We’ve been married nine years. For the most part it’s a good marriage. Although I wish my husband was more affectionate, I decided to love him for who he is and be happy.

There was one incident, right before we got married, where I caught him flirting with a receptionist at work via texts. I had no proof of physical interaction. He begged me to give him another chance and I did. I warned him if I ever found out something like this was going on, my children from a previous marriage and I would be out of his life. No explanations or excuses.

Recently he started taking my teenage son skeet shooting. A girl, 20, works at the range. Looking at our phone bill, I noticed he often texted one number—hers—and there were calls back and forth. That took me right back to the incident I had forgotten.

So I confronted my husband. He told me she wanted his advice about a boy. She also confided about troubles at home. He said he felt sorry for her because she was down on herself and he wanted to help.

He wasn’t defensive and even said all I had to do was say the word and he would tell her to stop texting and calling.

What’s strange is before this my husband turned over a new leaf. He became affectionate and seemed happier. He told me he should have done this long ago, and he promised our future will be different. He also apologized for depriving me in our marriage.

This brings me to a crossroad. I’ve read men who cheat sometimes feel so much guilt they show more attention to make up for it. But I should add he is trying to fix up this girl with one of his work friends, so maybe I’m overreacting.

~ Marne

Marne, on the surface, your letter is indeterminate. But if you think about it a little deeper, it’s the straw, the confluence of circumstances, what was there prior to the marriage. He was unaffectionate and flirting with a receptionist, and you chose to accept it.

People say, “I decided to accept him as he is,” but you decided to accept a question mark. It was a bit of a bird in the hand. “I don’t know if I will ever have another man, and I have children to consider.”

Flash forward nine years. Here’s the same confluence of circumstances. He’s texting, and as before you can’t determine if there is more to it. Instead of being unaffectionate, he’s changed. That should make you happy but it doesn’t, does it?

One day he decided to be a different person. That’s like finding a diamond in your backyard. It’s rare. It’s no surprise it doesn’t make you happy because, besides suspicion, where does your head go? He could have been like this nine years ago.

Again you have to decide what it means. Sit down and talk with him. “What’s happening doesn’t make sense to me. We didn’t go to marriage counseling, you didn’t have a near death experience, I didn’t threaten you with ‘change or else,’ but you changed. Why?”

Because he cannot show affection to the young girl, could he be turning those feelings on you? Possibly. Did being around her waken in him the desire to end his unaffectionate ways? It could be that, too.

Your husband isn’t defensive about her. That can be a good sign. But you are in the same spot as nine years ago.

Your task is to get to the bottom of why he’s changed this time.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Thank you! You brought to light exactly the questions I need to ask. So I did! I truly believe he wants his life to be different.

I will enjoy this and see what happens. I’ve learned if intentions are not true, eventually the real intentions will show themselves.

~ Marne

Column for the week of March 23, 2015

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