Cheating: The Truth

Let me be very candid and as clear as I know how to be. I was unfaithful to my wife and I make no excuses. In no way am I dodging the responsibilities for my flawed, immoral decisions, my weakness and my abject failure to be loyal to someone to whom I had made promises and loved dearly for twenty-eight years. I lied to her. I betrayed her. There is no justification. She deserved better than that.

More damaging than infidelity though, I had decided to leave her when she was probably at her lowest and most vulnerable. She needed me. I thought she would land on her feet in a better place. Stronger. Happier. I was wrong. I am ashamed for the decisions I made and will be for the rest of my life. I have tried to make that unquestionably clear. I wish I had done a better job of expressing it.

My decision to go public and take my message to the air was not predicated on some master plan to discredit my wife or sully her reputation, as some have suggested. Nor am I trying to play the part of a victim to campaign for your sympathy. Quite the opposite.

I’ve bared the truth of my story because I want others to understand what happened and how. I want others to listen, to apply my experience to their own lives and learn from my mistakes. I want the truth to be out there to be examined.

Publicly, for millions to see and hear, I tried to share the depths of my regret and remorse, but unfortunately there is only so much you can say in a show edited for television, and what was shown wasn’t enough for some people. There simply isn’t enough time, and to date, I have had no control over the questions that were asked or the answers that would ultimately make the cut. For the forty minutes of the one-hour ABC 20/20 episode that wasn’t commercials, I was interviewed on five separate occasions, for a total of fifteen hours. Fourteen hours and twenty minutes of raw, emotional honesty that neither you or I will ever see. But it’s not the job of a journalist, ABC News or any other outlet to tell the story I feel you need to hear. Thus, the book. Thus, this blog.

Since I started this blog, hundreds of people have reached out, some with support, others with anger and hate, but so many more who feel they can relate with their own stories of infidelity, messy divorces, violent partners, and sadly, suicide. I’ve exchanged dozens of emails, messages and phone calls with people for whom my story has somehow made them feel they’re not alone. They’re not. And that, in and of itself, makes this effort all worth it. And for my own reasons, I selfishly feel the need to talk about it with all of you.

In a recent blog post, “Everyone Thought She Was Happy,” a rather dissatisfied reader left a comment that I thought was worth sharing here, at least in part “…The fact is 95% of people don’t cheat and it’s difficult for them to sympathize with even a hint of justification of an affair,” wrote In The Know.

I wish that “fact” was correct. But unfortunately it’s not. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy reports that 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men have admitted to having extramarital affairs. And then there are those who will never admit to it.
I bring these statistics to light, not to justify or to deflect my failings, but to underscore the seriousness of the problem and to illustrate just how widespread and common it is.

While 75% to 85% of the American populous haven’t had an extramarital affair, it’s easy to say that you would never cheat or be cheated on. But so often it happens to those you’d least expect. I’ve come to believe nobody is immune.

I recently had dinner with a long-respected colleague, someone who knew and worked closely with both Jennair and me. I assumed she had already heard about what had happened. But minutes into the conversation about business and our respective careers, I wasn’t so sure. I looked up at her and paused. “Laura, you do know, don’t you?”

“Know what?” she asked, puzzled. I took a deep breath, and then for the next fifteen minutes I explained to her the unbelievable events that had unfolded just 19 months before. As I spoke, she stared back at me blankly in disbelief, her eyes growing wider and wider by the second. “Holy fuck, Mark!” she managed to exclaim, trying to catch her breath. To say the least, I took her by surprise. And then, it was my turn to be surprised.

“I get it. I totally get it,” she said looking down at the bar with the strangest twisted smile. And then, seemingly titillated and almost proud of herself, she gazed up and admitted, “I’m the other woman. I’m seeing a married man.”

“No, Laura!” I said loudly, pounding my fist on the bar. “Get out of it. Now! It’s not worth it. This will only end badly for you. For him. For her.

“I know. I know. But it’s so hard,” she explained. “I’ll get out of it. I will. Eventually I will.”

