I’ve been with my husband for 20 years, and we’ve been married for 17.
There’s a woman in his life that he calls his friend, and their relationship worries me. He texts her every morning and communicates with her daily.
I’ve told my husband on multiple occasions how I feel about his relationship with this woman, but he insists that she’s just a friend.
A couple of months ago, a different woman sent him a picture wearing lingerie. When I asked him about it, he said it was his ex that lives out of state and they aren’t in a relationship.
I told him how much he’s hurt me, and he said it wouldn’t happen again.
But three months later, soon after he started a new habit of going on daily walks, I found a picture of his woman friend on his phone, taking a walk with him.
Anytime I bring this to his attention he downplays the way I feel.
Is my husband having an affair? Should I stay in this marriage? I love this man, but I’m at my wit’s end.
Of course you’re frustrated. Your husband isn’t taking time to understand your concerns that you’ve brought up time and time again.
There’s no way for me to know for sure whether he’s being unfaithful, or whether it’s in your best interest to stay. What I can say, however, is that it’s important you understand why his actions have felt so hurtful.
This reflection is essential because it will help you determine whether jealousy is clouding your judgment, or if you have past experiences that reinforce the distrust you’re feeling towards him.
That’s because the behaviors you described, in some circumstances, could be considered emotional cheating, or when someone has a non-physical but emotionally close connection with someone other than their partner.
Before you jump to this conclusion with your husband, consider how you’ve defined your relationship together and what you’ve left unsaid over the past 20 years.
Some people use the term emotional cheating to justify their jealousy or co-dependency with their partner, New York City therapist Rachel Wright previously told me. That’s why thinking about it constructively, and considering the role your own emotions play into the situation, can help you gauge the severity of the situation.
“Instead of, ‘we need to put rules in place so I don’t feel this,’ it’s like, ‘oh, let’s look at why I’m feeling jealous and try to solve the root of the problem,'” Wright told me.
Jealousy often stems from insecurity, fear of abandonment, or feeling like your relationship is lacking. But that doesn’t mean, if that’s the case, it’s your husband’s responsibility to change his hobbies and life.
Instead, be more specific about how his friendship hurts you and what you’d like to remedy the situation.
If, for example, you realize your jealousy stems from wishing your partner spent more time with you, you could express that need with him and set up regular date nights. You’ll get more time with your husband without suggesting his other relationships detract from yours.
On the other hand, if your husband’s recent actions part of a pattern of distrust that’s existed throughout your relationship, it’s possible something is going on behind-the-scenes.
According to Wright, if a partner’s other relationships and the things they do to maintain them affect their ability to upkeep your own relationship, that could be defined as emotional cheating.
While daily text fodder with a friend can be completely normal, if your husband cancels your existing plans to hang out with his lady friend or texts her whenever you’re trying to speak with him, it could be a red flag.
In that case, it would make sense to call out what you’ve been seeing and ask him what’s really going on.
Something like, “I feel disconnected from you and have noticed you’ve been guarded around your phone lately. Why is that?” can highlight the changes you’ve observed and how it’s affected you personally.
From there, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s something you can work through together, or if you should leave.
As Insider’s resident sex and relationships reporter, Julia Naftulin is here to answer all your questions about dating, love, and doing it — no question is too weird or taboo. Julia regularly consults a panel of health experts including relationship therapists, gynecologists, and urologists to get science-backed answers to your burning questions, with a personal twist.
Have a question? Fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.
Related coverage from Doing It Right:
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.