Carolyn Hax is away. In her absence, we are offering columns from her archive.
DEAR CAROLYN: I just found out my boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend have been emailing every so often, prompted by my boyfriend.
I told him it made me uncomfortable, and he’s stopping. So why do I feel slimy?
You intervened and have nothing – no truth, no assurances – to show for it. That could make one feel slimy.
Go back to him, and find out why he reached out to her. Make it clear you want the whole truth, not just what he thinks he should say.
If you can trust him, then certainly he can send an occasional e-mail to the occasional ex. And if you can’t trust him, then you need to be the next ex in his contact list.
Re: Must-save-this-relationship defenses: My husband cheated on me. He has owned up, is doing the soul-searching and counseling, and we’ve both grown a lot. I still don’t fully trust him and wonder if I ever will again.
We have lots of great things in our relationship. Is that enough? Will I be able to trust again, or am I just trying to save the relationship?
DEAR ANONYMOUS: I would argue the person you need to trust is yourself. You need to trust whether you’ve married a good person, trust your ability to sense deception, trust yourself to handle it if you get more bad news, trust your priorities.
The last one is the heart of this issue. Your concerns suggest that having a faithful spouse is among your top priorities. Is that the right call? Forget society – I mean for you.
Revisiting your ideals with reality in mind will give you a better understanding of what you need, and can expect, from your marriage. Beats waiting for shoes to drop.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.