Dear Carolyn: I think my husband is on the verge of having at least two emotional affairs via online chatting. We share a computer, and before I realized the Facebook account I saw wasn’t mine, I saw “wife” (i.e., me) and “sex” referring to our sex life. I otherwise wouldn’t have kept reading, but how do you not when you see those words? In the other chat I saw, he confided in another woman feelings about my family that he said he needed to keep from me.
He’s a nice guy, though sometimes quiet bordering on distant. It’s shocking to me that he’s been so forthcoming with these women online.
Am I going to have to confront him even though I “invaded” his space by seeing his chat history? I’m incredibly sad — which he notices — and I just have no clue what to do next.
Shaken, Stirred and Sad
Yes, you do have to confront him. Don’t let him turn the blame on you, though, for reading these exchanges. The damning words were in plain view, and you reasonably kept reading.
Don’t expect miracles, either; this talk will likely be the exact emotional situation he dreads most. You can make it as easy as possible for him by being a safe place for him to tell his truth. That means no interrupting, yelling, threats or name-calling. That also means expressing your feelings as well as your preference for the truth: “I am not angry that you feel this way about my family; I only feel sad that you didn’t tell me, and didn’t think you could.”
If he refuses to do his part, then counseling is the next step, and if he refuses that, you have a decision to make: a don’t-ask-don’t-tell marriage or no marriage at all.