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Jewish World Review
Feb 17, 2012/ 24 Shevat, 5772
A married man who had an affair tells his story
I've retold some stories of infidelity in this space: Namely, there's Casey, a woman involved with a married man whose affair ended when, after his divorce, he cheated on her. Then there's the unrelated story of "Denise," whose marriage is in the process of healing from an affair that her husband had.
But I hadn't yet shared a story of a man who had been involved in an affair -- in this case, one who almost lost his decades-long marriage over it.
Meet "Mike." (Not his real name.) Mike wrote me a beautiful letter after he saw my most recent column on "Denise." I receive many such notes from people kindly sharing their stories with me, and I always appreciate them. But this one stood out. I asked if I could call him, and share with my readers some of his note to me. He agreed to both requests.
We talked for a long time. Mike told his wife about his affair when he became afraid she would find out on her own. In any event, he ended the affair, and he told me that he is more and more repentant as time goes on. But it's been less than a year since everything came out into the open. It's still so raw. He is worried about whether she can fully forgive him.
He wrote to me about what happened in the wake of his revelation to his wife. Excerpts of his text have been edited for clarity and brevity:
"We are going through counseling and are 'new' to each other. I was wrong. No ifs, ands or buts. Everything I did was my fault and all the blame needs to lie with me. There is no justification, period.
"I am consoled by only three things:
"1. A renewed faith. Jesus told the adulteress to go and sin no more.
"2. My wife has -- and I hope and pray permanently -- decided to persevere and hold our marriage together. I know she had a choice to make, and, fortunately for me, she didn't choose the worldly choice. She, too, understands that I had a similar choice to make. I never wanted this to unfold for me, her or our families.
"3. Lastly, we both understand that the people we were pre-affair are not the people we wanted to be or ever will be again."
Mike told me in his note, and in our conversation, that he and his wife realize that the dynamics of their marriage need to change. But, that he sees it as his choice alone to fail the marriage. His note had this advice for others:
"For the men and women who are in an affair now: Stop. For the men and women who are thinking of cheating, I suggest you search the Ten Commandments. I suggest you also search your heart for ways to serve your spouse, rather than be critical of them and selfish in your hard heart.
"And in my case, you (Betsy Hart) are right. We all married a flawed spouse. The question is: Are we man or woman enough to love, without ceasing, in the face of all odds against us, until death do us part?
"I failed and have seen the pain in the eyes and expressions of my wife, my children, our extended families. I have seen the disbelief in the faces of friends, colleagues and others.
"God has given me a second chance to hold this frail, young woman's heart in my hands. I will not fail again! She was God's gift to me, and I left her unopened and undiscovered until now. Our children were the gift God gave both of us.
"You can shout out to me in your next column regarding this issue; just call me 'another man who failed.' "
"Failed." Really? I don't think so. Thanks for sharing, Mike.
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