Dear Margo: Emotional Affairs Do Count

My wife is hiding her (nonsexual) relationship with another man. What should I do? Margo Howard’s advice

Emotional Affairs Do Count

Dear Margo: My wife of 21 years is an attractive woman. Our relationship has not been the greatest, but then I discovered text messages from another man on her cell. She met him at the gym. One of the texts I saw said, “I really liked your lingerie.” She claims he was commenting on the edges of her bra, which he saw through her shirt while having coffee. I became irate, called him in front of her and threatened him. I am a respected professional in the community, but I just snapped. He called the police, who then called me and told me not to contact him again.

My wife was very upset with the way I handled the situation, but said she wanted to stay married and work on our relationship. They had no contact for four months, but then they started texting again. I obtained access to her phone records. When confronted with this, she wanted to throw me out of the house. I also found evidence on the computer that she looks at his love horoscope every week. She said this was just an infatuation. The texting stopped for a few weeks when he moved, but has now begun again in earnest.

I cannot confront her directly because I don’t want her to know that I have access to her phone records. I have good evidence that he now lives 1,000 miles away, so they can’t be seeing each other. I’ve confronted her indirectly, and she lies, saying there’s no contact. She repeatedly tells me she wants to stay married and that if she really wanted to be with him, she would have left me. We have three teenage children. This is putting an incredible strain on our relationship. I can’t even look at her, and I definitely can’t move forward with working on our marriage when I know about this “emotional affair.” They text each other 10 to 20 times daily. What do you recommend I do? –Betrayed in Boston

Dear Be: The “love horoscope” thing sounds kind of teen-agey, and the supposedly secret texting reveals your wife’s dissatisfaction with her real life … and, of course, you. If your wish is to hold this thing together, I would arrange counseling, since you two can’t seem to make any progress on your own and since you say you can’t even look at her. I’m sure she has complaints about and wishes for this marriage, so hashing them out with a therapist is your best bet. Bring everything to the table, even your possibly illegal access to her phone records. It’s worth a try, and I wish you luck. –Margo, experimentally

Calling All Cads

Dear Margo: I will make this short (though it’s not sweet). I realize I have to be treated by a doctor for an STD. I desperately don’t want my wife to know. It would make endless trouble because you don’t get these things from, well, toilet seats. I am hoping this is one of those situations where patient confidentiality kicks in. Is it? –Nervous

Dear Nerve: It is not, because it is a matter of health policy. A physician is obliged, by law, to inform all sexual partners of “anything that endangers the health of another.” And while we’re on the subject, you might want to think about what kind of man would risk infecting his wife as the price for keeping his philandering secret. Along with the Acyclovir or penicillin or whatever you may be given, I suggest you take a good long look at the way you’re living and the possible consequences thereof. You sound like a skunk to me. –Margo, distastefully

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

Click here to follow Margo on Twitter

119 Responses so far.

  1. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: “She repeatedly tells me she wants to stay married and that if she really wanted to be with him, she would have left me.”

    It sounds like you’re trapped in a nightmare. Perhaps it’s time to wake up.

    LW2: From the CDC website:

    “Syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, chancroid, HIV infection, and AIDS are reportable diseases in every state. Because the requirements for reporting other STDs differ by state, clinicians should be familiar with the reporting requirements applicable within their jurisdictions.”

    So let’s hope you have herpes, and then you’ll be good to go.

    • avatar Sweet Dream says:

      And genital warts

    • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

      I hope you were being sarcastic when you said: “So let’s hope you have herpes, and then you’ll be good to go.”

      Considering how this guy is probably NEVER going to open his mouth and tell, you’re basically hoping that he has something that doesn’t need to be reported that he can now pass on to his wife and affect her for the rest of her life. That’s not cool.

      Like I said, I hope you were being sarcastic. It’s hard to tell in text.

      • avatar moonrevenge says:

        I’m sure he’s joking, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the LW tried to blame his wife if she got herpes. “You must be cheating! I wouldn’t have herpes if it wasn’t for you!”

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        I’m not “basically” doing anything, other than parroting off the diseases that the CDC says that they are required to report. Herpes wasn’t on the list—hence, if he has herpes it won’t be reported to his wife. If you continue to read the thread, you’ll see that someone gave me oral herpes and made me extremely ill.


  2. avatar Jody says:

    LW#1: To a point I get it. Only because I know that at some point every woman sits back and takes inventory of her life. My guess is she feels stuck in a life where she gave up her dreams in order to see to it that you and the kids were taken care of, etc. etc. She may be looking for something new… fresh. Can you become that for her? Encourage her to go back to school or pursue a dream she had that she let go long ago. This is NOT about you at all… it’s about her and what she’s realizing she’s missing. She’s searching for her own happiness again. You’re either in… or you’re out. If you love her… be in… and go to counseling. Good luck!

    LW#2: Wow at your narcissism! The fact that you’re messing around on your wife AND willing to let her contract the nasty-ness from it…. You don’t deserve her.

    • avatar TheTexasMom says:

      Jody, if the wife in LW1 needs to search for happiness by texting and going out to have coffee with another guy behind her husband’s back she needs to do it post divorce.  And she is the one who needs to “be in” the marriage by not inviting another party  into the marriage.

      • avatar Jody says:

        I don’t disagree with you, TexasMom. I’m not saying she should do it during her marriage at all. I’m just conveying to the husband what I hear from a lot of women. I am perfectly okay with the fact that I could be wrong. But, it was her “high school” behavior that gave it away for me. She’s bummed… she’s bored… she’s wishing for something ‘different’. By no means am I giving her a free pass. SHE didn’t write to Margo… HE did. So, I can only speak to him. He sounds confused. What most men don’t understand is that when we women make up our minds… that’s it. It’s too late. We don’t change our mind later. That’s all I’m saying to him. This is his chance to see what’s going on right now, or lose the marriage. Who knows? This could all be a mute point already. But, that’s what I meant when I asked if he was in or if he was out. Because if he’s in… he needs to act NOW (or it could be too late by now). Does that mean I’m condoning her behavior? HELL-to-the-NO! But she didn’t write… he did. If it’s not too late, they need counseling. She’s obviously going through something. Maybe she’s “trying” to make him ask for a divorce so she doesn’t look like the “bad guy”. Who knows??? I could gloss over a million theories here. It doesn’t really matter. Either way… it’s time for both parties to sit down and figure out what they want and what their happiness looks like to them. I hope they can figure it out… TOGETHER.

  3. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: I’d get my finances shielded and dump this woman pronto if she refuses counseling.

    LW2: Hopefully your wife dumps you pronto if and when she finds out you’ve infected her without warning her to get treatment.

  4. avatar Lisa Cornell says:

    LW#1 Skip counseling and put the money toward a good attorney. It isn’t going to work and more to the point, why would you want to. She has moved on but is too dishonest to say so. Time for you to man-up and protect your kids.

    LW#2 Words do not even begin to describe this creep.

  5. avatar Indigo Moon says:

    LW1: Anyone who hacks his or her spouse’s phone and/mail records has issues. You want to know why she’s so determined to keep channels open with that guy? It’s because you’re too obsessive and jealous and she secretly wants an escape route if things get violent with you, if they haven’t already. Yeah, she’s typing at someone else, because she already has one foot out the door, because she’s too freaked to stay for much longer. Of course she’s going to tell you everything is okay. She’s afraid you’ll stop her when she does finally make her move to get out.

    LW#2 What a champ. If you’re going to play around on your spouse the least you can do is WEAR A CONDOM. Ooops, too late, so now YES you DO have to fess up. You think she’s not going to notice you infected her with something? I sincerely doubt it. The burn “down there” will tell her soon enough, and if you think telling her now is bad? Wait till she has an STD report in her hand and see how it goes then.

    • avatar Carrie A says:

      She was texting the guy for a long time before he ever hacked into her account.  It had nothing to do with him being jealous, she just wanted some fun and didn’t care who she hurt.  And him doing that does not change the fact that what she’s doing is wrong.  I think if he was really such a violent person he would have probably done something to her when he found out she was still texting this guy (despite repeated lies to the contrary), not written to Margo for advice.  She should have the decency to just move out and let him find someone better.

