- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I've cheated at least 10 times on my wife. Each time, I've apologized and she accepts me back. I am always very remorseful, and I really regret what I have done. I guess it's been too easy for me to step out on my wife because she has never given me an ultimatum.

I'm happy she forgives me, and I always say I won't do it again. I know I've faltered over and over and I should be ashamed of myself. To make it up to my wife, I go out and make large purchases to show her how much I love her. It started out with expensive items: cars, cruises and one house after another.

A little over a year ago, I purchased an even bigger home - more than 5,000 square feet. I'm embarrassed to say that I can't afford to pay for it. I've used up most of my savings making these large purchases to make up for my indiscretions. I've missed two mortgage payments.

All of this has happened because again I was trying to say I'm sorry to my wife for all of the wrong I've done. How can I tell my wife our home will be foreclosed? I'll be in the doghouse again. All I wanted her to do was forgive me.

- In-debt-edness

Dear In Debt,

Dude, you are kidding me, right? Please, it's time for you to man up! What are you going to do: let the sheriff come to your home and put your family on the streets? Would that show you are remorseful for your indiscretions?

Listen, you ask for forgiveness and show remorse by stopping and refraining from the ill behavior. Instead, you have been apologizing to your wife for cheating and buying expensive presents you can't afford. Even if you could afford them, this is the wrong pattern.

You admit to cheating 10 times. From my professional experience, this means you've cheated 20 or 30 times.

There is a lot you need to do, and in a hurry. You need to tell your wife about the mortgage situation today. Second, you need to call your mortgage holder to see if there is anything you can do to save your house from foreclosure. Let me be honest: Like millions of Americans, you may be upside-down in your mortgage, meaning you owe more than what your home is worth and you have no equity to refinance.

Third, not only do I recommend marital counseling, but I also recommend individual counseling for you and your wife. You are a habitual cheater, and your wife is willing to enable your behavior and accept expensive gifts you cannot afford. This shows both of you have concerns that should be explored with a professional clinician who can help you sort through this faulty thinking.

In the interim, it may be time for you to get a second or third job to help decrease your debt. Staying extra busy may decrease your propensity to “get busy” with other women.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I read your advice in The Washington Times for the first time about six months ago when I was at a doctor appointment at Fort Belvoir. I have wanted to write to you ever since then.

I was never popular in school until I got a total makeover. I was always considered the fat girl, and I was the topic of many jokes. I was constantly humiliated. Last summer, I went to a fat camp in North Carolina. I was very appreciative that my parents paid for the program, especially since I have one brother in college and I will be a senior in high school next year.

I lost weight - over 60 pounds. It really changed how people looked at me. All of a sudden people began to smile at me instead of stare in disgust. I traded in my big-rimmed glasses for contacts and cut my hair. The last treat was to purchase a new wardrobe. Boy were my classmates surprised. People didn't even know who I was anymore.

Ms. Vicki, this was an amazing turnaround for me because I never had a boyfriend before. Much to my amazement, the school football star began flirting with me. He is a senior and about to graduate. I like him so much, and I know he likes me, too. He comes to my home, and he's met my parents.

He doesn't want me to meet his parents, however, and he doesn't want his friends to know he is dating me either. He says his parents will think he is getting distracted by having a girlfriend, and he doesn't want to upset them. When I asked why we have to keep our relationship from his friends, he says he is just a secretive person and doesn't want his business spread all around school.

I'm willing to show him respect and respect his wishes. Lately he's been saying he just wants to be friends - friends with “benefits.” I'll be 17 in two months, but since I'm new to all of this dating stuff, I'm not sure about being friends with benefits.

What do you think Ms. Vicki? Should I let my guard down and go for it?

- Teen With a GR8 Life

Dear Teen,

Your football-star boyfriend wants to be your friend with benefits, meaning he wants to drop by for sex when it's convenient for him. That's all. Moreover, he is also saying he has no respect for you. Trust me, you could learn more from him by shaking his hand - which he doesn't deserve, by the way - rather that having sex with him. He's a spoiled jerk, a real loser. He's a high school star who wants to use his star power to get sexual favors from you. You deserve better. Please don't fall for this.

You have done a great job making a commitment to change your life and your overall health. This is great, and I commend you. You should stay focused on school and taking care of yourself. He will only be a distraction, nothing else.

As you said, you are a great young woman with a “GR8 life.” You deserve the best. Lean on your parents and other adult family members who love you and will be there for you. Choose your friends wisely. Please keep in touch.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her Dear Ms. Vicki column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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