Anonymous Mailbag

Rejoice, it’s anonymous mailbag Tuesday.

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Send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Okay, here we go:

“I’ve been married for 11 years. My first marriage, her second. We are both closing in on 40 years old. We have a son together, he is 11. Her daughter also lives with us, she is now 16; I have been in her life since she was 2, so she does not know life without me in it. 

I have a very demanding job, 6 to 7 days a week, tough hours, but generally am home by 6 or 7pm.

We have what I thought was a very strong, committed relationship. Could I do more stuff around the house, shown more interest in her friends, take her on more vacations, get her better/more gifts, tell her how pretty she is more often…….of course!

Recently, I found out that she has been having an affair. 

She met the guy at her 20 year high school reunion which was a couple states away, that I of course couldn’t go to due to work issues. They exchanged snapchats and only contacted each other via Snapchat. 

My kids actually alerted me to some strange “snaps” she was getting, she wouldn’t let them see, would turn the screen to hide, etc. So my daughter hacked her account, what normal 16 year old girl couldn’t do this to their mother, because she has the same password for everything apparently. Found some accidentally saved snaps that showed that things were going on.  Found out he had made a couple trips to visit while passing through on business. She had also made two trips back to her home state and seen him, amazing what you can find on someone’s Google Maps app including exact location, dates, and time of travel. Of course she denies ever sleeping with him, but c’mon who travels 6 hours and doesn’t actually do something?

It’s still early in the process, but it consumes my thoughts all day. What could I have done better, why would she do this, did she even think about the kids or myself? Or did she think that I’m a keep the family together no matter what, because my parents were divorced, that she knows I won’t kick her out.  She says she is sorry and that it was a stupid mistake, and is scared to death that I will leave, but who knows?

What’s the play here? Break up the family we have, that I thought was a regular hard working family, or stay the course for the kids and eat some serious pride and work on rebuilding our marriage? I also don’t have the support system in place (parents, etc.) that  can help me with my son and possibly daughter and still work the job that pays the biIls. I think I still love the woman, but will the trust or marriage ever be the same?”

Here’s the most important question I think every person in a relationship has to answer — do you want to spend the rest of your life with your partner?

Ideally, no matter the challenges you both might face in your marriage, that answer is always going to be yes for married couples with kids. And if the answer is no, the question needs to be, is it a permanent no or can things change to bring you back to yes?

But, first, that’s the foundational question you need to answer for yourself right now — do you want to be with this woman for the rest of your life?

You’re almost forty and the two of you still, in theory, have another two generations together.

Do you want that or not?

Once you answer that question the next major issue here is this — your kids, at least your adopted 16 year old daughter and maybe your 11 year old as well — know about your wife’s behavior here. (Your 16 year old will completely understand it, your 11 year old might not understand it fully.)

So it’s not like the two of you can just work it out privately and have no one else be aware of it.

Third, this is your first marriage, but it’s her second.

Do you know what happened in that first marriage, why it actually ended? (Not why she told you it ended, but why it actually ended. If it was because of infidelity then I think it makes your decision even tougher. Because then you’ll know that she’s cheated on both of her husbands.)

Here’s what I think should happen, honestly, in situations like this — you should get a free pass to bang whoever you want — let’s assume for purposes of this exercise this is possible (the person you bang also needs to be single so you don’t blow up another marriage) — and then you’d go back to work on your relationship anew.

Yes, I know, two wrongs don’t make a right, but I think it might help your recovery to get a free pass with another woman.

But I think the biggest problem here is this wasn’t some one night stand — like, presumably, yours would be — this was an emotional connection she had with an old boyfriend. (Or somebody she wishes was a boyfriend back in her high school days). And what she has done isn’t so much about the sex — I agree they probably slept together — but the violation of the trust between the two of you.

Once trust is broken, how do you rebuild that trust?

I don’t know, honestly.

I also know that theoretically this is an easy decision to some people who will be screaming — YOU CAN’T STAY WITH HER, SHE CHEATED — while they read this, but that’s an easy perspective to adopt when your own life isn’t impacted here.

You’re doing what couples in this situation actually do, looking at the finances, considering your kids, thinking about child care, all of the ways your life will change forever if you get divorced.

I know you want to give you the magical right answer here, but, unfortunately, I can’t.

I can only tell you to take your time deciding and good luck.

“I have a problem my friends and I have talked and talked about to no avail and I’m hoping you can help by providing a better perspective. I’m a female college student at a big SEC school and for the past year I’ve been sleeping with a man around 10 years older than me. We sleep together regularly but we text and talk even more than that, even hanging out together platonically sometimes but mostly in groups.

