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The question

I've just found out my husband of 25 years cheated on me. His girlfriend's creepy husband pestered me by e-mail. My husband denied it, and I believed him. But when the creep sent me a picture of them kissing, my husband admitted to a three-year relationship. He says they had sex once and he stopped contacting her when I got cancer. I'd been busy getting a degree - not to mention raising our kids and keeping house. But my husband says I wasn't there while I went to school. And he won't go to counselling. Meanwhile, I'm thinking of running for office, but I'm afraid the creep will try to embarrass me. Why would people vote for a woman who didn't know her husband was cheating? I want to tell the party but I'm afraid of embarrassing my husband. Dave, why should I care about a cheater? Because I still do.

The answer

I feel for you. I imagine it'd be awful to find out you've been cheated on even once - let alone for three solid years.

But there are a few unsettling aspects to your question. For one, the lies. I mean, I know lies come with the turf when you're talking about adultery.

But your credulity regarding those lies is a bit of a red flag, too. Your husband tells you one whopper after another, lies as bald as Vin Diesel, and only confessed when confronted with photographic evidence of his malfeasance. But you still believe him when he tells you a nose-stretcher like they only had sex once over the course of a three-year affair?

And where's his remorse? Nowhere in your question does it mention him being sorry or promising not to do it again. Rather, it sounds like a) he kind of blames you and b) isn't willing to make even a minimal gesture in the direction of reparations.

Meanwhile, it's the mistress's hubby whom you call a "creep." Take a moment and consider that statement: You find your husband's girlfriend's husband "creepy." Anything seem odd about that?

And is one supposed to be moved that your husband (supposedly) broke it off when he found out you had cancer? Like: Aw, sniff, what a sensitive, caring two-timing scumbag?

I don't know. Maybe you've come to the wrong advice columnist. I'm very anti-cheating.

For example, my wife Pam has a policy: She would forgive me a one-night stand as long as a) it were just for lust, b) I never did it again and c) I was really, really sorry afterward.

When my married, male friends hear this, they're stunned. "Dude," they say, their eyes bugging out. "You have a pass for a one-night stand?"

"It's not a pass," I patiently explain to them. And even if it were, I wouldn't use it. I took a vow, for one thing. For another, I wouldn't want Pam to think she had a tit-for-tat counterpass. I mean, at this point, the thought of some random, nude dude slobbering all over her - well, it's kind of gross, apart from everything else. It's also upsetting in the extreme.

Yet you don't seem too exercised, emotionally, about your husband's indiscretion. If I were a shrink, I might be tempted to say you are in denial. Because your primary concern seems to be the effect it may have on your as-yet-unborn political career.

Granted, it's a valid worry. If you do run for office, you should be prepared to have all your dirty laundry aired and closet-skeletons rattled.

You hear a lot about how adultery affects the career of the adulterer himself - Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger. But rarely is there a discussion of how it affects the career of the cheated-upon spouse.

Suppose Maria Shriver were to run for office right now. How would she fare? (Personally, I think she could write her own ticket on the sympathy vote alone.)

Or if, unlike her, you don't throw the bum out? It didn't really seem to hurt Hillary Clinton much. She survived, even thrived, and I'm sure if you threw your hat in the political ring, so would you.

So I wouldn't worry so much about that. Me, I'd worry more about my marriage.

I'm sorry to harp on this. And I'm sorry if it makes me sound puritanical. But you know there's a high rate of recidivism among cheaters. These guys can be incorrigible: Now Brigitte Nielsen is saying she felt betrayed when Mr. Schwarzenegger announced he was marrying Ms. Shriver because Ms. Nielsen was having such a torrid affair with him at the time.

You almost have to laugh, if it weren't so sad. And I hate to say it, madam, but I predict that unless your husband shows more serious signs of remorse and fear of losing you, this will end in tears: yours.

You ask: "Dave, why should I care about a cheater?" Maybe what you should ask is: "Don't I think I can do better than a lying, cheating, unrepentant adulterer who blames me for his philandering?"

David Eddie is an author and the co-creator of the TV series The Yard , airing this summer on HBO Canada.

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