I’m a married mother of two who just discovered that my husband of five years has been cheating on me since I got pregnant. We have a 4-year-old son, so you do the math. I thought my husband had a low sex drive. Now I realize he was saving himself for every floozy in town. I saw a couple of his mistresses’ pictures when I hacked into his e-mail and they’re both the flashy, stripper type. That’s insulting. I may not be Elin Woods, but I’m definitely a MILF (just apparently not to my husband). Why did he go for bimbos when he had a real woman at home?
Signed, Mrs. MILF
Dear Mrs. MILF,
I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s infidelity, but don’t blame yourself. Your husband obviously has deep-seated issues that would exist regardless of your beauty — just ask Elin Woods.
You’re not the first woman to tell me that her husband began cheating when she got pregnant. Only your husband can tell you “why” he cheated, but I have a couple of theories why men cheat during pregnancy. I believe some men feel overwhelmed by the impending responsibility of a child, so they cheat to sabotage their family — the source of their anxiety. Other men site “lack of attention” as their motive for infidelity.
And then there are the men who have a Madonna/Whore complex. No, I’m not referring to the pop star. The Madonna/Whore complex originates from cultural/religious roots and is most common among, yet not exclusive to, Christian and Catholic men. A man with this issue is fine while he’s dating, but once he marries a woman and she has his children, he loses all sexual desire for her. He doesn’t lose interest because he’s not attracted to his wife, but because she’s become sacred to him. He puts her on a pedestal and reveres her as the mother of his children. He then seeks “less respectable” women to fulfill his base, sexual desires.
No matter what your husband’s issues may be, there’s no excuse for cheating. He would need to apply himself to an aggressive therapy program in order to significantly change his behavior. If you decide to stay with him, I would suggest couple’s counseling, in addition to your husband’s individual therapy regimen. If you decide to leave, take time to heal before dating again to avoid attracting another womanizer.
I know you usually deal with romantic relationships, but I have a family situation. My mom orders me around and expects me to cater to her every whim, with no regard for my own busy schedule. The other day, I said “no” to her for the first time in my life. Now she ignores me when I see her. My sister says I should apologize for snapping at her and hurting her feelings, but I don’t have time to be her slave. Besides, my mom has used rude tones and hurt my feelings numerous times and she’s never apologized to me. Is my sister right? Do I have to apologize for standing up for myself?
Signed, Bad Daughter?
You don’t have to apologize to your mom for saying, “no” and you don’t have to run all her errands. However, this may be a case of, “It’s not what you said, but how you said it.” For people who tend to give and do too much, there’s a tendency to build up resentment. Is it possible that your resentment built to the point of frustration, causing you to say, “no” a little firmer than you intended? If so, it’s completely understandable, however, next time practice saying “no” before you get to the point of exasperation.
In the meantime, apologize to your mother for using a hurtful tone. This is your opportunity to be a role model to your mother by treating her the way you’d like her to treat you. If your mom attempts to guilt-trip you into running errands, stay strong. If she’s hurt by your new, healthy boundaries, allow her time to adjust. How she chooses to feel when you say no is not your responsibility. Practice letting go of that guilt. You don’t have control of her feelings, only your own.
My trademark slogan, “don’t help a man be a man” can be applied to many situations, including relationships with friends, lovers, family members and even co-workers. It’s the principle that you should never try to fix, save or change another adult. You can be supportive, encouraging, and nurturing with others, but not at the expense of your own mental/emotional well being. In this case, “don’t help a mom be a mom.”
Your mom may go through a transition period when you first set healthy boundaries, but the more consistent you remain, the greater the chance that you will inspire her to meet you half way in a more enriching relationship.
Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice Beach. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.