Dear Carolyn: I'm married with a child and another on the way. I've seen a couple of emails on my wife's phone related to dating websites, like eHarmony.com. After a little investigation, it appears that there is no way to sign up to receive those emails without posting some type of profile.
I am suspicious that she is or was out looking for alternatives. I just don't know what to do. Should I approach her or, because I don't know for sure, just let it go? And I don't know what I'd do if she were out there trolling, as it were. Mostly we seem happy and have a good life. I just don't know what to think about it.
A: Given your (appearance of) happiness and "good life," I suppose I can see why you'd consider letting it go -- but how would you un-see what you've seen, and un-think what you've thought?
People do have divergent pain thresholds, and with those come different ideas of what they need and want to know. However, I don't think intimacy is that variable; if you choose to carry on as if nothing happened, then you're essentially deciding to coexist peacefully with your wife, but not be emotionally close to her.
Maybe that distance was there before you caught sight of those emails? If so, that can explain why a pregnant wife might risk said "good life" to look for intimacy somewhere else.
You don't know what you'll do if you find she's being unfaithful, and that's normal. It just means you need to give deliberate thought to what you want out of your marriage. If you're content to get along superficially, or, alternately, if you're comfortable with a lot of lumps in your marital oatmeal, then you're one of the people suited to looking the other way. I won't say they're rare -- I think more of us are like that than care to admit it. It's just that the ones who do it without denial, with their eyes open to the inherent risk of getting hit hard someday down the road, are indeed an unusual breed.
If you aren't a roll-with-it risk-taker, and just want to know what's going on with your wife, want to be close, want to raise kids with a full emotional partner, and want these things knowing you don't have any say in the outcome beyond what you bring to your 50 percent, then open your mind and confront this.
Specifically: Tell your wife that you saw these emails and that asking her what they're about makes more sense than letting your imagination churn up ideas, which it has been doing a lot of lately. Maybe it'll be that simple.
If it isn't -- if she balks or turns it on you -- then tell her this: That you'd rather have her just tell you what she's thinking and feeling than worry how you'll react when you hear it. It doesn't make sense, after all, for either of you to look ahead to cleanup or repairs till you both know what problems you face.