Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our early 60s, married for 40-plus years. We plan to retire and travel soon. But the past year or so he seemed to become obsessed with his smartphone, holding his phone all the time and guarding it. I asked him if he had a Facebook account and he said no. But when I entered his cell number in the Facebook login and a common password we use, it came up with “invalid password.” (It would have said “no account found” if he didn’t have one.)
I told him I wanted to talk and asked him to be honest if he had a Facebook account. He yelled no and ran out of the room. Then, while he was at the store one day, I opened our iPad to read the news and the screen had a notification of a message or call from a woman. Her name had pink heart emojis around it. I have no idea who she is, as we don’t have any friends or family with that name.
We’ve had a few counseling sessions in which I told him that I saw the notification from the woman. He insists he doesn’t know her. I told him I’d meet him halfway, but he needs to be truthful or we can’t get this resolved. He still won’t budge. The counselor doesn’t believe his story either and told him so. After three sessions, she said he’s definitely nervous and hiding something, but that if everything else in the marriage is OK, maybe I need to let it go.
I cannot let it go! He says he loves me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me, but how can I believe him? I cannot get past this. I have lost so much sleep over this ordeal and am sad every day about this. What do you suggest?
— Betrayed Wife
Dear Betrayed Wife: You were wise to listen to your intuition around a year ago when it spoke to you about your husband behaving differently. Now it might be hard to hear that little knowing voice within. Your (understandable) anxiety and distrust are drowning it out.
So, counterintuitive as it sounds, I think you’ll get a clearer perspective on your marriage if you take some time to focus on yourself. Go on vacation with friends or alone, just to get away for a few days. Keep a journal. Begin a meditation practice. Enroll in some fitness classes. Take up a new hobby. The goal is to hush that maddening din of frustration, anger and fear so that you might once again hear your intuition loud and clear. Then let it guide you.
Note that none of this is meant to take the place of marriage counseling. Your counselor also offers crucial perspective and guidance, and I encourage you to keep going.
Dear Annie: This is another suggestion for Enough Said, whose elderly relative carries on extended conversations. I’m also an introvert and not a fan of talking on the phone, but my mom is. As I do want to hear from my mom, I make sure I have something to do during the conversation, such as folding laundry or even coloring. Modern speakerphones are helpful with this solution.
— Another Introvert
Dear Another Introvert: A great, practical tip. And while I know this isn’t the exact situation with you and your mom, for people who have social anxiety and dread phone calls in general, some light multitasking (e.g., doodling) during a call is a good way to relax.