Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: I found a love letter in my husband's pocket. Should we seek help?

"Each day he lies I despise him more and more"

Share

Dear Virginia,

I’ve discovered a passionate love letter in my husband’s jeans. Of course, I’m extremely upset, particularly as for the past year we haven’t been having sex. I have mentioned to him that we seem to be drifting apart but he just said it was because we were both busy, with a son of eight as well as full-time jobs. A bit of me feels so betrayed and fed up I just want to tell him to go. But a close friend says we should try marriage guidance at least for the sake of our son and because we were so happy for the first six years. But why bother?  I haven’t even told my husband that I know yet, and each day he lies I despise him more and more.

Yours sincerely, Ursula

Virginia says...

Of course you must do your best to save your marriage! And of course you must put your son first in all this. I wonder whether your own parents were divorced? Sometimes I think it’s only children whose parents split up who know the really agonising effect separation can have on the children.

It’s clear that there’s a huge amount of secrecy in your marriage. First, there’s the secret your husband’s been keeping, by not telling you about the affair and not even, before that, admitting how unhappy he felt about your marriage, and fudging around with excuses about being “busy”. But you have to take your fair share of the blame. You accepted his glib answer to your question about the lack of sex, even though you must have known it wasn’t really true, and even now, you’re keeping the fact that you know about the affair secret. Each day, as you say, you despise him more and more. Your secrecy is enabling you to build and build resentment against him.

Before you do anything else you must tell him what you’ve discovered. Things that can flourish in darkness often wither in daylight. It may well be that secrecy has actually played a part in the success of this affair – the titillation, the underhand naughtiness of it. The game of hide and seek, when everyone knows where everyone else is hidden, completely loses its thrill.

Once you confront your husband, he’ll be faced with the reality of what he’s doing. Things conducted by candlelight, as it were, look all very romantic and mysterious. Turn on the central light and they can appear tawdry, predictable and rather shabby. In other words, once you admit you know, your knowledge will actually have virtually a chemical effect on the affair. It will no longer be the same emotional entity. It may well suddenly turn into something your husband doesn’t like or, at least, feels differently about.

In the open, your husband will have to face the reaction of his friends and his relations, and he may well not like what he hears from them. On the whole, society prefers couples to stay together, not split up.

And then seek counselling. It’s so easy to break up over something like this – and if you don’t have a child then there’s no harm done. But as your friend points out, you were once happy. There’s no reason to think that, if you’re both honest with each other, you can’t be again. It may not be in exactly the same way, it may not be for ever, but if you can just stagger on until your son has grown up, bonded by a common desire not to hurt him, this will be a lot better than splitting up lazily without making any effort to heal the wounds. You wouldn’t just chuck out a television that stopped working without seeing if it was just a loose wire. Don’t treat your marriage – far more precious – in the same way.

Readers say...

You must confront him

You have ample time to take stock. Since your husband is unaware of your knowledge, it is only natural he will continue to be evasive.

I suggest you bring it to the surface and confront him in an effort to effect some sort of reconciliation… bearing in mind the needs of your child. Marriage guidance is there if you need it, but only if all else fails.

PJ Hill, by email

Are you feeling a little bit relieved?

As your instinct has not been to rip up the letter under his nose and say you are going back to mother with your son in tow, you need to be honest. It was a shock, but was it also a relief? Affairs can sometimes heal a marriage. You admit your own is under pressure from two jobs and (probably) from parenting a son too. It can take time to adjust from being a couple to a family. Not an excuse, but a possible explanation.

If you do still love your husband, try this. Write a letter of your own, evoking the years of your relationship when you were happy, making it clear you have read the other letter, but not mentioning it directly. Insert it in the same pocket, letter just visible, put his jeans on the bed, and just wait. This puts you in control, and gauging his reaction on reading it will dictate your next step.

If you do not love your husband, but would find it difficult to confront him verbally, write him a letter telling him the game is up. While you should recognise in the letter that he is a great dad and that you both still want the best for your son, you can say you have doubts about your future together. Suggest going to a Relate counsellor together as a next step and see what happens. Good luck.

Verity, by email

Don’t assume the worst

So you found a love letter in your husband’s jeans, but you haven’t confronted him about it. So you have assumed the worst and believe that he lies every day. But the whole thing might be innocent. So tell him what you have found and ask him to explain. If he is having an affair, he will be put on the spot and will have a difficult decision to make. His response will resolve your dilemma.

Malcolm Howard, by email

Virginia says...

I am going to be 40 next month, and I am absolutely dreading it. Some friends sympathise but most don’t know what I’m talking about. And anyway, even the ones who sympathise don’t really understand. I’m starting to get really depressed about being that age – I feel all kinds of doors shutting, and I’m starting to wake up in the morning full of anxiety and feeling tearful. I know there’s nothing I can do about it, but even though people say it’s the prime of life, and a wonderful age to be, it doesn’t feel like that. I’m already looking and feeling older.

Yours sincerely, Kerry

 

What would you advise Kerry to do?  Write to dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose advice is quoted or whose dilemma is published will receive a box of Belgian chocolates from funkyhampers.com

(twitter.com/funkyhampers).

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Langley James : IT Support, Bradford £16k - £22k

£16000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Langley James : IT Support, Bradford £16...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager / Invoice Finance £75k OTE

£40000 - £50000 per annum + £75,000 OTE Car+Mobile : h2 Recruit Ltd: Business ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager-Managed Services-£80,000 OTE

£45000 - £80000 per annum + £80,000 OTE + Car,benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Busine...

Langley James : IT Sales Executive;Borehamwood;£40k(neg) uncapped comm£100k+OTE

£40000 per annum + £100k+ OTE: Langley James : IT Sales Executive; connectivit...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

You wouldn't give your child untested medicine, so why would you give them an untested education?

Oliver Wright
Tony Blair and George Bush were united over Iraq  

America and Britain shaped the world after World War II, and ought to be proud of their work

John Rentoul
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital