My husband had an affair quite a few years ago. He begged for forgiveness.
Years later I’m unsure I can ever really trust him.
His cell phone is a company/personal phone with a password and is always in his hand or on his hip.
I don’t know the password and am not allowed on his phone. He never leaves it unattended.
I’ve mostly been at home with kids and now with grandchildren, since our children are away at school or married.
When I ask to see his phone, he says that I don’t need to be going through it; he’s not doing anything wrong.
He says that he would never do anything like that again but I’m not sure what to believe.
He works long days and is stressed a lot from it. I can account for where he is mostly all the time.
But the phone thing really irks me and I can’t get past it.
Am I Naïve?
It’s the memory of that affair that irks you, not the phone. The hurt/distrust remains inside, ready to sear your mind and heart whenever you wonder who’s calling him, or whom he’s contacting.
You’ve had good years with happy events like family weddings. Yet you see that phone as his way of not letting you know everything, sparking painful memories.
But the fact that his phone is related to his work lets him avoid the conversation about that affair that you need to move past, together.
Talk about you, not the phone, nor your lingering suspicions. Tell him what it felt like back then to learn that he was involved with someone else.
Say what you’d feel today if you discovered that he could do it again.
Then ask him to help you trust him. You need to hear the right words, not just a dismissal.
If the two of you cannot handle this conversation, it’s time to see a therapist together about the distrust that remains like a wedge between you.
I’ve raised my step-daughter, 26, since she was 12. Her father had primary custody of her, since her mother left her at the babysitter's.
I believe she has serious abandonment issues that caused her to choose boyfriends interested in her first, which sparks her interest in them.
She can’t "disappoint" those she loves, won’t assert herself, and agrees to do anything for them.
Her relationship with her mother has gone from difficult to tolerable. Her relationship with her father and me has been healthy and loving.
I think she should be told what happened to her years ago, to better understand herself and her patterns.
We privately think that her (spiteful) maternal aunt may’ve let it slip (we have no more contact with her mother's family, who moved away without telling their daughter or grandchildren).
Between a Rock and Hard Place
You’ve raised this young woman so lovingly that it’s natural that you now want to smooth her future by informing her of how her past may be affecting her.
Don’t do it. It’s not your role or expertise to interpret her unpleasant history for her. And she may turn on you and her father as “the messengers.”
That’s the work of professional therapists, who have experience with abandonment issues and how they affect people.
If her choices are getting her into difficult situations, suggest she talk to a counsellor about it. Let the therapy process help her understand herself.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose husband suddenly left her (February 22):
Reader – “I’m divorced two and a half years after 14 years of marriage to my college sweetheart and two school-aged kids.
“The demise of my marriage seemed pretty quick at the time and he was a disaster for a while.
“I’d love to offer some support to “Devastated” through your column.
“I’m sending her, through you, a note of support and encouragement.”
Ellie - “This writer also wanted me to forward an email from her to the original letter-writer.
However, I do not connect letter-writers and readers, in order to keep this column totally confidential as to the letter-writer’s name, email, locale, etc.
That assures that people can write their stories seeking relationship advice without discomfort about revealing their concerns, fears, problems, etc.
Sending your support and encouragement in a feedback such as this is still very worthwhile and helpful to letter-writers and readers who’ve “been there.”
Tip of the day:
When you can’t forget a past wound, you need to discuss it together and/or in counselling, to heal.