We’ve all been there. That point of no return where you’ve reached your limit and can’t possibly keep your mouth shut. You’ve stood at the edge of the abyss of anger and said “screw it”, right before you went over the edge. Or maybe you didn’t even pause on the precipice, and just sailed right over, not giving it a second thought.
The red-hot rage train running out of track at an alarming rate. Passengers, crew and onlookers all voiceless and wide-eyed as the situation unfolds. We can point fingers in these situations, assign blame and accuse the other person of “pressing our buttons”. But in the end, we are responsible for our own actions. In the end, we always have a choice. As it is much easier to learn how to keep your mouth shut when you’re not already seeing red, let’s look at reasons to hold back.
This Too Shall Pass
Whatever situation you’re in, whatever is stirring your emotional hot-pot, and no matter what whatever expectation you had that’s not being met, it will pass.
Let’s say, for argument sake, that it’s your soon-to-be ex, and things have gotten ugly toward the end of your marriage. You’ve both adopted that “screw it” attitude toward each other, and the verbal gloves are off.
The beauty of this situation is that the sooner you stop engaging in negativity, the sooner the negativity will stop. It’s no longer an argument when just one person is involved. The firestorm will become a thing of the past rather than something you’re surrounded by.
What You Say Can Be Used Against You
We’ve all been there. Said that one thing we wish we could take back. No sooner did the words come out than we felt a sharp pang of regret. The look on the other person’s face as the pain registers is palpable. While the pain is visible on the surface, permanent damage is happening on a deeper level. Remember when we said this too shall pass?
No matter how angry you are with this person, there is a high degree of likelihood that someday, at some point in life, you will be civil again. This may be very hard to believe while in the heat of an argument or at the end of a marriage, but it’s true. Make life that much easier for yourself. Keep your mouth shut. There will be less resentment, less to overcome and apologize for later.
Do You Really Want To Say That In Front of the Kids?
Arguments are rarely a two player game fought behind closed doors. They’re in public, in front of friends, coworkers and even children. Your audience is paying attention, both to you and how you are handling yourself. Children may emulate you.
There is plenty of research that shows fighting in front of the kids can be damaging, as reported by ABC News, Good Morning America. Just don’t go there.
If someone set up a video camera and filmed you during an argument, would you like what you saw? Everyone is a baby-kissing, handshaking rock star when things are going great. You’ve created a memory for your audience, and they are taking stock of your character when things are blowing up. Keep your composure and walk away the good guy.
What Goes In Cyberspace Stays In Cyberspace
We’ve all been witness to arguments in the social media arena. Please. Don’t be that guy. Know that we, as a collective audience, are rolling our eyes as people take passive aggressive shots at one another online. We all know what you mean, and who your “inspirational” quotes are really addressing.
Dude, leave us out of it. If you happen to have a few too many one evening and take to proselytizing your true feelings online, deleting it the next morning amidst a haze of regret does not your problem solve. Know that your comments are saved in the camera roll of at least ten people. Save yourself the pain of becoming a meme and keep your mouth shut online.
What If She’s Right?
“She started it!” At least once in your life you have either thought that or said it out loud. And it was beyond the third grade when it happened. Well, guess what? Maybe she did. And maybe the reason you’re so angry is because what she said holds a degree of truth. Bear in mind, anger is a secondary emotion and most often masks pain. If what she is saying truly hurt, take note. She may have done you a favor. Also take note that even if it is true, did hurt, and has made you angry, how you react is still your choice. Choosing to keep your mouth shut is a viable option.
There’s A Better View From the High Road When You Keep Your Mouth Shut
Maybe you’re in a heated debate and the conversation has taken an ugly turn. Mudslinging ensures, and dammit if you didn’t forget your raincoat. Guess what, friends? The view is better from the high road.
The amusing thing about taking the high road when involved with a mudslinger is that very little effort is required on your part provided you hold your ground. Hold your ground by remaining silent, fold your arms, and watch as they slowly but surely sink before your eyes. Your view will improve in a few short minutes.
Nice Guys Do Finish First
Nice guys are a misunderstood breed. Honestly. Nice guy don’t receive enough credit for who they really are. Under the surface of every nice guy is a man who is skilled in the art of mediation. Think about it.
