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Marriage in trouble over virtual affair

DEAR AMY: I have been married to my husband for 10 years. Our marriage has gotten better with each passing year. I consider him a good husband, father, and my best friend. About a month ago my stepdaughter told me that she found text messages between my husband and her mother (his ex-wife), in which he says that he still loves her, misses her and suggests that they meet for sex. The messages were on his ex-wife’s old phone that she had given to my stepdaughter for her own use. When I confronted him he initially denied it, but now admits he has spent the past six months sexting with his ex-wife (including pictures), with plans to hook up. He has moved into a separate bedroom. We are getting along most of the time. He maintains that he did it for the “thrill” and that he only told her that he loved and missed her to manipulate her into sexting with him. He said he would never meet her in person. I know he cheated on his ex-wife when they were together, but I told myself that our relationship is different. We have had one counseling session, with more scheduled, but I just don’t know if I can believe him. He sent all these messages while he was at work, and while out of town visiting his parents with the kids. I had no idea. I don’t know if I can trust what he says about the affair, and I do consider it an affair. I don’t know if I can get past the betrayal. I don’t know if I can or should forgive him. He seems remorseful, but he is very good at lying (obviously). What should I do?

Lost and Confused

DEAR LOST: I would seriously question your husband’s assertion that he would never meet up with his ex in person. These two have a history together; why wouldn’t they meet?

And yes, I agree that what he did was cheating. The secrecy, intimate contact, exchanges of sexual and loving comments — this is cheating.

The burden is now on him to demonstrate to you that he can be trusted. He does this by being completely transparent with his phone and computer use, talking to you about it when you need to, participating in therapy with you, admitting what he did and asking for forgiveness.

Many marriages recover from cheating episodes; this can only be done one day at a time, with both parties committing every day to walk toward integrity and forgiveness together. I think you are wise to be skeptical concerning your husband’s willingness to be faithful in a relationship. This is a “trust, but verify” situation.

DEAR AMY: A friend and her husband recently sold their modest home and bought a much larger, newer home. They are both in their early 40s and well-established in their careers. They chose not to hire professional movers. Instead, they asked friends and family to help them move. I did not offer to help with the heavy lifting, though I did go over one day for a couple of hours and helped with “little” things. Here’s my question: At what point is it inappropriate to ask friends and family to help you move, offering pizza and beer as a thank you? I feel that if you have the resources, you shouldn’t be asking others for free labor.

Peeved

DEAR PEEVED: Much as your friends “crowdsourced” their move, I posed this question on my own Facebook page and crowdsourced the answer.

Dozens of respondents agree with you (and me), that in this situation, it seems a bridge (and a box) too far to ask friends to do the heavy lifting.

Several people pointed to the possibility of middle-aged amateur movers getting injured handling furniture.

When you get to a certain stage in life, it’s time to hire professionals.

But here’s the thing: It’s not necessarily “inappropriate” for them to ask for help. Anybody can ask for anything. It’s up to the individual to make their own choice, as you did.

DEAR AMY: Thank you for pointing out that men can be victims of relationship abuse, as described in the letter from “Mom/Grandma.” This is often seen as a problem that affects only women. My son was in a highly violent and abusive marriage. Part of the pain for us was the idea that others didn’t take his situation seriously.

Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: The stigma surrounding relationship violence needs to change.

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