Advice Sought by Husband

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-27-2014
Advice Sought by Husband
10
Thu, 02-27-2014 - 5:37pm

(Hope this is the right Board to use.)

My wife “Anne” and I have been married for 12 years and have two grade school age boys. I thought our marriage was pretty good.

In early Fall of last year Anne went to her 30th high school reunion out of town and while there reconnected with old friends including an old boyfriend “John” -- the original love of her life. 

Over the course of a number of weeks after she got back I started to feel a sense of resentment and coldness towards me. This led to a few fights during which she shocked me by saying “I’ve never really felt close to you our entire marriage except at the beginning.”  This led to more heated and sorrowful discussions over a month or so.  She said nothing inappropriate happened at the reunion but that the reunion did make her take account of her unhappiness in our marriage. We decided to seek counseling.  

In counseling session #5 or so, Anne offered unprompted that she had been contacting her old boyfriend since the reunion. She said it was innocent.  John had told her at the reunion that not marrying Anne was the biggest mistake of his life and she acknowledged that she “thought about him every day. “ She had told me previously that she had not been in contact with him since the reunion, so the admission in therapy was a way for her to “come clean” so to speak. I hadn’t ever known Anne to lie to me directly.

I decided to pull up cell usage records and discovered that she first contacted him on New Year’s Day by phone.  Then every few weeks or so thereafter she would text. Often they were multimedia texts meaning an image was attached. She was always the initiator.

(Back in the Fall, I had happened upon Anne Googling her maiden name. I didn’t think much of it. Thereafter she changed our home answering machine to provide callers with her and mine separate cell phone numbers. I assume now she was hoping/expecting John to look her up and call and when he didn’t, she made contact with him.)

My Questions:

  • Does this seem really bad or should one be free to keep in touch with an old intimate friend? Would one delete innocent texts? Does a married woman send Valentine greetings to a male friend absent a romantic interest?
  • How should I approach talking with her about what I’ve discovered?  Should I wait and do it in therapy?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 02-27-2014 - 8:28pm
  • Was my snooping of her cell phone justified?
Normally I do not like snooping, but given that she already lied to you about contacting John, I could see why you would do it to learn the extent of their contact.

  • Does this seem really bad or should one be free to keep in touch with an old intimate friend?  I think that being in touch with old high school classmates is fine when there is no romantic interest.  I talk to old classmates on Facebook who are married men but there are a lot of differences.   it's public--everybody, including their wives, can see what I wrote and it's not romantic at all, plus I have no interest in them.  These are general type conversations that anyone might write--about politics, the weather, not intimate stuff.
  •  Would one delete innocent texts?  Generall I'd say no, but I know in my old phone, after you had a certain amount of texts, you had to delete them, because it would say "incoming texts are full."
  •  Does a married woman send Valentine greetings to a male friend absent a romantic interest?  generally no
  • How should I approach talking with her about what I’ve discovered?  Should I wait and do it in therapy? I think it would be a good idea.  I hope the therapist can get her to see that it's impossible for the 2 of you to work on your marriage if she keeps contacting this guy & fantasizing about him.  Remember when Princess Diana gave that interview where she said she always felt there were 3 people in the marriage (meaning Prince Charles' current wife Camilla, who he never stopped loving).  I also think she does not understand the right now, John is a fantasy--the one who got away.  Maybe they would have a good relationship if they got together, but she is basing this idea on maybe one night of talking at a party--if she hasn't been with him in 30 yrs, she doesn't realize how much both of them have changed.  There's a good possibility if they got together now that things wouldn't work out because they aren't teenagers any more.  Plus is she really willing to break up the family & cause a lot of disruption for your kids to pursue this fantasy?
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Thu, 02-27-2014 - 11:37pm

It's obvious from what you've written......it's all one sided on your wife's part.  He doesn't contact her, she contacts him.  She's probably hoping there's still something there, but it really sounds like it's all on her side, not his.  Sure, he would say something nice at the reunion, I've been to many of them, and everyone is nice to each other, and saying something like that would just be a "feel good" statement for her.  That doesn't mean he still wants her, and from the lack of his response, it doesn't sound like he does.  He's probably married or in a relationship.  Bring it up in therapy......you WILL have to confess that you snooped, but all's fair in love and war, and you want the war to end.  She needs to get her head screwed on tight......and hopefully the therapist will make her see the error of her ways.  Maybe the therapist can also help both of you to work on the "closeness" she feels is missing.  Good Luck!

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Fri, 02-28-2014 - 1:14am

 snooping -not justified

keeping in touch is fine.  I have been in touch with past lovers ex's etc no big deal.

Valentines's is a remeberance of being a teen

 confession-???   This could end badly. 

 kung fu panda

chaika

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2010
Fri, 02-28-2014 - 2:08am

The snooping was justified because you already had reason to believe that there was something going on. The problem with it is that sometimes you find something you either didn't really want to find, or you don't know what to do with what you found---in your case, in order to discuss the info that you found it will have to be revealed that you snooped, which may create a new problem.

Would she delete innocent texts? Maybe. I delete many texts and voicemail from my phone just to clean it up, not to hide anything.

In general, married women don't send valentines to men other than their husbands.

Couples should be free to have opposite sex friendships if they don't take away from the marriage/relationship. When its a former flame it gets trickier but can be done, if both parties are completely over the other. In your wife's case it sounds inappropriate and threatening to your marriage because she was hiding it, and because of how much she is thinking about him.

