DearPeggy.com

Beyond Affairs
(The Vaughans' Personal Story)
by Peggy and James Vaughan

2010 Edition with Epilogue: Update 30 Years Later

Printed copies can be purchased at Amazon.com
To download free copy of PDF version, go to list of Free Books.

(Read Table of Contents and Chapter 1 below.)

This book tells the story of their personal experience in dealing with affairs during a much earlier period in their marriage. It was originally published in 1980, and this new 2010 edition includes an Epilogue: Update 30 Years Later. The book is written in diary form where James tells what he was thinking, feeling, and doing at a given period of time and Peggy tells what she was thinking, feeling, and doing at those same times. It's extremely frank, but can serve as a catalyst for couples in dealing with their own experiences in dealing with affairs.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword
Authors' Note
Chapter 1. What She Doesn't Know Can't Hurt Her
Chapter 2. Young and Innocent
Chapter 3. "When a Man Gets Excited Over a Woman, His Brain Moves Down Below His Waist."
Chapter 4. First, The Game
Chapter 5. It's OK to Have an Affair If...
Chapter 6. A Time of Transition
Chapter 7. Facing The Truth
Chapter 8. Open Marriage?
Chapter 9. Please Trust Me
Chapter 10. You're Not Alone
Epilogue:      Update 30 Years Later

Authors' Note

Affairs are usually conducted in secrecy and dealt with privately, if at all. Many people carry personal scars the rest of their lives, no matter which role they play—the person engaging in an affair, the partner who is left out, or the third party in the triangle. We've gained some understanding of our experience and of affairs in general by talking honestly with others involved in the same effort.

We wrote this book because we believe there's strength and support in knowing you're not alone. What happened to us has happened to many other couples—and could happen to anyone. In telling our story, we've tried to be as accurate as possible. Only the names and circumstances of others have been changed to protect their privacy.
                                                                  —Peggy and James Vaughan, 1980

About this 2010 Revised Edition
The first 10 chapters of this revised edition are the same as the original book published 30 years ago. But since many people have asked about what has happened in our marriage since that time, we decided to add an Epilogue to provide an update.
                                                                  —Peggy and James Vaughan, 2010

NOTICE: The following material is explicit and may evoke strong emotions.
Note that the events described in this chapter happened more than 40 years ago.

Chapter 1. What She Doesn't Know Can't Hurt Her

James:
The first time I had lunch in New York City with Peter, his lover, and a friend from Pittsburgh, I thought, "My god, this guy is crazy. He's having an affair and he doesn't care who knows." After greeting Jane with a kiss in the lobby of his office building, he introduced her as a friend. Everyone acted as if nothing unusual were happening, so I tried to act that way too. Inside, I was anything but calm. My thoughts were racing. "Holy shit! This is really happening. How do I deal with it?"

As it turned out, there was nothing for me to deal with. I thought they might feel a need to explain their situation to me and I might have to respond in some way. Far from it. They continued to act as if everything were perfectly normal. They obviously enjoyed each other's company and didn't seem to mind including me and my friend. As it became clear they were really at ease, I relaxed too. It turned out to be an enjoyable lunch.

I had known Peter casually for about four years, but this was a complete surprise. During the following year I had lunch with him and Jane six or eight times. For them it was practically a daily ritual. I continued to be flabbergasted at their blatant openness. I thought affairs were secretive, nighttime activities. Here they were—meeting, holding hands, and kissing in broad daylight. It was either the height of craziness or real class. At the time, I concluded it was class. Now, I think it was some of both.

After I got to know Peter better, I asked him some questions about his affair.

"I don't see how you can be so close to another woman and still live with your wife. Aren't you afraid you'll slip some night at home and call your wife by your lover's name?"

"Of course not. It just doesn't happen. I've had this relationship for five years. It's easy to keep them separate."

"What if your wife surprises you by showing up at your office for lunch some day just as you're meeting Jane?"

"We live in Connecticut and my wife hates to come into the city. Besides, she doesn't go in for surprises."

"Aren't you concerned about what the people in your office think about it?"

"No, why should I be? Most of them have something of their own going."

He seemed to have it all sorted out. His answers didn't satisfy me. They were too simple and pat. I didn't have the guts to ask him the question that puzzled me most: "How can you have an affair if you still love your wife?" That one kept echoing in the back of my head.

