Talk About Marriage banner

1 - 20 of 63 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi Forum,

I am new here and hope my post below follows the appropriate guidelines. I'm seeking advice and thoughts (preferably from both men and women) on a trust issue that is placing strain on my marriage.

My wife and I are in our mid-30s and have been married since 2019, so we are relatively new to marriage. Prior to meeting my wife, I had a few previous long-term relationships, one of whom I lived with for a few months and was briefly engaged to marry. The engagement was broken off, but we were on again/off again in a long-distance relationship until around 2015.

In 2016, I met my now wife and we began dating. Within the first two-three months of the new relationship, my ex-fiance called me and expressed interest in rekindling our romance. I did not handle the situation appropriately, largely because I was torn between continuing to date my wife (who at that time was a new gf) and the prospect of revisiting a previous, long-term relationship with someone I knew very well. Unfortunately, my now wife caught my ex and I exchanging romantic texts, and trust was understandably broken. After being confronted with my behavior, I deeply regretted hurting then-gf, apologized for my actions, and broke off contact with my ex. I have not been in touch with my ex since.

Although what I did was unacceptable (and my greatest regret in my current relationship), it is important for context to emphasize that I had just begun dating my wife and did not know her very well at the time. Although we had begun calling each other boyfriend/girlfriend and had an unspoken understanding we were exclusive, the sudden "appearance" of my former fiance with whom I had a long, serious, and emotionally connected relationship did throw a curveball into things and walking away from my ex to pursue a new relationship was not a simple decision. When I was younger, I was also very flirtatious and outgoing with women, but over the course of my relationship with my wife I've matured and worked hard to only direct that energy and interest her way.

Fast forward to the present - we have been together more than four years and are now married. I have "owned" my mistakes and have consistently demonstrated throughout my relationship with my wife that I am committed to her and have eyes for no other woman. I haven't reached out to any of my previous exs, don't keep up with them on social media (except where we might incidentally overlap on mutual friends' posts), and have never given my wife a tangible reason to distrust me or my dedication to her.

Last week, my wife caught me completely off guard when she revealed that she has been monitoring my ex-fiance's social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) and regularly looks at my ex's pages to see if we are in contact. She somehow "discovered" a random "like" I put on a benign Instagram photo of my ex in 2018. I understand why she is disturbed by this, but I honestly don't remember even "liking" the image or why/how it happened. My wife has insisted I block my ex on all social media, so it's possible I may have clicked the image while blocking my ex from contacting me on Instagram - I honestly have no recollection, and the photo in question is entirely benign and in no way sexual. My wife then went on to say that even though I've shown her I have blocked my ex from contacting me, she has no way of knowing if I have fake social media accounts that I use to contact her (I don't).

She also asked several times "do you ever think about your ex or wonder how she's doing? Do you get curious and look at her pages to see how she is doing?" I find these questions sort of inappropriate. I don't look at my ex's social media, but considering the length of the relationship I had with her, I do hope she is doing well and living happily, and I think that's healthy to feel toward anyone who has been an important part of your life. I once did take a passing glance at a different ex's Facebook page (I didn't add/contact her) and discovered she is now engaged. It made me genuinely happy to know she's in a good place in her life. I don't think that is something I need to apologize for or explain.

She also began grilling me on platonic female friends I regularly talk with via social media, and expressed that she doesn't like that I share personal details with them (the friends in question are women I have known since my early 20s, long before I met my wife, and with whom I have never had any romantic relationship or interest; I don't share details about my marriage, but we do talk about life issues and I sometimes find a female perspective insightful; they also turn to me for advice sometimes because we have built more than a decade of trust and friendship). I told her she is welcome to add any of them to her own social media and introduce herself as my wife, but that I would not be cutting off any of these friendships, as doing so is a hard line I'm not willing to cross. To be clear, we are not talking about dozens of random women sending me messages, but around 3-5 particularly close friends who happen to be female, all of whom my wife is aware of.

