Clear75° WeatherClear75° Weather

It's time to stop thinking and start talking — with your wife

It's time to stop thinking and start talking — with your wife

Q: I dated my wife for four years before we got married. Three years were long-distance. In those three years she slept with two other men, one of whom got her pregnant. She had an abortion. She told me about the later one. The other a friend told me about.

I forgave her because I knew she was lonely and that's that. But since we have been married, she has kept in constant contact with the first one even though I have voiced my concern that once you sleep with a guy, the relationship can never really just be friendship. This past week she has been talking to the man whom she got pregnant with. I had told myself a while ago that if this man ever got back in contact with her, and she reciprocated, I would just leave. I may be paranoid about this, but she has scheduled dinners with him and tells me nothing or makes up excuses. These dinners are when I am in school so she knows I won't be around for a couple of hours. Should I do what I promised, or should I see how it pans out? It hurts to think she does not respect my wishes.

Hurting

A: Did she ask your forgiveness? Did she say she strayed out of loneliness? Did she admit to the first one after your friend tipped you off? Did she say she wouldn't do it again? Does she defend her lies of omission? Or do you just snoop (she "tells me nothing," right?) and stay mum?

Your wife is strangely absent from this whole scenario, and it's not just because she visits ex-boyfriends the moment your car hits the street. Your whole letter is a call without a response: the rationalizations you make for her behavior, the concerns you voice that go unheeded, the promise you make to yourself, the decision you're now making with my input versus hers.

Sometimes cheating serves to undo a relationship all by itself: Goodhearted rube marries charming liar. But people in these dissolving relationships do themselves a disservice if they decline to look past the cheating to their own credulity, or character, or wherever else some faulty wiring may have led them to volunteer to be the home bed for a bed-hopper.

In your case, the way you cast your letter suggests a marriage with so little intimacy that your most substantive conversations are the ones you have in your head.

The future of your marriage doesn't depend on whether you catch her at something; the whole issue of whether exes can be friends (on which I disagree with you, by the way) is a red herring. Your marriage depends on your figuring out who your wife really is. The picture you paint — or, at least, the negative space of the picture — is of someone you can't trust with your house keys, much less your soul.

But that view could be distorted by the degree of emotional alienation. So please take away everything you've told yourself about your wife, and listen carefully to what she has been showing you all along. If you really have spent four-plus years rationalizing away the truth about her, then your next move is to ask yourself why.

It's time to stop thinking and start talking — with your wife 04/01/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 1:04pm]

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...