Q: Dear Meredith,
I have been married for five years, and a few months ago, while I was nine months pregnant with our second child, my husband slept with another woman. I was made aware of the affair when I found a note from the woman in his work bag written on hotel stationery. I confronted him, and he admitted to the affair. He had met the woman a few months earlier, while attending a conference for work. They kept in touch and by coincidence (he claims), they were both in New York on business trips at the same time and she met him at his hotel and they slept together. He said that was the extent of the relationship, and that he felt so guilty afterwards that he cut the trip short to come home to me and he never talked to her again.
When all of this came to light, I was adjusting to life with a newborn baby and a toddler and felt that I could not mentally and emotionally deal with another thing. Of course I was devastated, but other than a lot of screaming at him, crying, and making him sleep on the couch for about a week, things slowly returned to "normal" and the affair was kind of swept under the rug. Our relationship on the surface has been fine, but I am still dying inside. We have not been intimate since I found out, I can't bring myself to even kiss him.
Recently, he left his computer on when he was out of the house and I checked his email. There was no correspondence with this woman, but I did find her email address in his contact list and I also saw an email receipt from an upscale body and bath store, from which he often bought me gifts when we were first dating. I sincerely thought, with Valentine's Day coming up, that he had bought something for me. V-Day came and went and nothing. This latest discovery is eating me up inside, especially because he continues to go to conferences.
Should I confront him with this? I will have to admit that I went through his email, and I'm not sure if he will even tell me the truth once I bring it up to him. I feel so alone in all of this, as I cannot bring myself to confide in anyone, because I don't want them to think badly of my husband, as crazy as it sounds.
Any advice would be a huge help.
– Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater, Boston?
A: You must tell your husband that you saw the receipt, OACAAC. Then tell him that you need some time for a real talk. Make plans to go to therapy and discuss. Ask a family member to watch the kids. Have the discussion that you've been putting off since last year. If you don't confront this issue right now, it's going to keep oozing out from under the rug. You might as well deal with it on your own terms.
My advice is to tell someone (maybe a few people) in your life what happened. I understand that you don't want to tarnish your husband's reputation, but you need help and that's what communities are for. Wouldn't you want your friends to confide in you? Wouldn't you be supportive? Disclosing the cheat will help you process the fact that it really happened. You need honesty right now. You need an inner circle of companions who can help you deal. You need perspective.
As for your "once a cheater, always a cheater" question, my answer is no, I don't believe that people who cheat are destined to repeat their mistakes. In fact, I don't even like to use the label "cheater." Let's call your husband someone who cheated. Will he cheat again? I have no idea. All I know is that he did once, and that it's time to accept what happened and talk about it so you can heal and figure out the next step. Please break the silence.
Readers? Once a cheater, always a cheater? Am I right to say that it's important that she tell her friends and family what happened? Or will that make the situation messier than it needs to be? Anybody else sweep a cheat under the rug? What should she do to deal with this? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.