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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been with my wife now for 26 years (married 23), and have only recently discovered that she constantly googles her ex (her 1st love, college bf). There has has been a little email/phone contact between them over the last 7 years. He lives in another state, so they don't see each other. At one point when he wasn't responding to her other that an annual birthday type of greeting, she sent a demanding email to him, stating she wanted more of a friendship, and that the once a year contact wasn't enough. That email was the one that made me real uncomfortable with the on-going contact He has made it clear that he does not want a close relationship, but he'll respond to her when she checks in.

Couple of months ago after she called him and had a 30 minute conversation , I told her I had enough with the contact, that I wasn't comfortable with it and it had to stop. Well she agreed (but only after we went to therapy and the therapist 100% sided with me), and the contact stopped. But I can't understand how after she caught up on his life in that call, yet in the 2 months since then, she has google searched him a number of times to try and see what is going on in his life, despite freshly knowing what is going on in his life.

So I asked why she is constantly looking him up (he is on no social media sites, so there is very little information about him that comes up on google), and she said that it brings her happiness. That she is able to go back to a happy time in her life - those college days with her 1st love, 1st everything (and that I don't understand how girls feel about their 1st loves). My wife has had severe depression, with some very bad episodes recently, bordering on BP. She says she has no desire to be with him (that he also suffers depression and has had health and financial issues - and is happily married), just that she has a desire to bring up those happy memories.

I can't help but think that if she is contantly looking him up, that while she is not leaving me (and I'm convniced that is the case), that she must be sad that she is not with him and that there is some desire (but she wouldn't make it happen) to be with him. That is how I interpret the need on her part to constantly search him. She denies it.

I'm at the point where I'm almost ready to divorce her as I see this as a problem in our marriage if she must constantly google someone from 27 years ago, that she has not seen since then and only spoken to a handful of times. Am I overreacting to this?
I can't help but see this as a problem with us and feelings for him that are unacceptable. It is one thing to have happy memories, but I interpret her acts as being strong current feelings for him that I cannot accept.
 

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She sounds obsessed. Maybe its time to tell her you would like her to get some individual counseling for this issue.

You stated she said it brings her happiness. Does she have any good memories with you that bring her happiness? You are her husband she should be sharing and remembering good times with you.

You also mentioned she has suffered from depression, is she on any meds for that? She needs to understand the seriousness of how this is damaging the marriage she has with you. Its hard for someone to turn their focus on their marriage and try to make it work, if their mind is elsewhere. And hers is elsewhere.

Is this mans wife aware of the contact he has had with your wife?
 

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The demanding email is just creepy. Does she have any empathy for you and how her behavior makes you feel? How would she feel if you started looking up girls you went to high school with?
She is basically having a one-sided EA, and it needs to stop.

I would consider advising her that if she has to live in the past to be happy then she doesn't have a place in your future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
CallaLilly - She is seeing a pyschiatrist for treatment and meds, and she is also seeing a therapist. This is not an issue that she has been discussing with them, other than when I insisted on seeing her therapist with her, and the therapist agreed with me and tole her that she had no business contacting the ex.

Yes she does have ggod memories with me, but she specifically brought up that she looks him up to take her back to a happy time.

She doesn't think she is doing anything wrong by looking him and up and looking to enjoy her memories. I can't take away the memories, it is the constant searching that gets me. She also claims that that is just jealousy on my part and it is all my issue, not her issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Aunt Ava - She says that I can look up whoever I want as much as I want. That was her response when I brought up what you brought up. Out of respect for her and the fact that I have no desire for contact with any ex, I don't look them up. She doesn't see it as a respect type thing.

1-sided EA? Interesting. She said last night she would look him up less often if it is such a big issue for me. Didn't really comfort me.
 

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You are NOT overreacting at all. She is out of line with this. If she isnt happy, then she needs to let you go. But since she isnt doing it, then you are perfectly within your right to move on yourself. I am sorry you are dealing with this.
 

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She says that I can look up whoever I want as much as I want.
Shes gonna tell you that, because she is in the middle of doing it herself. If she wasn't doing this, but you were, I bet it wouldn't fly.

It might be time for an ultimatium, but only if you are prepared to carry out the consequences if shes not willing to do whats been asked.
 

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Depression is not some free pass to do whatever pleases her.

Your attitude needs to be: If your thoughts and actions and words are with your first love, then they are not with your marriage. Also that you have no desire to compete with a fantasy.

I would be moving my thoughts, feelings and actions out of the marriage, just as she is.
 

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CuriousIam, I have a pretty strong reaction to your situation. My wife was overly interested in her 1st bf even a few years into our marriage. Then he friended her on facebook about 2 years ago. Though they hadn't had any contact for about 25 years she was hooked back in instantly.

I know how it messes with your mind!

There are 2 issues here I see. One is your wife not being rational. I believe she does have some kind of mental illness pushing her. It just isn't healthy or rational what she has been doing.

The second issue is your boundaries. Regardless of her motivations or deepest thoughts about this guy, you have the right to peace within your relationship regarding contact with exes. It bothers you, and so you have the right to set a boundary of no contact at all. She may or may not comply. She may not understand your position and she may get angry. It is still your right to feel upset by what she is doing and it is your right to set a boundary.

I can tell you it kills me that I didn't set boundaries from day 1 with my wife about her ex-bf. I don't believe there was any kind of PA with him after we started dating, yet her behaviors caused me a lot of turmoil. You don't have to put up with it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Thor. I'm not sure it is a boundries issue any more. She says she will not contact him. Facebook won't happen. I'm guessing that do to his business failures and other issues, he does not really want to connect with his past. Even if he did join, I won't accept a friendship at this point. I'd be done.

I'm not sure what to do about her emotional attachment at this point, where somehow she goes looking for him to find her happy place. I don't know if anything can be done other than to live with it or to end the marriage.
 

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I think CallaLilly hit the nail on the head: She's exhibiting an obsessive-compulsive behavior.

I am not real well-educated on the OCD spectrum disorders, but my understanding is that a person's OC traits are a response to high anxiety. If your wife is depressed and feeling a high level of anxiety over the state of your marriage or her state of happiness, she may be using those checks to try to reassure herself that she will find happiness again. She's not exactly deceiving you, and this doesn't mean that she's interested in having an affair necessarily. (Although her trying to engage him does point to that possibility if it ever became an option for her.)

As far as what you may be able to do, here are a few ideas for your consideration:

- Talk to her care provider about this and ask whether what I've described is likely to be accurate. If it is, an anti-anxiety med may be added to her medical treatment and may even be more effective than anti-depressants if anxiety is masquerading as depression.

- Offer her reassurances as often as possible about your faith in her ability to find her happiness again, about your faith that you're a good team together and will make it through your difficulties, and that she is a desirable, talented woman who is worthy of love and affection. Verbal reassurances are good, and if you can also show her that affection and love with your behaviors, it will have a stronger impact and help her calm her fears.
 

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I read some of your previous thread. OMG! Your wife is a real piece of work. At this point, i think you need to ask yourself is "does what is good about the relationship override what is bad?"
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Kathy - Thank you. She actually has received various different diagnosis for her mental illness disorders. She was diagnosed with depression 20 years ago, but it has only been in the last couple of years that her illness has gone beyond depression. She is being treated with Lithium right now for mood disorders, and I have wondered if this constant searching is something that she just cannot stop herself vs she still has strong feelings for the guy.

It happened 7 years ago with another guy, that she had no past with, but just couldn't stop the contact after I demanded it stop many times. It took me asking for a divorce to get her to stop, and many years of therapy before she realized how inappropriate she was. She has deep regrets over that now and how it almost ended our marriage, but she doesn't see the current situation in the same light.
 

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One of the problems with mood disorders is that differentiating between them can be very difficult. While there *is* a difference between anxiety and depression, the patient may just recognize that they don't feel good. They can often say what they don't like, but few people really distinguish between the finer points of emotions.

It seems to me that she's self-comforting with these behaviors. She probably doesn't see them as harmful because she knows that her intention isn't to provoke an affair. She experiences a benefit, and your complaints may bring a negative response she has to cope with, but it doesn't change the experience of getting that benefit when she does it. However, even though we all know washing our hands is good for us, becoming OC about it can have bad effects, like dry, cracked, bleeding skin. The self-comforting behavior can become harmful, and now that it's introducing other negative effects, it will help her if she can realize that.

At the same time, though, if she loses a comforting behavior and doesn't have another comforting behavior to replace it with, her feelings of depression and anxiety will probably worsen and lead her find more desperate measures of comfort.

I have an article on anxiety's effects that offers a few tips and tools for coping. Anxiety Related Symptoms Can Be Deadly I'm afraid it's not as in-depth as I'd like, but I'm just not quite as familiar with anxiety disorders as some of the other ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My wife switched psychiatrists a couple of months back after my she experienced a "crisis" that was ignored by her other therapist. After a number of visits during this mental crisis that has continued he told her that he thought her main issue was anxiety, despite her never hearing that before or believing in any way that she was anxious. They have been working through that.

