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Q: I recently discovered inappropriate emails between my husband and a female friend and co-worker of his. There was flirtation involved.
This issue arose with the same woman back when we were dating. I noticed that their communication was flirtatious and what I considered to be inappropriate for someone in a committed relationship. I told him that it made me uncomfortable and would prefer if they kept their relationship work-related only. After a long argument and me threatening to breakup with him, he agreed. Then I found out that he friended her on Facebook. He assured me that they had a strictly work-related relationship. I believed him.
Last week, I found the above mentioned email communication. I confronted him and he became extremely defensive and said that I violated his privacy by reading the emails. I then found more emails. One email had communication about a movie date. In another email, she simply stated that she loved him. Another asked if he was still married.
I confronted him with these emails and again he accused me of violating his privacy. He said that the emails about the movie were an inside joke, and that he would never go to the movies with her or do anything else like that. He said that she says she loves him (as a friend) but he has never told her that he loves her. He admits that the flirtation was inappropriate and that he would address the behavior, but refuses to give up their friendship. He says it is a principled stand because he feels I am trying to control him and dictate who his friends are. I have never asked him to end any other friendships.
We are trying to secure an appointment with a marriage counselor. However, as he refuses to end their "friendship," I really do not see how we can move forward. For the record, I do not believe that they have had an affair. I am seeking perspective.
– Emails, MD
A: You can move forward if you get to that marriage counselor. A professional will help you guys focus on what matters, which is how all of this makes you feel.
Ethics and privacy issues aside, something prompted you to go into his account without permission. You had a bad vibe. Where did it come from? What were your first thoughts after you read the emails? If this woman didn't exist, would you have other problems?
For the record, his relationship with this woman does sound inappropriate. "I love you" and "Let's go to the movies" aren't funny inside jokes. She's flirty and he likes it. Or maybe he feels bad for her. It's tough to say. It's worth asking him some questions about what he gets out of their friendship.
As for the snooping, yes, it's always a horrible relationship crime ... unless you find what you're looking for. He can be angry about what you did, but all that matters right now is why you did it and what you found.
Get into therapy, and again, please focus on the feelings, not the right and wrong. Right vs. wrong debates won't get you to a better place.
Readers? Which crime is worse? Snooping or sending those emails? Should he cut this woman out of his life? What about the inside jokes? How can the LW make the most of therapy? Discuss.
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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.