I am currently facing what feels like the worst problem I've faced in my life and with no idea where to turn, I'm asking for your guidance and compassion. I've been married for two years to the love of my life, but for the past year or so, our life together hasn't been what we dreamed about when we got married. My husband has serious anger issues and it has felt like he is angry about anything and everything. When he's angry, he yells, shuts me out, and says incredibly hurtful things about our marriage and me. He's been depressed and seeing a therapist, but his anger has been tearing us apart. I've seriously considered divorce several times over the past year.
Then, about six months ago, I did a terrible thing. My husband and I were at an event and drank way too much. We befriended a lesbian couple seated near us and continued to drink with them at a nearby bar after the event ended. At some point during the very hazy drunken night, one of the women and I kissed briefly in the bathroom. I have no idea why I did something like that. I woke up the next morning with a hangover and an indistinct memory of what had happened. I didn't tell my husband.
He recently had to take a trip without me. While he was there, we began emailing each other during the day and something about the distance and writing instead of talking allowed us to be honest about our feelings about our relationship without arguing. We both expressed sadness at how badly our marriage had broken down and we talked about how to fix things. We talked about how to change the patterns we've fallen into when fighting and how to rekindle our love.
For a long time I was able to pretend the kiss had never happened, but recently it has become all that I can think about. I am consumed with guilt and regret. I'm having trouble concentrating at work and I want to cry every time I look at my husband. Things are slowly getting better between us, but I feel awful every second of every day. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and I think the kiss happened because I was so unhappy for a long time and just wanted to feel loved/desired. I've barely looked at another man since I met my husband, so something about this woman felt safe or better somehow. I was drunk, confused, and very sad. I know I can rationalize my behavior all I want, but it doesn't erase what I've done.
Which brings me to my questions: Should I confess this to my husband? Will the amount of time that it took me to tell him ruin my marriage? Will telling him just hurt him and make things worse? If I should tell him, how do I go about doing that? How do I move on from this?
– Horrified and Terrified, Massachusetts
A: If you're feeling awful "every second of every day," tell him what happened. Confess during one of your relationship talks, when you're both in a good mood and really listening.
But please don't let the kiss become too important. You guys are focusing on what counts -- your communication skills. If you let a drunken bathroom kiss become too much of a red herring, you'll begin to forget the point. I'm pretty sure that the kiss is not the point.
It's not that I condone the kiss, but I do want you to put it in perspective. Are you still thinking about it because you're unhappy with your physical relationship with your husband? Are you obsessed with it because you're confused about your feelings for women? Or are you simply freaked out by the idea of a cheat? Please spend some time defining your angst because your husband will have questions, probably more about your feelings about the kiss than the kiss itself.
I also recommend that you get your own therapist. I'm thrilled that your husband is seeking professional help for his depression, but you also have big questions. You're also in need of a safe space.
And maybe I'm overreacting here, but if you have any fears about how your husband will react to your kiss disclosure, please make that confession in therapy (a couples session) where you'll both have help processing his feelings. There's no need to go through this alone.
Readers? Is the kiss a big deal? Why is she thinking about it so much? Should she tell him and if so, how? What’s happening here? 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.