Q: My husband has cheated on me many, many times. I don’t think he’ll ever stop. I know I should leave him, but I can’t. I still love him! There is no one else I’d rather be with! So I’m wondering: will he ever stop cheating? Am I just wasting my time? How can I mend my broken marriage?—Please Make Him Stop
Dear Please Make Him Stop,
There’s one thing I can say about my husband with great certainty. He’s not a cheater. I’ve never once caught him checking out another woman. He doesn’t have female friends. He doesn’t flirt. It’s just not in his DNA.
Because of this, I found your question very tough to answer. Will your husband ever stop cheating? Perhaps, but probably only if you Bobbit him. (Please know that I am not suggesting this as a remedy to your problem.)
But what do I know? Really. This is out of my area of experience.
For a credible opinion on the matter, I turned to a friend who was once in your exact situation. Her first husband cheated on her repeatedly. She was a stay at home mom who raised three kids. He was a dad who wanted to do it with any woman but his wife.
I sent her your question. Here’s her advice:
You’ve already answered some of your own questions. You say, “He’s cheated on me numerous times.” You say, “I don’t think he’ll ever stop.” Go with your gut. You already know that staying with your husband any longer is just a waste of precious time. You deserve better treatment, a better relationship, and a better life. Your children will respect you more and have a better self esteem if they see that you will not allow yourself to be made unhappy and abused. Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse.
He is choosing to cheat on you. You might think this is about the other woman, that they hold some power over him. It’s not about the women, though. It’s about him. He’s choosing not to exert self control.
You say you love him. Can you love him with the cheating part of his personality? Because that’s who he is. My first husband had the same personality issues. At first, I was like you. I thought I could mend my marriage, I thought I could change myself so that he wouldn’t think these other women were so great. I have 3 kids, grown now, and I didn’t want my family to break up. I didn’t want to lose my dreams about the future that I had envisioned. But, after too long of a time I finally became so disgusted that I realized that anything would be better than living with a cheating, lying husband. I wanted my peace of mind back. I wanted my children to live in a peaceful atmosphere. I have never regretted filing for divorce. I do regret taking so long to do it.
See? She’s great. I think her advice is right on the money. The only thing I would add is this. I think your main problem is a lack of self esteem and self worth. You don’t realize that you deserve better. The day you realize that? You will become a powerful woman.
Do you have any advice for Please Make Him Stop? Leave a comment.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.