DEAR ABBY: I have seen letters in your column on signs of a cheating spouse. Allow me to offer a word of caution. The “guilty” husband or wife could very well be innocent.

A year and a half ago, I began working out at a nearby gym during my lunch hour. My wife, “Connie,” and I were both overweight when I started my exercise program. I ended up losing 55 pounds.

During this time, Connie was still gaining. When she’d complain about her weight, I tried to be supportive and reassure her that she was still attractive to me, but said that I was worried about her health. Connie knew I had the same concerns about my own health, and that’s why I was trying to get into shape. Once I started, I discovered I enjoyed my exercise routine, including the hour a day I had to myself. (I work a 40-hour week, and spend every other available moment with my wife and three young sons.)

After my weight came down, I needed new clothes and rewarded myself with a new wardrobe. Around the same time, I shaved off my beard and began sporting a new, shorter haircut that made me look years younger. I felt like a new man.

Connie became convinced I was having an affair and went out and had an affair of her own. Suddenly, my wife wanted to go “work out” or “go shopping” two or three evenings a week. I eagerly volunteered to watch our boys so Connie could enjoy the time to herself. Little did I know she was driving an hour out of state to have sex with a guy she met on the Internet. I was devastated when I found out. Connie told me she thought the reason I had been so accommodating was because I was cheating, so she was fighting fire with fire.

We are now in the process of divorce, and Connie is in therapy. The guy she was seeing is married with four children — so now, two marriages are messed up. Please share my story with your readers, Abby. It CAN happen. – LOST WEIGHT AND A WIFE IN WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR LOST: How sad. As your experience proves, people who fight fire with fire usually wind up with ashes. Your wife’s self-esteem was so low, she assumed you had found someone more attractive. How much sorrow could have been avoided had she discussed her fears with you.

DEAR ABBY: I am in the California National Guard. Last year I was activated and sent to Iraq. My wife has not written to me since last November. It takes me up to three weeks to get her on the phone because she wants to run around with her friends.

All I know is that I am married, and she’s acting as if I don’t count, only her friends do. How can I make her understand how much she is hurting me by ignoring me while I’m over here fighting? – HEARTBROKEN SOLDIER IN IRAQ

DEAR HEARTBROKEN SOLDIER: If the woman you married is of normal intelligence, I’m sure she already knows it. It appears you have married someone who is either extremely immature or without priorities or conscience. Spouses promise to support each other in good times and in bad — and as a military wife, her first objective should be to reassure her husband whose life is on the line every day he’s away. has now received more than 17 million messages of support for members of the military stationed worldwide. If you haven’t already done so, please check it out. Although the one message you would most like to read isn’t on it, I’m sure it will comfort you to know how many patriotic Americans have you in their hearts, and pray for your safe return.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: “Never lose hope in your dreams. For without dreams, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” (Langston Hughes) – Submitted by Arthur H. Prince, Memphis

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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