Affair-Proof Your Marriage
See what viewers had to say about the last show.
Marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman, author of The Truth About Cheating, is back to answer the many questions raised after his last appearance.
Gary says he's heard from thousands of women who read the book and said it inspired powerful changes in their marriages. But one misperception Gary wants to clear up is that he didn't write the book to blame women for their husbands' behavior. "I think for the women who are very uncomfortable, there's a few things they have to understand," he says. "There is another book that I've begun to research about why women cheat and how you, the husband, can prevent that. That is coming. So we'll have men one day angry, angry, angry about blaming them."
Gary also says he's never let men completely off the hook—in his book Emotional Infidelity, Gary says he took men to task on their responsibility to not cheat. "[The Truth About Cheating] is about empowering women," Gary says. "It's not about making your man happy and pleasing him. It's about you bringing out the best in your husband so that you get a lot of love and affection—what you want from this marriage."
David says something clicked as he watched the first cheating show with Gary. "I heard you talking, and all the questions that she has of me as to why, every answer I gave her didn't seem to resonate or register and it just kind of triggered more questions ... All of a sudden, I'm watching this and I'm going, 'Oh, my gosh. That's it,'" David says.
David says he called Patti and told her to turn on the show, but she says Gary's advice only made her feel worse because her husband had already cheated. "It is what it is, and it hurts," she says. "I felt sick. I felt like I was already wearing this heavy cloak and you just poured water on it, and I just felt like I was already down and that beat me up a little bit more."
"That's understandable," Gary says. "And you can change it, though, going forward. You don't have to feel powerless and feel like you're going to be victimized again by having a closer connection. He's got a lot to do, a lot of responsibility to make tremendous change for you to even consider making yourself vulnerable to him again. But if he can do that, then you can meet him and you can blend together and create a relationship much better than you ever had before."
The conversation helped both Aubrey and her husband finally communicate. "I started out by saying that I was aware now that I was not showing him any appreciation for the things that he does that are just expected of him," she says. "That opened it up so that he could say to me, 'Yes, you're right. I haven't felt appreciated' ... He's saying, 'Yeah, I was feeling vulnerable to that kind of a temptation because things haven't been good and we haven't been connecting the way that I want us to.'"
Now, Aubrey says they're committed to strengthening their relationship. "He's out of town right now, so we've just been talking on the phone," she says. "But already I have just been able to talk to him about a lot more, and he says that it helped him to focus on me even though he's not right here with me and staying good to me while he's gone."
Gary says how Aubrey approached her husband is a great example to follow. "Start the conversation—not as a blaming—but [say], 'You know, it's not working. We're distant. Let's get it together,'" Gary says.
After the show aired, we received an e-mail from Katherine. "Dear Oprah and Gary: My husband and I watched the show together, and it inspired him to finally tell me the truth about everything, as long as I promised not to go on The Oprah Show again," Katherine writes. "My suspicions were correct. I wasn't crazy. A huge burden was lifted. I got my wish for the truth. But now I'm feeling a sense of freedom mixed with anger, betrayal, disgust and hurt. My husband unraveled the tangled mess of lies he's weaved over the last 15 years."
Katherine went on to write that her husband, Mark, wanted Gary's help in repairing their relationship. "He really told everything, and he really started to get in touch with his bad behavior," Gary says. "The root of what was going on with him."
Mark agreed to talk to Gary and Oprah—but off-camera and with his voice disguised.
Mark says he started cybersex relationships in college, long before technology like webcams and audio. "In talking to Gary, it was kind of an epiphany moment of mine when we were talking about my relationship and the fact that I really don't have relationships with any of the others in my life. And I don't have much for friends, and so Gary was keen to point out that [I] have an issue with relationships. And it got me thinking a lot about my behavior and why I would do this."
Gary says Mark's cybersex was not significantly different from having an affair. "It's not just about having sex; it's about emotional attachments. It's about showing your private self to others. It's about going to another person for what you should be holding personal for your wife," he says. "And continuing to put your energy somewhere else draws you that much more away and [makes it] harder to get back to your spouse."
When searching for a company to give the test, Gary suggests you consult the American Polygraph Association. "Make sure the person is licensed, insured and a member of that organization," he says. "Even though they're not admissible in court, they're 95 to 98 percent accurate. There are a lot of court prosecutors who will make a decision whether to prosecute or not based on a polygraph test, even though it's not used for court. They are much more sound than people tend to think."