I hope to God she does.

Understandably, some want to shift the focus of my wife’s deadly last act squarely on the issue of infidelity. End of argument. But I would be remiss if I let the argument end there. This story goes way beyond a crime of passion due to infidelity. Way beyond lust, bad decisions, and broken hearts. From our respective early childhoods until the moment I first laid eyes on her, something brought us together. Need. Love. The universe. And for the next 24 years, our life together was a tumultuous ride, full of beautiful memories and loving support, but also disappointment and a dramatic, dysfunctional codependence in which neither of us knew how to be honest about our true selves.

Maybe our marriage should have ended long before. But neither of us knew how. Neither of us had the strength. So without deciding, we stayed in it. And in the end it was weakness, not strength, that ripped us apart. My weakness. My lies. My deceit. I know now I should have done so many things differently.

I’m not suggesting people should stay in an unhappy marriage. Neither am I suggesting people should leave an unhappy marriage. Every situation, every relationship is unique and different. But if you make the decision to end it, there is a right way. With honesty, love and dignity. As I told Laura and as I tell everyone, if you are having an extramarital affair, for your own good and for everyone involved: Stop. End it. With kindness.


For more realistic insights and facts about marriage and infidelity in today’s America, I encourage you to read this 2018 New York Times article.

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25 thoughts on “Cheating: The Truth”

  1. Hello Mr. Gerardot, I am interested in reading more about you, because my sister is going thru divorce now. I am afraid that she might do something crazy. How can I be of support to her? Her husband left her for a younger woman. This other woman is expecting his baby now. My sister has not yet accepted that her marriage, her family with him is no longer his priority.

    1. Ledis, just be there for your sister. But also make sure she is surrounded by others too. Your sister needs love support from a variety of friends and family, and if possible, professional help from a therapist or perhaps someone from church. My wife didn’t have the necessary support. She refused it. As for your brother-in-law, from my own perspective and hard lessons, regardless whether he feels it’s a priority, he has a responsibility and a duty to make sure his wife is okay. If she does something “crazy” (as you say) he will regret it for the rest of his life.

      1. Mark can you clarify your statement about your wife refusing support? Because I recall in one of your interviews you stating that she was seeing a psychologist, a psychiatrist, was taking her meds as prescribed, and I also believe she had a divorce counselor. She also had put out online pleas for support and advice from her new community where she felt stranded and knew no one. And one of those recordings of her repeating what others told her to do (let you go,) which indicated she was at least receiving advice from friends and family. And that couldn’t have happened if she hadn’t told others what was happening. So where was the refusal of help?

        1. Thank you for the question, Joanne, and for the opportunity to clarify. Details around this are in the upcoming book. And yes, as I mentioned in interviews, Jennair was seeing a psychologist, a divorce counselor, a psychiatrist and she was taking medication, all at my insistence. Prior to that, for years she had outright refused to seek professional counseling. According to her, I was the one with a problem. I was the one who needed help. Once our divorce became inevitable, she told her mother and a couple of mutual friends. But she refused their professional and personal advice. “All they want to do is talk,” she would say. “I’m tired of talking.” Most tragic of all, she didn’t tell anyone what she was thinking and planning. She didn’t tell anyone that she had bought a gun weeks before. She kept that dark secret to herself.

          1. Mark, in your Americanreal interview you explained that Meredith was not afraid of Jennair but was Extremely angry with her. Did the two of them have communication with each other? Thus raising their conflict to the point where Jennair decided to include Meredith in her suicide? Is personal contact between the spouse and mistress (paramour) common in affairs?

