Can I talk about my husband’s affair if it leads to violence?

By Emily Yoffe, Slate
Posted Aug. 31, 2013, at 7:10 p.m.

Dear Prudence,

My husband had an affair. After I discovered the affair and my husband ended it, I wanted to let the other woman’s husband know about the affair. I joined an online forum where people experiencing infidelity can offer one another support. Everyone on the site recommends telling the affair partner’s spouse: They say the other spouse has a right to know and that it helps destroy the secrecy that makes affairs appealing. I agreed with that.

But my husband said the other woman’s husband is abusive and would almost certainly hurt her if the affair came to light. I feel like he’s defending his affair partner by telling me not to expose the affair. The potential for abuse is the only thing keeping me from contacting the other husband, and sometimes I think the abuse is a cover story to keep me from telling him.

I just discovered I have an STD, which my husband gave me. We are supposed to tell all of our sexual partners — for me, it’s only my husband — about the STD. I feel now more than ever that the other man has a right to know. What should I do?

— Betrayed

Dear Betrayed,

Let’s sort out the public health aspect first. If your husband contracted an STD from his lover, then that’s a pre-existing condition in her marriage, and you don’t need to inform her spouse. I don’t know whether the abuse story is factual or not, but I have to disagree with the conclusion of your support group that the right thing to do is reveal all to your counterparty.

It would be one thing if your husband had an affair with a friend, you were now cutting the couple out of your lives, and you wanted the husband to understand why. But you don’t know these people and you don’t owe them anything. Messing around with the other couple will only get you looking at externals. You need to be focused on your marriage, your husband’s efforts to repair your trust, and why things went off track.

— Prudie

 Dear Prudence,

I’m a 28-year-old male and have a 4-year-old daughter with my partner of nine years (we’re not married but completely committed). My daughter was not planned and I had serious reservations about having a child at such a young age, but there’s a lot of love in our family and everything has worked out. But since taking a new job several months ago, I’ve started feeling differently.

All of my co-workers are young and I’ve made a few good friends, but I often have to decline invitations to events I’d really like to attend because of my family obligations, or because I can’t afford it. I’m the only one with a full plate of adult responsibilities, including supporting my partner, who is an artist and doesn’t bring home a paycheck every week. So I have to say no to joining them on road trips or at exclusive restaurants, because my weekend consists of toddler birthday parties and visits to the playground. It’s making me rueful that I’ve missed my 20s and worried I will wind up bitter no matter how much I love my family.

How do I get out of this funk and regain happiness with my circumstances, and how do I face my co-workers every day when they’re a constant reminder of what I’m missing?

- Longing for Lost Youth

 

Dear Longing,

The life you’re living used to be considered the normal course of events. You may be somewhat out of sync with your cohort, but take heart that many satisfied people have followed paths similar to yours. I was moved by a New York Times account of the Walkers, a successful, happy couple celebrating their 45th anniversary who got a start like yours, with an early, unexpected pregnancy.

But in case my attempt at cheering you up is just depressing you further, I’ll offer this alternative way of looking at things: You simply are at the vanguard of a life change that in a few years will be sweeping across your friends. They’ll be deep in diapers, while you’ll be the one sleeping through the night. I understand that no matter how much you love your family, you are struck now by longing to be youthful and carefree. But one of the great advantages of having a child early is that you will still be young when she is grown. There should be many great trips and meals ahead for you, and if your career continues apace, you’ll be in a better position to afford these.

You and your partner didn’t decide to become parents; it just happened. You’re committed to each other, but not married. Now that you have a child, you two need to be more deliberate about what you want out of life.

It’s fine if your child is an only, but if you want to expand your family, that’s a discussion you should be having. Being an artist can be a dream career, but since your partner is not make a living at it, it’s time she applied her skills to more remunerative endeavors, especially as your daughter gets ready for full-time schooling. If something happens to you, your partner will be completely financially vulnerable. And don’t forget there are such things as babysitters.

Right now, you may not be able to go on the road trips or to the best restaurants, but you and your partner need to treat yourself to adult pleasures. Surely the two of you could get together with your new friends when they all go out for pizza.

- Prudie

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. Questions may be edited.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/08/31/living/can-i-talk-about-my-husbands-affair-if-it-leads-to-violence/ printed on September 22, 2014