Dear Dr. Darcy:
2 years ago, my wife was acting suspicious and I could tell her mind wasn’t on me. I decided to put a web monitoring system on the computer. For a week straight, when I went to work (the second I left the door) she began searching for her x-boyfriend. She went through several sites to find him. I then confronted her about it...of course she still denied everything. I have always been faithful to her, so I was shocked she was looking for something else.
I still feel that she has feelings for him, so I asked for a divorce. She seems devastated with me leaving, but I feel her mind is only on me now, because she doesn’t want to lose me. I can’t seem to get over the elaborate search for him, and think if I give her a chance it will eventually continue. Please give me some advice. I need your help.
If you’ve been reading my blog or one of my columns for any length of time, you know how I feel about trust in a relationship and elaborate investigative methods such as web monitoring systems. You sir, are in trouble with me.
You’ve got a four-tier problem. Problem one: Your wife was acting suspiciously. Problem two: You missed the opportunity to deal with her directly. Problem three: Instead of dealing with her directly, you got sucked into her shady behavior and played detective. Problem four: Your detective work yielded damaging data.
You seem to be overly concerned with her role in this mess and unaware of your responsibility. You’ve chosen to see yourself as a victim, one with little control over anything. What you aren’t seeing is the fact that your automatic response to her suspicious behavior was to become suspicious yourself. We don’t have to look any further than that to see a major fault line in your behavior and in your relationship.
If my wife were acting suspiciously, you can bet your last dime that my first move would be to call our couples therapist. Do you have one? I’m betting that even if your car drives perfectly, you have a mechanic who you can call if something were to go wrong. See where I’m going with this?
You say that you were shocked by her behavior, but I don’t think you were shocked – I think you got exactly what you expected. And really, what did you get? You’ve attached meaning to her behavior that may or may not be accurate. Do you know how common it is to search for people online? I think, with maybe 2 or 3 exceptions, I’m *friends* with every one of my exes on Facebook. Guess how I connected with them? Either they, or I searched for the other and then initiated contact.
You don’t need a divorce, at least not yet. You need a couples counselor, ASAP. Lucky for you, your wife is devastated over the prospect of divorce and will likely be willing to participate. That’s where you need to focus all of your energy for a solid 6 months. Find yourself a good Imago therapist. One who will hold a mirror up to you and point out how you’ve contributed to this mess, so that you can become empowered to move out of your current role as victim.
The good news is that there's hope for your relationship, because it's not all her fault. Let me know if you need some names.