I didn't have to ask about his love for Jane. That was clear for anyone to see. Their eye contact, their touch, and their way of talking to each other conveyed lots of love. It was fun to be with them. I didn't know exactly why at the time, but I did know it was different. Despite the length of their relationship, there was still a sense of excitement and adventure between them. Each was getting a lot of what they wanted and needed out of the relationship without the nitty-gritty responsibilities that go with a marriage or other long-term commitment.

Peter, in his mid-forties, was well-situated financially and career-wise. Jane was about my age (twenty-nine), very attractive and personable. She worked and lived alone. Sometimes they would take a long lunch hour at her apartment. Sometimes they would spend the evening together when Peter supposedly worked late. Occasionally he would stay overnight with her in the company's Manhattan apartment when it wasn't being used by other company brass, and occasionally Jane would accompany him on a business trip. They seemed to do what suited them without placing a lot of demands on each other.

During the following months, I had many reactions to Peter and Jane. At first I was shocked and non-plussed. Then I was curious. The question kept gnawing at me—"How can he keep all that in place without messing up?" I suppose my most persistent reaction was fascination. It didn't fit with the way I thought you were supposed to live, but it looked exciting. It was too far out for me to picture myself doing it at that time. I think the best evidence of this is that I'd tell Peggy after each trip all about my visit with them—including how incredulous it seemed to me. She was amazed too. Something in both of us said it was wrong, but we were too intrigued to ignore or condemn them outright.

Peggy:
The things James told me about Peter and Jane were hard to imagine. James seemed to be moving in another world—one I couldn't fully understand. It scared me that he was changing so much. I felt a little better because he told me a lot about his trips. But his traveling was hard to take. Our kids were young—just three and one. Vicki was born in 1962, about the time James started traveling. By the time Andy came along in 1964, he was traveling quite a bit. I was home alone with the kids while he was traveling all over the world...and I missed him terribly. We hadn't been apart a single night during the first seven years of our marriage.

In May of 1966, James asked me to go to Europe with him on a business trip. I wanted to go, but I was concerned about leaving the kids. Also, we really couldn't afford it. On the other hand, we didn't know when we'd get another chance like this. James' sister agreed to keep the kids for us—so I went.

There was a good bit of flirting going on at the conference, but I hardly noticed it. I was too excited over the trip. Also, I was terribly naive. I thought it had nothing to do with me. I trusted James completely, thinking he believed as I did—that marriage had to be monogamous. In retrospect, I can see his attitudes were changing and there was a growing likelihood of his having an affair.

James:
I was surprised when Peggy didn't pay more attention to the flirting we saw at the conference. Two respected men in my field whose wives were back in the states were openly competing for the same woman. I had known both men for about four years and assumed they were happily married. I began to get the picture that having affairs was a lot more common than I'd suspected—and it certainly wasn't limited to a few immoral scoundrels. These were men of substance and character. I probably held them in as high esteem as anyone in my professional world. Because of my positive view of them, I found it difficult to see what they were doing as bad. I saw it as amusing instead.

Without consciously realizing it, I started to think in a way that makes it easy to justify having affairs. It's really quite simple. All you have to do is hold two contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time and deny that there's any possibility of your spouse finding out. Here's what it sounds like: "It's OK for a basically honest man to be dishonest with his wife as long as he doesn't get caught. After all, what she doesn't know can't hurt her."

This thinking set the stage for my entry into the world of affairs. I hesitate to use the phrase, "world of affairs." It seems too removed and unreal. The more I think about it, the more I see it as fitting. Most people who have affairs work hard to keep them separate and removed from the mainstream of their lives. In a sense they try to create two separate lives or worlds for themselves. Some, like Peter, are very smooth at moving back and forth between their two worlds. Most of us find it too complicated and eventually something has to give. At any rate, most people who've had an affair are familiar with that world.

I took my first step into it in September, 1966. I hadn't made a conscious decision to have an affair. In retrospect, I can see that the possibility had been building in me over the past three years. The travel, the direct exposure to others having affairs, and my indifference to Peggy brought about by my career involvement-all contributed something to my readiness. The annual convention of a professional association I belonged to combined all three of these elements. Like most conventions, they provided a fertile ground for getting into affairs. They were large gatherings (upwards of 5,000) and mostly male. They were always held in large convention cities, so there was plenty of opportunity for drinking and carousing. "Ya ha time! " There was a serious working side to the convention, but for many the prime purpose was to let down their hair and have some fun.

