Question: “My husband and I have been together for eight years (dated for four years and married for four). We have two boys, ages 2 years and 7 months. My husband and younger sister have always been pretty close; some people have told me a little too close, but I trusted him and always thought they had a brother/sister relationship.
So, my sister and dad had come up to visit and then take my first son back home with them. I was feeling overwhelmed and needed a break but my youngest is still breastfeeding so he stayed with me. They were only here for two days but after they left things felt off. My husband, who likes to write music, kept complimenting me a lot. It almost felt like he was also trying to convince himself of the compliments. I felt like he might have been cheating or at the very least hiding something from me. I had a pit in my stomach that wouldn’t go away, so I finally mustered enough courage to say something. He got defensive, saying I was acting crazy and that it made him feel bad being accused of something he didn’t do. Then I cried because I thought he was right.
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I know it’s going to make me sound bad, but I couldn’t take his word for it and the fact that he got defensive instead of comforting me rubbed me the wrong way. I decided to go through his phone to put my mind at ease. I went to his notes app looking for a password and found a bunch of songs he had written. I saw one titled “Girl I think about you.” I stupidly thought it was about me but I quickly realized it wasn’t. It talked about thinking about a girl he’s not supposed to, how he undresses her with his eyes, finds excuses to touch her and much more. I honestly was in shock and confronted him, and he tried to get defensive asking me why I went through his phone.
He told me they were sexual feelings he had had for “someone” back in the fall/winter time when I had our second son. He didn’t want to act on them, and he didn’t know what to do so he wrote about his feelings. I asked whom it was about but he wouldn’t tell me. At that point I knew who it was about. I asked him if I was related to this person and he just buried his face in his hands and nodded. He started crying and explaining how bad he felt. When he went to sleep I packed a bag, put my youngest in the car and left. I went to my cousin’s and texted him telling him I needed time. He suggested couples therapy, said that he loved me, he was sorry, and he only wants me, our family and nothing else. The trust between us is completely broken. I know he didn’t technically do anything but it’s still bad, right? The worst part is that I would normally call my family about this, but I can’t. It’s embarrassing, and I have to talk to them everyday and act fine because they have my son right now. I don’t know what to do.”
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Answer: “While this may seem like the worst betrayal, the fact that he didn’t act on these feelings and remained faithful gives me some hope here. Your conflict probably feels wrong firstly because its your sister and secondly because of how close they are, but it’s not necessarily unusual. There’s actually a lot of studies that show how normal it is to have crushes or feelings toward other people while being in a long-term committed relationship. Just to give more context, one study found that 98% of men and 80% of women reported having fantasies about someone other than their partner in the past two months. We’re all human so despite having long-standing partners, we may find other people attractive. It’s the ‘not acting on those feelings’ part that’s most important to many of us in monogamous relationships. However, he still should have been more transparent with his feelings when you confronted him.
That being said, this situation hurt you deeply, and your feelings are valid. It sounds like you love your husband and so if you want to work toward fixing your relationship I would highly recommend couples counseling. A therapist may be able to help.
Your first step is going to need to be rebuilding the trust between you two because as you said, it’s broken. A therapist should be able to provide trust building exercises to get you on the right path. This is essential as relationships are bound to crumble if partners cannot trust each other. Another good step may be setting some boundaries. This will have to come from a conversation between the two of you and be things you’re both comfortable with, but an example I’m thinking of could be that his relationship with your sister may not be able to be as close anymore, at least for the immediate future.
If it were me in this situation I would give mending things a chance, as it sounds like you have a solid relationship aside from this event and him not coming clean right away. But this is up to you. If this conflict is something you can’t get past, then divorce and co-parenting are always on the table. Whatever course of action you decide on that’s best for you is completely OK and right. I hope this helps and wishing you the best.
Morgan Absher is an occupational therapist in Los Angeles who hosts the podcast, “Two Hot Takes” where she and her co-hosts dish out advice. She writes a weekly column, sharing her advice with USA TODAY’s readers. Find her on TikTok @twohottakes and YouTube here. You can reach her by email at Mabsher@gannett.com or you can click here to share your story with her.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Marriage advice: Husband is sexually attracted to my sister. Help!