    • avatar MB T says:

      First of all, they probably have a shared cell phone account or she is under his name.  It is not illegal to check the past phone bills and see calls or texts on the phone.  It is not hacking.  She is lying and he has every right to confirm his suspicions. 

      • avatar Phillip Koons says:

        I disagree completely. He IS snooping. It’s not some sort of ‘just checking the bill’ thing. He knows exactly what he’s looking for and the fact that he won’t admit to the wife that he can see her call records only reaffirms that he’s snooping. If not, why hide it?

        Personally, I don’t think snooping is ever warranted. If you have suspicions, then other signs tend to pop up without needing to snoop. However, once you reach that point, you could easily be creating things in your head to rationalize the snooping. What’s this number….why did she talk for an hour….etc. If you don’t find anything, then you’re going to be wracked with guilt. If you do find something (or create something in your head), then the relationship is already on rocky grounds.

        What she is doing is wrong…True. However, 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Once you reach the point of snooping, then you’ve taken a problem and magnified by 10. You won’t trust her, she won’t trust you and it could easily become an insurmountable problem.

        • avatar Carrie A says:

          He had way more than suspicions.  He had already caught her once so she obviously isn’t trustworthy.  Part of him knew she was lying to him so he had to find out for himself.  What else should he have done?  She wouldn’t admit it so it was either than or sit around like an idiot while his wife has an affair.

          • avatar Phillip Koons says:

            Then the relationship is already over.

            If he had suspicions, he should have spoken to her about it. He should have been clear that he was suspicious, felt that their own emotional connection was off and taken it from there. If he thought she was lying about it, he should have simply said that. If after all this talk, he still felt she was doing it or lying about it, then it’s time to leave. Regardless of whether she is or isn’t, the trust is already smashed to bits at that point.

            Open, honest communication is far better than snooping. If you feel your partner isn’t being open and honest…then you say so.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Phillip: He found the texts (and it doesn’t sound as if he was “snooping”…as I stated, I’ve found texts remaining on my son’s and my husband’s phones just by borrowing them to make a call) and was initially surprised and angry…especially when she went straight to denial. She promised to stop her cyber-romance.

            She lied. He didn’t hack into her phone records…if he was on the same account, he probably simply requested them (this is still legal in most states, although I’ve discovered the laws are rapidly changing). He ***did*** confront her, and she threatened to throw him out of ***their*** house. She promised to cease and desist again.

            But here she is, back at it again. He knows, but he doesn’t want to confront her because he knows it will lead to yet another drama bomb and more threats of eviction. It was never about “suspicions”. He knew. All she does is deny, deny, deny…and threaten, threaten, threaten. And lie her attractive head off. Why should she be worrying about trusting him…unless she is viewing him through the lens of her own self regard?

            My own personal opinion is that he should split all available money fairly…and secretly, and obtain an excellent lawyer who is very cognizant of all modern divorce laws, and won’t give up on his chances because he is the male…and the female always wins. And get out.

          • avatar Katie themick says:

            Forest for the trees … who cares how he got the phone records? This guy threatened some dude to the point where the police intervened and has been snooping around his wife’s phone both finding something accidentally and then obsessively checking them and googlestalking the guy she was/is texting. He’s got some issues and so does she. They need either counseling or a couple attorneys, because something is really wrong with the relationship.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            In modern society, in which parents call the police over kindergarten and pre-school playground pushes…and sue for sexual harassment because a teacher innocently hugs a small child…I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that LW1’s phone call to his wife’s cyber-paramour was necessarily all that violent. The police only told LW1 not to contact the man again…and he complied…so I’m not certain how you made the leap from “no further contact” to “googlestalking”. I fairly certain his wife, who keeps promising to break off her involvement with the object of her infatuation, and keeps lying and going back, told him that Mr. Wonderful had moved 1000 miles away, as LW1 never stated that he checked out the man on the Internet at all, nor actually viewed the content of her or his texts.

            I don’t think he is obsessing…after all, this is his wife of 21 years, who refuses to break off her emotional affair with her romantic interest. I do think that he should get out of the marriage…sooner rather than later so that he can move on with his life.

            I would be fascinated to see this same letter, but with the gender roles reversed, appear a few months from now. I have a feeling that the responses would be very, very different, and that Mr. Cyber-Cheat would be feeling the burn to his very core.

          • avatar georgi says:

            Before completely condeming her for being the one who ruined this marriage (and I agree with the readers, it is ruined), consider what behaviour HE has admitted too.  He called the other man and “talked to him”.  Regardless of whether he threatened the person or not, calling the other party is never going to be productive.  The only message it sends to his wife is “I am the man and I am going to control this”  He also admits to getting access to her phone records.  My guess is that there are more things he is not admitting too.  He sounds like a bully and probably has been for a long time.  She found a way, for a while, to escape being control.  It is not right but it is not altogether unheard of.  Notice the husband never said he wanted to save the marriage because he loved her.  It may be a control issue or a desire to maintain the status quo.  Counseling is probably, because it may give them each the strength to let go. 

          • avatar Phillip Koons says:

            He may have not been snooping the first time (I’m not quite sure how much I believe this) but he’s most definitely snooping now regardless. If he thinks she is lying than he should SAY that…not continue to snoop. Regardless, now that the snooping has already happened, it’s time to move on. Couples counseling might save the marriage but it doesn’t sound like she wants to save it.

            I think you’re thinking that I’m going easy on the wife. I’m most definitely not. She’s certainly a big fault in the issue now but he’s not innocent either. I’ve read your posts and you’ve made it obvious that you don’t have an issue with snooping but it’s a huge indication of a bigger issue. I’ve ended relationships in the past over snooping. Trust is a delicate entity and once it’s crushed, chances are the relationship is on it’s way out the door.

          • avatar Phillip Koons says:

            And if she gets all defensive when her husband expresses a problem, then just another reason for him to leave.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Phillip: I think you and I have a very different idea as to what constitutes “snooping” (which, unfortunately, is a term that completely sounds alarm bells when I hear it) because every time when I’ve heard an individual complain about someone “snooping”, that person has had something to hide. And I’ve heard it for simply balancing the checkbook against the bank statement, and discovering that we were nearly overdrawn because of a check that was never written down. Or for finding a charge on the credit card bill that I had no idea had been made, and put us over our limit, and subject to a fee. When you pay the bills, and uncover hidden things such as these, and ask about them…is that “snooping”? When you are paying the phone bill, and find a list of lengthy calls, and numerous texts to a completely unknown number, is it “snooping” to ask your partner, who has never mentioned them, who they’re calling or texting so often?

            I don’t need to know where Rusty is every hour of every day, and the reverse is true as well. We only check in with each other to say hello. I don’t read his emails, nor he mine…but we could. We use each others’ phones. Frankly, Phillip, if you, and some of the others, think something as basic as looking at a phone record is snooping when you’re in a serious relationship with someone…then I think you have issues with a need to maintain a secretive distance from your partners…and possibly with control yourselves.

            Because it’s very controlling to demand a high level of secrecy in a relationship. To ask for privacy, time to yourself, activities separate from a partner…those are all natural. But to absolutely demand secrecy, and to consider it snooping if a partner in any way questions your actions…especially due to legitimate concerns…that is extremely controlling. I would back out of a relationship with someone that paranoid immediately…and I am far from a controlling person. I never check up on Rusty…nor did I do that with my ex-husbands (though they did it with me…and not by checking phone records…and ended up looking very foolish…which is also how I know what real surveillance feels like).

            Passive control, like passive aggression, is a very subtle and terrible thing. Something you might want to consider.

          • avatar Phillip Koons says:

            Well I think we will have to agree to disagree on a few things.

            He may not have been snooping the first time but he is now. No…I don’t think stumbling on a foreign number in a call log while paying the bill is snooping. However, returning to the call log with the intent to check all numbers IS snooping.

            I don’t have anything to hide from my partners. However, I do expect my privacy to be respected all the same. If someone is curious about something, then I tell them to just ask. However, I provide the same level of privacy with the other person. I won’t go hunting through call logs, read emails, facebook stalk, dig through drawers, etc. Just because I expect privacy doesn’t mean I have something to hide. The point is that if we are together, we should be communicating about our problems. Not trying to play Nancy Drew. If you don’t feel comfortable coming to me and saying your problems or suspicions without violating my own personal need for privacy, then we’ve got bigger communication issues. Yes…the particular letter writer has said something to the wife. Either let go of the suspicion and really give her a chance to fix things or move on. Don’t make the problem worse by aggravating it.