This incident really shattered my perception of our marriage - which is that I thought my wife and I both had a high degree of trust and confidence in one another, and in our relationship. She admitted to "insecurities" and asked if we could "reset" and move on, but I am having trouble doing so, because I'm haunted by the feeling that for the past four years she hasn't truly trusted me or our exclusivity. I feel like there has been a phantom shadow hanging over us that I never realized was there, and it makes it hard for me to not to question what was really going on during what I thought were happy times together. It hurts.

I deeply regret that texting incidents with my ex early in our dating life, but I can't go back in time and change my behavior. I've taken responsibility, owned the damage I did to our trust, and have done everything I can over the past four years to show my wife I am committed to her, and to her alone. Honestly, I'm kind of heartbroken and unsure how long I will have to live with the consequences of a mistake I made early in our dating life or what else I can do to build trust.

I'm extremely open with my wife, but there are some lines I am not willing to cross, and that I would never ask her to cross either - that includes things like ending appropriate friendships with the opposite gender, reading each other's texts, or listening to each other's phone conversations without permission. She once suggested we have a "shared" social media account rather than individual accounts, but I told her "no," and made clear that I do not expect to have access to her Facebook messages, emails, etc, because I trust her and have no reason to pry into her personal conversations with family and friends. I'm not controlling, but I ask the same level of respect in return.

I'd love to hear some thoughts and insights on how I can make this situation better, or how to address this issue with my wife in a way that is respectful, caring, and attentive - I am right now unsure of where we go from here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,572 Posts
It sounds like you're mainly dealing your wife being very insecure. And maybe the early on situation with the ex cemented her insecurity in your relationship. I think you are wise to create reasonable boundaries and hold firm on them. If you don't there might be no end to her demands until you have no outside social life. I could see this expanding to her not liking you having male friends who are single or going out for a guys night now and then.

I think marriage and individual counseling for her could help. But I think you also need to tell her your line is firm on certain things and she needs to decide if she trusts you or not. Her being so insecure and suspicious will be a constant aggravation if it is not dealt with and it will continue to make you more and more miserable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
So you were still looking at this ex's instagram three years into the relationship with your wife. Why?
That's a valid question. I honestly don't recall why I was on her page or liked one of her posts. I know that sounds like excuse making, but I have no recollection of what prompted me to go there. It's possible one of our mutual friends was tagged and the post appeared in my newsfeed, or I may have accessed her page to block her from contacting me (something my wife requested on all social media). When I went back to look at the page after my wife brought this to my attention, I discovered my ex's instagram was already "blocked" on my end and I can't view her posts. I don't remember when I did this.

The other ex I mentioned viewing was a few minutes in passing; she and I also have mutual friends on Facebook. I looked at her profile for about two minutes, thought "oh! She's engaged. That's awesome." and moved on. She wasn't someone I had a toxic or negative falling out with, so I see no reason not to be happy for her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
920 Posts
If you were in her position...and had caught her texting with an old flame, not just a casual boyfriend but someone she was serious with, while your relationship was still new. And then you found out that she checks out her exes on social media, wouldn't that make you feel a little insecure? I get that the relationship was new and not sure how serious you were when the incident with the texting happened, but that could have a big impact on building trust together. Perfectly understandable for you to have boundaries you aren't willing to cross, but you can also expect her to have questions and to demand transparency given what happened before you were married.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
So you were still looking at this ex's instagram three years into the relationship with your wife. Why?
For context, the picture I "liked" is literally a makeup bag/kit she promotes and sells. Her face is visible in the background, but it isn't a picture one would typically associate with "checking someone out" online.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
If you were in her position...and had caught her texting with an old flame, not just a casual boyfriend but someone she was serious with, while your relationship was still new. And then you found out that she checks out her exes on social media, wouldn't that make you feel a little insecure? I get that the relationship was new and not sure how serious you were when the incident with the texting happened, but that could have a big impact on building trust together. Perfectly understandable for you to have boundaries you aren't willing to cross, but you can also expect her to have questions and to demand transparency given what happened before you were married.

That is fair, but how long should I expect these trust issues to linger? That's what I am hoping to respectfully discuss and resolve with her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,793 Posts
If I was in your shoes, I'd sit down with my wife and have a CALM and open discussion. The first thing I'd ask is, "Do you think you can get over and get past my indiscretion? If so, please tell me what I can do to help you with this process."

