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The Love Blog
Dear Stella, What About the Turtle?
I have been a little less than trusting and continue to monitor cell phone calls and emails. There has been no contact (to my knowledge) with this other woman and I had started feeling pretty secure about our emotional relationship. However, when I retrieved my husbands lunch box (from a small dufflebag he carries) I found a small carved turtle. It was obviously not anything I had given him or that he would purchase. He had also just recently transferred items from his old bag into a new one and I'm sure this was a piece that he felt compelled to keep.
I took the turtle and placed it on a shelf where he keeps his car keys. He has not acknowleged the turtle! I'm not sure if I should mention it (or even how to). I am very curious as to why he kept it and also very hurt by it. My trust is wavering again and I don't like the feeling.
So, my question is....How do I go about asking him about this without his feeling like I'm beating a dead horse?
What a tragic and painful spot you are in!
Several points came to mind while I was reading your letter:
--Your husband told you he "didn't realize the hurt he had caused" you. What?!? Think about that for a moment. Either he is a very, very callous fellow, or he was just trying to talk himself out of trouble. Hopefully, the latter.
--You say you have been "a little less than trusting". Please accept the fact that you will never fully trust him again, and you shouldn't feel the least bit guilty about that. HE is the one who broke that sacred trust. HE is the one that will have to live with your altered opinion of him. Don't let him guilt-trip you about it.
--Should you save this marriage? 28 years is quite an emotional investment, and obviously you still love him, or you wouldn't even be writing for advice. Only you know in your heart whether you are better off with him or without him. But the deal is this: if he wants to keep you like he says he does, he will have to give up other women... forever. That's the deal. And although not impossible, this would be very hard for him to do. Usually, a man who cheats is a man who cheats.
--The turtle. If you left it where he surely has seen it, and he didn't even mention it, it IS a token or souvenir from his affair. Otherwise, he would have said something, like "Oh, you found my turtle", and an innocent story would have emerged. You know? Honestly, I am sorry to say this, but it sounds like he is still seeing this woman. Why? If the turtle was from months ago, why would he put it in his lunchbox now? That is not logical. She must have given it to him recently.
By all means, confront him. Beating a dead horse? You may well be. Ask him for the truth. He's probably been expecting it. He knows you know. And he has had time to cook up a good story. Problem is, he stayed silent about it. Smells fishy, but see what he says.
His reaction and explanation may well give you the answers you need, Anna, point the direction you should take with this. Either commit to saving the marriage, but only if he agrees to some revealing marital counseling, OR, start preparing for a breakup. If he can't leave his philandering ways behind, you will spend the rest of your life in misery. Is he worth that?
I just know there are brighter days ahead for you, one way or the other. This, too shall pass. Good luck to you.
***Read more of Stella's advice columns here; Dear Stella