I began attending these in 1962 as a brand new assistant professor. I went to the daytime meetings religiously. It helped me justify in my own mind the way I joined in the pursuit of fun at night. I learned to drink with the best. I watched, wide-eyed, as some of the biggest names in my field pursued the few available women with a vengeance. At that time in my life it was the most natural thing in the world to join my colleagues in this annual ritual. It seemed like everyone was doing it.

The 1966 meeting in New York City was my fifth pilgrimage. I had learned to feel at ease with the night activities. I had not tried to pick up a woman, but I enjoyed watching others do it. I bar-hopped and went to strip shows as if I were a serious chaser. A Saturday night dance was another part of this annual ritual. I managed to feel OK about dancing with women there because it was a regular convention function. I could even tell Peggy about that with a clear conscience. This year's dance was typical—lots of guys and a few women. There was one major difference for me. I was ready. I didn't know it, but I was.

I began the evening as usual, having a drink and sizing up all the goings-on from the sidelines. I didn't have it in me to make any bold moves. As the evening wore on, it looked like all those that had gone before. People were pairing up and the crowd was dwindling. I was still watching. I found myself wishing I could pick up a woman—not having a clear idea what I would do with her. "Help" came in an unusual form. About 11:30 a friend stopped by on his way out and introduced the woman he had just picked up. She suggested I look up her friend, Lisa, who had come to the dance with her. Her quick appraisal of me was that Lisa and I would enjoy each other's company. That was all the encouragement I needed. She described Lisa as a good-looking blonde in a flowing red dress. I knew from the description I hadn't seen her earlier. I was instantly excited at such a definite possibility of picking up a woman.

I began making my way around the ballroom. About ten minutes later I spotted her talking to three guys. My pulse rate jumped about thirty counts. She was good-looking, but that wasn't the main cause of my excitement. I was about to take my first step into uncharted waters. I was thirty years old. Having married at nineteen after going steady for two years, I'd had no experience in picking up women. A part of me knew this was wrong, but another part wanted to do it. I moved toward her, not knowing what I would say or do. I must have retrieved this line out of an old movie.

"Lisa, I've been looking all over for you."

She took one look at me, put her hand on my arm, and said, "I'm glad you found me. I need a fresh drink."

When we had walked out of earshot of her three acquaintances, Lisa explained she was in need of being rescued. My heart was pounding like crazy. It took effort to keep my voice from shaking. I'm not even sure I succeeded. I told her about our friends hooking up and leaving me with her description. She seemed as pleased as I was that I had found her. To my surprise, she had not paired up with anyone. We danced one time and somehow I mustered the courage to take the next step.

"Why don't we stop by my hotel room for a nightcap?" It actually came out of my mouth.

"Sure. "

Time seemed to be speeded up. It was too simple. I don't know what I expected, but I wasn't ready for such a straightforward reply. I felt eerie and unreal as we walked out of the dance. I remember a vague concern that some of my friends might see me. At the same time, I hoped they would. Lisa was a very attractive catch.

Within thirty minutes we had walked the short distance to my hotel, found out a little about each other—including the fact that I was married and she was not—and had intercourse for the first time. It all happened so fast I could hardly believe it. I had never had intercourse with anyone but Peggy. I hadn't even kissed another woman romantically since I was seventeen. Excitement engulfed me. The normal anxiety I might have felt about doing something wrong and getting caught was submerged in the pleasure of the moment. I hadn't even had the presence of mind to ask Lisa if she had any protection. Luckily, she was on the pill.

After that first frantic screw, we relaxed and continued to get to know one another. Lisa was from the west coast. She was on her way to graduate school at a university near New York City. She was single and not involved in any kind of love relationship. In fact, she didn't even have any acquaintances at the new school she was about to enter. On my part, I told her I was happily married with two kids, that I taught organizational psychology at a university in Pittsburgh, had never before been with another woman outside my marriage, and felt very good about being with her. It was the truth. I was amazed at how good I felt. I hadn't been so excited since the first time I had intercourse with Peggy. And to my surprise, I didn't feel guilty. I had been concerned that I would. I now think it's likely that I did, but the positive feelings of excitement and pleasure just overwhelmed the guilt. I think Lisa's reaction was important. She was clearly relaxed and enjoying herself. If she had felt any guilt or regret, I think it would surely have triggered some of the same in me.