Just be direct, and completely non-confrontational. Let her vent. If you feel the discussion doesn't help resolve this matter, you should suggest marriage counseling ASAP.

At least, that's how I'd deal with it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
If you were in her position...and had caught her texting with an old flame, not just a casual boyfriend but someone she was serious with, while your relationship was still new. And then you found out that she checks out her exes on social media, wouldn't that make you feel a little insecure?
Interestingly, this is almost exactly the situation I found myself in with said "ex," and it did make me uncomfortable. She had chosen to remain friends with a previous long-term partner, and once spent the night at his house with a friend, alleging her car broke down. The irony is that it was a contributing factor in the deterioration of my previous relationship, and now I'm on the other side of what feels like the same equation (minus the sleeping over and continued friendship/communications). It's almost like karma. I don't want it to contribute to our marriage deteriorating.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,404 Posts
I cant see any problem with you each having access to each others social media accounts if there is nothing to hide. Some couples do actually share accounts BTW.
I dont agree that you and other women should have regular conversations that arent open to your wife. I would be more than happy for my husband to read anything I wrote on social media, and I also wouldnt have friendships with other men that dont include him. So I can understand why she feels that maybe she cant trust you. If you have nothng to hide in these conversations with other women then why not be open with them?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I cant see any problem with you each having access to each others social media accounts if there is nothing to hide. Some couples do actually share accounts BTW.
I dont agree that you and other women should have regular conversations that arent open to your wife. I would be more than happy for my husband to read anything I wrote on social media, and I also wouldnt have friendships with other men that dont include him. So I can understand why she feels that maybe she cant trust you. If you have nothng to hide in these conversations with other women then why not be open with them?
For the same reason I don't share conversations with my male friends, aunts and uncles, or colleagues: privacy and respect not only for myself, but more importantly, for those who may not know others are reading what they send through personal messages. When I write a note to my mother, for instance, I don't expect others will read it. I'd expect she'd let me know if she shared it with others. I also extend this same respect to my wife and trust that she'll include me in conversations if I need to be part of them. If my friends or hers expect both of us to read a message, they have the option of creating a group chat with us (something we do often with friends/family). I've also encouraged my wife to add any friends, male or female, she is curious about to her own social media and connect with them, but she's chosen not to because she prefers to keep her friend list limited to people she knows well.

I do understand where you and she are coming from too, though. I think it's a difference in values and attitudes toward privacy and how we express respect for ourselves and others. One option is not necessarily better or more appropriate than the other, so please don't read this as critique; it will just be very difficult for me to give ground on this particular issue because it isn't what I am used to, and it feels contrary to the value I place on respect and privacy. If we go this route, then it will have to be both ways, and I kind of cringe at the idea of looking through my wife's texts and private messages. It feels a bit like entering "controlling husband" territory and I think I'd feel kind of gross doing it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
920 Posts
Interestingly, this is almost exactly the situation I found myself in with said "ex," and it did make me uncomfortable. She had chosen to remain friends with a previous long-term partner, and once spent the night at his house with a friend, alleging her car broke down. The irony is that it was a contributing factor in the deterioration of my previous relationship, and now I'm on the other side of what feels like the same equation (minus the sleeping over and continued friendship/communications). It's almost like karma. I don't want it to contribute to our marriage deteriorating.
It does sound different this time because you didn't spend the night at someone else's house. That does sound way worse. But you get how it feels a little to have someone dismiss your boundaries and feelings of discomfort. On the other hand, you don't want it to go the route of really hampering your trust and communication. So @Diana7 suggestion of opening your social media accounts might help, and @Prodigal sitting down and talking over it with her are probably the way to go. Followed by couples counselling so you can address building a trusting foundation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
If I was in your shoes, I'd sit down with my wife and have a CALM and open discussion. The first thing I'd ask is, "Do you think you can get over and get past my indiscretion? If so, please tell me what I can do to help you with this process."

Just be direct, and completely non-confrontational. Let her vent. If you feel the discussion doesn't help resolve this matter, you should suggest marriage counseling ASAP.

