Dear Mary: My husband and I have a young family. We get on well together as parents to our children, but our relationship goes through rocky patches, mainly due to his social life – staying out late drinking and my reaction to this. Basically, I feel that a married man with a young family shouldn’t stay out until 3am and later, and my husband feels that he works hard (as he does) and needs to let off steam and relax once in a while.
Things came to a head last week. He was away for a night with work and I found texts on his phone which he had forgotten to delete. During the night away in a hotel, he had contacted an escort and the texts I found were him texting her his room number.
I contacted the number and established that the woman in question was an escort.
When I confronted him with my knowledge, he immediately claimed it was the number of a take-away, but when I told him what I knew he then confessed that he had contacted a number he had found on the internet. He told me the woman didn’t get into the hotel as the night-porter wouldn’t admit her. My husband claims he was just curious and didn’t intend doing anything with her.
My argument is that it wasn’t his conscience or his love for me, or his concern for his own health and safety, that stopped the encounter from taking place, it was the hotel’s policy of not admitting non-guests in the middle of the night.
As far as my husband is concerned, he says he is ashamed of his actions and doesn’t think it should be discussed further and we should just forget about it.
I feel I have every right to be angry and hurt and question the basis of our relationship – am I over-reacting?
I am not overly shocked at this latest development as there have been issues of trust before, mainly involving my husband’s friendship with a separated woman. I don’t think they ever developed a sexual relationship, but they did drink together and he ended up going back to her house for more drinks at the end of the night in the pub on a few occasions.
This behaviour ended a couple of years ago, and I thought we had moved on, but this latest bombshell has opened up a lot of old wounds and undermined my confidence in my marriage.
I am very limited in my options, as I wouldn’t do anything to upset my children’s lives. I thought by working through the upset caused by his actions with the separated woman that we had reached a renewed level of trust, but now I just feel like a doormat – one of those pathetic women who repeatedly trust their men only to be kicked in the teeth once again.
Can I do anything to make him see the toxic effect of his behaviour? He is a very good father and a hard worker and generally a good guy; this behaviour would shock his family and friends. I don’t have any close family to share this burden with.
Mary replies: I don’t think that you are over-reacting at all. Your husband is perfectly entitled to go out for an evening once in a while to relax and enjoy himself, but that is on the assumption that it is with his mates and that he acts responsibly. I know it’s probably not what you want to hear, but I find it hard to believe that his friendship with the separated woman didn’t go beyond having a few drinks with her. And he certainly wasn’t going to have an escort in his room, pay her money, and not do anything with her.
He sounds pretty responsible in other ways, so we have to look at reasons for his actions and what is causing him to stray. It may be that he has always been promiscuous, or perhaps he is rebelling against being married with children and is making believe that he is in some way still single.
I am not putting any of the responsibility on to you, but what is the state of your sexual life together? It often happens that, with the advent of small children, a couple’s sex life gets neglected, as the wife feels it is just one more chore that she has to do at the end of a long day, and she is simply too tired. Are you putting aside time for yourselves as a couple, in spite of him working so hard? Do you get away occasionally, even for a night, without the children?
There are lots of issues that would benefit from some sessions with a counsellor, and you should explain to your husband that this would help you both a lot in going forward. You will have to be strong when suggesting this, as he will have no desire to rake up pretty distasteful stuff in front of a third party, but it is your marriage that is on the line, and particularly your peace of mind.
You should also stress that it is important for the children to grow up in a happy household and one where they see their parents getting on well. The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has a very good website, www.irish-counselling.ie, to find a counsellor in your area.
You can contact Mary anonymously by visiting DearMary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to her at Sunday Independent, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
Sunday Indo Living