I’m sure you’ve heard this story a thousand times, but it’s blown my whole world apart.
Maddy, a close friend of mine, informed me about my husband Jack and one of his associates getting a little too close.
Every year, Jack and Maddy’s company has a three-day conference in Chicago. Apparently, after one of the evening programs, Maddy went looking for Jack and heard that he has been seen going into the hotel room of one of his female associates from the Chicago branch.
Maddy couldn’t believe it – she’s known Jack for so long – so she went and knocked on this woman’s door.
Jack was there, they had wine glasses in their hands and although they were dressed, she was wearing a robe and he had part of his shirt open and shoes off. Maddy asked Jack if she could speak to him for a second, and Jack told her to go to bed and he would see her in the morning.
Maddy told me she didn’t sleep all night and didn’t know what to do with this information. It wasn’t until a month after the incident that Maddy finally let it all out. Knowing how this would affect me, she struggled with what the right thing to do was.
Of course, I’m glad she told me, but part of me wishes she hadn’t. I already have so much to deal with raising two young boys while working and running our home.
Have I been as attentive to Jack as I should have been? Probably not. Do I look as good as I did when we first got married 15 years ago? Definitely not. Am I angry? Madder than a bull in a rodeo.
I haven’t done anything with this information. I can’t confront Jack, because I don’t want to hear the words from his lips. Our family will be torn apart, and keeping my head buried in the sand means everything can remain status quo.
I realize deep down that it’s anything but normal, but I’m afraid to ruin our family’s routine. The boys will be devastated if we separate. I have no idea how I’ll manage financially. I can’t do this. Why did he do this to us? I hate him for this. Can you give me any advice at all?
Dear Broken Trust
Let’s examine what you’ve told me. Jack went into a hotel room of a female associate. He was seen fully clothed – sans shoes, relaxing and having a drink. He didn’t seem to panic when he saw Maddy, but instead told her he would talk to her the next day. Why are you jumping to the worst possible conclusion?
You need to have a conversation with Jack. Be honest and tell him exactly what Maddy told you, and ask him for an explanation. My guess is that he will say he was relaxing with a colleague after a long day of seminars. Can you trust that to be true?
This is where the crux of the problem is. Do you trust your husband? That’s a loaded question that you must think long and hard about. Has Jack given you any reason in the past not to trust him, or are you feeling insecure because you say you’re not as attentive and maybe don’t look the same as you did 15 years ago? Is this your problem or Jack’s?
You are already thinking about separation without so much as a word between you.
Whether Jack has had an affair is a significant question, however the more important point is that you can’t discuss this with your husband of 15 years. Marriage is not always bliss. Couples need to have difficult conversations. A successful marriage is hard work and trust is the solid foundation on which you can build the rest of the relationship. If you don’t have that foundation, everything you build on top will remain shaky.
It’s time to seek professional help to work out your trust issues. If in fact you find that your suspicions were correct, you have a difficult road ahead of you and a life-altering decision that will affect many people besides you and Jack.
Please don’t put this off for one more day. You have two children who will be affected by how you conduct yourself through this situation. Take charge of your anxiety and deal confidently with whatever the outcome is.
Knowledge is power. Get to the root of the problem, whether it’s yours or his, and deal with it, preferably together.
Don’t give up the battle before it even begins.
Readers may submit their questions to Ella at The CJN, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ella is not a professional counsellor. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.