Q. One day, when I was kissing my husband goodbye for work, he quickly closed a message box. At first I thought nothing of it, but it was bothering me still the next day.
I admit I opened his computer and looked. He speaks to many women — I saw lots of messages … no big deal. We both have friends. But one of the messages had selfies and things that bugged me in a “more than friends” way.
I let it go for a while, but a month later I was still upset and my imagination was running wild. I logged in again to put my running imagination to rest … and the messages were gone. He deleted them. The rest of the messages were still there.
I decided to be honest and just ask about it. He admitted he’s been talking to this woman for three years and said they are just friends. I just don’t understand, as he has dozens of female friends whose messages were not deleted. Is this an affair? Why delete messages if they were friendly?
I don’t know what to do.
A. He deleted the messages because he didn’t want you to see them (obviously). You already know they were flirty in nature because you read them. He steps over some kind of line with this woman, and he doesn’t want you to have access to the details. Maybe they’re just friends … but there might be some feelings there, too.
Sometimes relationships are not quite one thing. There can be chemistry without people acting on it. That could be the case here.
Can you accept the friendship without continuing to check his email? That’s what you have to decide. If he tells you he’s not having an affair but has a friend with whom he flirts, is that OK? If he has conversations with friends and wants to keep them private, can you deal?
It sounds like maybe you can. Even in this short letter you imply you have space for both of you having close connections outside the relationship.
What’s missing here is a real understanding about boundaries. Have another conversation with your husband about what’s OK and what feels like infidelity. Talk about how you manage your own friendships and when it feels OK to keep things private.
It’s clear you need at least one more talk about why this felt weird — and how to fix it. Hopefully, after more conversation, you can move on together without feeling the need to check his accounts. That’s when you know it’s all good — when you can leave his email alone.
You remember what the woman looked like, right? And/or do you know her, prior to your snooping? Say that you want to meet her (assuming she’s local). You can do drinks and apps, a movie — whatever. But, you want to see how they interact together to put your fears at rest.
I am sure this is not innocent. Counseling. This behavior does not occur in a happy relationship. Sorry, but where there is smoke there is fire.
“He speaks to many women … lots of messages…” Who are they? Because I’ve never met a guy, especially a married man, who keeps a running correspondence with “dozens” of women ... and closes the program down right away when the wife walks up. With all the gabbing, how does he have time for his job or his wife (or his kids, if you have them)? “Friends” can mean so many things, from platonic to flirt partner to friends-with-benefits to an emotional or physical affair. Tell him you’d like to meet some of these friends. That you’re a social gal. (And don’t feel you have to act cool about what he’s doing, like “no big deal.”)
If he values your marriage and his interactions with this woman are both unusual and cause a notable level of alarm, he needs to let it go. Also, the two of you need to figure out what he is getting from this interaction (or the idea of it) that he feels he is otherwise missing. Believe me, this kind of thing can eventually ruin a marriage if left unaddressed.
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