Ad­vice Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Jo Lam­ble answers reader ques­tions.

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - with JO LAM­BLE

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?”

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