We spent the next three days together. In terms of sheer pleasure and excitement it was one of the best times I ever had. We didn't leave the hotel room until late on the second day. We ordered some food from room service and ate in the nude. We were thoroughly enjoying each other and it was pure luxury to be able to completely commit ourselves to it. We lost track of time as we talked, made love, napped, made love, and talked some more. It turned out we had lots of interests in common so we went easily from one topic to another.

Lisa had a very attractive figure and was comfortable with nudity, so I practically stayed turned on to her. She brought something else to our sex that I really liked—a playful attitude. I became aware for the first time how serious Peggy and I had become in our lovemaking. I'd always been quite satisfied with our sex life. I still was. But having something to compare it to, I could now see we were approaching it with a seriousness that was inhibiting to both of us. I think it was a reflection of our general attitude toward life. Having married at nineteen, we felt a strong need to show the world we were mature enough to handle it. Having kids intensified this feeling and added some real responsibilities to our relationship. Nobody ever called us irresponsible, but I think we overdid it. Along the way, we gave up too much of our capacity to play. I now know that wasn't necessary—especially in bed.

Lisa and I talked in depth about our pasts and things that were important to us at the time. She understood and accepted my commitment to Peggy and the kids. She was serious about getting a graduate degree and wasn't looking for a long-term relationship. I'd never disclosed so much of myself to another person in such a short time. Nor had I ever received that much from another person. I believe this part of my relationship with Lisa was just as significant for me as the sex. I know this sounds like one more rationalization for sex, but hear me out. Sex was the reason for starting the relationship. There's no doubt about that. But I was getting a bonus. I hadn't expected the level of intimacy and trust we developed. That was heady stuff. I felt a sense of freedom and personal potency that was new to me. It gave me additional ammunition to rationalize what I was doing.

"Anything this good for me that doesn't hurt Peggy or anyone else is bound to be OK. And as long as she doesn't know, how can she be hurt?" Later I would embellish this rationalization with the idea that my affairs were even benefiting Peggy by making me a better lover and generally giving me a positive outlook on life. I didn't see all this as rationalization then. I needed to feel OK about myself, so I believed it. Over the years I colluded with other men involved in affairs so we could all see ourselves as moral, trustworthy people. Now I see it was unstraight thinking, but you couldn't have made me see it then. My excitement was too high.

One of the interests Lisa and I discovered we had in common was tennis. On our third day together we went out to Forest Hills to watch some of the U.S. National Championships. I was concerned about running into someone I knew. I didn't know how I would handle it. I still felt funny being with someone else in that way, and I thought the chances of someone I knew seeing me were pretty high. This concern was the only indication of a feeling of guilt or wrongdoing I can remember. It was clear enough to get my attention but not strong enough to cause me to change what I was doing.

As we approached the entrance gate at Forest Hills we ran into Dan, a tennis-playing friend of mine from college days. I introduced Lisa as a friend. We chatted a few minutes, and he acted as if it were perfectly normal to see me with a beautiful blonde on my arm. This reassured me somewhat, but still the questions formed in my head. "What would he tell? Who would he tell? What were the possibilities of he and Peggy being together? Would it be better for me to contact him later and ask him point-blank not to mention seeing me to anyone?" I was calm on the outside, but my heart was racing.

I told Lisa about my anxieties. We couldn't help but laugh at the irony. Dan still lived in Jackson, Mississippi, where Peggy and I had developed our friendship with him. Jackson seemed a million miles away from New York City. I had not seen him in several years, but we still kept in touch. In talking through my concerns I concluded he was a pretty sophisticated guy and in all likelihood would not mention seeing us to anyone. My estimation was accurate. Peggy and I have been with him a number of times since then, and he's never even mentioned seeing me. I would learn later that most men can be trusted in this way, whether or not they have ever had an affair.

Lisa understood my concerns. She listened to them and never once showed any discomfort that I was having them. She never suggested that they were silly or that I should just forget them. She accepted me as I was—including my fears at the moment. She didn't try to change me or take care of me. She took things in stride. This was to be a very attractive characteristic she brought to our relationship.

I think this ability to accept was due to two factors. First, it was one of her basic personality strengths. She accepted herself and others in a similar way. She had obviously learned it long ago. It wasn't something she had to put effort into. Second, it was probably easier for her to accept whatever foibles she saw in me, knowing our relationship was only temporary, with a limited commitment. In marriage or any primary relationship, it's another story. Once we make a permanent commitment to another person, most of us immediately begin to form a "change" program to shape our partner into the beautiful person we want to live with. Our parents did it to us, so we know what the process is about. It's easy to justify because "it's for their own good."

