Advice Clinical psychologist Jo Lamble answers reader questions.
Ihave been with my husband for almost 20 years (married for 17). We have three children and, despite the stress of raising a young family, we have always enjoyed a strong relationship. Since the beginning of this year, something has shifted and I suspect that he may be cheating on me. Although I have raised my general concerns with him, I have not asked him outright if he is having an affair because I fear that wrongly accusing him might destroy things between us. I am thinking of quietly checking his phone and his emails and trying to find some evidence before confronting him with it. Is that the best approach?
Icompletely understand why you are hesitating before accusing him of cheating – mistrust damages a relationship. And many people are tempted to check a partner’s phone and emails. But let me tell you about the dangers of snooping. If you don’t find anything suspicious, you’ll feel relieved. But that relief won’t last long. If his behaviour is still worrying you, you will want to check again and again. And if you do find something suspicious, what then? You either confront him with it and decide whether or not you believe what he says, or you keep it to yourself for the time being feeling tortured.
It’s much better for you and your husband to have a series of honest and open conversations. Start by telling him how much you love him. Explain what you’ve observed over recent months. Tell him about the shift and how you’ve wondered what’s going on for him. Admit you’ve thought that he might be having an affair. Ask him to think about what you’ve said and encourage him to be really honest with you. Then see what he says. As a general rule, if he explodes with anger, the likelihood of him cheating is high. If he is shocked and worried about why you would have thought that of him, that’s a better sign.
Aclose relative is one of my friends on Facebook and spends a lot of time commenting on everyone’s posts. This sometimes includes arguing with my friends who have also commented on my posts, even though he has never met them. I find it all a bit embarrassing, but don’t want to block or defriend him as I know he’d be upset if I do. Any advice?
The world was a simpler place without Facebook and Instagram. Who could have predicted how complicated social media could get? Yours is a common dilemma to block or not to block? To defriend or not to defriend? My advice would be that you try to tell him how you’re feeling. How close are you? Do you feel comfortable talking to him about this? Are you able to tell him that you find his comments embarrassing at times? Can you gently explain that you’re concerned about how your friends are taking his remarks?
It’s important that you own your (understandable) embarrassment and sensitivity. In other words, make it about how you’re feeling rather than what he’s doing. Be careful not to accuse him of being inappropriate as that will make him defensive and potentially more likely to make worse comments. Rather, explain you’re someone who cares what people think of you and you’re hoping he can be mindful of this. If he understands that you’re not criticising him but asking for his help, he should change his behaviour. If he continues to embarrass you, then you can defriend him and he’ll know why.
“How complicated social media gets… Yours is a common dilemma – to block or not block? To defriend or not defriend?”