Recurrent Emotional Affairs, Maybe More?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I have been married to my husband for almost 3 years now. After about 6 months of marriage, I noticed the increasing amount of time that he spent on the computer. I ignored those thoughts, and denied he would do anything to harm our marriage online. But then around the time I became pregnant (after one year of marriage) I noticed he was on a graphic dating site, where individuals would “rate” your profile. His conversations with these girls were humiliating and disgusting. I called him and asked him about the website, and he denied being on it. It infuriated me to see he would log on at 5:35am every morning after I left for work at 5:30am. I always wonder if he would watch me pull out of the driveway so he knew it was “all clear.” He then later admitted to it, knowing I had seen it online. He promised to never do it again, and said he wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize our marriage. So a few months went by, and I noticed many cell phone records from an old “friend” of his, whom he used to date. I noticed they would chat when I was out of the house working, or already in bed at night. He again denied ever calling her, and didn’t know how the numbers got on the itemized phone bill. Around that same time, I noticed emails coming in from another old “friend” from out of state. He was very intrigued by this woman, and would write extremely graphic emails, telling her how he fantasized about her, and that he could pick her up from the airport anytime if she wished. My stress was unbearable. I asked my husband about this woman, and he said, “She’s just my friend.. You don’t understand our special friendship.” He would get extremely angry with me. I felt so used and worthless at this point. I told my husband that I couldn’t live in a “crowded marriage”.. If he couldn’t stop, I would have to leave. His famous line at this point was, “Forget about it already and move on.” What am I supposed to think about that? After I had my baby, I noticed Paul had to leave the hospital frequently to “get away for a while..” Later I noticed once again phone calls to women while I was in the hospital. At this point, I started getting worried that I may catch an STD from him if he was fooling around. I spoke with an attorney, and left my husband. We were separated for about 6 months when we reconciled after attending a marriage seminar for marriages in crisis. I really thought we had reached an understanding at this point. My husband told me there was nothing else in his past that was hurtful, and everything was out in the open. He seemed very regretful for his actions. After moving back in together, I found a website that he was actively involved in, one day after our marriage seminar. There were about 10 women he actively communicated with, from telling them they were beautiful, to inviting them into his bed. I thought I was going to pass out at this point! Everything we had been through, and now this. The computer had been out of our house, but he found ways to get online elsewhere. I confronted him once again… He started to see a therapist, but would come home telling me “Oh, it’s just all your fault anyway.” He then proceeded to tell me that three hot women moved in upstairs, and their heels drove him wild. I feel pretty hopeless with this marriage. It’s one slam after another. When I feel like things are getting better, something else drags it down! Just yesterday, I saw an email from another website. My husband is a member there, and people can search profiles and send out text messages from their computer. There are pictures of himself, with sexual comments next to them. He also has been calling his old “friends” again. One “friend” called him last week, and I could see his rush of adrenaline when he spoke with her. There were about 5 other instances where I caught him online chatting it up with women. He never seems to honestly answer my questions, nor can he just tell me if he’s feeling tempted by things. I’ve told him so many times that he can tell me his thoughts and issues, so then we will have somewhere to START. I don’t think I can emotionally care for my child, go to school, and obsess whether or not he’s cheating again. I work as a nurse. I feel that I naturally am a nurturer.. I don’t like to see people hurt, and am willing to sacrifice myself for their happiness. Working with the ill drains me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I really think this marriage needs an end before it drags me down any further. Do you agree?

A. Your husband is consistently dishonest with you. He doesn’t feel the need to be honest nor the need to protect you from the pain of his behavior. A relationship can’t survive without honesty. Much can be done in marriage counseling to help couples perfect their interactions. The most difficult thing to instill in an individual is that which seems to be totally lacking in your husband; the need to act in an unselfish way for the good of the other and a basic belief in the inherent correctness of honesty. Never give up on a relationship too soon. Do not try to revive a relationship that is clearly over. You have been, thoughtful, compassionate and patient. It’s time to accept reality and move on. Good luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Mar 2006

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2006). Recurrent Emotional Affairs, Maybe More?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/03/09/recurrent-emotional-affairs-maybe-more/