Can't Trust Her After 20 Years
Q: About 20 years ago I moved to a new town to accept a job. My wife (girlfriend at that time) and my best friend helped by moving all my belongings into storage, because I had to leave so rapidly. The day after I arrived I called her at her apartment to thank her and see how things went. When I told her I couldn't reach my friend, she told me he was there at her apartment. I felt completely overwhelmed by this answer and asked her why he was there at 8:00 in the morning. She said he had spent the night because he was too tired to drive home (25 miles). When I spoke with him, he said the same thing. I became upset with both of them and hung up.
Twenty years later, my wife located an old high school boyfriend on an internet "school mate" site. She asked me if I'd mind if she responded to his e-mail. I told her I didn't think this was a good thing to do, but that she would need to make her own decisions. This incident re-opened my suspicions about the original "overnight stay" and I questioned her about it in more depth. She claims that nothing happened, although they both slept in the same bed, but she slept under the covers while my friend slept on top of the covers. I now find this story hard to believe after 20 years of marriage. I feel very stupid for having gotten married and remaining all these years. --Edwin
Dr. Susan: I've known pairs of friends who have shared a bed and nothing sexual happened. You can be skeptical, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. Even if your girlfriend did actually cheat on you two decades ago, it might have been a chance, one-night thing, never repeated. What's much more important is how the past two decades have gone for the two of you. Have you been enjoying a good marriage, overall? Nothing can take that away, certainly not a quickie that may or may not have happened before you were married.
Now, as for her interest in reconnecting with an old boyfriend, it's not a great sign. I've looked my own up, as have zillions of others, out of dumb curiosity, but to go the next step and get in touch is asking for trouble. You might suggest to your wife that her interest in her old boyfriend makes you very uncomfortable (as human as it is), and if she does decide to respond to him, would she be willing to share her correspondence with you? In a good marriage, there is no room for that kind of secrecy. The other thing you can do is sit down with her and talk about what's missing from your marriage. Decide to do something new together to re-invigorate the time you spend together. After 20 years, it's natural to long for novelty and change. Why not meet the challenge together?
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.