More threads by worried


A couple of months ago, I noticed a marked difference in my husband. He has been rather irritable for awhile, particularly toward our young children, but he suddenly started spending up to 8-9 hours a day on a website he has belonged to for awhile now, whereas he used to spend maybe 2-3 hours there. I first noticed because I was coming home from night school to a house in total chaos, things broken, children unhappy, and when I asked my oldest son what was going on (he's 17 y/o), he said his dad just spends all night on the computer and doesn't watch the younger kids, and then yells at them if they disturb him.

About a week ago, I came home from having been at the library doing research to my 3 y/o in the back yard covered in gas. He had gotten in the storage shed unnoticed, and if I hadn't come home right then, he could have been seriously hurt. At my wits end, I went to the website that my husband could not tear himself away from to see what was going on.

It is an EMT website, where emergency medical professionals can post threads and chat, etc. I've known about him going to this site for awhile and I had no problem with it. However, he had not logged off, so I decided to check his pm's. I found pm's back and forth between him and a female user where they were basically joking around a lot, but also crying on each other's shoulders and sending each other hugs, and cute little kissy smilies. He also made reference to "spooning" with her mentally all night to give her comfort, and holding her tight.

I confronted him about this, and I told him I considered it cheating, as he was giving some other woman the support and companionship he had been denying me, as well as his children. She is also married, and I told him she needs to talk to her husband about her problems if she needs companionship from the oppposite sex, or turn to a girlfriend or family member, but she had no business crying on my husband's shoulder in such an intimate way.

He admitted he has been depressed for a couple of years, but doesn't know why. I think it is from the problems with his shoulders (he ended up having rotator-cuff surgery on both, one year apart) and the pain associated with it. He used to be very athletic, but has been unable to pursue those interests for a couple of years due to the shoulder problems. Then, he recently started having migraines, and the relationship with this woman apparently originally stemmed from her being a med student and giving him info., etc. about the headaches, but then morphed into a source of support for each other's personal problems.

He says he knows what they were saying to each other was inappropriate, and he has been bending over backwards suddenly to try to be affectionate and loving with me, and be plugged in around the house and with the kids, but he has grown sneakier about his relationship with this woman, so it's only a matter of time before he goes back to his original behavior if this relationship with this woman continues. They quit doing pm's since they know I can read them, but they do private chat in the chat room. When I noticed him acting sneaky about being on the computer, I installed a program so that I could see everything that is going on. They are still crying on each other's shoulders, and while he is telling her he is trying to work things out woth me, he is not exactly giving her an accurate picture of how devastated he is acting with me over the problems we are currently facing. Instead, he tells her she will always be his friend, that he can't imagine not being able to chat with her, and that he will always be there for her. He also told her he'd be ok no matter what happens with me, he failed to tell her how he cried and begged me to try to work things out with him.

I've done everything I can to let him know that this relationship he has with this woman needs to end and that we need to get professional help both together and individually for him for his depression. He always agrees, but does not check into the program available through his work. He did, however, try to tell me she is like a sister to him, to which I replied that I didn't think telling his sister he'd be spooning her all night and holding her tight sounded like the kind of relationship he has with one of his real sisters. He agreed again, but continues the relationship.

I sent this woman a message shortly after I found out everything, letting her know that I did not find what she and my husband were doing was appropriate, and if she needed support, she needed to turn to her husband. I also told her maybe she should show her husband the messages between her and my husband and see how he feels on the whole thing. She wrote my husband a pm after he sent her a pm apparently apologizing and telling her they could no longer pm each other (he erased it after he sent it so I didn't get to see the content). In her pm she apologized to him for causing tension, but excused her behavior saying she didn't think they crossed the line of friendship and that she respects marriage, etc. Well, after I discovered all the little chat stuff going on, I pm'd her again last night telling her I know they are being sneakier, and that I was not impressed with her pm (which my husband left on for me to see, as if it would convince me nothing was wrong), that if she was really a friend to my husband, she would back away and quit substituting herself for the professional help he needs for his depression. I also told her to quit crying on my husband's shoulder. I told her I have given her the benefit of the doubt of being a mixed up person to this point, but that if she continues pursuing my husband in private chats, then I can only construe that to be that she intends to be a threat to my marriage and my family.

