Problems began with a young married couple when the wife discovered a long, private texting conversation between her husband and his female coworker.
Her response was not an immediate explosion.
She was patient, heard him out, and waited for things to improve.
But when the communication repeated—and kept repeating—over the course of a whole year, she reached the end of her rope. Enough was enough and something had to give.
Her next move, however, was unclear.
So she posted a lengthy explanation of the entire dramatic year to Reddit's "relationships" subReddit. There, she hoped to find advice regarding a way forward as well as assurance that her growing anger over the course of the year was indeed warranted.
She received that and more.
The story—which has since been deleted—began with some hard facts about the marriage before explaining the initial kernel of the problem.
A message chain was discovered nearly a year ago.
"My husband [a 35-year-old male] and I [a 31-year-old female] will have been married for 5 years this fall. [We] dated for 5 years prior."
"Last summer, I was working from home on our shared laptop. Initially the laptop was for my husband's MBA, so it's linked to all his Apple account items. His messages would occasionally pop up in the corner, and I always ignored them, as I've never been the type to snoop."
"On this particular day however, a former coworker (25F) who had left his office recently was texting him nonstop. I ignored it until a text popped up that said, 'I miss you so much'."
"I immediately clicked. I felt guilty, but I was totally weirded out that another woman would say that to him."
That initial discovery opened a rabbit hole.
"Thus began an afternoon of me scrolling back for several months of text messages, reading the conversations (I know, I know, it was sh*tty)."
"There was nothing sexual, nothing overtly suggestive. However, there was clearly a closeness and shared intimacy there, and clear flirting. They were obviously eating lunch off-campus together every day, saying a lot of sh*t like, 'I thought we tell each other everything!' and, 'You know you're my favorite lunch buddy'."
"He had even told her about her leaving the company had hit him especially hard and got very emotional with her about it."
"Texting started as soon as they got to work and generally continued through the evening after he was home. As guilty as I felt for snooping, I had this knot in my stomach."
"I had met this girl 2-3 times. My husband had started to mention her more and more over the past year, to the point that I know all about this girl's dating life, upbringing, professional aspirations, etc."
She then reflected on some red flags she'd noticed in the past regarding this same coworker.
"I had expressed to him previously that I was a little weirded out about him and this girl being a bit too friendly. It wasn't even a fight, I just mentioned it and he was totally cool and said they were never alone together, never took lunches together, he only talked to her because she was friends with the guy he shared his office with."
"There had been an instance the year prior where he went to a bar for a [World Cup] match and took like 2 times longer than he said he would, and didn't mention that this girl and another girl from work would be meeting him and his buddy. I only found out because the other girl posted it on social media."
"I wasn't mad, but just told him that's the kinda thing worth mentioning beforehand."
All that in mind, she decided to confront the situation directly.
"After reading all these conversations I decided to confront him. I let him know what I'd done, and owned that it was wrong to snoop and violate his privacy (and I sincerely meant it), and then let him know that the conversations had made me incredibly uncomfortable. He was pissed, defensive, and tried to make it about the snooping.
"We fought it out for a while before he finally seemed to 'get it.' Said he felt bad, it was never his intention to make me feel bad and that it was a platonic friendship that wasn't going to last since she had left the company."
"He apologized, I did too, and asked that he withdraw himself from that situation."
Despite the reassurances given, the issue persisted.
This time she confronted with no delay.
"2 weeks later, I'm in bed scrolling through FB, and in my feed it shows that the girl tagged him in a funny post, making a comment about some inside joke. He had responded back with another joke. I clicked on it, and saw that it's from only a couple days prior.
"Which to me, seemed a bit casual and friendly considering the fight we had just had and me expressing that I didn't want the friendship to continue."
"So he came to bed, and I tried to not say anything, but I'm sure he felt the anger rolling off of me. I immediately asked him if he'd talked to her since our fight.
"He freezes and then says no. I show him the post, he apologizes, and says he didn't think it was a big issue and he was just being polite. Swears he has not contacted her at all beyond that.
"I make clear that I would be more comfortable with 0 contact, he agrees that's fair, and we go to sleep."
But now that her suspicions had taken root, his word alone wasn't enough to squash doubt.
"But that whole next morning I just feel off. When he froze before answering, something was up. He had logged out of his Apple account on the computer so I couldn't check it. But he forgot his watch. So, now I'm THAT person, and I check his watch."
"And right there, every day for the past two weeks, they've still been taking. And he was the first one to reach out, the morning after the first fight."