      2. Mr. Geradot, I’m sorry for your pain and trauma. I’m also a little worried about how you have decided to view this. Mr. Geradot, infidelity is not that rare, we have all probably dealt with it if we have lived to be thirty or so. Home invasions and planned slaughters of other human beings are still, thank God fairly rare. I recommend that you buy the book Until The Twelfth of Never, and also visit Dr. Tara Palmatiers site. You seem to be at risk for another abusive relationship, since it does not appear that you acknowledge you were in one. You should consider that murder is never, ever, excusable, unless in self defense. It is an act of revolting violence and to be killed in a home invasion, a persons safest place is a particularly vile death. Please consider looking into families who have lost a loved one to murder, suicide, sad as it is,is a choice, being murdered is not a choice, choosing to murder can never be justified. I wish you well, and hope that you do not choose to enter into a future relationship where you have to be afraid, your marriage showed every sign of classic abuse, isolation, etc. If you do not begin to learn more about domestic violence in all its guises you are indeed at risk of more of it in the future. You might also read some of the works of Dr. Robert Hare and Dr. Kent Kiehl.

        1. Mark, I respectfully disagree with Kathy. To look at your years with Jennair as being trapped in an abusive marriage would be a mistake. Although you did not learn this until after Jennair!s death, Jennair was suffering from severe mental illness. You were her caregiver and provider. You gave her a life she could never give herself. What a noble thing to do. Kathy you correctly describe Meredith’s murder as vile because it occurred in her home, the place she felt “safe”. But Jennair ‘s mental illness made her unable to cope with the trauma of Meredith taking away the place she felt safe… with Mark. My heart tells me Jennair knew she had mental issues and was smart enough to know Mark was her “guardian angel”. Without him she felt helpless. Mark, be proud if your years with Jennair!

          1. Dear Hoosier, I’m sorry it took me so long to reply to you. There’s been this strain of flu going about and its somewhat distracting :). But I did want to address what you said, and I can see it was said in kindness, but even kindness can endanger people. If Mr. Geradot had been a woman, a woman who upon marriage was immediately isolated from her family, and friends. Who had no control over her own finances and was told what to do and when, and who learned quickly that all orders were to be obeyed and that arguments were frightening, would you advise her to stay? Our sex, the gentler sex can and does abuse children, a horrible reality and men as well. Human beings are capable of much that is wonderful and much that isnt. My feeling is that if anyone, regardless of age, gender or sexual preference is in an abusive relationship, make a safe plan and get far away, preferably without involving any more people than necessary in the escape. On that note, back to the great milk search of the day. I hope you and yours are all well during this strange time.

          2. This comment is a reply to both of Kathy’s (and thank you for the response, Mark, that answers my question.)
            Kathy, while I personally am very good at “gender flipping” to gain a full perspective of a situation such as this, I hesitate to declare this was a classic abusive situation. How many abused women feel comfortable enough with their abusive husbands to speak of their overwhelming admiration for another man? Do you really think they’d take that chance? Mark made very clear that Jennair’s earliest suspicions were aroused when he came home from work constantly gushing about Meredith. If he was living on eggshells, I find it unlikely he’d have been so open about his burgeoning feelings for his hot new crush. And he was relieved when the truth came out, not frightened. He was shocked by Jennair’s actions at the end because he didn’t fear her, or her threats, in the slightest. I’ve never known an abuse victim to be so void of actual fear of the abuser. There definitely was dysfunction in the relationship, like codependency woven around personality disorders or some such thing, but one-sided abuse? I have my doubts.

        2. Kathy your post is so true. It gets back to your original point of Mark entering a future relationship(s) that is similar to his marriage to Jennair. But I think it is important for Mark to look back on his years with Jennair with some pride. It is interesting how these discussions expose how society views these situations depending on gender. Because Mark is a man so he “could not “ be in an abusive relationship. Meredith, who was Mark’s boss, was not terminated by UD but praised and lauded for her professionalism at such a young age. Many men would be viewed as predatory in the same situation. After the tragedy Mark had no one speaking out in his behalf where Meredith”s family released a statement stating there was no infidelity and that both marriages were dissolved. Hence women need to be protected and men can fair for themselves. You should see the way my husband handles our teenage daughters vs our teenage son!! Truth is people get set in their ways and these “ways” get exposed in situations like this. Thanks Kathy and of course you Mark.

