It’s all such a mess, so where to start? I met my husband 15 years ago, eight years after my divorce from my first husband. We married seven years ago and have been happy most of the time.
The relationship was difficult at first, as I found it strange having someone in my life again, plus a ten-year-old daughter — who actually adores him. He has been a wonderful dad to her.
Five years into our relationship he moved out for six months to give us some space and thinking time. This resulted in us missing each other terribly and he moved back in. We have never looked back and hardly ever have a cross word.
However, before we married I came across an additional email account that my husband had never mentioned so, of course, I was curious! He wasn’t using his real name, but a nickname from his childhood.
I found hotel confirmations, graphic emails about meeting up with a person called Terry, which I thought was short for Teresa. It turns out it was short for Terence!
All of this was going on in the first five years before he moved out and while we were apparently living in a committed relationship. One of the meetings was over our second Christmas together when he said he was visiting his parents.
To cut a long story short, I confronted him and it all came out that he had ‘dabbled’ in same-sex meetings and was very confused in what he wanted.
I was absolutely gutted and found it very hard to get over. Then I thought I had — and we married as planned.
Recently, I have been struggling with this again to the point that when I look at him I just see a man who said he loves me, but yet could do this to me.
As far as I know, once I confronted him it all stopped, but I can’t help thinking that maybe I’ve made him quash desires that he needs to fulfil.
We never talk about it and he thinks I’ve forgiven him, but I can’t. This is making me unhappy to the point I’ve been looking at properties to rent.
The problem is, although I work full time in a good job, I would struggle financially, as property is so expensive where I live.
Please help me with some advice on how to forgive him and move on. Or should I just cut ties and allow him to do what he really wants?
This week, Bel Mooney advises a reader who fears her husband might be gay after he previously was unfaithful with another man before they married
You start by telling me (with conviction) that your life, your marriage, is ‘all such a mess’ — and yet for the life of me, having read your email several times, I cannot see why.
You describe a long relationship that went through a difficult patch at first as you adjusted. But, after time apart, you sorted it out magnificently.
Thought of the day
Remember the time of year
when the future appears
like a blank sheet of paper
a clean calendar, a new chance.
From ‘Promise’ by Jackie Kay (Scottish poet, playwright and novelist, born 1961)
That is, until you found out that in those early years he’d had a fling with a guy. He was with you, yet unfaithful. Would it have been worse had you found out he’d been seeing a Teresa? Or did the idea of same-sex dabbling unsettle you?
I don’t blame you for your curiosity, but this story is a reminder that prying can bring more pain than the truth is worth. Still, it must have hurt.
You discovered your chap was unsure about his sexuality, so wanted to experience both sexes. He won’t be the first, or the last, to have that wish. Many hetrosexual people have hidden such fantasies.
Are they harmful? I don’t believe so. Was his ‘dabbling’ wicked? Only as much as any infidelity can be damaging. But even though you’d been shocked and upset, you married as planned, your daughter adored her stepfather, life was good. So why has this old issue come back to bother you so much now? You haven’t found any secret emails. Your husband hasn’t suddenly become a nasty person.
He may have been ‘confused’ back then, but has shown no signs of it since. Yet you have actually been thinking of ending this second marriage, this good relationship dating back to 2006, simply because something has sparked an unhappy resentment that has lain unresolved since.
Sadly, you’re newly obsessing about whether your husband is secretly quashing his sexuality and yet you ‘never talk about it’. I’d bet ‘what he really wants’ is to go on being happily married to you, to grow old together and continue to watch his stepdaughter flourish. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to have a conversation about these matters before you pack your bags?
To be frank, I find it hard to advise you ‘how to forgive him and move on’ when I cannot think of a single reason why you shouldn’t. Years ago, he made a mistake — and was sorry. You married for better or worse and that must include forgiveness, or else a marriage is not worth a scrap of paper.
Counselling would help, I’m sure (see relate.org.uk), but you should think of all the good you have shared and ask yourself whether you really want to live alone.
I want to cut off my difficult sister
I’m 60 and single, and have an older sister, Carol, 63, also single. We’ve always had a very contentious relationship.
Although we’ve always lived a distance apart, we kept in touch by phone and emails, but these usually ended up in an argument or some other unpleasantness. This has gone on for decades.
Our parents supported her for years; I only learned recently she had (or maybe still has) a gambling problem, and I resent that she caused them heartbreak and financial worry.
She’s never owned up to the gambling or her role in any of the family’s distress. She’s always refused to speak honestly about anything. There are two other siblings — one doesn’t speak to Carol, and the other one barely tolerates her. Both parents passed away a few years ago.
