It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag to arrive and entertain you while you pretend to work.
As always, you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, anonymity guaranteed.
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Okay, here we go with the mailbag:
“I’m in my mid-30s and married for 13 years with 3 small kids, but about a month ago, I found out she’s been having an affair for the last 5 months. And to make it worse, it was with the husband of our really good friends we hang out with a lot. Essentially, her best friend’s husband. It’s absolutely crushing, and I’m at a total loss.
In my mind, I simply can’t make sense of it. I’m a believer and it’s taking every ounce of me to stay around. It’s only by the grace of God I’m still here. We’re in marriage counseling and as we’re learning to communicate better, but it’s an emotional roller coaster. The highs are high, but the lows are low. We know for women, it’s not about the sex, but for guys, it is. I’ve done enough reading to understand the why with women’s emotional needs and all that, but you still never expect your wife to resort to an affair rather just talking to you about it. I can’t seem to not think about this, ever. It’s truly a minute by minute battle to think of anything else. It’s on my mind constantly. Just thinking about another guy banging my wife is truly sickening.
I’m still in shock mode and can’t believe she did this. It’s like I don’t even know who my wife is anymore. But the more I’ve read about it, the more it seems to be much more prevalent than we realize. I love her more than anything in this world, but I’ve never wanted to bang someone while simultaneously punching them in the face at the same time. The struggle is real. We’ve even talked about if a separation would help until I can get some clarity in all of this, but I’ve never been so lost in my life. Any help would be much appreciated.”
First, you haven’t done anything wrong.
This was her choice, not yours.
I feel like people who get cheated on — especially if they get cheated on by someone they stay in a relationship with — blame themselves for the cheating. Don’t do that. This was her choice, not yours. As you said in your email, if she had an issue with your relationship, she could have talked with you, instead she went elsewhere.
I also think you’re correct, most women’s affairs are rooted in emotion, most men’s affairs are rooted in sex. But this can make recovering from an affair difficult since both sexes, usually, have different motivations for their cheating.
Second, if you weren’t married for double digit years with three young kids, I believe this is an easy situation, you just break up. (If you aren’t married with kids and someone cheats on you, I always tell people to break up. There are plenty of honest people out there, why stay with someone you know is dishonest?)
Third, it’s not like your wife cheated with someone who was a stranger to you, she cheated with her best friend’s husband. That’s a downright diabolical move; she simultaneously crushed the two people she was closest to in the entire world. And it went on for five months while you and her best friend were hanging out together, all none the wiser. That means a part of her had to enjoy the duplicity she’d wrought, the fact that no one knew her double life.
You feel awful, but imagine how awful this other woman feels too. Her best friend stole away her husband. This means your wife didn’t just cheat on you, she found out the way to cheat on you in the most devastating way possible. Your wife’s behavior is downright sociopathic.
(Side note, I once dated a girl in college whose dad cheated on her mom with her identical twin sister. That’s the most sociopathic move of all time. You should get the death penalty if you do this because you just can’t be trusted with anything at that point going forward. Can you imagine what that did to the family? YOU CHEATED WITH HER IDENTICAL TWIN?!)
So what do you do now?
No one can answer that question, but you. Certainly a guy with a website can’t tell you how to live the rest of your life based off a 200 word email.
But the first question you have to answer for your own peace of mind is — will this happen again? And the toughest thing is, no matter how well you think you know the answer to that question, you’ll never really know for sure. Before you caught her you believed she was entirely faithful, now you know she isn’t. Given that she’s trying to keep you from leaving, I’m sure she’s promising all sorts of things to you right now, but are they true? She probably doesn’t even know the truth herself, so it’s impossible for you to know if she’s being honest.
So the most difficult question — and the most important — is the most unanswerable. You can’t be certain this won’t happen again. And your uncertainty about whether this might happen again, probably makes you an incredibly distrustful partner. I almost feel like you need to demand insane levels of radical transparency — she always shares her location with you, you have the right to request her phone and see everything she’s texting to everyone — but the problem is this doesn’t create trust, it actually breeds more distrust. So I’m not sure how to handle the way you feel.
Second, what would divorce look like? You have three young kids. Would you be okay sharing custody with her and, potentially, with someone else she ends up with raising your kids? Can you afford a divorce? Even though she cheated on you and created the marital disunion, you may well have to pay her alimony, move into your own place, and try and figure out how to start over again as a single man with substantial financial constraints. Do you want this?
Third, you have young kids so you can’t tell them what happened. As devastating as the divorce would be, you’d also have to move out of your house and leave your kids (probably). You can’t tell them what precipitated the divorce — at least not for years – so your kids may blame you for walking out on them, even though your wife created the mess. That sucks too.
I try to give the best advice I can to everyone who writes into the anonymous mailbag, but this is such a difficult question you’ve asked, I don’t know what to tell you.
Given what your wife did, I would find it virtually impossible to ever trust her again.
But, and this might just be me, I’d be more focused on the kids than I would my wife or my own feelings.