          1. Hello to all 3 of you, Joanne, Hoosier and Mr. Geradot. J, you make an excellent point in terms of fear, and I agree, but my background working with abused children also makes me wonder something. And apologies in advance Mr. Geradot as I in no way wish this to be insulting. Anyway with the badly abused children I worked with, one heartbreaking commonality was their endless (pretty much always futile) hope of validation and a compliment from the parent who had hurt them. No small word of praise from a stranger was left out of family meetings. It was as though they kept hoping, look, see somebody said something nice about me, someone thinks I’m a good kid, maybe if I tell you, you’ll agree, better you, ll compliment me too. I wonder if we ever outgrow that need? I wonder if Mr. Geradot wasnt trying for it when he told his wife about the nice things Meredith said? Sorry just speculating. And Hoosier, I’m eye rolling about the different treatment your husband givess your kiddoes. I’ve totally given up hoping that we/either side will let up on our ancient ways, heck look at Westworld, even robots cant manage it and they are erm….:) i hope all three of you and yours are well and suffering nothing more terrible than boredom and stress overeating, or maybe thats just me.

  2. My mother cheated on my father for several years with her boss. It ripped my family apart. As a teenager girl I was devastated and confused. Suddenly a strange man was in my home acting as my father and bringing his grown children into our home. I refused to live with them and left for college early never looking back. It’s been almost twenty years since then and I still refuse to talk to my mother or her scum bag husband. I will never expose my husband and children to people who live their lives in such a selfish manner. God bless my father!

  3. Good for you for being so concerned with your sister’s well being. When my husband cheated and left me and our children for a younger woman and it was absolutely debilitating. I had unbelievable support from family and friends, a great lawyer, fantastic therapist and huge $$ support from my Mom and Dad. Even with all of this I barley made it!!
    My therapist said it best, “know why you feel tossed aside and abandoned?” “Because you were, and I’m going to help you get through it” . All too often these situations lead to suicide , please watch her closely. Having a pregnant mistress makes her situation even more toxic. Wait till her husband and his mistress take to social media proclaiming their happiness. He will hurt to her core to see it. She has to remember her husband’s words and actions are completely self serving, so do not trust him in anyway. Let her lawyer do her bidding. It has taken me years to fix his financial f ups so a long term view is important. Changing my life purpose to raising my children gave me the self direction to go on and be the person to salvage a horrible situation caused by his immoral actions.

  4. My ex cheated on me with a younger woman at work. I was at home with 4 young children (1, 3, 5, & 7) and had given up my IT career.

    I want to summarize a conclusion I have reached, 22 years later. I am blessed that none of my children are alienated from their father and that they live (part-time) harmoniously with his wife (yes, “that” woman) and their twins. I was surprisingly “proud” when my children tell me about their twin brothers.

    My children have taught me much. I find adultery abhorrent. The ex knew that when he “picked me” because I always detested it. I used to ask, “Of all the women on the face of the Earth, why me, Lord?” I guess He knows when something is “blocking” a person, the best way to release it.

    Do I endorse betrayal? No. Do I endorse adultery? No. But I endorse the freedom of children to love their faulty parent unconditionally. I have many faults, also. I pray that they love me unconditionally, also.

    A great book that I read during tumultuous times was “Why Forgive?”

    It is so hard. And yet, when you do, the breakthrough is incredible!

    1. Love how you were able to create such a loving environment for your children. Sounds like you husband and his wife admit to your children what they did was wrong and immoral but want to make the best of their situation. My ex was the opposite and has tried to install their views if commitment, etc on to our children. Basically anything is ok if you are unhappy. Unfortunately, my oldest absorbed this life philosophy and decided to start a relationship with her graduate assistant professor who is married. Now she has been removed from her college and a family is ruined. It takes everything I have to hold back my thoughts and let her learn her lesson hoping she sees her misdeeds. Forgiveness is so important but both sides have to compromise it just one side.

