DEAR JOHN: My husband meets all kinds of women in chat rooms, and then proceeds to carry on email relationships and instant message private chats with them whenever these ladies are online.
I stumbled across this several years ago by accident. I sometimes read his emails to them, where he says things like: “I am counting down the days until you return from vacation, so we can chat again” and “I have missed you so much.” It just makes me sick. I want to end my relationship with him. He claims he has nothing to hide, yet he deletes most of his emails to these women, and he doesn't delete everything else. He says he has done nothing wrong. But I say “guilty as charged.”
I know that these online chats can be the start of an affair. Meanwhile, I have never been untrue or even thought about it in our 23 years together. I am upset because not only do I feel threatened personally, but also he insists on continuing to carry on with this.
— Jumping Offline in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
DEAR OFFLINE: I get a many letters every month that deal with spouses who have online relationships that make their husbands or wives feel uncomfortable. When concerns are brought up, the live online spouse invariably responds: “Since I haven't had sex with my chat partner, I haven't been unfaithful to you.”
Faith, trust and passion in a marriage are not merely based on sexual fidelity. Emotional fidelity — the knowledge that your partner is wholly and totally committed to you — mind, body and spirit — is just as important. If your husband's actions make you uncomfortable, let him know that he is undermining your marriage. If he chooses to continue, you will then have to decide if you wish to stay in a marriage that lacks the emotional commitment that you deserve.
DEAR JOHN: Most of my boyfriends have cheated on me, so I find it hard to trust men. Despite this, I have been with “Ted” for three years.
I have always felt he was different and that I could trust him — until recently. Someone said that they saw him at another woman's house, and that he was cheating on me. I confronted Ted about this, and he admitted he was there, but she was only cooking him dinner as payment for fixing her car. Ted claims that when she started hitting on him, he felt uncomfortable and left. I'm still angry because Ted allowed himself to be in that position in the first place. He says it won't happen again and that he is sorry. What if he isn't telling the truth?
— Uncertain in Lakewood, Ohio
DEAR UNCERTAIN: Trust is an important cornerstone in every relationship. You are an example of someone who is afraid to trust again because of your past experiences.
If you ever want a chance at a fulfilling relationship, you are going to have to move beyond your fear to a place of trust. Put down in writing your pain and anger over this issue, and ways this fear is holding you back. End your letter to yourself with the goal of establishing a trusting relationship again — possibly with Ted.
Ted says he was not intimate with the other woman, and you have to take his word for that. Unless you have proof otherwise, you should believe him and try to judge him by his actions, not by your suspicions.
John Gray is the author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” If you have a question, write John in care of this newspaper, or by email at: www.marsvenus.com. All questions are kept anonymous, and will be paraphrased.
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