Dear Ms. HeartBeat:
I’ve been married to my wife now for almost eight years. I would be lying if I said things used to be perfect, but they were pretty good until a year ago. A year ago I caught her sending nude pictures to an ex-boyfriend that she reconnected with via Facebook. Obviously we had a HUGE argument, and I was ready to call it quits. We decided to try to work things out because of our children.
Things went well for several months, but the other day she told me she was going to a girlfriends house. Turns out she went to a guys house. She has told me before that she has a “history” with this guy. I did a little research, and she has had over 150 contacts with this guy in the last 13 days. She says I am controlling and don’t want her to have male friends. She has other male friends that I don’t have a problem with. What should I do?
Obviously if she hasn’t cheated before with the ex, she came close. Should I trust her? Please help me. I am ready to abandon our relationship. I need some advice.
Hurt in Carolina
Dear Hurt in Carolina:
I find it difficult to believe that you had eight years of a good marriage, then suddenly out of the clear blue sky your wife, the mother of your children decided to text and send sexy pictures of herself like a teenager to another man. I am more inclined to believe that your marriage has been struggling for quite awhile, and that you were either oblivious to the problems, or chose to discount and ignore your wife’s requests for changes.
I’ve also learned over the years to read between the lines on advice letters. When people leave out important details in one section of the letter, nine times out of ten they are hiding something. I noticed that in the beginning of the letter you casually say “things were pretty good but not perfect.” Such a disclosure usually means that the letter writer did something hurtful to their partner that they don’t want to talk about. People that are hiding dirt on themselves are always very forthcoming and specific when they are talking about what their partner did that was wrong… just as you did in the second half of your letter. When its time for finger pointing and fault finding, folks sing like canaries and tell it ALL when its what their partner did.
Dude, you straight turned into Sherlock Holmes and got very detailed in your information sharing when you were talking about HER. So that was my first hint that you did some dirt in the past and she tried to get over and deal with it, but couldn’t. A person that was cheated on may have a desire for revenge, or just want the attention the cheater was giving to some other person.
In marriages where cheating or emotional abandonment takes place, the marriage is the source of angry outbursts, conflicts, communication and financial problems, and other hurtful issues, while the ‘other person’ serves as an escape and comfort, the one who gets smiles, affection and attention. Be honest with yourself and think about these things, and the possibility that what I am saying has some truth to it. Men often think that when they hurt their wives that she is “supposed to” get over it and that everything will go back to normal with no problems. In reality that happens only about 50% of the time, and there are always residual issues for the couple to deal with.
It appears that your wife is behaving in a fashion that makes her feel better, probably seeking revenge on you for hurting her in the past. I believe you feel somewhat guilty, which is why you are trying to be patient and do what you need to do to save the marriage and family. Is this marriage salvageable? Perhaps, but it will require some open honest communication and the help of a neutral third party.
There seems to be very little trust and respect between the two of you in this marriage. Please consider professional marriage counseling. I hate to see a marriage destroyed because the children are always the innocent victims and casualties, while the adults all get what they want. Start the conversation calmly, in an environment where you children are safely tucked away out of listening range (perhaps leave them at your Moms for the night). Explain how hurt you are and ask her what you two can do to save the marriage.
Relationships aren’t black and white. Cheating isn’t black and white either – there is plenty of gray area where there is mutual responsibility and accountability. If you two are honest with how you got here, you can probably work this out if you BOTH want to and have a stronger marriage than you had before.
However, even if things are FUBAR, by working with a therapist you two can talk this out, share your frustrations and hurts, and get clear on where you both went wrong. That way at least when the door on this marriage has closed, you will both be able to accept that you did everything you could have to save the relationship.