I'm not so sure that you should tell her that you snooped, unless you feel like you will always feel guilty about hiding something. I would worry that the snooping issue could allow her to deflect the focus from her behavior to yours. Adding another problem to the mix right now could complicate things.

In therapy you can ask questions about how often they communicate, who initiates it, what is said, etc. I would also open the topic of what "innocent" means to her...just because they're not sexting or making plans to meet in person doesn't mean that she/they are not fantasizing to the point where it detracts from the marriage or developing an emotional relationship. Even if it is completely one-sided and he is an unwilling recipient of her interest, its not necessarily "innocent". It would be good to discuss this with the therapist present, I like the example that another poster gave about "a third person in the marriage" and maybe the therapist can get your wife to see how she is bringing a third person into your marriage.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Fri, 02-28-2014 - 11:59am

'Was my snooping of her cell phone justified?' - yes.

'Does this seem really bad or should one be free to keep in touch with an old intimate friend?' - sorry, it does seem bad. You asked..

'Would one delete innocent texts?' - No.

'Does a married woman send Valentine greetings to a male friend absent a romantic interest?' - No. She does if she is interested in him romantically. Ohterwise, the thought won't cross her mind.

'How should I approach talking with her about what I’ve discovered?' - doesn't matter how you approach it really. You need to know what's happening. If this is just a brief 'emotinal infatuation', years and years with one person, then she sees the old love, gets reminded of when she /him were young, phhwoaar, wow, bang, blast etc. Or it's the case of her wanting out of the marriage, having wanted out for a long time and this reunion being a push she needed. You need to talk to her, to ask her to be honest with you...

Can't comment re: therapy as I've never been to therapy

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-27-2014
Fri, 02-28-2014 - 3:09pm

Thanks everyone for the thoughts and advice.  It is very helpful to me.

I'm not comfortable with the snooping, but feel it was a necessary "evil."  I'm glad to hear most think it was justified given the situation.

I think the observation that it is like having a third person in the marriage is a good one.  Even though I think nothing physical has happened and he is married and lives far away, Anne is giving him (seemingly) romantic attention that is likely negatively affecting how she relates to me.   I can't hep but fail in comparison to a guy who is mostly fantasy and reminisces.  (I was out of town on Valentine's Day and while I arranged to have a card and gifts for Anne, she didn't even think to text me that same morning she texted John.) 

I think I'm inclined to approach her openly and just ask questions in a loving and non-judgmental manner and give her the opportunity to share the truth. If she does we can talk more deeply about how it is affecting our relationship, how it makes me feel, what she is looking for in John, etc.  If she is not forthcoming I'm not sure if I confront her then or wait until therapy so that it is not too confrontational. i'm really hoping she is honest with me.

(Just on a factual note, the texts were NOT deleted for space or organizational reasons.  I'm 100% sure they were deleted to hide their existence. She sent John another picture yesterday and texted back and forth a few times, but I'm not going to look at them.)

Thanks again for the help and please send other thoughts if you have them.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-04-2006
Sat, 03-01-2014 - 12:13pm
Just FYI, a friend of mine divorced after running into an ex who was her first love. She says seeing him made her realize her marriage was lacking. The "relationship" with the ex didn't last, but she still went ahead with the divorce. I would definitely bring it up in therapy. I don't believe the ex is the cause of the marriage problems, but a symptom. Find the cause.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Sun, 03-02-2014 - 2:48am

Usually when one snoops,we are meerly trying to confirm our suspisions. But the problem is... after our suspisions are confirmed what do we do? Right now you are in a tough spot because you are completing with a fantasy of what was and could have been. After my class reunion my old boyfriend contacted me, saying I was the one he had never gotton over and I was the one who had gotten away. Unlike your wife I was not caught up in the pass, I remained in the here and now. Unfortunately your wife is trying to recapture something that has long been over. Class reunions can sometimes affect  people that way, in my situation I was purely casual with my teenage love when he contacted me on f/b. After all we were both married and after a while he stopped contacting me. Hopefully your wife stop contacting him and  get to the root of her real problem in the relationship. The guy is only the sympton of the problem she has with the relationship the real problem is yet to be revealed. Hope therapy helps and good luck to you.

Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004
Mon, 03-03-2014 - 4:52pm

Perhaps you can ask the therapist whether you should bring up the snooping. Besides it would be good information for the therapist to know, that she is contacting this guy, etc. As someone else mentioned, maybe this communication will just blow over and fade away, as it seems one sided. Regardless of her communication with him or not, you two still have some big issues to deal with, her admission of not feeling close to you and whatever else she said. I thought it was very telling that you gave her a V-Day gift, and she gave you nothing and to top it off she texts the other guy.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-27-2014
Mon, 03-03-2014 - 7:24pm

Thanks again for the thoughts.

Anne and I ended up talking things over this weekend. I hadn't really planned to, but some circumstances conspired to force my hand.

She was not forthcoming initially but eventually did own up to what she was doing and admitted she had romantic feelings for John but nothing happened nor were they going to. I mostly believe her, at least in the short term.. Some more things came out about which I was unaware as well. We both want to work on our marriage and will be talking more with our therapist next week. Anne has promised not to contact John. John was not real receptive anyways and is married, so my hope is this will die away.

That said, I realize as some commentators suggested that John was not a cause, but rather a symptom of other marital issues. I know we have work to do.

This really was helpful pondering what you all had to say as I decided how to handle the issue.  Thank you.