We get along really well but he has a girlfriend (the same age as me) that he met around the same time him and I met.

A few weeks ago he sat me down and told me how much he liked me and that he even wishes I was his girlfriend sometimes. However, since this talk nothings really changed about our relationship but I’m pretty unhappy stuck in this “other woman” role. My question is do I keep waiting and give him more time, do I push him by bringing it back up or do I just accept that if it hasn’t happened by now it’s not going to and end things?”

Here’s the deal, you’re the side chick for a guy that’s close to thirty years old and he’s “dating” another girl your own age who is also a decade younger than him.

I don’t blame him for doing this — no man, no matter how old he is, ever stops thinking college girls are good looking — but this guy is old enough to know exactly what he’s doing — he’s keeping you around for no strings attached sex while he’s got another girlfriend that’s the same age as you that he can sleep with as well.

He knows you know about his current girlfriend which is why I say you’re the side chick. (Presumably she doesn’t know about you and while it may be tempting to blow up his game here by letting her know, I’m not as concerned with her as I am with you.)

And here’s the thing you need to know about this guy: he’s just not interested in a committed relationship with you or her or anyone right now.

In fact, I’d bet he has another person like you — or several more — stored around somewhere else.

There’s nothing wrong with casual sex relationships, but both parties need to understand that’s what is going on here. You want more than a casual sex relationship, he doesn’t.

If any relationship isn’t meeting your needs or desires, especially if you’re a college kid and especially if you’re the side chick in that relationship, then you should end it immediately and move on.

Tell him he’s cool and you enjoy hanging out with him, but that you don’t want to be the other girl in any relationship, with him or anyone else.

That’s a power move on your part, but it’s also the right move.

I also don’t think you should want to be the primary girlfriend with this guy either.

Why?

Because even if you move from the side chick to the primary woman in a relationship all you’re doing is opening up a spot for a new side chick.

Stand up for yourself and leave him behind.

“My boyfriend of over a year just ended our relationship via phone conversation.

In his defense, we are long distance, and it might be asking for too much to have him visit me just to dump me.

We were pretty serious, and by that I mean he was making wedding plans and talking about the future. I emphasize HE because I am a coward and would never bring those topics up on my own for fear of it scaring him away. 

Long story short, we both work at least 30 hours a week and go to school full time. He had a season ending injury last year and wasn’t able to play football. He will now be playing again this year though, and he will be keeping his job. His reasoning for the breakup is that he will be too busy now and doesn’t think we will have any time together.

I was supposed to be transferring to his college in the fall. 

Background: I am as a chill as a girl comes. I don’t require daily phone calls/texts/mandatory check ins. I am athletic and enjoy watching pretty much any sport. So I wouldn’t really be the type of girl to harp on him for not having time to take me out or forgetting to call me for something. I’m busy too, and I’m not his mama. I grew up in a house full of brothers, and I know what annoying habits to avoid. 

So I’m thinking this “too busy” excuse is just a cop out for wanting to see other people since his access to other hot girls just increased exponentially, but I figured I’d let the wisest man I know give his input.”

You’re being way too generous to this guy — he was a total asshole to you — and you’re justifying his behavior to you by citing that you are a chill girl.

You didn’t do anything wrong at all here, he did.

You don’t have to justify your behavior at all.

Consider: after a year of dating — during which time he mentioned and discussed the idea of marriage — you were prepared to transfer to his school in the fall and uproot your life to be close to him.

Then, boom, he dumps you on the phone.

I disagree with you, I think he owed you more than a phone call to end this relationship, even if it was a long distance relationship, and I think you deserved better than the way he behaved.

But — and this is key — I do think you may have gotten lucky here. Because if you’d transferred to the new school, making your commitment to him even more substantial, and then he’d broken up with you your life would be substantially changed for the worse based on your reliance on him.

He’s clearly making excuses about being too busy, but he’s probably doing that to try and be nice to you. The truth is he’s met a new girl or he wants to meet new girls. There’s nothing wrong with that — you’re both young and in college — but I just think what happened here is he panicked when he realized you were going to be moving to go to his school and he decided he needed to cut bait before things got even more serious.

And it was easier to do that over the phone than in person.

(I guess you can be thankful at least he didn’t break up with you via text).

I know it’s tough, but I’d give him his distance and basically ignore him now. Not in an intentional way designed to make him feel bad and let him know that you still care about him, but more in a “I’m a badass chick and I don’t need you in my life to be happy way.”