I don’t think I’d ever trust my wife again no matter what she said, but I believe my love for my kids would be stronger than my hate for what my wife did would be. (But fortunately I’ve never had to deal with this decision).
Ultimately all I can say is good luck with your decision and reiterate, again, that you didn’t do anything wrong.
“My buddies accuse me of being gross and using my phone while pooping. They tried to argue that there’s then poop dust on your phone and they let their kids use their phones. I argued that it’s 2019, who really goes and sits on the can at work and doesn’t look at their phone?
What say you oh great and mighty arbiter? Am I in the wrong for using my phone while pooping or are they not up on the times?
(And yes, I typed this email out while pooping…)”
Man, I thought we needed a good poop question after how intense that opening question was.
I use my phone while pooping all the time.
Hell, I even check my phone while standing at a stall and urinating in a public bathroom.
I think the vast majority of people use their phones in the bathroom too.
These germaphobe friends of yours are being total pussies. You need to toughen your kids up early in life. They piss and poop all over you, why can’t you return the fecal favor every now and then? Don’t apologize for using your phones in the bathroom.
(You should have also immediately told them they were being bad parents for letting their kids use their phones. Show some parental restraint and get the devices out of your kid’s hands. Note: I’m saying this while both of my two oldest kids are on their iPads playing the new Madden).
I’m team phone poop and I don’t even care who knows it.
“My wife and I have been married going on 15 years. We have a fairly good sex life and I wanted to try and spice things up so I ordered a vibrator the other day online. To my surprise this particular site had three free glass dildos that came along with the order. I’m not sure we needed 4 of them but hey you can’t beat free stuff.
Fast forward and I get a call at work from my wife who is beyond pissed. My eight year old found the package on the front step and decided to open it up, wam..not one, two, three, but four strange objects all shaped like big pee pees.
She wanted to know what to say to him, I told her to just tell him it must be a joke for Halloween and delivered to the wrong address. I’m still embarrassed and can’t help but nervously laugh while writing this. What would you have done in this situation?”
If you hate your mother-in-law this is a great time to say, “Those are for grandma.”
(I also love the idea, just for comedic purposes, of sitting down your eight year old and telling him or her the honest truth. “Well, your mom likes to put objects in her vagina that are shaped like penises. This allows her to achieve sexual gratification thanks to the vigorous stimulation of her clitoris. This is called masturbation. Only moms do this, dads would never think of touching their genitals other than for peeing. That’s gross.”)
More seriously, my parents got a back massager when my sister and I were young. It really was a back massager, but, I swear to god, they called it a vibrator. And everyone in the family would use it and we were going to day care talking about how we used the new vibrator on each other.
This was in like 1987 or 1988 so I don’t know if vibrators hadn’t entered the lexicon as sex toys yet or if my parents were just clueless, but it’s a wonder we didn’t get a visit from child services.
I bring this up to contemplate how hysterical it would be if your eight year old goes to school or day care and tells everyone that a package of penises came to the house recently.
Regardless, your excuse was a good one.
If I’d had to come up with a story on the spot, I might have gone with those are solar lights for the garden. You can argue they’re shaped a little bit like penises because, like trees, they have to rise up into the sky to get light. After all, a penis is just a tree without branches. (And the glass dildos do kind of look like they could be solar lights, right?) The problem with this solution is it requires you to put glass dildos out in your garden and then claim they aren’t working when it gets to nighttime and you can’t seem them any more.
But then you can make a big show of saying you’re returning them. (And you have to hope your kids never find them in the house again).
But that might still be a better solution than yours, which is that someone was buying penis-shaped objects for Halloween as a prank. An inquisitive kid will immediately cross examine you on why someone would be ordering these objects at all. They might also question you as to how these objects were sent to your house with your name and address on the label.
In other words, I think they could call you out on your lies if they’re very inquisitive at all.
That’s why a well placed, “Those are for grandma, she asked us to hold them for her,” is just absolutely golden.
“I’m a 23 year old bachelor who travels about 50% of the time for work. I’ve known this woman for around 5 years; we met at an SEC school and we’ve been friends ever since.
We both moved away from our college town for our careers and I just got relocated to her city not too long ago.
We reconnect and have been going on dates for several months now. She invites me to meet her family around week 6 into this, and she met mine when they traveled into town shortly after that (upon her request). Fast forward a little and we decide to take a spur of the moment trip to Florida for an extended weekend vacation (Thanks, 30A!). We have a great time overall, but on the last night she sits me down and explains she thinks we’ve been going way too fast and wants to slow down/possibly quit dating altogether.
By the way, I have let her control the pace of the relationship completely.
After talking for a while I go to take shower and when I come back, I unexpectedly find her fully nude and in the mood. Thinking I’m not going to date this woman, I might as well get a great night out of this. We have a great night with little sleep. However, mid-sex she decides to tell me how amazing I am and how “I could love you.”
