Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My husband of 26 years confessed to me recently that for the last three to four years he had been having a relationship with his first love from high school. They never met physically because she lives in another state, but they texted and spoke on the phone daily. And at times they’ve had phone sex and shared pictures. He worked out of town at the time and had unlimited free time to devote to their relationship. A close friend of his recently died, and that’s when he confessed — saying that his friend’s death made him realize that he needed to make our marriage stronger. He ended it with her. He showed me texts from her regarding their breakup. He told me that they only ever communicated via phone — never email — and has allowed me access to his phone. However, while looking at his phone, I came across emails from her in the trash folder. I asked him about it and he got upset when I asked to see them. He deleted some emails, and then stayed in the room with me while I looked at the rest. He has given me the password to his computer and phone, but he won’t share his email with me. Yesterday I noticed that he has added another email account to his phone. I have been reading about saving your marriage after betrayal, and some sources say that the betrayed spouse needs to secretly monitor the unfaithful spouse’s email, phone, messages, etc., in order to assure yourself that the affair has not started again. I feel very conflicted about this. He says he wants to repair our marriage and become close again, and I want that too, but I still feel very betrayed and angry. What do you think about snooping in these circumstances? — Anguished and Wretched

DEAR ANGUISHED: I fail to see how reviewing evidence of this affair would promote your healing — especially if your goal is to stay together. Everything should be deleted and all contact between the two should cease. And, yes, he should prove this to you beyond a doubt by offering you passwords to all accounts. (Why the new email account?)

You should not do anything secretly. Secrecy is the problem. Transparency is the solution. If you feel anxious and feel the need to monitor, he’ll have to tolerate it. If he is secretive and you are secretive, this just increases the gulf between you.

You should see a couple’s counselor as you try to repair your relationship. Marriages can repair — and possibly improve — after infidelity. You’ve been to the brink — now it’s time to come carefully back together.

DEAR AMY: I married my husband (who is 14 years younger) three years ago. I got a financial settlement soon after the wedding and used the money to buy him a motorcycle. We also bought an RV and a car, and paid off my home. I was worried that if I were to die, my son would make my husband move out and he would have no place to live, so I put his name on the deed to the house and filed it at the deeds office. Now I see that I shouldn’t have done that. He said if he divorced me, he gets half of everything and he will not leave this house now that it is half his. What can I do? He can have everything except the house I worked so hard to pay for. Can you help? — Sad

DEAR SAD: Well, you said your goal was to give your husband a home, and you did. Congratulations.

Now you should research the laws to see if you live in a community property state. If you do, then yes, you and your husband would share/split this asset upon divorce (though you might be able to negotiate something different). But the idea is to plan for your marriage, not your divorce. This issue seems to have revealed an unfortunate fissure in your relationship. Mediation and a legal “post-nup” agreement might help you two to work things out.

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DEAR AMY: You asked for examples of “bad” thank-yous. The most flabbergasting thanks I ever received was from a newlywed couple. It was a photo card showing the couple, with the pre-printed words: “Thanks, we loved your gift.” No mention of the gift itself, which was a handmade piece I had spent many hours on. Not even a signature! — E in Massachusetts

DEAR E: Nice.