“I am in such a state, I really don’t know what to do. My husband’s phone pinged while he was in the loo the other day and I saw it was a text to him from one of my friends. Obviously, I asked him why she was messaging him, and he admitted they’ve been ‘sexting’ one another during lockdown.
“I know they’ve not been actually sleeping with each other, but this still feels like a betrayal – both on her part and on his. He says it was because he was so bored in lockdown that this started just for fun and grew from there.
“I can’t let it go and I feel deeply unhappy about it. My friend is married and I’m sure her husband doesn’t know about this either, so I’m tempted to tell him. How do I get through this – and how do I deal with it?”
“Under normal circumstances, I would – potentially – see this as something wrong in your marriage. Because of the pandemic though, all kinds of fantasies have played out – but that doesn’t mean to say this isn’t serious.
“I suspect your husband and friend had no intention of carrying this any further, and that it was all just a silly game that got out of control. Yes, they have gone behind your back and done something incredibly hurtful, but I think you need a conversation – with both of them – to try and understand if there’s any more to this.
“I suggest you contact your friend and tell her that you are aware of what she’s been doing with your husband. She may think it’s all a big joke and may not have considered your feelings in this at all. She needs to know how rightly hurt you are though, and you need to try to assess whether she has any intention of trying to continue this relationship.
“If your husband harbours any hope of an affair with this woman – or with anyone else, for that matter – then you need to find out what is really going on in your marriage. You might need to find out if this ‘sexting’ has been exclusively with your friend, or whether he has been carrying on like this with anyone else as well.
“It could be an indication that he’s missing some of the spark in your relationship; and that’s something that’s been hard for many people to sustain through all the anxiety during the pandemic, and the impact of lockdown. It could be simple boredom, as he’s indicated – in which case, perhaps organising a weekly date-night at home, where you dress up and share a meal without the children around, might help.
“First, though, you will need to find a way to forgive what’s happened and regain some trust in him. That requires a real effort on his part – and of course a sincere apology, which you don’t mention is something he’s offered. If he doesn’t see how wrong this is, then it will be hard for you to feel any affection for him, and certainly feeling romantic together again won’t be easy.
“You have every right to be cross with both of them, and if you lose your temper, that’s ok. Having done that though (and if you decide this is just a case of two people being idiotic), if it’s what you want, then try to rebuild a loving relationship with your husband again. If he’s prepared to try too, then it’s probably a relationship worth saving – but if he’s not, and if he’s not willing to recognise how hurtful this has been for you, then you may need a complete rethink.
“It may be that counselling would help you resolve this, in which case, contact Relate (relate.org.uk) for more advice and support. As for your friend’s husband, I don’t think it’s your place to tell him – you might precipitate a crisis when she’s just regarded the whole thing as a joke. That’s their problem to resolve.”
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