Guys who can handle a hot situation are sexy.
Consider a situation that is on the verge of escalation and consider who steps in. Nice guys right? Nice guys are masters at distancing and disconnecting. Rather than engage in an argument they smile and laugh.
Nice guys have an amazing ability to see situations for what they are, just a stream of passing words. He will change the tide of argument with a gentle laugh, a reassuring tone and a well-timed use of touch. Don’t believe it? Watch a nice guy in action at your next opportunity.
So the next time you are in a wicked hot rage, dial it back to wicked not and save yourself the trouble of explaining yourself later!
How do you handle wicked hot? Or Not? Tell us your best and worst in the comments below.
Need more convincing? G.D. Wessel will clue you in on the 6 Ill Effects of Talking About Your Divorce on the Internet. Then, check out Aileen O’Leary’s advice on Winning Strategies for the Battle of the Exes.
Sound like anyone you know? Remember to share this on social media!
(c) Can Stock Photo / Elnur
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Being a divorced Dad can be one of the most frustrating experiences any parent will ever face. For many it seems like a can’t-win situation. You find that you’re constantly trying to prove yourself – to your ex, to the children, and often to a Step-Dad who has moved into the picture.
When Mom has time with the children, frequently your kids are seeing more of Step-Dad than you. That can feel very disempowering and bring up all sorts of issues – not to mention jealousy. While it’s understandable for any Dad to feel that way, it is also wise to get a handle on that jealousy … for the sake of your children.
Think about it this way. When it comes to those children, both you and Step-Dad share a common interest, their well-being. For that reason finding a way to get along with Step-Dad, and show him some respect for his efforts on their behalf, can positively impact everyone in the family dynamic, especially your children. They don’t want to see you angry, fighting, or putting down Mom or Step-Dad. The emotional upheaval this creates for your children complicates their lives, filling them with guilt, confusion and a lack of confidence when it comes to trusting new relationships.
Tom Wohlmut, President of Stepfamily Network, says “Men tend to be very competitive and territorial. But, when they’re parenting the same child, they need to think about being on the same football team, not opposing teams.” A supportive father will therefore help his children to not feel guilty for liking or supporting Step-Dad as he interacts in their lives.
In fact, says Wohlmut, you might want to ask yourself, “What is the one thing I can do to acknowledge the male father figure? Children need to understand there is only one Dad and one Mom and that will never, ever change. But, that doesn’t mean the other male in their life doesn’t have good qualities they can benefit from.”
This, of course, is equally relevant if a new Step-Mom enters the picture on your side. The goal is to do whatever you can to keep your children from feeling conflicted or disloyal if they get along with their Step-Parents and find many of their qualities or areas of expertise to be appealing.
Children have a huge capacity to love as well as to learn from many influences in their lives. Don’t force them to depend exclusively on you, especially if you’re needing it as an ego boost. The real challenge is to continue to build, keep and maintain your relationship with your children – despite time intervals and distance – because of your love for them. You are fortunate when Step-Dad is a complementary figure in their lives who sincerely cares for them and strives to do his best.
No one ever said being a divorced Dad was easy. There are no guarantees regarding who a new Step-Dad will be either. But when you keep your perspective clearly focused on your children’s emotional and psychological well-being, you’ll be steered in the right direction for yourself and your children. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. To get her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies For Getting It Right! as well as coaching services, articles, advice, expert interviews and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.
© Can Stock Photo
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There Are Plenty Of Guys In The Same Boat
Life after divorce isn’t easy. I’ve been there, and that’s why you are here now. There are better options than sculling through the murky waters on your own.
I get it. Sharing feelings is hard. But let’s be honest guys, wouldn’t it be a great to get things out in the open? To talk … and listen … and support … and be there just as other divorced men are there for you? Heck, you could end up with a lasting friendship or two along the way.
Divorce Support Groups Are Worth Your Time
This has to be the most important one. Why would you hang out with a group of divorced men once a week, talking about feelings and figuring out the best way to cope with divorce related stress? What on earth could you possibly gain?
Data gathered in July 2016 by the Statistic Brain Research Institute reveal some alarming facts about stress:
- Relationship stress ranked #4 behind Job Pressure, Money, and Health.
- 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.
- 73% regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress.
- 48% say stress has a negative impact on their personal and professional life.
- $300 billion is spent annually to employers in stress related health care and missed work.
And if we can alleviate even a portion of that stress, isn’t that something you would be interested in? Let’s see, better health, an improved personal life, and better performance plus less missed time at work means more money in your pocket. What’s not to like?
How Divorce Support Groups Gets Started
Normally, support groups sprout up without anyone meaning for them to. When two or three guys get together, sharing a common bond like divorce, there are already topics to share.
Some groups depend on a moderator to guide the group in discussion topics. A moderator can be a member of the group or someone that’s strictly there to facilitate the group. Remember, just like everything in life, what you put into a support group will determine what you get out of it.
The main point to remember is this is not a bashing session. This is for the guys in attendance. This is a time to grow, heal, communicate, share your feelings, and help others who are struggling. How you do this is completely up to you. What you want out of the group may be different from someone else, and that’s okay.
Do you know what you want to accomplish? If you need help getting started Kim Peterson, a licensed counselor from Texas, has compiled checklists and worksheets for personal use. The site has information on everything from goal setting to anxiety management to conflict resolution and relationship therapy.
Coordinating Group Meeting So All Members Can Participate
Catering to everyone’s schedules can be difficult. With jobs, children, activities, and daily life, finding a specific time for everyone is next to impossible. My suggestion is to schedule meetings twice a week. It gives those not able to attend one day the ability to attend later in the week. Many divorce support groups share reading assignments for time outside the meetings. This could be a book everyone agrees on or one suggested to the group by a facilitator.
The location can be left up to the facilitator or decided by the group. Depending on everyone’s schedule, it might be easier to hold meetings in a home, a library, coffee house, or church.
Finding Existing Groups Near You
If you are interested in finding an already established support group in your area, the best directory of divorce support groups I found is run by a group called Divorce Care. You simply put in your city or zip code and the directory will give you a list.
Another option is Facebook. Creating a private group that shares divorce advice for men and allowing only those members who want to participate is a great way to keep in touch. Call me old fashioned, but I learn more in face-to-face groups, but that isn’t always practical over the long haul. Maybe it is impossible for everyone to be together, or an existing group wants to communicate outside formal meetings, so an online group can be a great alternative.
Getting Started Can be The Biggest Hurdle
Getting started seems to be the hardest part of finding divorce support groups for men. As I mentioned earlier, it could simply be two or more divorced men you know from work, or from taking the kids to school, or from a forum group online.
Having coffee or getting together for an activity is a great way to start. But don’t let it stop there. There is a wealth of information on topics, activities, and coping skills to be shared – even without a moderator. Want some suggestions for organizing your own divorce support group? Here is a page that gives startup advice and ideas for starting a peer-to-peer self-help group.
Look At What You Can Get Before You Make More Excuses
You might be thinking “what’s the takeaway here?” and you have a valid question. It is easy for me to say the takeaway is what you put into it. And while that’s true, let’s get real.
Joining a divorce support group might not be what you’re looking for. There may be obstacles getting in your way … maybe ‘you’ being the biggest one. There is a good chance you may have to open up to strangers and friends. You might even have to talk about your feelings once in a while. All of this is manageable, I promise.
So what do you get in return?
- Coping skills for daily life.
- Being a better father to your children.
- A plan for future growth.
- Accountability through friendships.
- Knowledge to take into the future.
- The satisfaction of helping others.
Is a support group right for you? Only you can know that for sure. I would venture a guess that if we were honest we would realize there may be something to this. How many of us have tried to “work things out” on our own only to fail time and again?
And remember: you are not the only guy out there who is going through this. Why go through it alone? Life after divorce doesn’t mean living defeated and stressed. So grab a friend, make new ones, and check out divorce support groups. What have you got to lose?
Let me know in the comments below if you are active in a divorce support group or are planning to join or start one.
Divorce can knock you for a loop. TJ Carver takes a serious look at the effects of emotional trauma and asks Can A Bad Marriage or Divorce Cause PTSD?
