Marriage 101
May 2, 2011 7:52 AM   Subscribe

How do you take care of your marriage, if at all?

So, I always thought my husband was 100% trustworthy, but now I'm having second thoughts. I feel guilty for having these thoughts, and at the same time I feel tired and stupid.

I was never one to commit and did everything I wanted to relationshipwise, and so did he. After we got serious, we did however talk and it was clear that fidelity in marriage was really important to both of us (he's even more drastic than I am when it comes to this).

Anyway, we're on our third year of marriage now, and I really did trust him completely. We had a long distance relationship and I was always positive that we were on the same page, until tiny things started to happen. We usually do everything together (trips, events, etc)but he started insisting that he wanted to go out of state, but alone, because he felt I wouldn't have a good time (it was for business purposes). I said OK, I didn't really mind. That very night, I was browsing our internet history (we share the same computer) looking for a recipe I had seen that week, and I saw he had been obssesively checking some girl's profile on fb, watching the same pictures over and over again for th last couple of weeks. This girl was in the same state he had talked about going to. I took it as a red flag and confronted him. He denied wanting to visit her and sai he just thought she was cute. What else could I do? I just went on with my life, but I was not really over it. As those things go, this subject comes up once in a while when we have arguments, and he gets mad at me for not being over it, but really I can't help it. I really think he was planning to see her.

So, another time, about a year later, the same thing happened. I was looking in our internet history (I don't really remember what I was looking for), and saw he had been seeing a friend of mine. hundreds of pictures of her at the beach, looking pretty and flirting with the camera. I asked myself, is this a red flag, is this normal? does this even mean anything? I felt uneasy however, specially because I don't like to hide stuff from him, and I felt like I was intruding in his alone time. So I brought it up. I told him I was not snooping, and I said I think those things are a slippery slope, and that we both need to cut them from the root. He agreed and we decided to kill our facebook accounts.

But I find that I don't trust him anymore. He's not my perfect, faithful best friend. He works from home, and he has admitted to use incognito chrome, even though I never meant to intentionally see what he was doing. sometimes when he's on the computer, I come to him to tell him something I heard, and find him on facebook, so I guess he's still using it.

My problem is, I don't have the energy or the will to distrust him. It's just too much work. the whole jealousy thing makes me feel needy and pathetic.

Are these events a sign that we don't have the same view of what a marriage is? Is it a deal braker? If I tried to change these things, would that make our marriage "fake"? how much is too much when you are trying to take care of a marriage? Do you just happen to have the same principles as your spouse? How much difference would you tolerate? am I completely overeacting?

Before I get stoned to death for checking our internet history, I really was just looking for unrelated stuff. These two instances happened a year apart, and I guess privacy is difficult to keep when you share a computer!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds as though you need to tell him what you've told us here about how you're feeling. I you have trouble doing that, or even if you just want some help, your marriage might benefit from couples counseling. But you need to find a way to talk with your husband about your feelings. He also needs to talk with you about his feelings in a way that it doesn't sound like he does now. He needs to be able to tell you what makes him want to travel alone, or how he feels about you not trusting him. It sounds as though you've gotten into an unhealthy pattern where you confront him, he acquiesces to what you want, and then he starts hiding things from you because he doesn't want another confrontation. That's not healthy for either of you, and you need to find a better way to deal with these sorts of issues.
posted by decathecting at 8:09 AM on May 2, 2011

Negotiating exactly the questions you are asking are a critical aspect of a successful marriage. It's not easy to do. The best resource I've found yet for how to approach these conflicts well is The New Rules of Marriage by Terrence Real and I encourage you to check it out.

Real's approach includes figuring out for yourself where your boundaries are (what's OK, what's not) and excellent strategies for negotiating agreements when you and your husband aren't on the same page. Highly, highly recommended.
posted by Sublimity at 8:09 AM on May 2, 2011

How much difference would you tolerate? am I completely overeacting?

Facebook is made for "creeping", i.e., viewing other people's photos. I'll often idly click through hundreds of photos at a time. It's not obsessive behavior, it's curiosity sprinkled with modern availability.

I think the idea that you're willing to end your marriage over some Facebook photos is an overreaction, but my sense is that this is the manifestation of some other feelings. This is exactly what couples counseling is intended for; finding root causes of problems and helping to address them.
posted by dflemingecon at 8:10 AM on May 2, 2011

Facebook used in 90% of divorce cases.

I think facebook digs like a rusty crowbar into the brain; illogically and unforgivably.

With the second scenario, did he go to the beach with her and take all the photos without you knowing? If so, wow, big red flag.
If by "seeing a friend of mine" you meant looking at pictures on her fb profile then no, not really a sign of anything terrible.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:47 AM on May 2, 2011

Yes. You should insist on couples counseling so that you and your husband can answer the very important questions at the end of your post TOGETHER.

That said. I'm not sure why other answerers are discounting your concerns about infidelity. To me, the first incident (especially) seems highly suspicious.

The disclaimer on my end is that I used to know a world class cheater. You sound a bit like his wife of 20 years before she finally dumped him - just the scenarios, your husband's explanations, and you considering living with lingering doubts and/or thinking you might be the bad guy here.

(Not saying your guy is cheating! I'm saying that not persuing answers once the questions arise is the wrong way to handle things!!)

Couples counseling. Get clarity on these issues. You deserve peace of mind and a thriving marriage.
posted by jbenben at 9:26 AM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Honestly, were the question about your husband looking at porn, I think your concern could arguably have merit, but we're talking about Facebook here. He's looking at photos that people put up for friends to look at, and he's gone out of town on a business trip without his wife, which is a completely normal thing to do.

