Her husband is secretive about his exes

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: My man and I have been together for three years and just got married. We have an unresolved problem, even though we've been to counseling. He has a few exes whom he keeps in touch with. I have only one ex whom I occasionally talk to. My husband has met my ex, and I tell my husband whenever my ex and I speak. I have no problem with his being in touch with his exes, but he won't let me meet them. He says he does not spend time with them socially, so there is no need for me to meet them. I ask for an update every now and then, but he tells me about only two of them. I know he's in touch with more than two because I've glanced at his phone (he guards his phone with his life). I'm not asking for a transcript. I just want to hear about this contact because I'm uncomfortable with these relationships. He says this is unreasonable. I'm trying really hard to trust him, and I'm tired of fighting. Is it appropriate for a man or woman to have private relationships and regular communication with a member of the opposite sex when in a committed relationship?Upset Wife

DEAR WIFE: You shouldn't have to try all that hard to trust your husband. Trust should be braided into the fabric of your relationship.

As you point out, transparency is vital. The more opaque or secretive your husband is, the more it will interfere with the intimacy you should share.

Your relationship should be the primary relationship for both of you. Your husband's choice to maintain secret relationships with other people interferes with your intimacy. It's as if he has invited other people into your relationship but he won't let you meet them.

The most illuminating book I've read on this subject drills to the heart of why secret relationships are so destructive. I highly recommend "Not 'Just Friends': Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity," by Shirley Glass and Jean Coppock Staeheli (2004, Free Press).