On the lighter side, Aileen O’Leary helps you improve your state of mind with The Power of Positivity In Your Life.
Before you go, please share this post on social media!
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You’re in the bar with the guys, bemoaning the end of your relationship. Maybe you say something along the lines of, “My ex goes nuts over stupid things. She’s just crazy!” The guys laugh, hand you a drink and say you’re better off out of it. Not one of you knows the marriage tanked because you were gas lighting your partner!
Nobody Wants To Deal With Crazy
Christmas Eve 2014. My boyfriend came into the room as I was getting ready for bed. “I have something to show you.”
“Okay!” I said excitedly. “Is this an early Christmas present?”
“No. This is serious.” He said solemnly. “I need to show you this email now so that you don’t find it in a week or a year and think I was hiding it from you.”
The email turned out to be from an ex-girlfriend who was reaching out to wish him a Merry Christmas and find out how he was doing.
Although I’m thrilled that my boyfriend was so open and honest with me, I’m slightly distressed by the implication of his decision to tell me right away.
Was he panicked that if I found the email I would overreact, that I’d go crazy? And what exactly constitutes an overreaction? What is crazy?
Crazy Is In the Eye of the Beholder
I would venture a guess that almost all of you agree that my boyfriend would assume I’d go crazy if I found the email. I would also predict that you’ve come to the same conclusion for very different reasons.
The male readers are probably thinking, Yea, of course, he thinks that you’d go crazy. Women are paranoid and always overreact.
The ladies are probably thinking, Yea, of course, he thinks that you’d go crazy. Doesn’t every man consider a simple question an interrogation, then tell you to stop overreacting?
Sound familiar to you? Sounds like gas lighting to me.
Gas Lighting – Is It All In Her Head?
Taking its name from the1938 play Gas Light, this phenomenon refers to making someone doubt him or herself. In the play, a woman becomes aware that her husband is trying to steal from her when the gas lights dim as he searches the attic for her jewels. When she brings it up, the woman’s husband convinces her it’s all in her imagination.
Were the same situation to happen today, the husband might tell his wife that she is being paranoid or overreacting. He might even accuse her of being crazy. The problems start when she begins to believe it!
Take a Look Back At Your Marriage
There are many articles out there about the consequences of society’s casual use of “crazy” in reference to women. If you’re like me, you’ve probably read a few, agreed with the content and then carried on without considering your part in it all.
So let’s do that now.
Harris O’Malley has written extensively about calling women crazy. As you read this excerpt from his piece in The Washington Post, take a minute or two to consider if any of this happened in your marriage. While discussing how and why we call women crazy, oversensitive or irrational, O’Malley writes:
“It’s the all-purpose argument ender. Your girlfriend is upset that you didn’t call when you were going to be late? She’s being irrational. She wants you to spend time with her instead of out with the guys again? She’s being clingy. Your wife doesn’t like the long hours you’re spending with your attractive co-worker? She’s being oversensitive.”
Sure, Blame the Men!
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not accusing all men of ruining marriages by calling their wives crazy, irrational, paranoid or oversensitive. Not at all.
I do, however, believe that by using those terms, men are excusing themselves from the situation. As O’Malley argues, crazy means “She was upset, and I didn’t want her to be.”
What You Say Is Not What She Hears
When I argued that my boyfriend seemed to be more concerned with his ex-wife’s comfort than my own, he told me not to be ridiculous. I’m pretty sure to him that meant: I would never do that. How could you possibly think that I would? I don’t want to argue about this because it’s not true.
To me it meant: You are being insane. Only a crazy person could see the situation in that way. Your reaction is completely invalid and irrational.
Inevitably, when I argue that my reaction is completely valid and I am not being irrational, he responds by arguing that I am being ridiculous because I’m getting all wound up about it when there’s nothing going on.
He claims we are arguing over nothing.
Nothing? My feelings mean nothing? Well, there may not have been anything to argue over before but there sure as hell is now!
A throwaway comment that accuses your partner of being irrational, crazy or too sensitive can quickly escalate into a full blown argument.
C’mon, Admit It!
