Dear Prudence

Help! My Husband Cheated—and Now the Woman Just Became His Co-Worker.

I want to believe that it really is coincidence, but I’m struggling.

Man leans over a woman working on a laptop with an image of two illustrated rings over their heads.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images Plus. 

Our advice columnists have heard it all over the years. Each Sunday, we dive into the Dear Prudie archives and share a selection of classic letters with our readers. Join Slate Plus for even more advice columns—your first month is only $1.

Dear Prudence,

My husband has a history of cheating. Last year I found conclusive proof that he had yearslong sexual relationships with two women and inappropriate relationships with several more. We separated for several months but never stopped sleeping together. He eventually moved back home. We have attended counseling. We are trying to make things work.

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Then a position opened up unexpectedly with my husband’s employer, and lo and behold, one of the women he carried on with was hired to work closely with him by sheer coincidence. It should be said that his inappropriate relationships and one of the two sexual affairs were with co-workers from previous jobs. I want to believe that it really is coincidence, but I’m struggling very much with that.

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This woman (along with my husband) undermined my family and shook my marriage to the core. Now they are partners. Do you think it is possible that they can really work together in a strictly business fashion? Should I just cut my losses? I should also mention we do have children together.

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Probably not, at least in your husband’s case. You say he has a history of cheating with multiple partners, and that you found out on your own, not because he decided to come clean with you.

If he’s demonstrated a willingness to be more honest with you (there’s not much evidence for it in your letter, but maybe you just didn’t have room to include it), and your marriage has otherwise been steadily improving, you might share your concerns and fears with him, and let him reassure you and demonstrate his newfound commitment to your relationship. Trust but verify; if he starts working late or broadcasting radio silence for unusual amounts of time, don’t be surprised if it’s because he’s cheating again. —Danny M. Lavery

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From: “Help! My Husband’s New Co-Worker Is His Old Mistress.” (Oct. 31, 2016)

Dear Prudence,

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I’ve been divorced for five years, raised a wonderful daughter who is in her fourth year of college, and started dating a wonderful man one year ago. Things were going great for me, my daughter and my relationship with “Tim.” Tim and I were set up by a mutual friend who is a professor at the college my daughter attends. My daughter took a class from him last year on my suggestion. While in that class she met and started dating a fellow classmate who decided to take the class because of a suggestion from his father. … Yep you guessed it! My daughter and I are dating a father and son. I feel like I am in a horribly-written daytime soap opera. My daughter had met my boyfriend early in our relationship but was only just recently invited to meet her boyfriend’s father—he is a widower of 10 years. She was in shock when she realized it was the same man, and I still am after finding out. I guess the question is what to do? Continue with our relationships? I feel like all four of us are getting serious and marriage has been talked about between both couples as well. Is it considered a major social scandal to have your daughter-in-law be your own daughter?

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You two couples should have a double wedding and instead of the Wedding March play, “I’m My Own Grandpa.” It would be amusing if your daughter and her husband became stepsiblings, etc. but it’s hardly a scandal. Both couples getting married would certainly solve the dilemma of deciding which in-law gets to see the kids at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The only red flag I see here is that your daughter and his son are a little young to be settling down. Many people do successfully marry their college sweethearts, but I don’t see why they would rush into it. Young marriage does put people at a higher risk of divorce. If your daughter comes to you for advice about getting married upon graduation, separate out what you say from your own concern about how good a stepson her boyfriend would be. —Emily Yoffe

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From: “Help! My Daughter Is Dating My Boyfriend’s Son.” (April 16, 2012)

Dear Prudence,

I’m in my late 40s, successful, and fairly attractive. I travel both domestically and internationally alone quite a bit. I try my best to cultivate a standoffish air, complete with big headphones, but that only seems to dissuade the polite guys who can take a hint. I end up getting hit on by men who are almost universally lacking in social decorum, to the point that I’m not interested in talking to them, much less letting them buy me a drink. I’m not big and I look young so it’s hard to appear physically intimidating. It’s very uncomfortable because no matter how polite I am they almost always pull attitude when I decline their offer. Since it happens most often when I’m traveling, sometimes we’re staying at the same hotel, sharing an exit row on the plane, or attending the same conference. I sometimes find myself hiding, checking the locks on my hotel room door, or not falling asleep on long flights. When I travel near home, I bring my German shepherds with me, which helps, but I get tired of making up imaginary boyfriends to keep these guys at bay. The two most recent instances actually involved the owners of the small hotels I was staying at—one said it was “cool” with his pregnant partner if he and I had a relationship (so completely not my thing)—and I’m too uncomfortable to go back again. The other followed me back to my cabin on a prior visit. Both places are isolated, without cell coverage.

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I want to enjoy my travel and not worry about creepy men. How do I best handle these situations? I work in tech and put up with this type of treatment day in, day out, and don’t really want to spend my free time dealing with it too. And please don’t think I’m being stuck-up about my appearance. This isn’t about how I look. It is about how entitled these men feel for the attention of any woman alone. Short of a mail-order husband or staying home, what is your advice? Before you think, “Boo-hoo, these aren’t real problems,” please consider how you’d feel, spending your hard-earned money on a vacation where you feel compelled to hide behind guard dogs or a locked door. —D.L.

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From: “Help! I Love to Travel—but I Hate Constantly Getting Hit on by Jerks.” (July 6, 2017)

Dear Prudence,

My husband and his first wife named their son Adam. Their Adam is 25 and lives across the country from us. Now we are having a son, and Adam is my late father’s name and grandfather’s name. I always wanted to name my son after my dad. My husband says I can’t do that because of his firstborn son, and he can’t have two sons named Adam. But mostly, because it would upset his ex-wife. I don’t think I should have to forgo naming my son after my dad because of this. We rarely see his older son, so I don’t see what the problem is. My husband got to pick the name for our daughter and it meant a lot to him. This means a lot to me. His son said it would be all right with him, but his ex is livid at the idea.

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Only three more sons to go—all named Adam—and your husband could tie George Foreman’s record for having sons who all share the same name. I hear from a lot of people who think other family members have “stolen” a name they wanted for their child. But while it doesn’t matter if cousins have the same name, it is bizarre to give more than one of your own children the same name. You husband already has a son named Adam. The older Adam may feel so disconnected (or is so laid back) that he says he doesn’t care that he could have a younger brother also named Adam. But your husband says he doesn’t want to give both his sons the same name. I agree the wishes of the ex-wife are completely irrelevant, but maybe your husband is trying to make her the heavy. You can honor your own family name by making Adam your son’s middle name. You could even flip your father’s first and middle names for your own son. I know Adam was the first man, but there have been many since them and you need to choose another name, because in your family, Adam is taken. —E.Y.

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From: “Help! Why Can’t I Give My Son the Same Name as My Husband’s Other Son? We Hardly See Him.” (Aug. 13, 2021)

More from Dear Prudence

My husband and I have been married for eight years. We’ve never been really happy, and we’ve been in and out of counseling a few times. I want to get a divorce, and I am working to get everything in order financially so I can leave. We don’t have kids, so that isn’t an issue. The problem is that I’m not financially ready yet to leave, and our anniversary is coming up. My husband thinks we should get matching tattoos to prove our commitment to each other. Obviously, I don’t want to do this. But how can I say no without telling him that I’m actually planning to leave him in about six months?

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