Originally Published: April 7, 2018 5:59 a.m.
Updated as of Saturday, April 7, 2018 6:05 AM
Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our 60s and now both retired. About 18 months ago, I picked up his cellphone by mistake. (We had very similar phones at the time.) I discovered he was texting a former co-worker who is an attractive 30-something divorcee and who, when I first met her, introduced herself as my husband’s “work girlfriend.”
The texts were sent early in the morning while he was still in bed. I saw he had sent her texts saying he hoped she had a special and lovely day, with hearts and kissy-face emoticons. Her replies had the same emoticons.
I recalled that I had been wondering why he was getting messages all night long and always had his phone by his side. I hadn’t questioned it, because I completely trusted him.
Let me also mention that when he was still working, there were times when just the two of them were assigned to work together remotely. He says nothing ever happened.
When confronted about the messages, he admitted he had a strong attraction to her but insisted nothing physical had ever happened between them. He said the words he used in his messages were merely “terms of endearment” and he was only trying to encourage her because she was going through a rough patch at work. I reminded him that I was, too, but never once did he use those terms with me or send me kissy-face encouraging messages. Matter of fact, he’d tell me to shut up when I was talking to him about my work issues. He did tell me, though, that she had already broken up two marriages. (Why would he tell me this?)
After I discovered the messages, I asked him to stop contact with her, and he promised he would, but a few months later I discovered they were still messaging — which he denied, even though I had proof of it. This was all crushing to me at the time because I never, for even a moment, thought my husband would cheat on me. We were solid. My husband is very involved with the church, which makes this all the more unusual.
There is so much more to this that I’m not including, Annie. Am I just being paranoid, as he claims? Can this all be just coincidental, as he claims? Is he still having an emotional affair with this person? I told him initially that I’d leave him if I found he was still in contact with her. I told him he needed to choose, and he keeps telling me I’m his one and only love. I think the only reason he’s still with me is his fear of losing touch with our children. I feel old and fat and ugly and used. Am I right? — Suspicious
Dear Suspicious: No one can make you feel old, fat and ugly without your consent. Trust in a marriage is everything. If you feel that you have lost trust in your husband, it is time to seek counseling. It could be just an innocent friendship between two co-workers, or it could be more (and he’s giving more and more reason to believe it is more). But the most important thing is to address what is going on in your mind. If you are living with a feeling of suspicion that is affecting your self-esteem, you need to seek professional help. Once you begin to feel good about yourself, you can then address the issues with your husband with a clear mind.
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