Ask Andrew – Should I tell my wife I know she slept with an ex?
I have just received the above book as it just sums up our relationship. My wife just told me that she has not been attracted to me since the birth of my second child five years ago, that she wants to try and improve things and to get counselling. We were fine before the birth. Since then we have been having a ‘nice relatively happy life’. I knew in my heart that she had lost attraction for me but I was unaware it was such an issue with her. She said then that she has been ‘basically’ happy but there has been something missing. After 5 years of intense child care she says she now feels like ‘the old me’ with a successful career etc . Having read the introduction to your book on Amazon I can already see so many things that have contributed to our situation including my drop in self-esteem , the underlying angers and the lack of arguments.
I believe by using your book we can get through this and I was so energised by the thought that so many people go through the same thing and there was an identifiable way forward
However events have overtaken me and I have just found out that a few days before her revelation she slept with an old flame to whom she was considering leaving me for. She believes I am unaware. She is going to a councillor on her own first, she says, so that she can say everything without hurting me and find out whether she wants to try and recreate the spice or simply to go back to our pleasant ways with underlying angers. Either way she has agreed to read your book.
I am so hurt but mostly angry that she so easily puts our children’s wellbeing at risk with what I see as a selfish motivation and that she did not try to regain something with me first. The man in question told her to go back to me for the kids but not before he had his own way.
I am angry that she doesn’t see it is so easy to get the but difficult to run a relationship
Do I confront her with it to deal with the anger as I am afraid the situation will escalate and distress the children Or do I stay quiet since I am afraid it will get in the way of the healing process that we plan to do. OR wait until (if) our relationship improves.
I want to get angry with her for this but fear that she will resent me more since she obviously has these romantic feelings for this other man.
Do I keep quiet and see this as her way of cheaply getting the feelings that we should have?
I’m sorry that you’ve been going through a terrible time and that you wife has chosen to make it even worse but hopeful that she is going for counselling. So let’s take your questions one by one:
You need to tell her you know about the infidelity – otherwise it will build a wall between you (and your anger will leak in other ways – like sarcasm – which will poison your relationship). However, I would not want you to CONFRONT her because she’ll get defensive and start justifying herself (which will make you feel worse). I’d much rather that you calmly TOLD her that you know and listen. Of course, you can get angry. It’s only human and you’d be a horribly cold fish if you weren’t. However, I’d much rather than you REPORTED it ‘I’m really angry because……’ rather than ACTING IT OUT (screaming at her, slamming doors etc).I explain more about infidelity – why it happens, how to cope with the fall out and repair your relationship in ‘How can I ever trust you again’. While I’m on the subject of books losing sexual desire about the second child (especially if your family is complete) is so common that they should come with a relationship health warning. I explain why and how to get back the passion in ‘Make Love Like a Prairie Vole: Six steps to passionate, plentiful and monogamous sex.’
Personally, I’d rather that you started couples counselling as soon as possible. You need to hear why your wife has been unhappy (rather than to parcel it up and give it to her therapist) but please check out that he or she specialises in couple work. Lots of therapists only see an occasional couple and managing two people’s different issues in the same room at the same time needs very different skills from individual work.