Q: My husband of 10 years has been acting distant and sneaky, so I decided to snoop through his computer. I know it wasn't right, but I did find things I didn't like. He has been corresponding with an old flame of his and telling her things like she still makes him weak in the knees, etc., and she's very reciprocal. In one email, he even told her that he didn't love me when we got married, he just thought he could fix a "broken soul," and ultimately learned to love me over the years but never forgot about this ex of his. The emails appear to have been going on for a few months, and when I confronted him, he was angry that I snooped and said that she really doesn't mean anything to him; he just wanted "closure" with her. I asked him to stop contacting her. He said he would, but I checked again, and he hasn't. I know I should leave him, but I love him, and I don't want to hurt my kids with divorce. As a product of a broken home, I want a better life for my children.
-- D.N., Buffalo
A: Although I don't encourage snooping, I do believe in trusting your instincts and following your inner voice. The vibes you have been getting from your husband are what brought you to go through his emails, and it turns out that you were right. It is unacceptable and highly inappropriate for him to be exchanging such emails with this woman. You have every right to be hurt and angry. You also deserve for him to listen to your feelings and respect your request that he stop emailing her.
The bottom line is that he is cheating on you, even if he is not having a physical relationship with her. Emotional cheating is still cheating, in some cases even more damaging, and you both need to acknowledge it as such.
You love him, but love is a two-way street, and when two people are truly in love, there isn't anything or anyone that can come between them. The statement he made to his ex about not loving you when he married you is extremely hurtful and an enormous red flag, and I think you know what your next move should be. Because you love him and want to save the marriage, you should strongly consider marriage counseling, but he has to be willing and completely honest throughout the entire process, and it sounds like he has trouble with being truthful.
There is a reason he's contacting his ex, and maybe he feels something is missing within your marriage, but it doesn't excuse his behavior in any way, shape or form. This man does not deserve your devotion and loyalty, as far as I'm concerned.
Regarding your children, I understand your desire to provide them with a stable family environment, because divorce can indeed be devastating for children and parents alike. However, kids have a keen sense of intuition, too, perhaps even more so than adults, and often they are well aware of problems between their parents. I believe in energy and that each of us gives off certain kinds of energy depending on how we're feeling, and the people around us can sense it. Living in a home with two parents who are at odds and going through trust and infidelity issues can be even more damaging than giving them two separate and peaceful living environments.
Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions (www.buffaloniagaraintro.com). E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your initials and hometown.