The other temptation most of us succumb to in our permanent commitments is to try to take care of the feelings and emotions of our love partners—especially the upsetting ones. I don't think I know a single person who hasn't fallen into one or both of these traps in their primary relationship. I don't think it's inevitable or something that can't be changed. It's a result of the strong conditioning we receive as children to judge and evaluate—both ourselves and others—instead of to accept. It's so deeply ingrained that most of us simply accept it as the way things are. We don't realize we could learn to live differently.

Another factor which helped me keep my concerns at a low level was my general feeling of euphoria. Lisa and I were basking in the warm feelings of our new relationship. It was a beautiful, blue-sky day and life just looked too good to allow anything to interfere for long with our enjoyment. We drank in the sunshine and each other. There was excitement in our casual touch. The world looked and felt different. Lunch at a little sidewalk cafe was delicious—and the food was unimportant. Conversation came easily, but silences were also comfortable. It wasn't important to do anything. Just being together was enough. Strange as it may sound, a part of me was also pleased that we had bumped into Dan. I was scared of Peggy finding out, but I was proud that my friend had seen me with such a beautiful woman.

Lisa and I parted that first time with lots of mixed feelings. She seemed to feel as positive about our relationship as I did. So we both tried to be realistic about the future. The only trouble was, I didn't have a clear idea of what was realistic. I knew I wanted to see Lisa again. I knew I still loved Peggy as much as ever—maybe more. I also knew Lisa would be sought after by a lot of guys at school. I was afraid she would forget me in about a week. I didn't want that. I also thought it would be dumb for either of us to invest too much in the other. It just wasn't in our best self-interest. We talked about it and agreed to see each other again, but to control our emotional commitment and involvement. For two supposedly smart people, this was not so smart. It was a contradiction in terms. The control we were committing to in words just didn't fit with the excitement we were feeling inside.

On the plane back to Pittsburgh I had a weird kind of reverie. My mind seemed to race from one thought to another. Much of the time I felt like I was floating—like I could fly without the plane. I was still basking in that general euphoria. Then I would switch to concerns about Peggy finding out. I would go over details of the trip, trying to decide just how much to tell her so as to avoid any suspicion. I decided to tell her about bumping into Dan at the tennis matches. She could probably accept that; but if she found out later that we had met there and I hadn't told her, that would arouse her suspicion. Without being conscious of it, I started a strategy I would use consistently to keep Peggy from finding out—tell her as much detail as possible about my trips without giving her any information that would indict me.

Peggy generally accepted what I told her and didn't pry for other information. She knew I shared more with her than some of our friends who also traveled, so that lent some added credibility to my accounts of my whereabouts. I also decided not to lie in what I did tell her. It just didn't make sense to deliberately fabricate stories to mislead her. In the first place, I didn't think I could be a convincing liar. Secondly, the prospect of getting caught in a fabrication seemed an unnecessary complication in a lifestyle that was already complex enough.

The other awareness I remember feeling on the plane was, "Who can I tell?" I felt super. I wanted to tell the world. I felt a new enthusiasm for life. I was bursting with energy. And I know it sounds crazy, but I was bursting with love for Peggy. All in all, it was a most significant, surprising experience. The positive feelings were so strong, I completely ignored the possible negative consequences. It would be a long time before I would have the courage to face up to those.

Peggy:
I was eager for James to get back to show him the "new me." I had been dieting and changing my hairstyle while he was away. I didn't detect anything different when he first got home. He seemed to be as happy to see me as I was to see him. But a few days later there was a drastic change. He shut himself off from me emotionally and put a barrier between us.

One night soon after he got home we went to another couple's house for dinner. The other man worked with James and the four of us had been friends for quite awhile. On the way over to their house I snuggled up close to James as he drove.

"You really did miss me, didn't you," he kidded.

I gave his leg an extra squeeze and cuddled even closer. I was thinking how absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

When we arrived at our friends' house, James kissed the other woman hello. I felt a rush of anxiety. I didn't know what was wrong, but it was like a warning light going off in my head. We'd been married for eleven years and this was the first time he'd kissed another woman like that.

James:
My kissing Janet that night had no special significance in relation to her. I simply had a new, expansive outlook toward the world. I felt more warmth toward everyone...and I started expressing my feelings more directly—especially with female friends.