Sure that may be a total lie and you may be crying yourself to sleep at night while you secretly stalk his social media profiles, BUT YOU CAN’T LET HIM KNOW ABOUT THIS. (Whatever you do don’t accidentally click like while zooming in on all the girls in the pictures with him).

So what should you do?

Post Instagram photos of yourself looking absolutely fabulous and having an incredible time whenever you can. (Even if sometimes you’re faking how much of a great time you’re having).

If he truly likes you, he’ll realize he was an idiot and come crawling back to you after he cyberstalks your social media photos and realizes how hot you are.

And if he doesn’t come crawling back to you, so what, he saved you a great deal of time and effort by showing you he was an asshole early enough that you didn’t spend more time and energy investing in him.

Good advice for everyone out there, when someone shows you who they truly are, don’t be mad, be thankful.

Eventually the truth would come out about them, it’s better it happen soon rather than later.

“My husband is what I would call a secretive person.  He says that he needs his privacy.  This extends to many aspects of our daily lives – I don’t have access to his cell phone and he deletes every text, email and phone call, as soon as he reads and responds. 

He also refuses to be “questioned” by me. 

These questions are what I would consider normal, daily married-people questions, such as “Why didn’t you go to work today?”, “Where are you going?”, “Which friends are you having dinner with?”  Literally ANY question I ask, he refuses to answer, because he doesn’t like being “questioned”. 

I do not believe he is having an affair. 

He says this is a psychological response to years of me nagging him, telling him he’s isn’t good enough, and throwing things back in his face. I find that the more secretive he is, I do really ridiculous things like eavesdrop on conversations when is in on the phone and try to read texts over his shoulder. Again, it’s not that I don’t trust him, it’s that I feel totally alienated and alone, and don’t know what is going on with him, ever. The fact that he won’t just tell me anything, drives me to nag and question. We have been married for 7 years and have a 6 year old daughter.  As a spouse and a partner, should he not willingly share information with me without having to be asked?! 

The second part of this is that he stays in his office or his bedroom if he is home. He typically comes out and interacts with our daughter for about 30 minutes a day. We have truly very little interaction with him at all.  In your opinion, what am I dealing with here?”

First, every husband under the sun, just about, would complain that his wife nags him too much. But most husbands don’t respond to that nagging by seeking to cut off all communication about all issues.

Honestly, I’m not an expert, but this anti-social behavior you’re describing almost sounds like a form of Asberger’s.

Now, to be fair, having one spouse describe the other spouse’s behavior when it comes to something they disagree with is never an accurate reflection of the truth. I’m sure his version of this story would be completely different than yours and it’s possible he doesn’t even see this description as remotely accurate.

Having said that, your husband’s behavior when it comes to secrecy is certainly abnormal. Deleting all phone calls and texts and messages the moment they occur is some CIA operative level shit.

But sometimes people behave in abnormal ways in perfectly healthy relationships.

Your husband’s extreme secretiveness is certainly way beyond what normal husbands do, however, and this is key, it’s also impacting the health of your relationship.

Some questions that I have for you: has he always been this way? When did behavior like this start? Does he have a job that requires strict secrecy, even from his spouse? These are important questions to answer to help make more sense of his behavior.

You focused on the way he interacts with you for most of this email, but how does he interact with your daughter? Does he really only spend a half hour a day with her? Does she complain about wanting more time with her dad? What does he do when he’s in his room or his office alone?

These are all valid questions a spouse could have about her husband.

So here’s what I’d suggest: one night a month (one night a week is even better, but he may feel overwhelmed if you ask for one night a week) you have a dinner with only the two of you, dive into the alcohol, and you each get to ask five questions of the other person, with total honesty required in the responses. You can save up the questions you desperately want answers to and your questions can be serious or funny, ideally, potentially, a mixture of both, but what’s key is the absolute transparency of the interaction and honesty of the responses.

At this meal you should wear your absolutely sexiest outfit imaginable, the one you know he can barely resist you in, and your first question for him should be, “How much do you want to have sex with me right now? And tell me exactly how you’d like to do it.”

Trust me, if you start off the dinner that way, this will become his favorite night of the month.

From there you can try and get him to open up with you with the other questions you’re interested in the most.

If you are thinking to yourself, wait, is Clay suggesting I use sex to get my husband to do something I want? The answer is, yes, I am. Using sex is the single best weapon any woman has ever had, or will ever have, in the ongoing and eternal relationship wars between men and women.

Because ultimately the big question you need answered is this one — what am I doing that is causing you to pull away from me and our family so much?

Good luck.

Send your questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

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