You might think that your marriage is tanking because you argue over stupid stuff all the time, but if you trace that argument back to its roots, were you at all to blame?
Have you been clueless as to the effect your vocabulary was having on your relationship?
Is it possible you were the one making her crazy?
You Didn’t Mean to Do It
All is not lost!
You may have been gas lighting during your previous relationships, but it was most likely unintentional.
It’s important to note that it is not just men who gas light women. Women do exactly the same to men, it’s just that as a society we tend to use the terms crazy, oversensitive and irrational to describe women more often than to describe men.
Women who are gas lighting men might use different language but the end result is the same.
According to the Berkley Science Review, the warning signs of gaslighting include: an inability to make decisions, second guessing yourself when you do finally make a decision, and constantly asking yourself if you’re being overly sensitive.
Do any of these signs sound familiar? Was someone doing this to you?
Avoid Gas Lighting In Future Relationships
Preserving a marriage requires compromise. You both have to be willing to put in the effort to see a situation from your partner’s perspective.
If the symptoms listed above ring true for you, then you have probably been on the receiving end of gas lighting. The good news is that you now know the warning signs should they appear in future relationships, and should be able to recognize when you’re doing it to somebody else.
If you’ve never been on the receiving end, you’ll have to put in a bit of extra work. If you’re in a relationship, I’m guessing you would never want to make your partner feel anything less than amazing. But what if you do?
How To Make a Course Correction
Be mindful of the language you’re using. If you find that your partner is getting angry over “nothing” then stop for a moment. Is it nothing? Think about it from her perspective. What did you say and how did she interpret that comment?
The most important thing you can do is to have a conversation. My boyfriend still tells me I’m being ridiculous but a) I know what that means to him and b) he knows what it means to me. Before, he would call me ridiculous, I’d get angry and he would stand his ground.
Today, if he does call me ridiculous, I give him a bit of a sideways glance and he usually says something along the lines of, “Not ridiculous, I don’t mean it like that. We’re just in different places on this at the moment.”
Talk to your partner, understand her perceptions of what you say, explain yours and work toward a middle ground.
And whatever you do, don’t call her crazy!
Have you been on either side of gas lighting? Know someone who has? Leave your comments below, and remember to share this divorce advice for men with your friends!
Get more answers to your questions about women with Sara Gabriella’s post So That Explains It!
Aileen O’Leary gives you tips and tools for handling crazy with Winning Strategies for The Battle of the Exes.
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Are you looking for divorce advice for men? What? You don’t want a divorce? Then it’s good I got your attention before you did anything stupid, like taking the leap into infidelity. If you’re reading this, you’re likely tempted to cheat on your spouse.
Maybe just an anonymous hook-up in some motel somewhere, maybe more. Maybe there’s that new girl at work with the pretty smile, who seems interested in who you really are as a person, that you fantasize about running away and starting a new life with. Hell, maybe you’re just bored.
Take My Word For It – There Is a Dark Side
Well, I have been in your position, friend, and I’m going to tell you: you’re making a mistake. One way or another. So you’re tempted to cheat on your spouse. You might technically get away with it, you might not; that’s not the point. The point is: you’re doing harm.
By cheating on your spouse, you’re breaking a promise you made to her to be faithful and forswear all others. You are treating her with contempt; you’re saying, in effect, that you don’t respect her enough to be honest with her. And even if they never find out afterwards, you’ll know. You’ll know you’re the sort of man who breaks promises, simply because you feel like it. That’s a terrible thing to learn about yourself.
You Will Get Caught – And It Will Cost You
And, well, look: your spouse will probably find out. One way or another. Maintaining a lie is pretty difficult in any situation…and let’s face it, you’re not exactly Jason Bourne, are you?
You’re going to slip up. And when you do, the life you have now will end, and a different life will begin. In the process, you will cause an incredible amount of pain to your wife, by lying to and betraying her trust.
You will end up spending a lot of money in divorce court and probably a hell of a lot more in alimony.
You will end up spending a lot of money in divorce court and probably a hell of a lot more in alimony. Judges don’t tend to look too kindly upon philanderers. And if you have kids, well…just think about spending the rest of your life being Weekend Dad, because that’s almost certainly what’s going to happen if you give in to being tempted to cheat on your spouse.
