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Did Weiner Actually Cheat? Maybe Not

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With The New York Times reporting that Congressman Anthony Weiner's wife Huma Abedin is pregnant, the story of Weiner's online affairs has new legs. It seems like every day, there's a new touch that just makes the whole thing even worse.

Could Weiner's wrongdoing rival the 14 years of lies and deception of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who had an affair with the household maid in his marital bedroom and got her pregnant at the same time that he was trying to get his wife pregnant, and then allowed his uninformed wife to send baby gifts and money to this mistress?

Is Weiner as bad as that? No, for two reasons:

1) These were online affairs -- terrible, but at least these e-mistresses didn't spend their days with him and his wife, and

2) Weiner may not have been cheating at all.

The definition of cheating is actually quite a personal thing. For every couple, a different line between right and wrong is drawn. For example, one couple for whom I mediated a number of issues, discovered through conversation that viewing porn online was acceptable to both of them. From that point on, the husband, who had been doing this in secret, no longer had to fear being walked in on and wrecking his marriage over this.

It seems from the news reports and Anthony Weiner's own words that "Ms. Abedin knew about his rakish past, including his use of social media for sexual communication." He also said that she knew about his online relationships, but not his use of photos. Meanwhile the New York Post is reporting that his savvy political wife is working with him to plan a comeback, or at least survive this crisis. Why would she jump to his side? Why is she so quickly supporting him?

My guess is that she may have been quite aware of his online tendencies and rational enough to know that such things do not disappear on one's wedding day. In fact, for all we know, they could have made a deal that online affairs do not count as cheating. Perhaps they create a political tornado, but maybe they are not such a marital disaster, for them.

Radio shows around the country have been asking me "what counts as cheating?" I answer each host the same way -- it depends on the couple's agreement.

What is your agreement with your mate? To deter cheating, every couple must have a brief 5-minute conversation (See Fight Less, Love More for a chapter on how to do this) about what counts as cheating -- physical sex? Emotional closeness to someone of the opposite sex? watching porn? Being in a sex chat room? Sexting? Using Facebook to connect with old flames? There are no absolute answers, only the ones that you and your mate agree upon.

You'd be surprised to discover that no two people think alike.

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