Hurt by wife’s constant messaging
Dear Dr Nekia,
My wife is constantly talking online to a man and she says there is no harm in doing it. It is a co-worker she had an emotional affair with, which I forgave. She spends little quality time with our three children, but spends all her time on her appearance. She very rarely expresses how she feels about me, but seems to constantly see the need to message this guy. We’ve talked about how hurt it makes me feel, yet she still continues to do it. The guy at her job can’t even look me in the eye and I get a bad feeling in my gut when I see him on the street. Is it time for us to split?
Dear Unfaithfully Mine,
Your wife is mistaken to think that there is no harm in her actions if, for no other reason, than the fact that it makes you uncomfortable. Many couples find it difficult to strike a balance between what they want as an individual and what their partner wants or needs from the relationship. Your wife may say that she is having innocent conversation and you are just jealous and controlling.
Let’s say that you are jealous and that your jealousy does cause you to overreact or become paranoid. This still would not automatically grant her the go-ahead to keep doing what she is doing. In your case, you have a very sound reason for why you are uneasy with her communicating with this fella. She should not be communicating with him outside of work. It doesn’t matter the nature of their conversations. Because her affair was an emotional one, online chatting can be just as much of an infidelity as if she were meeting him face to face. Emotional affairs do not require for the individuals involved to be near one another because they are predominantly mental.
Next, let’s factor in that you are feeling that she is neglecting the family. Not only do you feel that she is less connected than she should be as a mother, but you also think that she neglects you as a wife. You are not receiving the attention that this man is receiving and here lies a big problem. The bottom line is that when a person continues to do a behaviour that they know is hurting their spouse, they are making the decision to put their own needs first. It does not matter if they feel that their actions are justified or if they feel remorse or guilt, the end result is that the behaviour and the pain that it causes continues.
It is completely inappropriate for her to be friends with a man she was once unfaithful with. Should you end your marriage? I cannot say yes or no to this but what I can say is that until she decides to stop what she is doing and to gain some perspective about herself and her marriage, things will continue to disintegrate between the two of you.
There is a reason why she is acting the way that she is and until the motives for her actions are uncovered and dealt with, chances are that she will continue to do as she pleases. If she cannot communicate her motives, thoughts and feelings to you, try to see if she is willing to talk with a counsellor. Since you suggested that she spends excess amounts of time on her appearance, my guess is that there is a bit of insecurity underlying all of this, but you may need a mediator to help get to the bottom of things.
Dear Dr Nekia,
I am involved with a man who is 15 years younger than I am. At first things were fun and light-hearted, but we have grown very attached to one another. He expresses that he wishes to be with me and only me, and even though I have these feelings for him as well, I am hesitant. I just can’t believe that our relationship could last long term because of our age difference. He assures me that he is fine with our ages but I just can’t shake my insecurities. I am too old to go through yet another heartbreak or disappointing relationship and I fear that as I age, he will grow to regret his decision. He says that he has always been attracted to women much older than he is, but he is still a young man, 35 years old, with his whole life ahead of him. How can I trust that he really knows what he wants and will not change his mind?
Older But Not A Cougar
Dear Older But Not A Cougar,
The issue is not so much in trusting him, but in trusting yourself, what you share and what you are feeling for him. The fact is that this man, regardless of his age, has a proven history of being attracted to much older women. You can pretty much bet that if he was not interested in you he would want to enter into a relationship with someone who is around the same age as you. You look at his age and say that he could be spending his life with a woman who is more his age who can give him children and build a future with him. What you are not doing is taking the life that he wants for himself seriously.
I am sure that he has given considerable thought to the pros and cons of a relationship with an older woman. Have you ever stopped to think that what he finds attractive about older women is more important to him than what he may find appealing about someone his own age? Have you considered that what a relationship with an older woman can bring fulfils him more than a relationship with someone within his peer group?
We all have been hurt, but past failure is not a reason to doubt future happiness. You either want to be happy or you do not. You have to make that choice for yourself, and then have the courage to go for what you want in life. The reality is that no matter the age of your partner, there are no guarantees that things will work out. Men far older than you cheat with women far younger than you, and anyone has the potential to regret their relationship decisions.
Address your insecurities about yourself and stop projecting them on to your partner. Doing so only makes them have to constantly assure us of things that we should already know and feel and they become tired and weary from having to put all of this energy into such an empty and negative space.
In this way, we create a self-fulfilling prophecy where we destroy our own relationships and create our own loneliness and unhappiness. So, to answer your question, you can start to trust him by first starting to trust yourself. If your gut truly tells you that it is best not to pursue this relationship, go with what it says because maybe it is not so much that he will change his mind, but that you are picking up on there being something that isn’t quite right about the whole thing.
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