          • avatar Phillip Koons says:

            Also, it’s not exactly wise to make psychological assessments of strangers on forum boards. 😉

      • avatar bright eyes says:

        I agree that they might have a shared telephone account. I had one with my boyfriend when they still itemized your bills and I could see who he was calling -if I’d wanted to. Now I have one with my child, I can see who is calling and who he’s calling – just to keep up with what’s going on. BUT the thing that got my attention was he says “I obtained access to her phone records.” That may be the way he normally talks – I’ve had friends who call it a vehicle rather than a car, and Fuel rather than gas, etc. So it might be that but I take it to mean he got them somehow – in a way he shouldn’t have. And that he accessed her computer logs… But then – thoe whole thing seems off to me. I’m not sure I’d want to stay married with someone who wishes she were with someone else. I’m not for limiting a spouses friends, but it should be enough for her hubby (or if he were the one with the friend, for her to say) this person makes me feel uncomfortable – and that should be enough that she stays away…

    • avatar Messy ONE says:

      Actually, LW1 sounds like a silver plated jerk. Keeping a spouse under constant surveillance is what abusers do, not so-called “loving” husbands.

      She needs to get away from this toad. Far, far away.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Again, Messy, define “Surveillance”. I am married. I see all of the phone records. so does my husband. No reason to hide them. We have access to each other’s emails and phones, and all of our mutual credit card accounts. I don’t know where he is all of the time, and the same applies to his knowledge of my whereabouts…but that’s okay…we don’t need to keep each other marked with tracking devices.

        My idea of surveillance, as a married woman, would be him putting GPS tracking on her cell phone (yes, it can be done), a tracking device on her car (easily obtained), reading her texts on a regular basis (he doesn’t), accessing all of her credit card statements (I saw no mention of this here), refusing to let her have any friends (why are so many people extrapolating from him being angry over sexual/romantic conversations with another man to him refusing to allow her any contact with the outside world? Projecting much?), hiring a private investigator to have her followed (yes, people also do this), accessing her email without her permission (he hasn’t done this, apparently, or even touched anything related to her computer), and continually harassing her cyber-cutie (he called him once. Once. That’s it. No googlestalking. No harassment. No hacking.). Locking her in the house. Threatening to take the children away if she doesn’t behave. Monitoring her every movement. Even taking away her cell phone and computer and car.

        That, people, is surveillance. Not looking at phone records. This is a marriage, and there shouldn’t be an issue with him looking at phone records…unless she has something to hide. Her extreme reaction to his looking, and confronting her (he knew she was texting Mr, Wonderful…and she keeps denying it…that’s why he looked)…which was telling him he had to leave his own house says a lot about precisely who is abusive, controlling and dishonest.

        And, by the way, I’ve dealt with surveillance. My ex-MIL had me followed by a sleazy PI. She had me cheating with every man I came into contact with (including a crack-head I worked with who I took to the gates of his apartment complex in a driving rainstorm…but only after I made him turn his pockets out. I didn’t need any crack in my car) and claimed she had pictures. I don’t know of who…I wasn’t with anyone at all, including her wretched son. She also tried to have our phones tapped. Why, for some people, does the man always have to be the one driving the short bus?

  6. avatar Briana Baran says:

    @ Jody and Indigo Moon: Excuse me, but regarding L#1, did I miss something significant here? LW1 did not initially obtain access to her phone records…it sounds more as if he accidentally discovered the other man’s texts on the phone (not all that difficult to do…I’ve borrowed both my husband’s and son’s phones when texts have been left open on them…though nothing suspicious). If I were a man, and found a text to my wife from another man admiring her lingerie, plus additional texts, I do believe I might be upset too. Especially if she had been concealing their relationship. And sorry, I’ve had straight male friends, while single and married, and they don’t make comments on how much they delight in your underwear.

    Did he over-react? He admits he did, and that their relationship has not been smooth. He did not blame the latter soley on his wife, not even between the lines. How you all are reading between the lines that finding out that one’s wife is having a clandestine emotional affair and blowing up equates to constant violence, or that the failures are all on his part, is a mystery to me.

    It also seems to me that on this very website, when the subject of infidelity came up…but it was the man who was cheating (be it physically, emotionally, via the Internet)…it was considered perfectly acceptable by the vast majority of female WoW readers (I’d call it at least 75% in favor) to read his emails, his texts, obtain his phone records, call in a private investigator…do anything necessary…to prove what a filthy, cheating bastard he is. But when LW1 obtains his wife’s records, he is suddenly a controlling, dominating, abusive, looming, fear-inspiring monster…and she has every right to force him out of his own home…even though she is the one who has resumed her emotional (and very juvenile) affair. Because it isn’t about her husband, and he should coddle her, and understand her, as she feels she has given up her dreams for him and her children. He should encourage her to find some other beneficial activity rather than cyber-schmoozing with a fantasy lover because she’s dissatisfied. O, so? If this were a man, you’d be screaming at LW1 (the poor, beleaguered woman) to kick that unfaithful, callow, selfish turd to the gutter…not merely the curb…because, after all…men can never be unhappy with their daily grind…or, if they are, they don’t deserve to be.

    Of course, there is that other, darker possibility, that LW1 such an obsessive, stalking creep that he’s terrified his poor wife into needing a lifeline to the outside. Yes indeed, a lifeline who has moved 1000 miles away. Because anyone who would actually try to access an unfaithful and dishonest spouse’s phone records (the very thing, I reiterate, so often recommended when the genders roles are reversed in similar situations), must have, ahem, “issues”. Yes…I would think so…as in she’s not working on the marriage she says she wishes to preserve, she’s outright lying, and she’s continuing her emotional involvement with another man (who admires her lingerie).

    It is always so adamantly, fiercely and furiously stated on this site that emotional affairs are just as devastating, if not more so, than those which are merely sexual in nature. Of course, one cannot help but notice that in all of these cases, the victims are women, as are those shrieking condemnation of their unfaithful partners to the skies. Double standards, which one sees men accused of with stunning regularity, abound here, and are just as damaging and backwards as any perpetuated by the male of the species.

    How very sad.

    • avatar momis says:

      My thoughts exactly.

      • avatar David Bolton says:


        If anyone should be asked the “are-you-in-or-are-you-out-question,” it’s the wife.

        And until counseling (if that is the route they decide to take) helps determine their final direction, I’d tell Ms. Textypants to find herself an apartment or a friend to stay with. I have a feeling that the separation will help her realize whether or not those texts and horoscopes really are or are not that important in her life.

        • avatar MB T says:

          I dunno about the moving out part. Everytime that has happened, they rarely return.  I wouldn’t want to let the kids know right away and work on counseling first.  She is a tool. (and reminds me of my ex-SIL

    • avatar carol grzonka says:

      agreed entirely

    • avatar amw says:

      You are absolutely right.

    • avatar flyonthewall says:

      This is my thinking, too, Briana.

    • avatar BKcagg says:

      Perfectly written response.

    • avatar MB T says:

      WELL SAID!!!!

    • avatar SMALL TOWN GIRL says:


      People read letters and give comments about stuff not even in the letter in the 1st  place
      If I was that man I would’nt have believed the lingerie story never mind anything after that!!

    • avatar TheTexasMom says:

      Briana – I could not agree with you more!  After reading comments defending the wife I had to go back and re-read the letter.  Nope, didn’t miss anything on the first reading.  The wife was texting AND having coffee with the other guy way before the husband tapped into the phone records. 

      And what in the letter makes anyone think the wife had dreams deferred and that is why she is emotionally cheating? 

    • avatar Susan Thomas says:

      You make amazingly good sense for 6:30 in the morning!!! I usually can just mutter until around 11:00 am!!! I agree with everything you said. I believe that when people are bored with their lives, then the playing begins, whether real or not. It may be just a pleasant deversion for her, but they do have big problems. I also agree that in her mind it may be already over. When my marriage was over I made up my mind (no children thank goodness) I wanted a divorce and although he apologized, cried, pleaded, and begged me to change my mind..there was no going back. I used to tell him that someday he would push me too far with his cruel remarks, but he never believed me. But when I made up my mind no force on earth would have stopped me. And it was the second best thing I ever did. The first, in case you are wondering, was a breast reduction. The third…marrying the real man of my dreams and our life together.

      • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

        Susan – I hear ya! Also, you illustrate that once women make up their mind and have had enough, usually after trying to get the men to listen, we are done…no going back. Same for me and my wonderful husband noticed this trait even before I did.

      • avatar sadrunner says:

        Look up “Walkaway Wife Syndrome”. It’s a great explanation of this.

  7. avatar Michelles11 says:

    LW1 There are two sides to every story, and being someone who was on the same side of the husband, let’s just say it was as devastating to find out my husband was in some kind of “emotional” affair as it would if it were a “physical” affair.  Obviously there are problems in the marriage, but she is not being honest about it, and I understand the husband’s need to snoop.  Been there, done that. Hubby has to insist on counseling otherwise it’s just going to be downhill from there.  Men and women just don’t think the same and don’t understand each other at times.  Counseling, couseling, counseling.

  8. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1 needs to decide if HE wants to stay in a marriage where *our relationship has not been the greatest* even before the wife started an emotional affair with the other man.  If so, and if the wife is telling the truth that she wants the marriage to continue, then Margo is absolutely right that counseling is in order.  Regarding the phone *records*…I don’t know if he obtained access to them legally or illegally but it sounds like its more than simply *accidentally* coming across a message on her cell phone (as perhaps happened when he first saw the lingerie comment) as he knows exactly how many times she texts this guy a day. Yes it is spying and intrusive but … his wife is lying and cheating so neither has a claim to moral superiority here.   The teenage kids should be some motivation to try to repair the marriage.  I doubt things are going to improve absent counseling and it sounds like both are miserable with the situation now.

    LW#2:  Margo is right, you sound like a skunk.  Deal with the consequences whatever they are.   I have nothing more to say to you.   

  9. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    Well said and excellent advice on both, Margo.

  10. avatar K Coldiron says:

    What a couple of prizes today.

    LW1: Between the lines of your letter is a man who doesn’t respect his wife. She’s cheating on you, yes, but all your measures to get her to stop sound like a father with his young child – restricting the boundaries of your wife’s world and keeping her on surveillance, instead of listening to her about WHY she is cheating. You need to treat the cause, not the symptom. Treat her like an adult who is having a crisis instead of someone who needs punishment for breaking the rules. And listen to Margo and get counseling.

    LW2: I understand your shame, but be a man. Accept the consequences of your actions.

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      Also, LW1: Huge difference between wanting to stay married, and wanting to be in a marriage WITH YOU. Find out what she really wants out of this.

    • avatar Carrie A says:

      So because SHE is cheating on him and he found out about it, she lied and said she stopped, but he snooped and found out she didn’t, HE’S the one with the problem? She is acting like a child so I don’t see why he wouldn’t treat her like one (although I don’t think he is – if it were my husband I’d ask him to stop texting another woman too). I can’t help but think your advice would be very different if it were a man having an emotional affair with another woman.

      • avatar K Coldiron says:

        Nope, it wouldn’t. They are not communicating at all; he’s controlling and she’s denying, and neither of them are making the marriage any better. I don’t care what the genders are, a cheating partner isn’t going to stop until the reasons for the cheating are addressed.

        • avatar MB T says:

          He can’t listen to why she is wanting to cheat and solve the problem because she continually lies and denies that she is cheating.  He isn’t being controlling.  He is asking her to stop her texting and work on the marriage which she agreed to do, but isn’t. 

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Under what circumstances should a person who is exercising her apparent “right to infidelity” (because she is unhappy with her marriage? Really?) be given respect because she continually reengages in the act of cheating, emotionally or otherwise? Wouldn’t it be lovely if she gave her husband some respect, as in not repeatedly lying to him? Yes, I would, and have, said the same thing when the situations were reversed.

      He’s treating her like a child (mmm, looking at the daily love horoscope of your phantom lover sounds a bit childish to me)? How so? By asking her not to emotionally cheat on him? By checking her phone records? And finding out she has lied to him? Excuse me, but how is she treating him?

      Also, pardon me, but his statements were, “…but said she wanted to stay married and work on our relationship…” and, “…She repeatedly tells me she wants to stay married and that if she really wanted to be with him, she would have left me.”. That does not sound as if she wants to be married, but not to the LW…but as if she wants her cake, and to eat it too.

      The wife is in no way restricted, obviously, as she is still merrily texting away with her fantasy man. Nor is she “under surveillance”…LW1 has not hired a private investigator to follow her, nor has he broken into her emails, nor has planted hidden cameras around the house or microphones in her car. In any state with community property laws, access to her phone records is absolutely legal…and if they share a joint account, it would probably be legitimate to access the records anyway. I don’t call looking at phone records surveillance…all it gives a person is a list of numbers contacted by the user through phone or text. No transcripts or content…just numbers.

      As to the poor dear girl’s emotional crisis…excuse me, but not everyone who cheats is having some sort of trauma that legitimizes their actions. Sometimes they’re just selfish, entitled, miserable people who think that they have an excuse. What about his crisis brought on by her cheating? What about his hurt, and his feelings of rejection, and not having any respect or ability to trust her?

      I do believe that Ms. Margo meant that both parties should hie themselves off to yon counselor…not just LW1. Though I don’t have the faith in marital counseling that many have. Been there, intensively, and it just didn’t work out.

      Good grief, people…

    • avatar amw says:

      Oh, so a “crisis” somehow makes infidelity acceptable? And what crisis did she experience pray tell?

      I wouldn’t even give this tramp the satisfaction of counseling. She obviously has no respect for husband’s feelings. She may say she wants to work things out but refuses to discontinue the action that is clearly taking the biggest toll on their relationship.

      Like you suggested to LW2, the wife needs to accept the consequences of her actions.

      You can’t have it both ways…it isn’t acceptable for any gender to cheat on their spouse/significant other. In no way, shape or form can you justify such behavior.

      And if she has it so bad, she should have left. You make your bed, you lie in it. Simple as that.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        The only crisis I see is a crisis of honesty, on the wife’s part.

      • avatar MB T says:

        My ex-SIL cheated on my brother after 20 years of marriage.  The kids resented their mom’s actions and fortunately stayed with their dad.  Counseling did not work for them either.  Sad situation on all accounts. 

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      *shrug* Okay.

  11. avatar Lyndia Terry says:

    LW2: Sounds like he wants to get treated and get clean. Then when she “catches” the STD he can point the finger at her as being the unfaithful one in the relationship. Easy out.
    LW1: Counseling, Counseling, Counseling. If she won’t go “because she doesn’t have a problem” go by yourself. It will help get your thoughts settled and allow you to make a decision that will effect your whole family. Good Luck!

  12. avatar stargirl1055412 says:

    I dont know how everybody elses household operates but in mine, My cell phone and his are all on the same bill. Im the main bill payer so I have access to all the phone records. INCLUDING calls and text made and recived.  But then again so does he if he chooses to activate it.  I dont see how this couldnt be any clearer.

    • avatar amw says:

      I think you are correct…as long as the lines are on the same account, every phone call and text message is listed on the bill.

      And as Briana mentioned, even if they do have two separate carriers, he may have needed to borrow her phone and stumbled upon the message accidentally…in which case, you really can’t blame the guy for being suspicious and checking her messages.

  13. avatar LCMom says:

    LW2 – What a winner. Your poor wife. And don’t even try to blame her for this crud YOU gave her! She knows who you are, and she knows the truth.

  14. avatar Briana Baran says:

    On L#2: I had a very good friend contract herpes from a man she had been dating for three years. He knew he was infected, but never bothered to mention this to her. Four days before Christmas, she collapsed in her kitchen with agonizing pains in her groin, severe swelling in her genitals (but no lesions), vomiting, and a fever. Her fourteen year old son had to call 911, and she was hospitalized for a week with a 105 degree fever, dehydration, and inflammation of her bladder, uterus and so much pain she couldn’t walk and had to be sedated.

    She was diagnosed with herpes. She had no idea she was infected. When she called her much loved and adored fiance to warn him (she had no idea where she might have contracted it, as she’d been absolutely faithful), he casually informed her that he’d been diagnosed over five years before they met…but didn’t think it was important to tell her.