A few months ago, I decided that for my own wellbeing I don’t wish to engage with Carol further. My nerves are already frayed with the lockdowns and I was tired of always screaming at her down the phone, then feeling guilty.
It’s been a horrible cycle. I don’t have this reaction to anyone else. I told her I got too upset to speak to her on the phone, which she did accept. It’s been a joy not to talk to her.
But she continues to email me a few times a week with unimportant things and each time I see her name I feel my blood pressure rising again.
I usually respond with a short, dismissive reply, hoping she’ll get the hint. I wish her well, but want her out of my life. Can you suggest anything?
So many months marred by mutual dislike; years of irritation and quarrelling; decades of division.
None of us can help not getting on with a sibling, but what we can do is come to terms with the incompatibility and work out how to manage it.
Two things in your email pique my curiosity. The first is that even though your relationship has been poisonous, you have nevertheless ‘kept in touch by phone and emails’. People who hate each other don’t do that.
The second is this sentence: ‘There are two other siblings — one doesn’t speak to Carol, and the other one barely tolerates her.’ You don’t write, ‘We have . . .’ — which would indicate involvement. You write, ‘There are . . .’ As if those siblings (sisters or brothers?) have nothing to do with you at all.
More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail…
I’m afraid I can’t help but wonder if this detachment also has something to do with ‘the family’s distress’. I may be wrong, but it doesn’t sound as if your family was ever close. I’d love to know whether you are in touch with those siblings and also whether your sister feels as angry with you as you are with her.
It doesn’t sound as if she does. You say she had/has a gambling addiction. With that in mind, it could be that she is, in fact, extremely needy and clinging to what remains of her relationship with you. The relationship you no longer want.
Let me quickly say I do understand that — especially as you mention that you have been driven to a state of nervous anxiety because of lockdowns. But I wonder whether this period of extra stress we are all enduring is the best time to cut off all contact with your sister. If she wanted it, she would not be emailing you.
Did you ever think of trying to discover exactly why you were ‘always screaming at her down the phone then feeling guilty’? If you felt guilty, you must have felt you were in the wrong, so why?
I think these questions need answering — as much for your own ‘wellbeing’ as your decision to stop those unpleasant phone calls. You say you ‘wish her well’, but that seems to me to be equal to the dishonesty of which you accuse Carol.
Sometimes when people write to this column with seemingly insoluble problems concerning a problematic family member I have counselled ending all contact with the toxic person. But in your case I’m not doing so. You give no information about what’s going on in your life — except this seeming hatred of Carol.
But one thing is sure. You are getting older and so is she, and in ten years’ time you may be sorry you set her adrift. I suggest letting weekly emails continue, since they do you no real harm, and perhaps she is very lonely and needs them.
And finally…Don’t just stay safe, stay strong
Who isn’t glad to see the back of 2020? I remember images of gaunt, white-bearded, Old Year tottering out of the door, while New Year skips in as a small child, all clear-eyed and fresh.
This time both would be muzzled in masks . . . oh, stop it! The dreary show is not yet over, but many of us are desperate for new tunes to sing.
Mind you, if you try optimism, will people ask what the hell there is to be cheerful about? I’m with my heroine, the great Victorian writer George Eliot, who described herself as a ‘meliorist’.
Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.
Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or email [email protected]
A pseudonym will be used if you wish.
Bel reads all letters but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
In Latin ‘good, better, best’ translates as bonus, melior, optimus. So a ‘meliorist’ believes that things are getting better. This isn’t optimism or pessimism, just the quiet philosophical belief (grounded in knowledge and experience) that humanity sees a slow series of improvements.
Of course, it may not seem so. But just consider life in 1900 (say) and you’ll understand. I recommend starting 2021 with the late Hans Rosling’s book, Factfulness — for incontrovertible evidence of ‘the secret, silent miracle of human progress’. As The Beatles sang: ‘It’s getting better all the time.’
Of course there are bumps in the road, setbacks, missed turnings, stumbles, side-tracks, not to mention strangers who might lead you astray. Stick to the trusty roadmap of your best instincts and you will survive and move forward.
But if you spend too much time on social media, you’re bound to get lost, dazed and confused. Life would be immeasurably better without Twitter.
A good resolution for 2021 would be to step away from all screens and look outwards and upwards. After the shocks of last year, do you have some resolutions for this one?
For a start, why not ditch that old ‘Stay Safe’ stuff and try ‘Stay Strong’? Me, I just want to work, create and love even harder and continue with everything that gives me pleasure, from family to chocolate and vodka.
Cheers to a Happy New Year.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk