My husband has always been very charismatic and sociable, traveling a lot for work. We have always been a close and loving couple. However, 10 years ago he became impotent, so that side of things dried up. Last year he was diagnosed with early-stage bowel cancer, but could not be operated on because his liver was in such bad shape. In May he went into a coma, which we were told was terminal, but after five days he came back. Now he’s back home and I’m nursing him.
While he was unconscious in the hospital, his cell phone kept flashing with messages from someone called ‘Mel’, but his phone was locked and he couldn’t see the messages. During this time, a woman claiming to be his sister called to ask the ward about his condition, but he has no sister. I’ve never been the suspicious type, but this is just too weird.
Since he came back, I’ve checked his phone a couple of times and seen messages with lots of kisses. His health is still bad, but he comes out a little, and I am possessed with jealousy: is he seeing this woman? How and when did they meet? I feel so betrayed and sad.
If I face him, it will be the end of us. At my age, it’s a daunting prospect. What do you think I should do?
— Anon, by email
First, let me say how sorry I am that you have been presented with this scary conundrum at this stage in your life and marriage. What a terrible thing to have discovered, and at such a difficult time. My heart goes with you. But you asked for my advice, so here goes. First, I think you should tell your husband what you know and what you suspect. You cannot continue to keep this to yourself; it will drive you crazy Yes, I realize that he is ill and that this fact should condition the way in which such a difficult and unpleasant subject is raised, but it must be raised. soon Today.
If possible, be nice to him. He suffers from what I assume is still believed to be a terminal illness, and whatever he may or may not have done in the past, you still owe him a basic duty of care. Tread gently. Lay things out before him as dispassionately as possible. The messages from ‘Mel’ while he was in a coma. The later ones, since he returned home. Your suspicions about what he’s up to when he goes out.
God knows what his reaction will be. He can deny everything. He might attack you for spying, even though you didn’t go looking for bad news—the first few messages, at least, popped up in plain sight on his phone while he was down. He might try to spin things, as in, “It’s just a friendship, not an affair” (in which case, why keep it a secret?). He can confess. Or he can play the condolence card and ask how you can record him with this accusation when he is so sick. You must be prepared for any of the above.
If the conversation gets out of hand, which it can, then I suggest you wait and write him a letter or email reiterating your suspicions. This will allow you to be precise in what you say and deny him the opportunity to throw emotional dust in your eyes.
You don’t say if you have grown children. If you do, I would check with them, once you have your husband’s answer. They may be able to offer information and advice.
Should you divorce your husband if he confirms your worst suspicions? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it, Anon? Write me back when things are clearer.
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