    LW2, you are scum of the earth. Confess to your wife, and take what comes like a stand-up human being (not just a man, but a person of at least some integrity). You absolutely deserve whatever consequences you get. Give her a chance to be helped, if not cured. People like you are loathsome. I hope you haven’t condemned her to a life of misery…or even death.

    What a horrid little maggot.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      And before anyone jumps on the “aren’t you being overly dramatic” bandwagon—I contracted herpes (the oral—not the genital kind, thank God) from a man I went out with, who admitted later he knew he had an outbreak but didn’t want to cancel our date.

      I was out of work for almost a month with severe, flu-like symptoms, at one point I had over 100 cold sores over my entire face, and someone told me it looked like my face was melting.

      If someone ever did that to me again I would have them killed.

      • avatar P S says:

        You know, normally I don’t condone murder, but it’s hard for me not to grant an exception in your case… or for Briana’s friend.

        I had a coworker who contracted herpes while living a lifestyle he admitted was a result of being careless, immature, and thinking with the wrong head. He had a breakout during the time we worked together. I wouldn’t wish his misery on anyone… except maybe these cheating louses who are being incredibly irresponsible, narcissistic, and stupid. They deserve everything they got and then some.

        • avatar amw says:

          You said it PS. Hearing these stories of pain and humiliation make me absolutely sick. My heart breaks for the poor peope that have fallen victim to these monsters.

      • avatar Pinkie says:

        I would help you hide the body. LW2 needs to get something removed with scissors and a blowtorch so he doesn’t do it again.

      • avatar Phillip Koons says:

        Yea you lucked out that it was oral herpes. Over 65% of adults have antibodies for it by the age of 40 though. Not that it makes it acceptable or something but it is VERY common.

        On a side note, breakouts should become less and less often and less and less severe over time. I got it when I was a kid (12) by playing spin the bottle. I remember how bad it sucked at first. 3 or 4 breakouts a year. 20 years later, it’s been at least 3 or 4 years since I’ve had a cold sore or any sort of breakout.

  15. avatar Jrz Wrld says:

    I’m not feeling as warm and cozy towards LW1 as most on this board. I’d be freaked out about anyone – man or woman – who saw a questionable text and then escalated to phoned threats to the texter. I’ve dated some very macho guys, but the last thing I’d ever expect any of them to do would be something like that in the event of suspected infidelity. Mainly because the guys I’ve been with have always recognized that I’m my own person and not something to be squabbled over. The correct response would have been to immediately insist upon couples counseling and complete transparency between them. I suspect the LW just likes the sense of power his snooping gives him, just as his wife likes the sense of power her emotional affair gives her. Not sure which creeps me out more.

    • avatar amw says:

      A macho boyfriend is quite different than a husband.

      He admitted he snapped and it wasn’t a typical response. Can you really blame the guy? His wife is cheating on him.

      I know what an emotional rollercoaster you ride when someone you thought you could trust betrays you. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if it were my spouse.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Warm and cozy? No. But the man admitted that he snapped, and over a text (one among many) from a total stranger, male, telling his wife of 21 years just how much he admired her lingerie. His “snooping” (I assume you are referring to looking at those phone records) did not begin until after his wife, who had promised to break off her involvement with her Wailing Wall, resumed contact. How accessing your spouse’s phone records equates to snooping is a mystery to me. But then, I have nothing to hide from mine, and the reverse is true as well. Perhaps some of the readers might be protesting about this “snooping” business a bit too much…or have little understanding about actual adult relationships.

      And it was one phone call, not one of many, and he made no more after being warned off by the authorities (in other words, no charges were filed). So you’re your own person. Does that give you carte blanche to cheat? To lie to your partner? To violate his trust? To completely disrespect him by going back on promises as well as all of the aforementioned? He did ask for “transparency” between them (I believe that might translate to not engaging in clandestine emotional infidelity) and she has violated this…not once, but twice. And threatened to evict him from his house for daring to investigate something as non-threatening as phone records (just numbers…nothing else) because he was rightfully suspicious that she was not acting in good faith.

      Gosh golly, he really has a sense of power from obtaining those phone records he doesn’t even dare use because his cheating wife, who still blithely texts Mr. Wonderful ten to twenty times daily, might send him packing. In most states, men are always at a disadvantage in divorces, especially when it comes to retaining their homes, and custody issues…even if the woman is cheating. You can just tell how empowered and emboldened he is by his vulgar snooping by his desperate tone in his letter to Margo. Sounds like a macho brute to me. just squabbling over his chattel. Uh-huh. Certainly.

      A macho brute might have beaten his wife senseless…but only after ascertaining where lover boy kept himself. It wouldn’t necessarily have been phone threats…can we say slashed tires, broken windows, and all sorts of property damage that could never be traced back to him, and wouldn’t have stopped until Mr. Wonderful got the message (and a fellow who calls the police immediately after one heated phone call from a cuckolded husband might fade rapidly into the shadows under physical threat) and stopped accepting or sending texts. Yes, LW1 is certainly an example of a control-freak and abuser getting off on tormenting his wife.

      Once again…good grief, people.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        The misplacement of empathy on this board sometimes really shocks me. But I guess that says a lot about the validity of some of the more “out there” letters that Margo gets.

    • avatar Jrz Wrld says:

      Sorry no. When the police are getting involved because you discovered a text message, you have a problem.

      And I’m not saying his snooping is wrong – he had evidence that she was cheating, so it’s totally fine to keep tabs in that cases, if only to gather evidence for the divorce. But the prolonged surveillance without confronting her is weird. Divorce her. Demand couples counseling. Don’t sit there getting more and more bitter and angry. That’s just stupid. It sounds to me like he’s getting some masochistic high from it, from being the put-upon spouse or the martyr or whatever. I watched my parents play the martyr game with each other for years, so I’m pretty sure I can recognize it.

      And no, being my own person doesn’t mean I have carte blanche to do whatever I want. I’m pretty fanatically monogamous, actually, and can’t really understand why people cheat when it obviously takes so much energy, to say nothing of the moral implications. But my point is that if you have a problem with what your wife is doing, you address it with her, not with someone you think has “led her astray.”

      I’m not saying the wife is some poor put-upon thing, but I’m not gonna give the husband a pass for acting like an idiot. He’s helping to perpetuate a toxic environment for his kids at the very least, although I guess his wife “started it” if you want to lay blame specifically. Teenagers are faced with an awful lot of difficulties, and here there parents are all wrapped up in their little dramas. My parents had a terrible marriage, but coping with that was the worst in my teen years. When your home is an emotional war zone and your parents are wrapped up in their manufactured dramas, it’s that much easier to make bad choices as a teen or just sink into depression. This guy mentions his kids in passing, and offers no comment on their reactions to the obviously dysfunctional dynamic in the household. Shouldn’t that be one of his primary concerns?

      It seems like he’s more invested in “winning” some kind of Pyrrhic moral victory with his wife rather than the overall welfare of his family.

      • avatar K Coldiron says:

        I’m with you, Jrz.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        Really? Cause I don’t see anything that indicates some “Pyrrhic” victory at all. If anything, she’s not being hurt at all by her behavior—and he’s trying to look out for everyone involved, INCLUDING her.

        If we’re going to read between the lines, here’s what it appears to be to me.

        “I cannot confront her directly because I don’t want her to know that I have access to her phone records. I have good evidence that he now lives 1,000 miles away, so they can’t be seeing each other.” (In other words, I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt that at least she’s not sleeping with him. However, I don’t understand why she would maintain contact with someone when she’s repeatedly said the texting has stopped. Also, I’m afraid that if I confront her directly, she’s going to cut off my only source of information that actually cuts through the crap that she’s been feeding me for such-and-such length of time).

        “I’ve confronted her indirectly, and she lies, saying there’s no contact. She repeatedly tells me she wants to stay married and that if she really wanted to be with him, she would have left me.” (It may be a passive-aggressive game I’m playing, but it’s because being direct got out of control—and I’m trying to reel in that sort of destructive behavior).

        “We have three teenage children.” (I’m thinking about the effect this has, and could have, on the rest of our family. I’m also thinking that we have a history together—in the form of children, and that we once cared enough about each other to have three of them, and I care at least a little about preserving that).

