would have happened if he hadn't? Would she have left you for him? I think you'd be a lot more at peace if she ended it.

    Posted by ben March 31, 09 09:34 PM
  1. first, your wife must be the mom to that chick who cheated with her husband's best friend in last week's column.

    second, you should pimp her out. it sounds like she's into the motel thing and you could probably make a killing on craigslist with the pervs that are into the dental hygienist fetish.

    finally, you should probably step out and get some strange from time to time yourself. make sure she smells and it when she complains ask her how it feels.

    whatever you do, make sure it is written down or videotaped for when you go on springer. send it in jerome!!!!

    Posted by howie March 31, 09 09:37 PM
  1. Is there any problem that Rico can't solve? I swear he's the best part of my day. Rico Suave I think I love you. If only I had the persuasive skills of that dentist....unless the dentist is Rico?

    Posted by I'm in love with Rico March 31, 09 10:02 PM
  1. You're a good man, Bob.

    Posted by Slash March 31, 09 10:05 PM
  1. She didn't respect you then. Probably doesn't respect you now. She was always looking up to highly successful confident men and regretting being with a self-loather like yourself. She got away with something and you didn't. She got the edge on you. She always has. The time to get her back is now.

    Posted by Tiny Violin March 31, 09 10:06 PM
  1. Sir,

    Go rent the movie chasing Amy. Don't be the guy in that movie. Move on. I had this obsession about my ex-fiancee. It's all in your head.

    What's killing you is that if you WOULD have found out 40 years ago you would have dumped her.

    You did not have your chance to and you feel she got the best of you. She got the baby, the husband, the marriage and still got to have no strings attached sex during a stressfull time for you both. You did not get a chance to do that and that's what is bugging you.

    Believe me , anytime I have been jealous of anything my wife or ex-fiancee did in their youth was only my own anger and not doing the same thing.

    You missed your chance but sounds like you made the most of it. Move on. Seriously, you will be dead in 20 years or so. Is this how to live your life? Go spend $1000 on a super hot 24yr old escort. Your warped mind will then consider you even with her.

    Posted by Mike March 31, 09 10:40 PM
  1. #50 - She told him FORTY YEARS AGO! Not yesterday. Read carefully.

    Posted by reindeergirl March 31, 09 11:44 PM
  1. Why are Americans so hung up on infidelity? Amazing how so many writers on this topic are so quick to give their marriages the death penalty over these inevitable troubles. There is far more to a good marriage than sexual fidelity.

    Posted by Mica April 1, 09 12:24 AM
  1. where is the response from bob that you refer to in your column today

    Posted by jules April 1, 09 11:15 AM
  1. I agree with Suz #79. It is too late to make a big deal out of it, but he IS entitled to one good long conversation about it, maybe as little as "It has always bothered me that you didn't apologize for that affair back in 1972. I'm not down-playing the last 40 years, but it's been on my mind a lot lately. Please tell me why it happened."
    But would he be satisfied with the explanations given here (youth, baby, power) and "I messed up and I've felt guilty about it ever since." She may well think the debt has been paid, and bring up counter-examples of times when Bob did her wrong.

    Posted by Fishwood April 1, 09 12:34 PM
  1. Bob.....Here's the good news....."You"...didn't commit adultery..."she did"...so don't punish yourself because of her actions. Take pride in the fact..that you tried to do the "right" thing. You can face your child..and the world..and know it wasn't you...who cheated. Here's the bad news. This "thing"...isn't going to go away. You no doubt have had thoughts that her "fling" with the Dentist...may not have been the "only time" she headed off to the motel. It's a normal feeling. Once the "Trust" has been broken...the thoughts..the suspicions...although they may lie dormant...will always resurface. It's never to late......get rid of her!!

    Posted by Ben Thar April 1, 09 08:38 PM
  1. Well who knows if Bob will read all the way down here to the almost 100th comment, but here's my two cents:

    When I was 23 I had a year-long affair with a married man.

    I don't even like to think of it now. He was a kind man and ended up staying with his wife. (I'm not sure she ever found out.) I was young and stupid. I am now older and wiser. And I have a lot more respect for myself at 40+ than I did at 23! I'll have to guess that your wife feels similarly.

    Posted by Chickpea April 2, 09 12:13 AM
  1. anonymous female

    love your post, nice to see justhow many excuses you could come up and still not once comeout and say you cheated because YOU WANTED TO!

    we are so afraid to take responsibility for our actions, people make up stuff and then force themselves to belive it.
    1. not being appreciated is not an excuse to take your panties down for some othe guy.
    2. Hormones were raging? Hormones do not control motor responses no do they influence your thoughts and desires. Hormones control many ohysical processes, lust is not one of them.
    3. You were unaware that you could cheat so you couldnt stop yourself?
    evidently you are unaqare you could make an a$$ of yourself but you did that too.

    Hey, why blame yourselff, its been so trying and hard. its a wonder you canget by at all.

    Posted by steveh April 2, 09 01:10 PM

    Anoher poster metnoned that Bob has no box to put this in and store it away...True.
    "Because " is unacceptable. That's what you tell your kids when they ask Mommy why ? It was unacceptable as a kid and certainly unacceptable as an adult for such a serious issue - we're not talking about being denied oreo's here. 40 years later ? Man , I thought I harbored feeings.....

    Posted by Anonymous April 7, 09 04:16 PM
  1. Maybe your barking up the wrong bush of couriosity at the right time."WHY" must you ask why after so long?"WHY" are you courious yourself ? You are not the blaim , but you are left with the pressure right . Maybe your "WHY" is trying to help you figure out if there are more bones in the closet , Maybe your "WHY" should should help you to get even put it in your past or just decide to give her the big "WHY" you are divorcing her. Nomatter wich one you choose it's a space in your life that has been altered that will be there until you ultimatly rest . Maybe the it should be "why" are you still wondering why .

    Posted by THA "TRUTH April 11, 09 03:53 PM
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