Upon arrival back home and our normal schedules, she proceeds to ask me on dates and invite me to events with her family. Now at these events, we don’t even remotely act like we’re a couple…but I’m very confused and unsure of what’s going on. I have extremely strong feelings for this woman and don’t know if I should get over it/proclaim my love for her. Any advice would be appreciated.”
There are two options here: she’s either crazy or she’s trying to get you to confess how much you like her.
It’s possible both are true.
Let’s take the non-crazy angle first. It seems pretty clear by what you describe that she wants you to take the lead here and proclaim how much you like her. I’m not sure why she wants this for certain — probably she has been hurt by another man (or men) that she proclaimed her love for too soon. So this way she’s trying to protect herself by having you proclaim your love (or deep interest in a relationship) with her.
Her suggestion that things were moving too fast was an opportunity for you to allay those concerns for her. When you didn’t respond as she’d hoped, she realized she may have overplayed her hand, so she panicked and while you were in the shower decided she’d draw you back in with sex. By drawing you back in with sex she then gave you another opportunity to tell her how much you liked her — mid-sex, no less — but you passed again, meaning she has now decided to keep you close, but not go over the top in her expressions of interest in you because she’s afraid of getting hurt again.
While all of her behavior may seem contradictory, it’s all motivated by the same desire — you telling her how much you like her.
(There are women reading these last three paragraphs right now thinking to themselves, “Damn, how is Clay Travis so good at this?” It’s a gift, what can I say? I speak woman. I’m also rich with great hair. It’s a shame I’m taken, I know. For all the guys reading this, instead of assuming a girl is crazy, try to get her in mind and find out what intent she could have if emotion was dictating your actions instead of logic. Boom, most of the time there’s your answer).
So I think this is what’s going on with her, she wants you to tell her how much you like her, but she’s afraid of letting you know how much she likes you. Hence the contradictory behavior she’s displaying, which may appear crazy to you.
Now back to the crazy angle.
I’ve laid out a rational — at least in her mind — logic for her behavior. It’s also possible she’s just immature and a bit crazy. In which case she might enjoy collecting men who have interest in her and then discarding them once she knows they have an interest in her. That is, she may like the chase more than the result of the chase. In this scenario she doesn’t really want you, she just wants to know she could have you if she did want you.
The problem with that logic is you’re already sleeping with her, so what’s her payoff for this? She’s basically screaming, “I’M GOING TO LET YOU HAVE NO STRINGS ATTACHED SEX WITH ME, BUT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL I ALLOW YOU TO COMMIT TO A RELATIONSHIP WITH ME!”
Every man reading this right now is like, that sounds like heaven.
So I don’t think that’s her motivation here, I think she wants you to express your love for her.
But here’s my advice to you, you’re 23.
TWENTY-THREE! (In Taylor Swift voice).
Why are you in a rush to do anything? You have a job that has you on the road 50% of the time. You should be chasing girls in multiple cities, swiping Tender like crazy, sowing your wild oats.
If this girl is the right one for you, it will eventually work itself out. (She wants you to tell her you really like her and so far you haven’t because she’s giving you signals that seem to conflict). If she isn’t the right girl, so what, eventually you’ll find someone who is.
Did I mention you’re 23?
No man should get married before he’s thirty.
We’re just not mature enough for it.
Have fun and good luck.
“I’m a football fanatic and my girlfriend is whatever the opposite of that is. I love her very much, she sits through all these games despite having zero interest. So this year she approaches me and says it’s my job to make her interested in football. So what’s my play? Do I create a drinking game? Do I get her into gambling? Figured fantasy football would be too much of a stretch since she currently knows zero players and struggles with the rules of football alone.
What’s the move, Clay?”
First, pick a favorite team. Most people experience football via a rooting interest. The two of you need to share a fandom. That gives her a rooting interest in at least one game a week.
Second, you have to teach her the basics of the game. I don’t mean the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3 or man vs. zone defense, I mean help her learn the basic rules — four downs to get ten yards, who the quarterbacks are — so she feels like she can converse in a semi-intelligent way about the game without getting exposed.
Third, I think you pull out your iPad and give her the basics of fantasy football, so she understands why you’re rooting for the guys you are rooting for. This way she has a rooting interest.
Fourth, I think you introduce gambling to her, parlays in particular. If the line seems too complicated, you can just pick winners and do a moneyline parlay. (Lots of people have trouble understanding, for instance, what -6.5 or +6.5 means).
I think as sports gambling becomes legal there will be a huge market for casual women sports gamblers. Right now sports gambling is like 99% male, but I think that will evolve a bit when gambling is officially legal pretty much everywhere.
You know how every Super Bowl women buy those squares and get obsessed with winning the point total raffle? It’s because just about everyone loves the idea of putting down a small amount with the chance to win a large amount. The same thing is true of filling out an NCAA Tourney bracket.
So I think you should bet a college football Saturday or NFL Sunday slate with her and give her something to root for from a gambling perspective. (Don’t let her know how much you actually bet if you’re just dating. And, god forbid, never tell your wife how much you’re actually betting. You want to stay married, don’t you?)
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