For some time I have been in email contact with my ex, who now lives overseas. The emails are friendly and platonic. I am feeling uneasy because I have never told my husband of this continuing contact. I am not sure he would understand why this friendship has continued.
Your husband might or might not understand why the relationship continues on this platonic basis, but he certainly will not understand why you have been so secretive about it.
You haven’t been honest. That’s why you are feeling so uneasy. But it is not only your husband who you’ve deceived, you haven’t been honest with yourself.
You had doubts about the marriage. You did not entirely trust your husband. You were afraid of losing your independence. In other words, you were not fully committed to your marriage.
Of course, you justified the ongoing contact with your ex as harmless. You never intended it to develop into anything more, and it hasn’t. But if that is completely true, why did you need to keep it a secret?
Perhaps you have been hurt or betrayed by someone close. It might be a parent, a lover or a friend. Once betrayed, you are wary. You don’t want to be hurt again. You hold back. Investing in a secret friendship keeps your options slightly open. Marriage is a huge step. The friendship with your ex gives you a sense of security. Your eggs aren’t all in the one basket, so to speak.
In reality, you did not trust yourself. You doubted your judgement. You were not sure who was trustworthy and who was not.
Your growing uneasiness suggests you are beginning to appreciate your husband more. Perhaps you realise he really values you.
Take some time to explore your motives. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. What were you afraid of when you decided to continue the friendship? What do you fear now? Who do you trust? Who do you doubt? Don’t try to be logical, instead focus on your feelings.
Once you are clear about the reasons you continued this friendship, you need to decide what to do about your dishonesty.
You can keep the friendship a secret and hope it stays that way or you can tell your husband about it.
If you keep it a secret, the relationship with your husband will stagnate. You impede the opportunity for emotional growth. The guilt you feel will get in the way of deepening intimacy. The only positive in keeping it secret is avoiding the discomfort of your husband’s disappointment.
If you tell him about it, he might not understand. He might become distrustful and punish you. In the short-term, this is his most likely reaction. His anger only becomes a problem if he cannot eventually come to terms with your betrayal and forgive you.
If he can forgive you, you both win. By taking the risk of opening up, you discover you can be honest with each other. Trust and intimacy grow and the marriage becomes stronger.
Most people think we develop trust and intimacy by not upsetting or betraying our partner. This is not true. We discover the potential of our relationship by making mistakes and taking the risk of being honest about them. Of course, honesty works best when it is timely.
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