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Columns

April 7, 2012

When is cheating unforgivable?

I love jewelry. It is my strongest vanity. I have no interest in fashion or cars, but jewelry is my Achilles' heel. I often look at the gems my husband has given me and wonder how many hungry kids each could feed. Yet my collection grows. Sometimes I see a fancy piece in a store or catalog and question whether I would trade one of mine for it? No matter how big or pretty it might be, though, I know I would never swap my beautiful jewels because each holds a story.

For the first portion of my marriage, I worried a lot about other women. I didn't worry about my husband actually cheating. I just feared that he would meet some fabulous woman and wish that he had married her — like that commercial where the guy slaps his forehead and exclaims, "I could have had a V8!"

When my husband and I were first married, we had many arguments about golfing. Not the game, itself; just the time spent at it. During one of these exchanges, he said to me, "Well, I could be out in the bars chasing women." To which I replied, "Are those my only choices?"

In college, I knew a woman who had a long-distance boyfriend. I asked her how she dealt with wondering if he was being faithful. She said, "I used to worry about that. Then I realized I could only control what I was doing." She shrugged, "I just concentrate on keeping my side of the bargain. He's got to worry about his side."

I am not proud of the fact that I have often judged people who stayed with someone who had strayed. In fact, there were times when I viewed sexual cheating as the ultimate deal-breaker — as if it were the only hurt a partner could render. When my husband and I were first dating, I "casually" brought up the issue of monogamy: Did he think it was important? Solemnly (thankfully), he replied, "I think it's the only way." Placating me? Maybe, but I took it.

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