You are reading here as being massively insecure. I'm sorry; I don't know what to say about that because really, this doesn't seem like the sort of thing worth wasting a marriage on.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:27 AM on May 2, 2011

we decided to kill our facebook accounts.
I come to him to tell him something I heard, and find him on facebook, so I guess he's still using it.

Why haven't you discussed the fact that the boundries you mutually agreed on are being broken by him? Since FB was the cause of your inital worries, I can see how it would be a trigger for you. If he does not feel your mutually agreed boundries are valid he should have discussed it with you instead of breaking them behind your back. If he respects you he should address it. I don't think you are over-reacting, but niether is this a deal-breaker unless the two of you refuse to address it head on, prefereably with a counsellor.

If he took your conversation about nuking your FB profiles to mean it would still be okay to browse the site because you didn't specify that niether of you should actually be on the FB site then he is someone that appears willing to lie by ommission - not a good sign of maturity in a relationship. If there was any doubt in his mind that looking at profiles while not logged in was not okay because of your past discussions then he should have cleared it up with you rather than taking the position that it is easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.
posted by saucysault at 10:19 AM on May 2, 2011 [10 favorites]

I am shocked at the people who don't find this suspicious. Count me as someone who is 100% on your side that this is unacceptable behavior for him. I don't blame you one bit for being upset and I don't think you're overreacting. If anything, I think you might be underreacting.

I am in a non-monogamous relationship. To me, it's not the actions themselves that are the problem (or not). It is the dishonesty and hiding. It's not that it's facebook photos vs. porn, it's that he lied and said he wasn't on facebook when he is.

Wanting to travel out-of-state alone when you normally travel together is a huge red flag when combined with the facebook issue. Whether or not he was able to seal the deal with this woman, it seems that he wanted the opportunity to do so.

Lying about deleting his facebook account means he was lying about what he was doing in order to regain your trust over the original incident. It is incredibly disrespectful of your feelings and disrespectful of the entire concept of honesty. That is another huge red flag.

In my experience, this kind of exhaustion that you mention is the number one sign that a relationship is over. If he is going to continue to go on business trips and use the computer when you're not able or willing to monitor it, you will probably never fully trust him again.

However, if you still want to work on it, couples' counseling is in order.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:31 AM on May 2, 2011 [24 favorites]

Everything the young rope-rider pointed out. Especially...

"Wanting to travel out-of-state alone when you normally travel together is a huge red flag when combined with the facebook issue. Whether or not he was able to seal the deal with this woman, it seems that he wanted the opportunity to do so."


"Lying about deleting his facebook account means he was lying about what he was doing in order to regain your trust over the original incident. It is incredibly disrespectful of your feelings and disrespectful of the entire concept of honesty. That is another huge red flag. "

When I talked about having seen those scenarios before, these two quotes are EXACTLY the type of thing I was referring to.

I could see those types of events happening in a marriage and not being a flag for infidelity, but, either way they are issues worthy of clarification and discussion.
posted by jbenben at 10:52 AM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

There are definitely some red flags here that need to be addressed before they start to fester. Agreeing to both quit Facebook and then finding him still using it indicates some pretty fundamental problems in this relationship.

N'thing the suggestions for counseling. You will be highly unlikely to be able to work through this on your own.
posted by fenriq at 11:04 AM on May 2, 2011

From the OP:
"DarlingBri, we have no issues with porn watching. We both do it. I know he does it and we joke about it all the time. However, when he checks out my childhood friends, I have a problem. These are people that are accesible. We can meet them, see them, laugh with them. What on Earth could go through my mind the next time we see her together? I'll think he's totally picturing her naked!

Thanks for the replies"
posted by jessamyn at 12:45 PM on May 2, 2011

I'll think he's totally picturing her naked!

He is. He's doing the same thing to countless other women he sees. It has absolutely nothing to do with you and your relationship.

Really, I think there are two separate issues here. There's him looking up pictures on facebook. That's... something that lots of guys do. Including every guy I know in a committed relationship, no matter how happy. So I wouldn't worry so much about that in particular. But there's also the dishonesty and the trying to keep you from going somewhere with him and getting evasive when you ask. That strikes me as a much bigger deal - facebook is a red herring here.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:51 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are unhappy with the thought of him picturing women who are your friends naked, that's okay. Please do not feel like you have to accept what other people tell you that you need to accept because it is common.

I do think there is a basic issue of trust going on that is greater than that though.
posted by DeltaForce at 12:54 PM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Regardless of the truth, the lack of trust here is a big deal. I'd suggest couples counseling. Whether he is starting to consider cheating, or whether you're needlessly worried*, better communication and conflict resolution sound fairly urgently needed.

* My two cents: since your worries started several years in, they don't sound like an insecurity you brought in independently.
posted by salvia at 2:35 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Everything everyone said here is valid but I am also wondering if you may be creating a situation where he finds it difficult to be honest with you about doing normal things.

Do you allow him to masturbate as he needs to and think about other women naked as he is certain to? Do you allow him to be honest about that?
If not, you will always have these issues with men.
If a guy isn't allowed to confess to what he naturally must do then he is required to be sneaky and lie to be as close to this definition of a good husband as he can. I could see him looking at clothed women on FB bcz. he is trying to abstain from porn or something. Lying definitely sucks, but it might be white lies to keep a relationship working. Try letting him know you don't want to judge his personal habits, but you kind of have to know why he breaks your agreements and acts odd. Could the two of you exchange greater honesty in return for greater openness and understanding? Maybe you'd rather encourage him to look at porn stars than FB and friends, since they can lead to bigger problems.

Counseling is a must but try to remain open, healing is possible when new information comes to light.
posted by kturner at 7:29 PM on May 2, 2011

« Older Is uncertainty ontological or epistemological (or...   |   Waiting for the next playoff game is making me... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.