  5. Great advice Mark. I fell for a married coworker and left my wife of 18 years for her. I was so stupid to fall for the excitement and drama our affair created. It blinded all my good judgement and common sense as I soaked up her compliments and her good looks. I was inches away from getting remarried when I grew wary of her endless need for attention and her constant criticism of my first wife.
    I wave of panic consumed me when I realized I made a huge mistake and I pulled the plug on our wedding. I realized I did not want my fiancée to become my kid’s stepmom. Because if my actions I get to watch my children grow up under another man’s roof and it breaks my heart. To confirm your statistics on cheating, confused and bitter I spent several years after my divorce hooking up with women I met on my business trips. I am lucky to have some wealth and decent looks … that said I am no Don Juan so it really shocked me how many married women cheated. I am not proud of my actions but I did see first hand how many people jump into affairs risking their marriage.
    Thanks for your message Mark

  6. IHi Mark, Thank you for sharing your story and. I keep your healing in my heart and prayers. But one question is why can’t you forgive Jennair for .killing your married (predator) paramour but you don’t even blame (& don’t forgive) Meredith???
    In the military and in many careers, a boss is strictly forbidden to date subordinate. Boss who who dates or hits on a subordinate employee leaves the company.open to.a sexual.harassment lawsuit. Meredith must have hit on you within weeks of hiring. because you said you said no after her first kiss. Don’t you realize she was in a position of power over you who had a wife to support and you were also vulnerable during a transition of residence? I know Meredith was an achiever, far younger, & attractive, but what I think.your lust and ego fails to admit is that she had little to no respect for personal nor professional boundaries like her own vows and certainly no respect for the sacrament of your & Jennair’s 24-year marriage. Maybe in time and with wisdom, you’ll acknowledge Meredith had low to no impulse control. Statistics show most relationships that start as affairs fail. Likely Meredith would have (eventually) replaced you with a a younger, cuter guy, because that’s karma.
    I feel like the chaplain who interviewed you and mentioned feeling compassion and no judgment. I also think you should ask Dr. Phil for help if you still get upset. Dr. Phil in particular has so much experience and top experts in every area.
    In any case, I pray God fills your heart and life with so much love and happiness that you can write a new book called “Reparable”. Sincerely, Marilyn

    At no

  7. Mark, I don’t believe that your wife had mental illness. You, created the whole situation. You act as if you were experiencing young love for the first time in your life. We all know the excitement that comes with new love. It can happen as often as you allow it. You, were in a 24 year marriage that should’ve ended before you chased your fantasy of new love. Your ego has let you believe that this tragedy happened to you. You were selfish. Admit that. You also underestimated the damage that was caused by your betrayal of what was thought to be your life partner. You also underestimated your wife and the fact that she was too smart to let your affair go unnoticed. Most women get blindsided. She went along for the whole ride. Hearing the depth of your betrayal by listening to every word between you and Meredith. You, created her pain. You said you couldn’t forgive her for taking Meredith’s life. Well she couldn’t forgive you, for taking her own.

    1. Donna, I totally agree with everything you’ve said. This woman built her life around him. That is what so many of us do. We marry young with plans of making a beautiful life and growing old together. When you reach the middle of your life the last thing you want to do is find out your love has found someone new and you’re just lost because he’s basically all you’ve ever known. He gets someone young and fresh. So exciting, right? Yet so devastating to the recipient of the broken vow. It’s really simple; a woman just wants to be loved and to know she’s your world because you are hers. The beautiful thing about a long marriage is that nobody else shares your many memories, your time invested, your quirks, you’re deepest secrets. Lifetime commitment is a precious thing if you want it to be. Why would you want to break the bond all for a younger, newer version? No, really, why? Aging makes a woman insecure enough already with so many young beautiful women out there who don’t care if a man is married or not. Real love is a beautiful and it’s a shame Jennair didn’t have what she thought she had with you, Mark. She wasn’t mentally ill; she was lost and desperate for answers. That’s why she dug for information. She knew she was being betrayed. But she was mainly just- broken. BPD is terrible label to give this woman whose depression and suicide could have been prevented. This whole situation could have been prevented if you had just invested in your marriage and not another woman.