My husband doesn't know about the last pm I sent her (I erased it after I sent it), and he will only learn about it if she cries on his shoulder about it, so then I will know for sure what her intention is. I realize that he is my problem, but I am hoping she may actually have some nobility in her and release the grip she has on my husband since she professes to care so much about him. In the meantime, I am going to continue to try to get my husband to get help for us and walk away from this woman. I'm just not sure what to do. I have considered hiding both of our laptops and asking him to not look for them so that we can concentrate on us for awhile, but I don't like how that feels, like I'm treating him like a child. But I do think he is sick, so I'm not sure how far I should take this and what actions would be best to save my family. I also feel confliced because I know that I don't deserve this, and I am very hurt and tempted to just leave if he is not willing to quit talking to this woman. Please advise me what would be helpful at this point. Sorry this was so long, but I wanted you to have as much information as possible to help me figure this out.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Worried, you and your husband seriously need to get into couples counseling - quickly.

At this point, there is a vicious cycle of deception, distrust, and tension on both sides. I think you need an objective and competent third party to help you out of this.


I appreciate what you have said, and I agree that counseling for us is a must. This morning, shortly after I posted here, I confronted my husband and told him the truth about what I have been doing. First, I told him that I wanted him to give up the computer completely until after we go into couseling, and if the couselor says it is ok for him to do so, then he can get back on. He agreed, albeit a little reluctantly. Second, I asked him what kinds of things he and this woman were talking about now, and I think I was just hoping for honesty on his part, because I knew the answer already. He didn't lie, but he seriously downplayed it. I then told him that I had the ability to read his personal chats, and that I knew exactly what they were saying to each other, including the fact that he told her he'd always be there for her, etc. I told him that I saw from his first chat with her that he was trying to behave, and not giving into her flirting or her asking him what was wrong. But then, last night, he gave in when she started baiting him again, flirting, and then asking what was wrong when he wasn't playing along. He told me he felt badly, because he intended to stop doing this with her, stop sharing intimate things, but then he felt sorry for her and gave in. I won't go into a lot of detail, but he basically ended up encouraging her attentions further.

He was a little shocked when he discovered I had been able to read his chats, said he didn't know I could do that. I asked him how he felt about it, and he said he felt that I didn't trust him, but then he said he understood that he didn't deserve my trust.

He is supposed to get the number for counseling at work today, and we'll make an appointment. Until then, he is still trying, but he is markedly somber compared to his passionate attempts to convince me that everything was alright before. I think he is probably embarrassed for what he did, frustrated to have the power over his relationship with this woman taken away, and probably actually feeling the effects of his depression full force now that his source of escape from facing it has been taken away. I sincerely hope, and do believe, that we will be able to work things out in counseling. We have been married nearly 17 years, and we have always been best friends until recently. Thank you for your support.


If your husband is depressed, and it sounds like he is, he certainly needs to get some help. The job he does isn't an easy one. It's full of stress and exposure to very difficult, upsetting situations. This, coupled with chronic pain, is making his life very difficult.

He's very fortunate that his workplace offers a program that will help him deal with all that he's facing. I think, if I were you, I'd insist that he get help for himself. While having a friend for support is great, professional help in situations like this is imperative if life is to return to normal for him. I think I might let him know that his refusal to seek the help he needs is putting a strain on your marriage, and that he needs to take responsibility for his own mental health, and act in the best interests of himself and his family.

If he's not willing to do what needs to be done, things can only get worse. He really needs to understand this, and he needs to hear it from you. I'd make it clear that you are willing to go to therapy with him, if that will make it easier for him. Couples therapy might be something he'll accept more easily.

Best wishes to you, and please keep us informed as to your progress. :)


I know where you are coming from. My husband does the same thing. I've taken the modem away many times. He says if I hadn't found out about it, we'd still be happy. I get very jealous, thinking that he's giving these woman what he should be giving me. I get the physical part of him and they get the mental.
He started chatting because while I was working, he was having anxiety issues and said it helped take his mind off it. I started recording his messages and they didn't sound too innocent. He actually told a girl that she was his soulmate. That was 1 and 1/2 yrs. ago. I don't trust him and tell him the best way to earn my trust back is, not to hide anything. But he dosen't like that, says I'm treating like a child.
I think chatting can become addictive and I don't like the fact that he has feelings for the girls he talks to, even though he denies it.
Am I just supposed to pretend it's not happening?
Let me know how you cope.
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