Did I marry the wrong person?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My wife and I have known each other for 4 1/2 years now, and have been married for 1 year. I would like to know if you feel that I am in a healthy marriage with the right person. If not, I would like any suggestions in order to rectify the situation.

When single, I (as anyone does) always had the image/persona of the type of woman that I wanted to marry. My biggest criterion was that she had to be chaste and carry herself like a “lady”. It may seem judgmental, but I always had the idea that I would separate how I treated a “fun” woman and one to be taken seriously, even though I was promiscuous myself at the time. Well, during our dating period, we started off really strong and enjoyed each other’s company exceedingly. Furthermore, she had the appearance and conversation of a chaste woman, so I sort of assumed that she was. I pretty much cut off all ties to the woman that I was dating at the time (the other woman and I were at the end of a non-committal relationship) to concentrate on the woman who would become my wife. However, during the time that we were dating, a series of events occurred that has me thinking to this day if I am with the right person. The first was that we started sleeping together after knowing each other for about 2 months (a little too soon for a woman that I usually consider “serious” material) and not even being in a committed relationship at the time (I had a double standard at the time). The second occurrence was when I found out (she initiated the confession) 8 months after we met (and 4 after we started dating) that she actually was in a relationship when we met. This means that she was cheating on her then-boyfriend when we slept together. To top it off, she was having a physical (but not sexual) relationship with another guy at the same time. Third was when I found out (by this time I started snooping due to my mistrust of her) that she lied to me about conversing with a friend. To explain, she had a married male friend that tried to take things further with her, but she denied him and told me that she cut off all contact with him. Well, he came back and apologized to her. They resumed contact, but she acted to me as if they were still not talking. Fourth was when I saw a flirty email (again, through snooping) that she replied to a guy on a social networking site. This was right after we got engaged and 3 years after we began dating! I considered this an act of infidelity, but she did not. I feel that it’s more understandable (but still unacceptable) to practice infidelity when first becoming committed to someone, but not after 3 years.

In spite of all of these caution flags, I went on with the engagement and marriage. In hindsight, I feel that the fact that she became pregnant when we were dating played a larger role than it should in me wanting to marry her. I just could not imagine one of her boyfriends doing something to my child, like I see so many times in the news. I haven’t found anything incriminating in 19 months, so I feel that she just may have changed. But I also feel that any day now I will come home and find another man in our house. I know that I have a past just like her, but the fact that much of this stuff has occurred while we supposedly committed really rubs me the wrong way. I just sometimes have the feeling that I could have done better if I had been more patient in choosing my partner. I don’t really think that she understands why I don’t trust her. I don’t feel that our values are in line, and I feel that I will need to have a large hand in instilling those chaste and honesty principles in our daughters. Like I’ve said, it been 19 months since the latest known occurrence, but I don’t trust her or respect her like a husband should with his wife. It’s almost like sleeping with an open eye all the time, and that’s how I’ve sort of treated my heart with her.
Thanks for reading.

A: I don’t know that you married the wrong person but your wife probably did. In spite of the fact that you both have a similar history, in spite of the fact that she didn’t get pregnant on her own, in spite of the fact that she has given you nothing to complain about for almost two years, you continue to snoop and accuse. If she has any self-esteem left, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she gave up on you.

At your age, you are unlikely to find a woman who will meet your exacting specifications and who will tolerate your double standard. I think you must know that. So I have to wonder if you want to be married at all. Better that you should own that about yourself than to subject a woman who loves you to constant criticism and testing.

Of course, complicating things considerably is that you brought a child into the world. Although I sympathize with your concern about possible harm by someone in relationship with her mother, the current situation isn’t healthy for her either. The relationship you have with her mother isn’t a positive role model for marriage.

Because a child is involved, I do think it important for you to at least give counseling a try. I hope you will give your wife the respect she deserves and give your marriage a chance. With some serious self-examination, you may be able to deal with your issues of trust and commitment.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Did I marry the wrong person?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/14/did-i-marry-the-wrong-person/