        “This is putting an incredible strain on our relationship.” (I’m being upfront, to the point and not trying to candy-coat anything or be dramatic or maudlin. This is hurting me, and us.)

        “I can’t even look at her, and I definitely can’t move forward with working on our marriage when I know about this “emotional affair.” They text each other 10 to 20 times daily.” (I would like to consider working on our relationship, but I am stuck because of her blatant emotional detachment from me, and repeated contact with him).

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        What Pyrrric Victory, and what surveillance?

        Let’s get down to Occam’s Razor, shall we?

        He found out, via finding a text from her illicit partner, that she was engaged in a secret, emotional affair. It indicated a sexual interest on the part of the other man. He confronted that man…by phone…ONCE…and threatened him (this is a husband of 21 years, who has suddenly found out his wife has been unfaithful). Mr. Other Man calls the police. Over a single phone call. LW1 is warned off, and ***never calls again***.

        Wife promises to end affair. Four months later, wife resumes (after specifically telling him she wants to work on their marriage), again, in secret, Husband gets access to phone records. He does not search her email, her phone, have her followed, “bug” her room or car…just accesses her phone records. All this tells him is who she is calling, how often, and duration of calls. Voila, suspicions justified. He tells her, and she threatens him with imminent eviction from his own home. Nowhere does he mention that his access to the records are in violation of any local laws…and they are probably his to view as they are married, and likely share a joint account.

        He is stuck. Wife says she would have left him if she really wanted to, but wife continues to happily text her fantasy man who likes her underwear. LW1 can still view the records, but the issue isn’t the records, or his access to them being legal, it’s that she’ll go ballistic if she, while still engaging in an emotional affair, finds out that he has them. Wife is doing her thing, exactly as she wishes…man is miserable. Wife keeps saying she’ll stop, lying, and deceiving.

        No victory at all. None. And Jrz. World, you completely changed your tune from your first post, which I always find interesting. Yes, he should divorce her…but it’s the PC thing to try counseling (please, no clergy, thank you) first for some unknown reason.

        Also, I am intrigued by the following: “…I’m pretty fanatically monogamous, actually, and can’t really understand why people cheat when it obviously takes so much energy…”. What is “pretty fanatically monogamous”? And would you cheat if it wasn’t so enervating? How curious…

  16. avatar flyonthewall says:

    LW#1 Get a lawyer and start divorce proceedings. Why be married to someone you cannot trust? Doesn’t sound as if she wants to change for the better. Life is too short to be stuck with someone who makes you miserable.

    LW#2 Yes, I agree with the others that you are the scum of the earth. Your wife’s health is in jeopardy and all you can think about is yourself. Let her know and then man up and face the consequences of your actions, you wimpy coward.

  17. avatar amw says:

    LW2 must be a hoax.

    If not, I pity his poor wife and any other woman/man that has fallen victim to his “charm”.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      amw, see my earlier post about my friend who was devastated by a creep who knowingly allowed her to contract herpes while they were engaged. Her reaction was so severe that it nearly killed her…and she thought…after a miserable marriage to a serial cheater and abuser, that she had found her “soul mate”, and the perfect father for her teenage son.

      It happens. There are people of both genders who are that disgusting. In the ’80’s, I recall a woman in Illinois who would be certain that all of her male lovers (none of whom knew about her promiscuity) received a small wound that would leave them highly susceptible to infection…by the HIV virus. Her message to them, written on mirrors with lipstick, was, “Welcome to the world of AIDs”.

      Humans are human, and exist and behave from one end of a vast spectrum all the way to the other. From the abhorrent to the transcendent. Nothing surprises me, and I don’t doubt that this is a real letter at all.

      • avatar amw says:

        Those are truly devastating circumstances your friend endured.

        Really, these terrible people are no different than serial rapists that knowingly infect hundreds of people just for the thrill of power and hate.

        Ruining someone’s life in such a cruel, intentional form is certainly beyond my realm of thinking.

        Very sad.

        I hope your friend has found peace and happiness.

    • avatar Deeliteful says:

      amw: I have a friend whose (ex)husband contracted herpes during an extra-marital affair. The scum did not tell his wife. Imagine her surprise when she had her first outbreak and was told by her GYN, she had herpes. No reason to think LW2 is a hoax.

  18. avatar Lila says:

    On LW1: The opinions here are very interesting. Given that this is not a sexual affair, I was a little surprised how harshly the wife is viewed.

    There is soooo much here that we don’t know, but Hubby started right off telling us that their relationship has generally not been great. People need friends. If we are not getting good conversation, emotional support, and mental stimulation at home, friendships are even more important. My initial impression was that Wife saw Gym Buddy as a friend. I do think the lingerie comment was over the line, and Gym Buddy is flirting with Wife, though Wife has not taken the bait. And my initial impression was also that Wife never told Hubby about Gym Buddy because their marriage was not great, and she had reason to suspect what the reaction would be. After the blowup and the police involvement, of COURSE she would never tell Hubby about continuing the friendship because her fears were confirmed.

    When is a friendship an affair? What makes it so? Does it require sexual activity, or is it the secrecy that does it? Is it that Gym Buddy flirts? Should that require Wife to end the friendship? Are we never allowed to have opposite-sex friends? Are we required to dump friends (of either gender) that our spouses dislike? Can’t that lead to isolation of the “offending” spouse?

    What if Gym Buddy was a woman commenting on the lingerie? What if she is gay, but Wife is not attracted to her and just likes her friendship? If a lesbian Gym Buddy is hot for Wife, but Wife never takes the bait and it never gets sexual, is that different from the male Gym Buddy? What if Gym Buddy was just a plain ol’ straight woman, but Hubby disliked her or thought her a “bad influence”?

    I agree with those who say that Hubby comes across as over-controlling. It’s not right to sneak around behind your spouse’s back (neither as SHE is doing it, nor as HE is doing it), but I just came away with the impression that the married relationship was already such that Wife probably felt that she could not have been open about Gym Buddy.

    This couple needs to either split now, or come clean in counseling. Personally, I think they would both be better off without the other.

    • avatar mayma says:

      What are you talking about? What if, what if, what if. Why are you making up all of these irrelevant scenarios? Commenters are responding to the actual letter. This situation has nothing to do with disallowing “friendships” or bad influences or gay friends or any of the other stuff you made up. His wife has admitted she’s infatuated, is texting secretly 10-20 times a day, is lying, etc. She has absolutely, 100% “taken the bait,” as you call it. (Love how that phrase takes the responsibility off of her shoulders.)

      “People need friends.” Friends who talk about lingerie behind the spouse’s back? Really? Poor wife — she couldn’t find any other friends to stimulate her mind or engage her in good conversation, hm? Those horoscopes are so intellectually stimulating!

      • avatar Lila says:


        The what-ifs are meant only as food for thought, not as “scenarios.” Why is it bad to have an opposite-sex friend if the friendship is not sexual? (by “taken the bait” I meant “had sex in response to the flirting.”) Should the wife give up ANY friendship that her husband does not like?

        Couples need to be open with each other about their friends and co-workers, but Hubby already said this relationship has not been the greatest. I suspect there were pre-existing problems that contributed to this, and certainly neither has been honest with the other since it came to light. Were I either party in this case, I would probably file for divorce.

    • avatar amw says:

      An affair doesn’t have to be sexual in nature to be wrong.

      A friendship with either sex is perfectly reasonable. Maintaining a relationship with someone that is obviously interested in you is completely different.

      Also, the husband made it clear to his wife that he didn’t appreciate the secrecy and constant text messaging with this man, especially given his lingerie comment. The wife had a responsibility there to make known (if your theory is true) to either insist that the “inappropriate” comments cease or discontinue the friendship. She did neither…which suggests (really screams) she is cheating…whether it be physical or emotional is immaterial.

      How would you feel if your husband met a girl/guy at the gym and started texting her? And she made comments that would be inappropriate for a married man to be conversing about with anyone but his wife/husband? Would you not insist that the behavior stop immediately? Would you not feel that your trust had been betrayed and be overwhelmed by feelings of panic? Of course…it’s common. So hubby screwed up and called boy toy for a screaming match. He admits that was wrong.

