Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Decades ago, when my husband and I were raising babies, we became very close friends with a group of couples with kids of similar ages. We did everything with these people and I look back on (most of) that time as some of the most fun I ever had.
Then one day, while deep-cleaning my home, I found hidden a letter my husband had written to one of the other wives. It was two handwritten pages and professed very deep feelings for her. The first page was quite poetic and emotional and the second page was graphic and sexual. After 25-odd years I can still quote it almost word-for-word. I was numb and returned the letter to where I had found it.
Over the next few weeks, I checked that place almost compulsively, and the letter was still always there. Eventually, that other couple moved away. At some point after that, I checked again and the letter was gone. I do not know whether my husband sent it to her, ripped it up, or simply moved it to another place. I never mentioned it to him and we went on to have a very normal marriage, raise our children, and stay committed.
The daughter of another member of that former group is getting married next weekend, and the wedding will mark the first time I have seen the intended letter recipient since the early ’90s. I do not know what to expect, but I feel my heart clutch whenever I think of seeing her, particularly with my husband by my side.
Do you think that, after all this time, I should mention the letter to my husband and allow him the chance to reassure me?
– Sad Story Flaring Up
I would mention it, but not to obtain reassurance because there’s no guarantee I’d get that. The conversation in fact could unsettle things further.
I answered through my perspective because it’s too intensely personal for me even to try to answer through yours. Knowing what I know about myself, I don’t think I would have responded as you did in tucking the letter back in its hiding place and never saying a word. I probably would have spoken up right away. For better, for worse, who knows.
That makes your emotional landscape so unfamiliar to me that you remain the best guide through it (as is usually the case) – and so my advice is simply for you to figure out what you want from this confrontation or non–.
If you’re just looking to get through the weekend with a calmer heart, then please know that mentioning the letter will have potentially lifelong consequences while this wedding weekend will be over next Monday. Obviously you’ve been unsettled for years over your discovery, so the question I think you need to wrestle with – quickly – is whether you prefer the status quo, of stability without complete peace, or whether you’re ultimately unhappy with that outcome and feel ready to trade that stability for whatever peace is available from speaking up.
Again – if this is really just about getting reassurance, then you have to accept that this isn’t a vending machine; after you feed in your information, you have no say in what you’ll get.