Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I made the mistake of reading my husband’s texts and read many between his family where his sisters made fun of and made disparaging remarks about me and my mother. My husband did not defend me, or tell them to stop. In fact, he encouraged this by participating in the discussion and adding a few insults of his own.
The context is that we have an unhappy marriage and are the parents of two small children, one with significant health issues requiring hours of therapy a week; we both work full time and I am primarily responsible for the kids and house with little help from him.
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I shouldn’t have read the texts but I did, and now I feel anger at him and his family. I feel sad to be married to someone who doesn’t stand up for me, or at least tell them to knock it off.
How can I bring up the texts to him, or is this something I should ignore and get over because they were not meant for me to read?
No, you shouldn’t have read the texts.
But though you regret the spot it put you in, it’s actually the same spot you were in already: You’re in an unhappy marriage. That is the beginning and end of it.
All snooping got you was confirmation of your misery – happy couples don’t snoop – and shame that you stooped to this.
So don’t dwell on what you did. Use it as a wakeup: You and your husband are going your separate ways within the formality of your marriage. What do you want to do about that? Are you ready to take steps to … try to fix it? to separate? to be open with him about the alienation, and start treating it as a child-rearing and health-care-providing cooperative as opposed to a romantic pairing?
You don’t have great choices, but they are choices. You’d hardly be the first couple to stop going through the motions of your original union and talk openly about what comes next.
Since children with health issues are a known risk factor for marital strain, consider a couple’s counselor who specializes in those challenges.
Dear Carolyn: Is it really that bad of an idea to have sex with my ex-husband? We disagree about having kids so we got divorced. Neither of us is enjoying dating (it has been a few years since the split) nor looking for a relationship. At some point one of us will find someone new or circumstances will change in some other way, but for now, since we still love each other and have stayed friendly, what is the harm?
Sleeping With My Ex
I’m never going to tell someone, “Don’t join a bomb-disposal unit because you might get blown up,” because, duh. And besides, some people want to go into that line of work, which is good because we need them to.
What I say instead is, “Join a bomb-disposal unit if that’s what you want to do – just go into it knowing you might get blown up.”
Oh, and people having sex who disagree on babies more than they agree on each other? Wear your body armor.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.