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My Much Younger Wife Is Flirting With Other Men 

Dear Athena,

I am in my seventies. My wife of 20 years is 56 and very beautiful, looking much younger than her age. Last night, we went to a bar and, at her suggestion, took along two other men whom we knew only slightly. The younger of the two, age 29, behaved himself. However, on the drive home, my wife was in the back seat with the older man, in his fifties. I could see in the rearview mirror that they were very close and even kissing.

Later, I confronted her and she would only admit that the man had kissed her once. I saw more kissing than that, and I also saw a lot of movement — the ride went on for a good half hour. I will never get the kissing out of my mind.

I know I am older, but most people take me to be in my sixties — I am good-looking, and my hair has never turned white.

Months before this, I caught my wife having filthy correspondence with another man on a website. She denied it, but I have the records. It was very difficult for me to get over. We have no children. I told her I was going to divorce her, and she said, at first, "Go ahead." Later, however, she talked about the incident, denying again that it was more than a single kiss. No way. I think I have to divorce her. What is your advice?


Old But Not Out of It

Dear Old But Not Out Of It,

What a betrayal! Your wife broke your trust right under your nose, and now she's trying to deceive you even more. What she did was wrong, and you don't need me to say it.

While my heart wants you to make a clean break and say, "So long, sweetheart," my head knows it's not that easy to end a 20-year marriage. But you do need to get some space ASAP. No matter what she says to sway you to stay, time apart is the only way you'll have the strength and clarity to know what to do next.

Cheating can be a deal breaker — but many couples manage to get past it and grow from the experience. Couples therapy is a great place to start. If you hope to survive this, seek professional guidance to right the wrongs, and trace your relationship back to when it started to break down. It doesn't usually start with cheating; infidelity is more often a by-product of a relationship that's been off track for some time.

If you do decide to end it, know this: No matter what she says, your age is not to blame for what's happened. You're never too old for a relationship, companionship or friendship. You can find someone who appreciates you at this stage of your life, who will love, respect and honor you no matter how many candles are on your next birthday cake.



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