  8. Hello Mark,
    Thank you for your honesty in sharing your heartbreaking story.
    My husband and I have been happily married for eleven years. It is an affair in my “work family” that is causing me a great deal of stress. My boss is awesome, she is almost magical in the way she has put our department team together and how fulfilling it is to work for her. That being said, she is currently having an affair with a coworker from our financial department. He interacts with our team on a daily as he budgets and approves our projects. I am the only one that knows besides my husband. Looking at your situation, for as horrible your affair was on your personal life, it appears you and Meredith were able to navigate your way at work together and even advance into better jobs. My husband is furious because he is good friends with my boss’s husband and he is going to expose the affair. I love my job and my department team. I just see everything being destroyed when the affair is exposed. I am desperate to help minimize the damage, do you have any advice from a career/work perspective?
    Thank you
    Jillian

    1. Jilian, I am very reluctant to dole out “advice”. However I do hold certain opinions from my experience. I’m not sure publicly “exposing” the affair of your boss is the right approach. You can’t possibly know where the chips (or embers) might fall. However difficult and uncomfortable, a straightforward personal discussion with both of them might hold the most promise for the result you hope for. Speaking from experience, they are both blinded from logic by their emotions. They are human. Give them the chance to make the right decision.

  9. Thanks for the thoughts Mark. I had to laugh when you said “give them the chance to make the right decision”. It is obvious you do not know my boss and the guy she is cheating with!! They were using the stay at home orders as an excuse to be at the office alone. Their luck has run out. Unlike you and Meredith, they were both terminated from their positions. Once we get back to work I will have a new boss. Our department is absolutely devastated. The person who hired us and believed in us is gone, who knows what new leadership will bring. My husband helped his friend (my bosses husband) move out of their home. They have three young children…. my husband said it was gut wrenching to witness. Such a waste.

  10. Mark,
    I want to share my story with the hope that it will bring you some peace and a reminder that even when we do our best, life is unpredictable and messy.

    I was married for 17 years, 10 of which were very happy. Unfortunately, the last seven years were spent with my husband in and out of long- term mental health facilities where he was treated for bipolar depression and substance abuse. I was faithful, ran our company in his absence, and loved him with every fiber of my being. After seven long years of doing the “right thing” I discovered he was having an affair with someone he met at AA. That was it, I wanted out! I put our finances in perfect order, organized his life the best I could, told him he didn’t have to pay me support as long as I had a job,….he was happy and everything was great! A year later our separation was over and we were preparing for our divorce, everything was still great! I had spent 12 months finding myself and spending g time with girlfriends while he dated several women and seemed to be doing well. On my birthday that year he tried to take his life. I unexpectedly stopped by his house that evening and found him. By the time the paramedics got there he had been dead 10 minutes but they were able to revive him. He had left me a note saying how he loved me and I was the best wife anyone could have ever had. I thank God every day that he’s alive. Even though I deserved to leave, I deserved to have a happy life, I know the guilt would have haunted me for a very long time.

    The point I want to make is as much as I tried to handled things “PERFECT LY“ so no one got hurt….life is messy and unpredictable! Even when you do the very best you can, things will be as they will be. I’m sure you question your actions. “What if I did this?” “What if I didn’t do this?” Even if you had the ability to alter history, you still have no idea how things would have turned out. I believe there is a reason for everything and you are where you are meant to be.

    Best Regards,

    Brandi Guarino

  11. Watching 20/20 tonight actually stirred some old feelings for me. 8 years ago my husband started a relationship with a younger woman. The anger, pain and rejection I felt at the time Mark Gerardot was devastating and helps me to understand why someone in a similar situation may make an unwise choice. Instead of dwelling on hatred I relied on my Christian faith to give me strength. Our story was different. I realized my role in breakdown and while he made his choice, I was responsible for my actions and how I responded. His relationship ended and we reconciled.
    I pray you find peace and healing.

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