      When you tell your spouse you love only them and want to make the marriage work, then turn around and do exactly the opposite, how does that make the defending party guilty? The wife might as well be sleeping with boy toy…its just as bad and just as painful.

      • avatar K Coldiron says:

        I think what Lila is saying (not trying to put words in her mouth), and what I was getting at earlier, is that something bigger than an affair is obviously wrong with the marriage, if the wife has promised to stop and says she wants to be in the marriage and yet is not stopping. That sounds like a cry for help to me, not just deceit. LW’s over-the-top reaction, with screaming threats etc., might be part of Lila’s “what-ifs” – what if he treats his wife like that, and has since the beginning of the marriage? Would you still be berating her so strongly?

        • avatar David Bolton says:

          What if she’s just a selfish b*tch? I mean, if we’re going to play the “what-if” game, that’s a legitimate question. Women have affairs too, you know.

          Some are even narcissists! (oooh, a new can of worms!)

        • avatar Lila says:

          K Coldiron,

          Yes, I think this marriage had a lot wrong with it before any of this happened. Hubby basically tells us so, but we can bet that he is not revealing all in his letter.

          The what-ifs were meant as food for thought, because frankly I don’t know what I would consider an “emotional affair” as opposed to “me feeling threatened by my spouse’s friendship.” I was fishing around for other opinions on just WHAT makes it an affair. Male friend? Secret male friend? Friend who flirts with wife?

          Ran this by my own hubby. He had to really think about it and after some discussion, he said that “emotional affair” is hard to define. But he decided that yes, he thinks this case meets his definition, even though he hasn’t thought much about this before. For him, the factors were: secrecy, feeling desired by the gym buddy, and continuing the contact (“It’s one thing to dress provocatively to feel desirable, like a trophy wife; it’s another to carry on communication with someone who desires you.”). He also cites the husband’s view of the gym buddy as a rival. The bad marriage predisposes him to think that the wife may have been seeking attention from someone new, i.e., an affair-like approach even without the sex, not just a simple friendship.

          In the end, he re-emphasized that there is no easy definition and in fact, one partner can think it is an emotional affair and the other think it is totally innocent. I guess if their views are that incompatible, then it’s best to split.

      • avatar Lila says:

        amw, I don’t really have a theory, I’m actually asking what people consider to be an “affair” rather than a “friendship with a person of the opposite sex.” Because I don’t know where I draw that line, myself; and I sure don’t know what an “emotional affair” really is, so I’m trying to get opinions here. Coming from the military, I have a lot more male friends than female ones; and my own hubby has his own female friends from work. We find that sometimes other people’s attitudes about friendship can be…. awkward.

        You say, “Maintaining a relationship with someone that is obviously interested in you is completely different.” And you cite the secrecy, the texting, and the lingerie comment (yes, I think that’s flirting). So – the way I read that, your definition is: if there is any sexual tension at all from either party and the friendship continues, then it’s an affair, even without actual sex.


        • avatar amw says:

          Yes ma’am.

          And in more general terms, if you must hide a friend from your spouse/significant other, there’s something wrong. Wouldn’t you say?

          The act of sex may stand out more for some…but I think the emotional involvement would be much more devastating than the physical contact itself.

          You do bring up a valid point…where is the line crossed? I know several people that have flirtatious personalities. They mean no harm and are fully devoted to the ones they love. If someone were to get the wrong idea from another’s intended flirting, the assumption should be corrected immediately.

    • avatar Carrie A says:

      Has your significant other ever emotionally cheated on you?  I doubt it because it can be as devestating as a physical affair.  My sister is dealing with that right now and it has completely crushed her.  She has lost so much weight a size 0 just hangs on her.  She is trying to work it out with him but I’ve never seen her so miserable.  I guess you’ve never gone through that or known anyone who has because you don’t have a clue how much it can hurt.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Carrie, true on all counts. As far as I know, my hubby has not cheated on me. No, I don’t know firsthand how much it hurts.

        However, I have male friends and hubby has female friends. What I don’t grasp, and why I am interested in others’ opinions about here, is: when does it become an “affair?” What makes it an “affair?” Especially if nothing physical ever happens, I just have no idea where the line is between an opposite-sex friendship and an affair, and I don’t know where I would draw that line myself.

        • avatar David Bolton says:

          ” ‘when does it become an “affair?’ ”

          When it hurts.

          • avatar Lila says:

            David, agreed that spouses should not carry on in ways to hurt each other, but if this is what makes it an affair – that’s very subjective. As my own hubby said after thinking on this a bit, what hurts one person may be no big deal to another. If the difference of opinion is between spouses, that may be irreconcilable.

        • avatar TheTexasMom says:

          I think it’s an affair when you have to lie about it, continue the “relationship” when your spouse asks you not to and that other person becomes more important to you than your spouse. From there it’s only a slippery slope when Mr. Penis meets Ms. Vagina.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Lila, I do believe that the emotional affair begins when respect for one’s partner is lost, and one begins to view the “other’ as a person with romantic or sexual potential. Under these specifications I think you could include breach of trust, which might range from any kind of verbal or written communication willingly engaged in that contained romantic or sexual content to sexting (a horrible turn of phrase, but accurate enough), deception on a regular basis regarding the relationship (keeping it clandestine), denial of the relationship, a refusal to moderate, or end, the relationship if one has admitted to a romantic interest in the other, and immoderate reactions to anything that is discovered about the relationship by one’s partner.

          I also defined this with help from my husband, Rusty. Isn’t it interesting that both of us trust our partners to give us thoughtful responses? The wife in L#1 would meet my qualifications…she is infatuated with the “other”, she checks his love horoscope, she threatened to evict LW1 from his own home when he discovered empirical proof of her continued involvement, she refuses to end her relationship, she lies continually, and she has accepted communications of a romantic/sexual nature from her cyber-paramour. So, yes, I would say that this is an emotional affair. There have been several times that similar letters have appeared on Margo’s column when I have absolutely rejected the idea that an emotional affair was occurring, regardless of the roles of either gender.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Lila, I understand completely what you are saying. It is very possible for a woman or a man to have opposite sex friends while they are married. Rusty has had female friends, and I have had male friends. Neither of us objected. It’s a matter of trust, respect, and acceptance.

      We have each had same sex friends that the other intensely disliked. Not because of sexual attraction issues, but because of serious personality clashes. Neither prohibited the other from seeing these people…but the tension was there. It happens. And I am bisexual, and have female friends who are lesbians. We don’t flirt. I am married, and very monogamous. If a male or lesbian friend became seriously sexually interested, and made it obvious, we’d be having an equally serious discussion about my feelings about my relationship with Rusty and fidelity. If they simply wouldn’t back off, I might have to reassess the friendship…but not because he forced me to do it. I wouldn’t “take the bait”…but clearly LW1’s wife did. And that makes a big difference.

      You know me Lila…I’m not condemning your point of view. And I think LW1 should just skip the counseling and head straight to court. These two people are no longer compatible, if they ever were, and it’s better for their children to end it now. My parents, to our utter ruin, chose to stay together far too long. Never hold out for the kids’ sakes. A broken home is much better for children than being broken by the misery of living with two people who can’t respect, or even look at each other.

      However, in the case of L#1, I had a different impression than you did. It seemed to me that he discovered multiple texts when he discovered the comment about her lingerie (which is, in and of itself, relatively harmless). We don’t know just how inflammatory those texts might have been. She was completely in denial mode. I did not think that he protested too much regarding his phone outburst, in fact, he seemed ashamed of it…which led me to believe that it was atypical for him…not something she was anticipating. I usually am fairly sensitive to the tells that reveal a person who has intimidated his partner, and caused her to fear revealing her secrets…including friends…to him. I’ve had some bitter experience with that in the past. I just don’t see it here.

      The police clearly only warned him off calling the man again, and he willingly complied. I honestly don’t think that this is a man trying to control all of his wife’s friendships…male, female, gay or straight, or trying to control her life. The wife has stated that she is infatuated with the other man, and she insists on texting him on a regular, even very frequent basis, and lies about it. I don’t see scanning phone records as going behind her back…perhaps because Rusty and I have complete access to each other’s email, phones, bank accounts (unless we are planning a surprise, in which case we might request that these not be checked for a certain period of time). We don’t see it as intrusive…but then, we don’t have any need to inspect these things either. He can’t discuss this with her because she will go ballistic and give eviction another go. Who is controlling the situation?

