How to Strengthen Your Relationship/Unresolved issues resurface
QUESTION: In the first year of dating, my husband and I had a hiccup. I caught him engaging in texts with another woman that I discovered he had met on a dating website. As we had met in person, I was unaware he even had a profile on any website. It came as a shock but through time we got through it. However we never truly discussed it in a satisfactory manner and i never believed his excuse. He had claimed that he signed up with coworkers to see who could get more girls to address them. To me it didn't address why he escalated to exchanging numbers and texting. He also got very agitated discussing it and said he wasn't going to speak about it ever again. Years later he advised a newly open gay friend of ours to go on that same website to try to find people. Upon hearing it, I got upset almost instantly and it resurfaced. I asked him again about it and he again refused to speak about it-vehemently. I know I should be able to let it go at that however I feel like I never got any feasible explanation and I feel he has always lied. I worry that by allowing that lie to continue leaves the door open for him to forever lie to me. I need advice to get him to open up where he never has before as well as help me to figure out what I need to do to be able to continue happily. Because right now I feel I'm just waiting for the ax to fall.
ANSWER: Hi Cara,
communication is the key. He has to know how upset you are. And how it makes you feel. To him it may be nothing but to you it is the same as cheating. Very serious stuff.
Here is something you both need to understand about communication. Communication only happens when what was said was heard. But more importantly, what was communicated was what was heard and understood. Not the original statement. You speak but what he thinks you said is all that was communicated. And it is not just with words, it is also with actions.
Some times you just have to sit down face to face hold hands and talk. And each of you need to make sure the other knows how you feel.
Another way to see it is. While, to him it may be nothing, to you it is lying and cheating. So what he is communicating to you is the cheating. Nothing innocent is being received by you.
If you let it pass, he is hearing you say it is OK.
I would start out not by telling him he can't but by telling how it makes you feel. And don't candy coat it.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you. We had done just that this past Friday and I truly felt heard. We both expressed our feelings and he stated he felt he couldn't behonest about the past because nothing happened and he didn't want to hurt me with details of "nothing." I told him he could tell me everything, that I was prepared to hear things I wouldn't like but that I wouldn't hold anything against him. That it was an open forum to come clean without fear. I said that as long as it was the truth it would be forgiven and we could move on with a clean slate. He told me he went to a strip club with friends that is all. I felt happy and renewed and we were intimate all weekend and everything was blissful. Tonight however I asked if at the strip club if he had a lap dance and he said no. Went into detail how he didn't but I knew it was a lie and I was upset. After a few roundabout questions he admitted he did. After all of our talks and promises he a few days later fell back into lying immediately. How can I trust him when lies are so easy? He claimed again he didn't want to hurt me because we were so happy but I just expressed how much his lies hurt days earlier and we had pro missed not to lie to each other! I'm right back in the same spot if not more hopeless. I don't see how I could've handled anything more rationally.
Let's assume that he is telling the truth and that all that happened was a trip to a strip club. And that he with holds info so as to not hurt your feelings.
Being untruthful is as much a habit as anything. It may take him a while to get use to being truthful You may have to remind him from time to time that you are a pretty forgiving woman, as long as he tells you the truth. That is you really big issue. After all how do you know what is the truth if he is not always honest. As far as the lap dance goes, he probably thought that "THAT" would not be OK. And it was easier to lie than to face you with a truth he was sure you would not like.
So, be patient with him. And keep the dialog open. Set some guidelines as to what kinds of behavior are NOT acceptable, period(!) From now on, I would guess, lying, cheating,... are not acceptable and in fact if he has to ask the answer is probably no.
Have a great day,