I can't figure out whether I'm a jerk and not recognizing her mental issues or whether I'm right in having a big problem with her behavior and right in being upset over her not seeing this as an issue, or only seeing it as an issue after a big fight, but probably still not believing it is an issue.

I have been very supportive of her while she has been getting her help and she has acknolwedged it many times, so it even eats at me more that somehow she has to look to her past, while searching his current situation, to get to her happy place. That only makes me want to run more.
 

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I think if you learned your partner had cancer, you'd do your best to be supportive, right? But that doesn't mean you wouldn't feel upset sometimes at the effect cancer was having on your life.

Anxiety may not be as visible, but it is just as real and its effects are there whether or not it's identified. I tend to think your wife's not depressed. Most depressions resolve on their own within about 6 months. She is more likely to either have an anxiety disorder, dysthymia (a long-term, low grade depressive state), cyclothymia (similar to a low-grade bipolar disorder) or bipolar disorder if she's been experiencing this over a period of years.

Even though you see her acting like it's "not a big deal," I hope you'll be able to understand that she is not saying there's no problem. Her being in treatment shows that she does recognize that something's broken. She cannot trust herself or you to determine what exactly is broken, though, and for that matter, even the pdocs haven't gotten it fixed. She literally has no way to evaluate if it's her, you, or her condition that is causing a conflict with you over this.
 

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Aunt Ava - She says that I can look up whoever I want as much as I want. That was her response when I brought up what you brought up. Out of respect for her and the fact that I have no desire for contact with any ex, I don't look them up. She doesn't see it as a respect type thing.

1-sided EA? Interesting. She said last night she would look him up less often if it is such a big issue for me. Didn't really comfort me.
Yes one-sided EAs definitely exist. Often they are unbalanced anyway. EAs will destroy marriages, even when one-sided. This is a fantasy for her. She does need to stay NC.

You have a tough situation here indeed and you need to be both compassionate and firm. While she does not see this as an issue you must make clear that whether she does or does not it is gurting the marriage and is a dealbreaker for you.

I was in an EA and thought I was just good friends. I went through withdrawal and realized how foolish I was.

The big difference here is that I was working with the OW. I quit my job to go NC. This EA is in your wifes mind. This is not uncommon of course where a wife tries to reconnect with an EX. But she does seem overly obsessed here.
 
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Thanks Thor. I'm not sure it is a boundries issue any more. She says she will not contact him. Facebook won't happen. I'm guessing that do to his business failures and other issues, he does not really want to connect with his past. Even if he did join, I won't accept a friendship at this point. I'd be done.

I'm not sure what to do about her emotional attachment at this point, where somehow she goes looking for him to find her happy place. I don't know if anything can be done other than to live with it or to end the marriage.
You need to take a hard line here for her benefit. But you do have to deal it seems with her special circumstances.

If she continues her obsessions she will may find a way to meet up with him. All of this obsession is detroying your marriage.
 

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I think if you learned your partner had cancer, you'd do your best to be supportive, right? But that doesn't mean you wouldn't feel upset sometimes at the effect cancer was having on your life.

Anxiety may not be as visible, but it is just as real and its effects are there whether or not it's identified. I tend to think your wife's not depressed. Most depressions resolve on their own within about 6 months. She is more likely to either have an anxiety disorder, dysthymia (a long-term, low grade depressive state), cyclothymia (similar to a low-grade bipolar disorder) or bipolar disorder if she's been experiencing this over a period of years.

Even though you see her acting like it's "not a big deal," I hope you'll be able to understand that she is not saying there's no problem. Her being in treatment shows that she does recognize that something's broken. She cannot trust herself or you to determine what exactly is broken, though, and for that matter, even the pdocs haven't gotten it fixed. She literally has no way to evaluate if it's her, you, or her condition that is causing a conflict with you over this.
Yes indeed. :iagree:
 

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Aunt Ava - She says that I can look up whoever I want as much as I want. That was her response when I brought up what you brought up. Out of respect for her and the fact that I have no desire for contact with any ex, I don't look them up. She doesn't see it as a respect type thing.

1-sided EA? Interesting. She said last night she would look him up less often if it is such a big issue for me. Didn't really comfort me.
Says that you can more or less "do what you want"? Either she has indeed checked out of this marriage (she did it before, don't forget!), or she is just waiting for you to commit a "Pearl Harbor" so that she can declare war on you!

Look him up less often? No way, bud. if it was me it would be non-negotiable NC! What she is really saying is "Well, I'll tone it down, and see if that shuts you up, but I have absolutely NO INTENTION of cutting him out permanently."
 
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