      I am not berating the wife. What I object to so strongly is the clear assumption, based on nothing more than projection, that LW1 is somehow the one fully culpable in this situation by being abusive, controlling, not allowing her to have friends (that is certainly extrapolating further than the letter even remotely suggests), conducting unjustified surveillance, cheating her of a self-empowering life, and a macho, violent, bastard. All this from him stating that their marriage was already difficult (why does that have to be his fault? It usually takes two, and he placed absolutely no blame for that situation), and for him becoming angry, one, ***single*** time, and making one ill-considered phone call to the man whom he’d just discovered that his wife was, and still is, infatuated with. How that all equates to all of the vitriol and blame aimed at him bemuses me…isn’t she the one who claims to be infatuated, reads the object of her fantasy’s love horoscope, threatened her husband with eviction, keeps breaking her promises even while claiming to want to work on their marriage, and repeatedly returns to unabashedly texting him as if LW1 isn’t aware of her actions?

      • avatar Lila says:

        Briana, thanks for this reply. I knew you would understand the point of my what-ifs; just trying to explore the boundaries of what makes a friendship vs. what makes an affair. After much thought, discussing with hubby, and reading the opinions here, I guess the definition of what hurts varies, and it is essential that a couple agrees on THEIR definition of it.

        I suppose my impressions of the letter and my thoughts about why the woman behaves this way, come from seeing quite a few relationships where the male does try to isolate and control – and that is a form of abuse. A young 20-something friend has fallen into several of those, and it hasn’t been pretty. I also knew two female soldiers whose husbands made them miserable, suspecting something with every work relationship and never letting them socialize. Over-possessive. Those ended in divorce. On the opposite side, there were quite a few Army wives who suspected every female soldier of having designs on their husbands. I mean – that’s why you join the Army, right? To meet a man? (I can think of much easier ways to met men). I always thought that sort of jealousy came from a huge lack of trust in their own spouses, but this phenomenon made some working relationships really awkward, and some friendships impossible — and it just wasn’t necessary.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      LW simply has no evidence it is not a sexual affair. I have cheated and been cheated on. I have talked with other cheaters, swapped tips on how to cheat better and talked about how to deny.

      This woman is flicking the bean and moaning his name at the absolute LEAST.

      Let’s think of it from a different angle.. what man continues to text a woman without sexual involvement AFTER her husband has threatened him so badly he was a wimp and called the cops? Men are usually more sensible and step away from that kind of hot mess. This is a man either on a mission or who has already landed his mission and wishes to continue landing.

  19. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – I quit reading about 3/4 of the way through. Get a divorce already.

    LW2 – I hope it falls off. Creep.

  20. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#2 The only thing I have to add to all the comments here is that if you don’t tell your wife, she will end up reinfecting you anyway. Don’t see any way around telling the truth. You both need treatment — medical and counseling.

  21. avatar Brenna Fried says:

    Just to let you know, yes, there are creeps out there that knowingly infect other women/men. I myself am a survivor of rape (oral) and have just recently found out I was infected with herpes. 3 weeks after the attack i started getting sores in my mouth where my teeth had cut my cheek.I have had tests and am waiting on the results of weather its type 1 or type 2. My biggest fear is that I may have unknowingly infected my husband or children( ages8 and 6). I had originally been tested about 2 weeks ago and the initial test came back negative. But I found out yesterday that the day 14 test showed positive. My Dr started me on Acyclovir and now we wait to find out what type. People like this should be killed. There is no amount of counseling that is gonna make this “better” tho I am going. My husband has been informed and I am extremely hyper vigilant watching for the littlest sign of my kids having been infected. My husband and I are devastated. All other tests came back neg. but that is pointless at this point.
    LW#1 should be hanged. They used to kill men for less.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      As far as antiviral therapy—Valtrex is a godsend. And it’s available in generic now as well.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        By the way—I just looked up acyclovir (Zovirax). That’s what I was treated with for my initial outbreak, and it had virtually no effect. There’s better options on the market—do some research and good luck. Oh, and don’t bother with Abreva—it’s a complete waste of money.

        • avatar Fried says:

          Thank you for the input. I have no idea really where to go from here other than treatment. So your advice is very appreciated.

          • avatar Pinkie says:

            I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I hope you get the right treatment, and that you and your family can heal from all of this.

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            You’re very welcome. Some more advice…

            – Keep some of your drugs (Valtrex, etc) with you EVERYWHERE you go. The moment you feel an outbreak coming on—take them.
            – You CAN inadvertantly spread the virus to other parts of your body, particularly the genital area (yours or someone else’s). Be careful when you have an outbreak, and always wash your hands. Don’t share anything your mouth has touched (drinks, lip balm, face towels), and don’t kiss anyone until the outbreak goes away. Remember to be careful, but you don’t have to go overboard and wash everything with bleach.
            – If you feel an outbreak, put ice on the affected area for 20-30 minutes, and then leave it alone. The swelling won’t be nearly as bad (although it may look horrible for a day or so), and then it quickly heals. Again, Valtrex is the best product I’ve ever used—my outbreaks used to last 10-14-plus days, and now they last 3-4, most of which is healing time.
            – I’ve tried many of the home/homeopathic remedies, and none work (other than ice). There are certain foods I have to avoid now, because they will definitely make my outbreaks much more severe (these tend to be things high in arginine, an amino acid). So things like peanut butter, watermelon and OJ have had to go bye-bye.

            Good luck.

  22. avatar Miss Lee says:

    LTR 1, Make sure you have enough cash to continue to pay the mortgage and take care of your kids and see a good lawyer.  She will probably just get a ticket to where her gym buddy is.  Find someone who will love you and the kids.  My uncle, at 68 years old, announced that he was divorcing his wife of 40+ years.  She had “treated him like shit” for 30+ years and he wasn’t going to ruin the rest of his life.  He found a wonderful gal to hang around with.  So can you.

    Ltr 2 and all those herpes stories, In Texas, they have a saying “He needed killing”.  As for the lady who was hospitalized, I hope she got a good lawyer, a nice settlement and ruined his changes of doing it again to some innocent. 

  23. avatar Carib Island Girl says:

    I so agree with all those that say LW2 (and those like him) needs to be strung from the highest flagpole. A sleezebag cheater that wasn’t even smart enough to use a condom. Some of the stories here from the commenters are heartbreaking, David and Brenna, how awful for you. Taking people like LW2 out of the population serves to protect other innocents, they forfeit themselves the minute they knowingly infect someone else.

  24. avatar wendykh says:

    LW1 do not assume they are not meeting because of distance! Plenty of lovers travel via airlines. However, stop being a chump. She’s clearly not into you. Dump her.

    LW2: why is everyone assuming he’s still having sex with his wife?

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      Wendy – because he wrote in on how to hide it. And I think she would know something was up if this horndog suddenly stopped wanting sex.

  25. avatar J. Lovely says:

    LW#1-  If you are that miserable, serve her with divorce papers and get on with your live, no sense in making your kids suffer because the two of you cannot act like adults and are always doing stuff behind each other’s backs.  

    LW#2-  You are lower than scum.  I hope your wife finds out, takes you to the cleaners and leaves you flat broke.  Your STD will do the rest! 

  26. avatar MKE says:

    LW1- You sound slightly unhinged, slightly justified, and really ready to be out of this marriage. Its councelling or the highway in my opinion. otherwise, it sounds like you will only fester.

    LW2- You make me sick. I hope your wife finds out, I hope the doctor tells her in time to save her from your unfaithful disease, and I hope she finds someone infinately better than your sorry self after she’s rid of you. I hope karma b*tch slaps the sh*t out of you in every way possible.

    Oh, and its called a condom dumba$$. if you are going to cheat, at least wrap it up. (though hey, heres a thought, how about guys like you just don’t get married in the first place? its obviously not for you.)

  27. avatar Pinkie says:

    LW2: You are a selfish jackass and you should tell your wife what you’ve done. Hopefully, she’ll leave so you don’t risk her life anymore because of your thinking with your other brainless head.

    LW1: Look, your wife is emotionally gone already. Take the kids and make a life without her.