At least, that's how I'd deal with it.
Thanks. I plan to try this approach and will do my best not to come across as adversarial, but constructive and willing to listen and learn. My sadness is that I thought we had already had this talk and resolved many of these issues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,882 Posts
This incident really shattered my perception of our marriage
Guess what your cheating did to HER perception of YOU so early in the relationship?

The fact is, you cheated on your wife (then GF) and now you're paying the price. It doesn't matter to your wife how long ago it was or how early it was in your relationship. You hurt her and broke her trust before it even had a chance to develop. Kind of hard to learn to trust someone again when that trust was never there in the first place. Plus, your wife caught you THEN you broke it off with your ex. What would have happened if she didn't catch you? I bet she wonders that.

She does sound very insecure, but part of that was caused by you. I'm not saying all of it was your fault, this could very well have happened even if you hadn't cheated, but you do need to own up to some of it. It sounds like this wasn't properly dealt with, and it will continue to be a problem until it has been properly dealt with. Your wife needs to get some therapy for herself, and you will also need some marriage counseling. The issues can get better if you're willing to go back and do the work that should have been done years ago.

You say that you have owned your mistake and consistently shown your wife that you are trustworthy. How so? You don't want her on your social media, you don't want her to see your texts (your method of cheating), you don't want her to see your emails, you have personal conversations with other women (what you did with the ex), you don't want her to hear your phone calls, I presume you don't want her getting her hands on your phone at all. So how are you demonstrating your trustworthiness?

To me, you sound angry that she's not over it yet but you did this - not her.

You also said your wife "insisted" you block your ex on social media... She never should have had to insist that in the first place! So you stopped cheating, because she caught you. You blocked the ex, because she insisted it. You didn't do it on your own terms, and there is a difference there.

You say it's inappropriate that she asks if you think about your ex and wish well for her. It's not. She wants to know if you still think about the woman you CHEATED with. The woman you almost married. The woman you almost chose over her. It's not asking about your ex... it's asking about your affair partner. My wife and I have both done dumb **** and we both have asked that same question. It's not inappropriate. It means there is something else going on that needs to be talked about and worked on - either individually or as a couple.

These other women/friends that you talk to, do you also talk with your wife about those same issues? You shouldn't be confiding in other women, and other women should not be confiding in you. It's a very slippery slope. I'm not saying you can't have female friends, you can, but don't be stupid about it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
I wouldn't trust you either. What's all that crap about how she can't read your texts or listen to your phone conversations?

You sound like you have something to hide.
I don't share texts or phone convos with anyone (not just my wife) except the person on the other end. For me, that's a form of respect for both myself and the other person in the conversation, but it's apparent it may be something I need to learn to adjust. A lot comes down to perception - for me it feels inappropriate and borderline creepy to intrude into someone else's personal conversations. Maybe I'm wrong on this and need to be ok with sharing my texts, emails, etc., and also becoming comfortable reading hers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
227 Posts
I don't share texts or phone convos with anyone (not just my wife) except the person on the other end. For me, that's a form of respect for both myself and the other person in the conversation, but it's apparent it may be something I need to learn to adjust. A lot comes down to perception - for me it feels inappropriate and borderline creepy to intrude into someone else's personal conversations. Maybe I'm wrong on this and need to be ok with sharing my texts, emails, etc., and also becoming comfortable reading hers.
You’re not wrong. I agree with you; however, your wife sees things differently.

You two need MC and she needs IC. I honestly don’t get why she married you if she wasn’t over “your betrayal “? She sounds insecure and unreasonable.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
She does sound very insecure, but part of that was caused by you. I'm not saying all of it was your fault, this could very well have happened even if you hadn't cheated, but you do need to own up to some of it. It sounds like this wasn't properly dealt with, and it will continue to be a problem until it has been properly dealt with. Your wife needs to get some therapy for herself, and you will also need some marriage counseling. The issues can get better if you're willing to go back and do the work that should have been done years ago.
Sincere question: how do I do that? I have been in individual counseling for more than a year, working on growing my own emotional maturity and demonstrating that to my wife through actions, and have not communicated with any of my ex romantic partners in more than four years. I'm genuinely looking to learn what are the next steps?
 
1 - 20 of 63 Posts
Top