Even if you somehow convince your spouse to forgive you and to move on, you’re looking at months or years of strife and heartache, and you may find yourself in a marriage in which trust is no longer possible.
What Is Your Motivation for Cheating?
Only you can decide if that’s worth getting your freak on with somebody else.
Every guy has his own reasons for cheating, like this anonymous author in Esquire. The question you need to ask yourself when you’re tempted to cheat on your spouse is: why do you want to cheat on your spouse? Are you dissatisfied with your sex life? Are you resentful of her? Is she resentful of you? Do you just feel like you need that thrill again, the thrill of seduction? Do you just really want to feel naughty? Luckily, all of these problems can be resolved without actually committing infidelity.
Man Up and Have the Discussion
The first thing you need to do is summon the courage to be honest with your wife. Don’t start by telling her you’re thinking about cheating. That’s obviously not a constructive way of opening things and, frankly, it’s a dick move.
Instead, tell her you’re not happy and you need something to change. After all, she’s the person you signed up to share your life with — she deserves your honesty. Let her help you figure out what that “something” is you are looking for.
Is it really sex with a stranger? If so, the two of you should broach the topic of temptation. You might be surprised — and maybe a little dismayed – to hear your wife has had similar fantasies, but put your ego back in your pants, Casanova. If you’re unhappy, the likelihood is that she’s unhappy too. At least you’re being honest with each other. It might be uncomfortable, but could lead to ideas to reintroduce spice into your sex life together, which is a whole other topic. But finding out if and how that would work is a pretty fun project in and of itself.
Sex May Not Be the Real Issue
Maybe your problem isn’t sex at all. Maybe it’s the big picture. Maybe you’re tempted to cheat because you’re just not where you want to be in your life, or where you thought you’d be. Maybe you’re not in the career you want to be in, and you feel trapped. And you feel like you just need something else; almost like a glimpse or a gateway to that life you feel like you ought to have. Something you can find with another women, if only for a minute.
Don’t Kid Yourself
Look: unless you happen to be an artist with a trust fund, we all go through that. (Even artists with trust funds, but they deal with it by flying off to Paris and shacking up with some skinny nineteen year old Czech model and drinking champagne. Let’s face it, that’s probably not an option for you.) There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way. The important thing is how you deal with it…and hanging out at singles bars trying to hide the pale line of untanned skin around your ring finger is a counterproductive and massively lame strategy.
You Spouse Has An Obligation, Too
Remember: you’re responsible for your spouse and her happiness, but the converse is also true: she’s responsible for yours as well, and if you’re truly miserable, she has a responsibility to help you figure out what that happiness entails. Maybe you really should quit your job at the bank and go rebuild old muscle cars or follow the Renaissance Faire circuit as a professional juggler or whatever it is you feel like you ought to be doing with your life.
It won’t be easy and it will require a lot of hard work and probably a fair amount of sacrifice — mostly financial. Job burnout is a serious stressor that can ruin your health, happiness and marriage. If it’s that important to you to walk away from your career or your house or your town, then do it, and accept the consequences.
Maintaining Your Self Respect – Even If the Marriage Fails
You might find that, simply by talking about it with your spouse, you feel better — even if it’s hard to start the conversation, and even if it gets rough. Your spouse may not want to even entertain the possibility of redefining the boundaries of your relationship or your life together, but you know what? I guarantee you she’ll like it a lot more than watching you coming home late with lipstick on your collar and a line of bad excuses.
Of course, there’s one more hard possibility: that you want to cheat because you really just want out of your marriage. If that’s the case — if you’ve tried everything else and it’s the only honest conclusion you can come to — do your spouse the courtesy of being honest, and ending things before you start screwing around. You owe her that much. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to go through divorce without the specter of infidelity hanging around. And you’ll be able to hold your head up high, because you’ll have made the right choice.
It won’t be the easy choice…but when is the easy choice ever the right one?
Has your relationship been touched by cheating? Have you been tempted to cheat on your spouse? Share your insights in the comments below. Remember to share this article on your fave social media!
G.D. Wessel talks about what else cheating can get you in Better The Devil You Know.
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