Last summer, Jennifer discovered e-mails from another woman to her husband, Bryan, which she considered inappropriate and evidence that the woman was pursuing him. After an argument, Bryan agreed to end his communication with the woman.
But in January, Jennifer got a phone call from a man she assumed was the other woman's husband. And she learned Bryan had met up with the other woman while he was on business in Florida—where he and the woman both grew up. Bryan denies ever having any sexual contact with the other woman, but Jennifer remains skeptical. "In my head I'm thinking, 'You've lied to me every step of the way,'" she says. "'Why wouldn't you lie about this piece of it?'"
Bryan agreed to take a lie detector test.
1. Did you ever have sexual intercourse with the other woman while you were married to your wife?
2. Did you or the other woman ever perform oral sex on each other while you were married to your wife?
Bryan answered no to both questions, which the lie detector says is true.
3. Are you still in communication with the other woman?
Bryan said no. "According to the lie detector, Bryan had slight inconsistent physiological reactions, but there were initial indications of truthfulness," Oprah says. "Bryan told the examiner that the other woman had initiated one-way communication via e-mails and phone calls, but you did not respond."
4. Did you ever kiss the other woman on the lips while married to your wife?
Bryan answered no again. "According to the lie detector, there was a presence of inconsistent physiological reactions and the result was inconclusive," Oprah says. "Bryan told the examiner, 'I cannot remember 100 percent if the other woman had kissed me on the cheek while at the Orlando Airport, but no kissing on the lips ever took place.'"
Jennifer is relieved to get these results. "What happened wasn't good—that he saw her without me knowing about it, and he hid that for so many months. But it's good news that it didn't go beyond that," she says. "I've invested so much energy into worrying about what really happened. Now I can focus maybe on other things."
Gary says this is exactly what the test is meant to do. "She doesn't have to be investigating anymore and use all that mental energy to worry about what's happened," he says. "She moves forward now."
And while Bryan's agreeing to take the test is a good sign that he didn't cheat, Gary says the fact that Jennifer was compelled to ask shows there are things they need to work through. "The two of you now need to go forward and talk about your friendship and your time together," he says.
Timing is important. "You don't go to a person who's just found out [her] husband's cheating and start telling her about what [she] could have done different," he says. "It's like me walking into a hospital room with somebody who had a heart attack and saying, 'Well, if you would have exercised a few days a week...' I mean, good idea maybe, but not the right timing."
1. According to Gary's research, appreciation is the number one way to prevent infidelity. "That's what the men reported," he says. "Men were saying that what they received from the other woman most, first and foremost in their mind, was a sense of appreciation and admiration."
When you recognize your husband's efforts, Gary says you'll get the same in return. "It's lovely to think that we should appreciate our spouses. Love them, not just for the things that they do extra, but for all the hard work that we do," he says. "The more that you give that appreciation, it will return to you."
2. The second way to stay connected to your spouse is to have more sex and embrace intimacy. "This is about how you can get much more pleasure from sex. A lot of women, I think, don't enjoy sex as much because they have difficulty receiving pleasure. Men are much better at that," Gary says. "You have to get better at receiving and taking kindness and pleasure for yourself."
3. The third thing to remember is that you have the right to have a conversation about cheating. Gary's research shows that 77 percent of cheaters said they had best friends who cheated, compared with less than 50 percent of the faithful group.
Instead of forbidding your husband from seeing his friends, Gary says you should be able to have an open conversation about where they're going. "A nice way to say to your husband some of these things is, 'Look, if my best friend was a cheater, and I told you that I was going away to Vegas with her on a girls' weekend, I would hope you'd have something to say about it,'" he says.
A good way to open up lines of communication is to go on one date a week, Gary says. However, there are a few rules you must follow while on the date. "[There are] three things you can't talk about—money, business and kids," he says. "It's not what got you here. Talk about fun, friendly things."
Patti says she needs more information from David before she can let her guard down again. "I don't think that trust can be regained just by showing me his flight itinerary now. I think he has to go back, and there's a bunch of gaps that I need to have filled in," she says. "I read an article where somebody said, 'Where there is mystery, your mind goes to the darkest places.'"
Gary says David needs to fill in the gaps on his own accord and express sincere sadness and remorse. Sexual details, however, are better left unsaid. "I know people obviously, instinctually want to know about it, but it never helps. It just makes it harder for you to get past that image," Gary says. "But, 'Do you love her? Are you still in contact with her?'...all that has to be explored. You have to get the right answers to that."
Did Gary let the men off the hook again? The conversation continues exclusively online. Watch the After the Show video.
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