"Ask Dr. Tracy"

8/31/97 Advice Column


Dear Dr. Tracy,

My husband and I have been married for a little over a year. I am 20 yrs old and thought I was ready for a committed relationship. I love my husband but while he was away due to his job, I was unfaithful with someone he works with. The next morning I awoke and was very ashamed of myself. I know that the other man will not say anything but I'm not sure I can handle the guilt I feel. Is it possible to love my husband when I've been with someone other than him? I do not want to tell him but don't know what else to do. Is one mistake on my part worth the lose of my marriage if I tell my husband? I am so confused. What would you do?

Dear Confused,

Figure the guilt you feel is the price of your infidelity and keep your mouth shut. After all, what's to gain by telling your husband? You'll only hurt him and risk your marriage. I assume you're really sorry, will never do it again and will do everything in your power to show your husband how much you love him and to make it up to him -- even though he doesn't know about it. I'm also assuming that you had safe sex -- if not, you must warn him immediately.

Confession may be good for the soul, but it plays hell with a marriage. If you feel you would lose your marriage if you told, and you value your marriage, don't tell your husband -- or anyone else.

Infidelity isn't worth the guilt, so I'd never do such a thing, but if I did, I wouldn't tell.


Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I stumbled upon your link on an NLP word search this morning. I'm no NLP expert; in fact, I believe that if I were my marriage wouldn't be ending right now.

My wife and I have been married for 5 years. After the third year of marriage, we had a fight in which, in the process of me trying to get out of the house before I lost my temper and she stopping me, I hit her (not out of anger, simply trying to get away as she was holding my shirt and would not let me leave). Since she had been in many abusive relationships, she associated me with all these other men. (Note: I have never hit anyone before, short of my little brother and I having fights when we were growing up).

This event began the long downturn towards divorce. My wife began refusing to sleep with me, telling me I was too fat and my touch made her cringe. I appologized over and over and tried to pacify her. She began having an affair (which she still denies). She asked for a divorce and I begged her not to. She told me she still loved me but the feelings were gone. I told her she could have her divorce and she said she'd like to stay together in the event the feelings returned. I felt the same way. This was three years ago.

I haven't slept with my wife (not my choice) for two years. About 3 months ago, she became involved with a very manipulative man who is 20 years her senior (I understand manipulation itself is not necessarily a bad thing; however, he has her under his complete control. My nickname for the guy is "The Puppetmaster"). She started doing the same things she did with the first "affair". He was all she talked about. When she wasn't talking about him she was talking to him on the phone or writing love notes to his pager. A girl that works with me told me that she had confided in her that they were sleeping together. The girl asked what about me, to which my wife allegedly replied "I care very much about my husband but (Puppetmaster) and I are in love." I confronted my wife with this and she denied it. However, the girl I work with does not appear interested in me and I can find no motivation for her lying. Meanwhile, the love notes continued and I was constantly watching our three kids while my wife and Puppetman ran around all night. I finally blew up and told her I wanted a divorce (something I occassionally threatened when I felt she behaved badly towards me). This time she not only agreed, she filed. I relented but she refused to and filed. We agreed I would stay at home and pay the bills until she could find a job. A week later, I came home early and found them sleeping in our bed together. The door was locked, as were the doors to our childrens' rooms. When she opened the door, we fought briefly. She claimed they were both fully clothed (they were) and nothing was going on. I felt this was no excuse and I moved out.

This was two months ago. Now when I call each night to say goodnight to my kids, he is there in my house. My kids have started calling him daddy. When my wife drops the kids off at my apartment, he is always there, with her looking lovingly in his eyes and putting her arm around huim. She still insists that he's just her "best friend" and I still think she's lying. He tells me that "believe it or not, I really am your friend" and also insists that nothing's going on sexually. If I challenge that idea, he gets angry and threatening, claiming righteously that he is a "truthful person".

So the questions. How the hell do I get my wife back? Should I even want her back? (BTW, I suspect she may be manic depressive but I can't prove it and she says she's fine). How do I prevent my kids from calling this guy daddy? How do I show the woman I love that she's being conned and is going to get hurt? Most importantly, how do I deal with a skilled Puppetmaster? I am clearly out of his league but have to deal with him.

Dear Daddy,

You will always be daddy to your kids, but you won't always be a husband to your wife. As a matter of fact, this marriage was over years ago and I can't understand why you stayed around as long as you did. In any case, why would you want such a life back? You and your wife fought, didn't have sex, and had affairs. I don't care what she says and it hardly matters what they're doing or not doing. The important point here is that the woman doesn't want you. She wants the puppetmaster. And if they're both so awful, why not let them have each other?

Instead of worrying about how to deal with them, make a life away from them. Get new friends, new love, and new hobbies. Don't torture yourself by watchng them together and by talking to them and letting them lie to you. Forget about proving anything to either of them. Move on. This whole situation is toxic.

Run for your life,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

well, i'm in love with my boss. i'm 25 and he's 33 years old, single, simple, quiet, goodlooking and indescribable. we have a very good working relationship and we're actually good friends. we're comfortable with each other and we go out sometimes. Most of the time, though, our so-called "dates" are initiated by me. It's like, i will ask him if he wants to watch a movie or dine out. But the way i ask him is like asking a friend not something like asking for a date. my problem is i don't know if there's a chance that he could fall in love with me. this week, he was absent from work for three days because he was sick. i called him at home and offered if he would like me to bring him lunch. when he said yes, i brought him food to his apartment. these things bother me because im not sure if doing these things for him drive him further away or closer to me. i want to find the way to his heart. i want to tell him what i feel inside but im frightened he might slip away if i do. how can i let him know that i love him and how can i make him see and accept this love i want to offer to him? my friends keep telling me that i should keep a little distance and stop showing him that i'm always there for him but i cant help it. i dont know if he has a girlfriend but he sometimes goes out on dates arranged by his friends. am i being too aggressive in making the first move? should i stop whatever im doing? please help me. im really at a lost but im certain that im in love with him. hope to hear your advice. thanx.

Dear In Love,

You and your boss sound like you'd make a good couple. (You might even learn punctuation from him :)

You're doing the right thing by starting out as friends and co-workers. It's okay if the dates are casual and not as lovers. As a matter of fact, it's best. After all, should you become actual lovers, your lovelife could complicate your worklife. One reason he could be holding back is because he doesn't want to have a love affair with someone who works for him.

If I were you, I would just let things go on the way they are for a while. Don't tell him how you feel. If he doesn't feel the same way, you could ruin a good friendship and lose a job. Instead, let him continue to get closer in a non-intimidating way. Go out as friends. If he is attracted to you, he'll eventually let you know it. One way to get his attention is to start going out with someone else yourself. And your friends have a good point -- you don't always have to be available.

Don't give up. He sounds like a possible, but play it cool. After all, reeling in a man is a little like catching a fish. You have to let him take the bait. Read Why People Love in my Love Library.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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