Life Beyond Therapy
Marriage ain’t always easy
Published Thursday, 12-Aug-2010 in issue 1181
Dear Michael:
I’ve noticed you give good advice to people in thorny situations, so here’s one for you: I went to a party and met this guy, “Tomas”. He was really cute and I liked him and we flirted and kissed and before I knew it we were at my house fucking like bunnies. Tomas and I got together twice more and it was great fun, but he wouldn’t plan ahead, he’d call me right before he came over and he couldn’t stay long.
Can you see what’s coming? Right, he’s married. His husband, “Ricardo”, doesn’t know Tomas is sleeping with me. Tomas told me that he and Ricardo have an agreement to have a monogamous marriage (yes, they’re legally married) because Ricardo doesn’t trust him. So now I am the “other” man, and I don’t like it. Tomas said that if he told Ricardo that he was sleeping with me, that Ricardo would divorce him.
What should I do? Keep sleeping with Tomas (it’s really good sex) knowing he’s lying to his husband? All this sneaking around is getting me down and I feel bad about this. Or should I just enjoy the great sex and say that this isn’t my problem?
Sleeping with someone’s husband
Dear Sleeping:
I’ve received several emails like this recently, and yours summarizes the essence of this situation quite nicely: whose problem is this anyway? Is it yours because you knowingly contribute to deceiving Ricardo? Or is it Tomas and Ricardo’s problem because Tomas lies to his husband about being monogamous?
If I were your therapist, I’d say it’s all about YOUR integrity. What matters is that you say you “feel bad about this” and “the sneaking around is getting me down”. Your integrity is speaking loud and clear. You said you and Tomas are having “really good sex”, but is it really? My definition of good sex is sex that leaves both (or all) people involved feeling good about themselves, each other and life in general. No matter how glowingly you portray it, sex with Tomas is not good sex because it’s dragging down your self-esteem.
Not all of this is your problem, however. A big piece of this is about Tomas and Ricardo, their integrity and that of their marriage. Your responsibility is to look at YOUR part of the picture and do what you think is right for you. Keep in mind, however, what the Buddhists say: it isn’t good karma to sleeping with and deceiving someone’s husband. How would you feel if you were in his shoes? Laugh if you will dear Readers, but eventually we all end up playing all the parts in life’s soap opera. And as we now have the right to be married (again), don’t think that these kinds of situations aren’t going to pop up all over our fair City.
From the point of view of this particular marriage: It sounds like Ricardo has good reason not to trust his husband (don’t you think Tomas has done this before?) and maybe Ricardo is really a great guy and Tomas is a manipulative tramp.
Let’s take this one step further and imagine that Ricardo emails me, asking for advice. If so, I’d ask him why he continues his relationship with Tomas if he knows or suspects that his husband is not honoring their agreement to be monogamous. Maybe Ricardo knows but pretends he doesn’t, and Tomas thinks Ricardo knows but thinks Ricardo doesn’t have the backbone to confront Tomas with his sleeping around. Marriage sure an be complicated, can’t it?
Is this too much for you Dear Reader? If so, ask yourself what you would do in this situation. To make it even more interesting, take this column to a party this weekend and ask each person in the room to say what they would do if they were (a) the letter writer, (b) Tomas, or (c) Ricardo. Since this scenario is more common than you may suspect (you should see my email), it may be a useful exercise. Who knows when any of us may find ourselves in these situations? You know, all that stuff about stones and glass houses…l

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