Happy Friday. I don't know where this letter writer is from.
Q: Hi Meredith,
I can't seem to get over a possible cheat. I say "possible" because my husband will not admit that he cheated. But I know in my gut he did.
About a year ago, he became very withdrawn from our family. He would come home and read a magazine while I got the kids their dinner. He would not initiate any affection or intimacy toward me. I did try to initiate "couple time" away from the house, but he always came up with an excuse as to why we shouldn't leave the kids or he'd say he was too tired from work. For fear of an argument, I didn't confront him and just focused on the kids, my career, and my relationships with my family and friends. Yes, I enabled him to withdraw, so part of this is my fault.
As time went on, I started to become suspicious. He was on his BlackBerry a lot. I snooped on his BlackBerry and sure enough there were quite a few emails between him and another (younger) woman at work. I didn't say anything right away and just monitored the emails from time to time. One morning, when we were eating breakfast as a family, I watched him write an email on the BlackBerry and smile and laugh. When he walked away, I picked it up and read it. Sure enough it was correspondence between him and the other woman.
I point blank asked him what was going on between him and Lady X. Of course he denied it and said how dare I cause him additional stress during what is a very busy time for him at work. He also said she was ugly and that they didn't get along. (I saw her Facebook page and she isn't ugly.) Also, from their emails it appeared they got along just fine. The email content was mostly flirting and joking. But why had he never mentioned her? And why was this happening during our family time?
I will say that he usually comes home from work at a reasonable time so he's not hooking up with her after work. At the very least, I think this was an emotional affair, which still hurts just as bad since I don't feel I get the emotional support I should as a his wife. In his defense, he is an excellent dad with the exception of when he was withdrawn last year. He also has made more of an effort to be a loving husband.
However, I can't get past this incident. He made me feel like I was being the jealous wife. I told him that this whole thing makes me feel insecure and he said, "That's your problem." However, since this confrontation, he has become more attentive and does not use his BlackBerry in my presence. But what happens when I'm not around? What happens at the office? Sometimes I feel that if he just admitted he had feelings for her but doesn't anymore, I could move past this. But then again, I'm not so sure. I want so badly to move forward but this alleged affair continues to cloud my thoughts. I feel I just need closure. I need him to admit to me it was some kind of affair. Then I either figure out a way to move past this or divorce him.
– Want to Know
A: Let's pretend I have proof that your husband never had an affair and that this woman is just a super awesome work friend who makes him laugh. Let's pretend that your marriage is just your marriage and that there are no third parties, just pals.
In this pretend world, are you satisfied with your relationship? Do you love your husband? Are you capable of intimacy? Do you have fun with him?
I don't know what your husband has been up to, and he's handled this so, so poorly. But you've asked him a question and he's given you an answer. He says he's not cheating, so that's that. Instead of focusing on sleuthing to prove that he did, please use your energy to consider your daily life with your husband. If he's trying a bit harder these days, take advantage. Tell him what you need.
This woman is a bit of a red herring. You keep asking about her and what she represents, but my questions for you and your husband are: "Do you want to be married?" and "How do you want that marriage to look?" Really, it's so much more productive to figure out what you want for yourself than to obsess about this woman.
It'll be easier to talk to your husband about your marriage if you keep her out of it. I empathize (I'd be obsessed with her too), but your investigation just isn't constructive right now. Feel free to investigate your marriage, but leave her out of it.
Readers? Am I right or should she figure out what's happening with this woman? Am I right to say that the woman is a red herring? Is she the cause of all of the problems? What should the letter writer do? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.