Peggy:
As soon as we left their house, I questioned James about this change in his behavior.

"Why did you kiss Janet tonight?"

"What do you mean?"

I repeated, "Why did you kiss her? You've never done that before."

"What's the matter with you? I don't have to have a reason to kiss her."

"But there must be a reason. You don't just start doing something like that out of the clear blue sky."

"Don't be ridiculous."

I didn't expect him to be so angry. He became cold and silent. The more distant he became, the more frightened I felt. By the time we got home, his kissing Janet was the least of my worries. What scared me was the feeling of rejection I was getting from him. I kept trying to get through to him after we got home.

"What's the matter? Why are you shutting me out?"

He just turned away and refused to talk. I began to feel desperate.

"Please don't turn away from me. I need you."

"It's late and I'm tired."

Something seemed to be terribly wrong. I couldn't understand the isolation I was feeling.

James:
In essence I was withdrawing from Peggy—putting distance between us by setting new boundaries around what I was willing to discuss with her. I wanted to avoid getting into any discussions which might even remotely relate to my affair with Lisa.

Peggy:
I thought if James wouldn't talk to me, maybe I could get close to him through sex. But when I tried to initiate some lovemaking, he said, "No you've been too dry the last couple of days and it's caused me some soreness."

James:
That was only partly true. More to the point, I was sore from my marathon lovemaking with Lisa. I seemed to be having some kind of reaction to her chemistry. The entire end of my penis was raw.

Peggy:
I'd never felt such total rejection. I started crying, but he just lay there with his back turned. He went to sleep and left me alone with my fears. As I lay there, my fear turned to panic. I felt alone and helpless. All this seemed like a nightmare. I'd made James my whole life, and now he seemed to be rejecting me—and I didn't even know why.

I'd cried so much my head was bursting. I went to the bathroom to get some aspirin—and wished desperately that I had some sleeping pills. I wanted to die. I made it through the night, but I was shaken by the intensity of my emotions. It shocked me to realize I hadn't even considered my children or what might happen to them. In the light of day I tried to make sense of my feelings. I could see that my desperation was caused by James' rejection of me when I tried to talk to him—not by the specific incident of his kissing Janet. That was just a symptom of the real problem.

James:
I wanted to keep my relationship with Lisa neatly separate from the rest of my life. I was determined not to let if affect my marriage. I was unrealistic. The very fact that I was intent on keeping it hidden from Peggy meant that some areas of conversation were more risky now. I didn't appreciate the impact this would have on her.

Peggy:
I could sense the invisible boundary he had set up to keep me at a distance—and I could only guess as to why. I didn't "know" he was having an affair, but I had a kind of "sinking feeling" that something bad was happening—and in a sense "knew" what it was without knowing for sure.

In later years when James was recalling the events of his first affair he placed the time as September, 1965.

I said, "Are you sure?"

"Well, I think so. I know it was at a convention in New York. "

"I think it had to be the meeting in September of 1966. That's when I sensed you moving away from me. I didn't know exactly what was happening at the time—but I knew it was critical."

"I guess that's right. Come to think of it, it would have been the 1966 convention."

The importance of this is not that I knew the date when James didn't, but that my sensing was so strong. I believe there are several ways to "know" something. Having facts and information is one way, and this emotional sensing is another. The intuitive feeling that your partner is having an affair can cause a great deal of pain. I believe many women "know" about affairs in this way and secretly suffer from the dilemma of what to do about it.

A lot of attention has been focused on the pain of discovering an affair, but very little on the pain of suspecting it. Only about twenty percent of the women whose husbands are having affairs ever find out for sure. That leaves eighty percent of us who supposedly don't know and therefore "can't be hurt." But we do hurt. It becomes a silent, creeping cancer that affects everything we do. It's always there—the fear, the anxiety, the uncertainty, and the enormous drain on our pride.

This pain is certainly not restricted to women, nor even to married couples. I am writing from the perspective of a married woman whose husband had affairs, because that's what I experienced. But the feelings I describe could apply to a man who suspects his wife of having an affair—or to either member of a couple who have a long-term commitment. The same is true for James' description of his experiences. It could apply to any person who is secretly having an affair. The thoughts and feelings we express are our own, but they represent an area of personal concern to almost anyone involved in a loving relationship.

Copyright © 1980, 2010 Peggy Vaughan and James Vaughan, Ph.D.

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