Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I need some advice about my marriage. I don’t know what to do. It’s been almost two months since I found my husband had his ex-girlfriend’s number in his phone saved under a false name. When I asked him, he denied everything, saying he didn’t chat with her, and simply had her number saved as he does many of his Facebook friends. He said her number was public on her page.
He lied to me; there were no numbers on her page. I confronted him and he later admitted she friend-requested him and he didn’t know what came over him but he accepted. From there, she sent a message with her phone numbers and he also gave her his. They started video calling and catching up during working hours, since I’m a stay-at-home mom. He says it was all innocent and it was only friends catching up after almost 12 years. He said he saved her numbers under a false name because he didn’t want me to know he had her numbers and I wouldn’t understand.
But why hide her numbers if it was innocent? Why delete everything they talked about — because he made sure to delete everything and not leave a trace.
Please give me some advice. We’ve been married for 15 years now and have three kids together. I no longer trust him and I feel second-best to his ex. Why did he accept her request on Facebook when he is married? It’s like he’s telling me his ex will always be part of his life. Please help me; it’s been almost two months since I’ve discovered this but the pain is still deep. Instead of loving my husband ... I now have full hate.
I would guess that you don’t feel hate, but hurt, and a lot of it, and you’ve every right to feel betrayed and disappointed by your husband. You aren’t wrong or crazy for feeling this way; you’ve experienced an extended deception from someone who is supposed to have your back above all else. It’s confusing, disorienting, devastating — but it doesn’t have to be the end of your marriage.
First, you aren’t the first to go through something like this. Wayne and I have heard countless stories of people who learn their partner has been secretly corresponding with an ex or flirting with someone else online. There are a million reasons this happens, from the partner looking for excitement to an ego boost to a full-fledged affair. Sometimes people just want the thrill of talking to someone new; sometimes there are more serious or physical intentions.
Only your husband knows why he accepted his ex’s request, why he chose to talk to her, why he stripped his phone and computer of all records of these conversations and why he actively hid her identity from you. You have the right, as his wife, to receive a full download from him of why he did these things and what his real motivations were; there is far too much damning evidence of him actively deceiving you for him to play the “you just didn’t understand” card. You understand perfectly well: He had a secret friendship with an ex and you are absolutely not OK with that. You have the right to tell him it needs to stop. You even have the right to ask for his passwords and for full visibility of his online correspondence. These conversations are emotional and tough and may be better done with a third-party, i.e., a marriage counselor supporting you both as you figure out whether your marriage can and should be saved.
The nerve on this guy! Sneaks around, hides the evidence and still gets busted. Doubles down and lies, gets busted again. Then bets the house by explaining how you wouldn’t understand — at least he was true there because how could you understand? Terrible liar and probably, at this point, a terrible husband.
There are perfectly reasonable and respectful ways to maintain relationships with people from our pasts, including former flames. And in the age of social media, we’re more likely to stay connected to or reconnect with these folks than ever before. But if you have to be deceitful with your partner about these “friendships,” you clearly shouldn’t be doing it. And whether he is totally clueless or totally cheating, he should agree to cancel social media until this all gets sorted out. If he refuses that, you know you’ve got real trouble.
Then, before you spend any more time stewing on how and why he would do such dastardly things, you should take a few days off from him, try to clear your head, and seriously think about whether you feel like you can trust him ever again and if you want him in your life anymore. Tough to do when you’re furious, of course, and when there are kids involved, but it needs to be done.
Once you figure that out, you’ll know the best way forward: starting to move on without him or trying to work things out with him. Painful either way, but this needs to be addressed ASAP, for you and your kids’ sake.