Question: Dear Luise: My husband of 4 years has had frequent communications via email affairs with female friends. I did not mind this at first, though he never would or has introduced them to me. So after much more than once, coming across things he had emailed over the years, I found the content of these communications to be overly inquisitive and sexual and this distressed me so badly. Even when we had lost a baby he was still sending these improper communications. I finally confronted him. Once finally realizing just how much I knew, he was inconsolable and begged forgiveness. To me this kind of sneakiness was the same as cheating as I would never consider being this invasive into someone else’s life or sex life. It is not the kind of thing a married man should do. I told him this. I gave him another chance and he continued. I do not trust him at all. I do think he is naive and immature but never treat him so. I think he must just find me stupid, even after confronting him these times. As much as I might love him I will not be taken for a fool and have much to lose. Material things mean nothing to me. I am torn. Another sensible viewpoint on this would be so much appreciated. Many thanks for reading this. J.
Answer: Dear J.: You thought you were marrying a man but it sounds like you are having to cope with a teen-age boy. What you do about that has to do with what you want out of life. Probably more women than you and I can imagine deal with this “boys will be boys” issue on a daily basis.
If you find some satisfaction in being forced into the role of being your husband’s mother, then it may be enough to keep the relationship going…to have him be your recalcitrant child. However, it sounds to me like you are tiring of the game of “catch me if you can.” I have heard that counseling seldom resolves this kind of issue. He doesn’t want to change or give up his fantasy world. Not really. He wants you to ignore it. To him, you’re the problem.
We often don’t know a lot about what lies under the surface in our partners-to-be when we marry. That’s part of the reason for the “until-death-us-do-part” vows. It was once believed that family solidarity “no matter what” was best for all concerned. However, we now know that both adults and children can be seriously damaged by blindly following such a concept.
You say you won’t be taken for a fool. Are you sure? Isn’t that what’s happening? And you say you are torn. Of course you are. You married this man because you loved him. Love doesn’t necessarily vanish when incompatibility rears its ugly head. My point being that we can love people deeply that we can’t live with in a healthy, balanced way.
I think you know it’s over. He has what he wants which is a split ethic. To your husband, you have nothing to do with the games he plays and they have nothing to do with you. You don’t see it that way. You envision and represent a single ethic that reflects mature co-commitment and trust. There’s just no way that I know of to maintain those two belief systems in a partnership setting. Blessings, Luise