"Even worse, he had received a major job offer a few days before this while he was still at work. He had called to tell me and we were so excited. Welp, guess who he texted before he called me???? YEP. The girI he claimed he hadn't talked to in two weeks."
Of course, the third confrontation was written on the wall.
"So he came home, and I asked why he hesitated before answering as to whether he'd talked to the girl at all when I had asked the night prior. He brushed it off, so I asked if he would be comfortable with showing me the proof in his phone.
"He confidently handed me his phone, and of course he had deleted everything. So I called him out and told him I'd seen everything on his watch. Had a massive argument over it."
"Again, I had to literally drag the truth out of him. Had to fight tooth and nail to get him to see why this was a major issue. By the next day, we had mostly come to an understanding. He volunteers to block her number and block her on all social media to prove he's not sneaking around, and I gladly accept."
The ultimate test came when things left the texting realm and a real life situation with the coworker presented itself.
"He puts in his notice at his current job to start this new gig, and his coworkers want to throw a happy hour for him and another person who is quitting. I immediately asked about the girl being invited and he said that she won't show up, even though her office is literally around the corner.
"He goes to this happy hour on his last day, he says things are all good. Then on his way home he called me to tell me the girl showed up 'right at the end' and that he totally avoided her and then bailed within 20 mins."
"I don't believe it for a minute, but at this point I have no way to verify if he's being honest, and am just so emotionally done with the whole thing and am questioning if I'm now a psychopath or he's gaslighting me."
"We initially discussed going to therapy, but then were dealing with the insurance change from his job (which I needed to get all squared up to pay for therapy), and life got busy and I totally let it go and just move forward because I couldn't deal with it hanging over us anymore."
A reminder: that all happened over the course of the last year.
The last straw came recently, on the same day she posted all of this.
Clearly, the discovery—yet another communication chain—was the final push that drove her to consult the internet.
"Then today. He's been working from home on his work issued laptop since [the virus] started. I haven't ever looked at it or used it. But today he wanted me to proofread something for him while he ran up and showered for a Zoom call. His email was up, and I said 'f**k it,' and searched for the girl's name under his sent messages."
"And of course. He reached out to her in December, a couple days before my birthday. Saying it's been a long time, we should get lunch, etc. They went back and forth that day before she let him know she was leaving town to see family, so they agreed to wait till after the new year."
"And sure enough, a few days after the new year, on the day that I had left town with our toddler to go throw my sister's baby shower, he reached out and they went to lunch."
"And that's where the convo ends. They agree on a place and time, and then the thread stops. So I don't know if the convo continued (I assume yes), and if so, where (she's still blocked on his phone and social). They could've very well just agreed and then never gone or spoken again."
"But that seems naive, and more than likely they talk via an email or social account I don't know about?"
After sharing all the relevant info, her post became more reflective.
"I've always been reasonable and fair. I've never been the type to question female friendships, and he's never really had them (at least not to this level). And now I'm completely questioning myself. Am I being a nutcase?"
"But even if I was being unreasonably jealous about the friendship… I still feel like deliberately lying to your spouse and hiding things from them that they've explicitly expressed an issue with is totally wrong."
"I don't think he has ever really understood how hurt I feel that he seems to need this friendship when he BARELY communicates with me. And I've told him that."
"I also believe he's absolutely prioritized this person's feelings and needs over mine. And I don't want to let my thoughts run wild here. But I keep coming back to this question… why lie so extensively about something that's platonic??"
"He has lied to me in the past (not about cheating, but about something sensitive and pertaining to our sexual lives), and when that situation happened, I also had to literally drag the truth out bit by bit. And he would confidently tell me a lie when I would have the proof literally in my hands that he was lying."
"So I'm just now wondering, what the f*** else could he be lying about? And can I ever trust him?"
She closed with a half-plan, half-plea for Reddit.
"I'm really just looking for advice, reassurance, a gentle reality check, or shared experiences? I'm trying to not bring this up to him yet because we are leaving town tomorrow to stay with my parents for a week, and I don't know what there is to say. There's a clear pattern of dishonesty and a total disregard for my feelings, our relationship, our household, etc."
"I'm just so lost and hurt and angry."
Reddit gave overwhelming reassurance that she is not "being a nutcase," not at all.
"He doesn't care what you think about his relationship with her because you always forgive him, he knows he can do what he wants because you will give him another chance. He has no respect for you and deep down you know this."
"He's not afraid to lose you because he's certain you will never walk away, you will always give him another chance. Never let someone feel comfortable in disrespecting you, never forget your own worth." -- maps2001
"I'm sorry to say, I would not be able to trust this man again. He had several chances to change his behavior, promised, and then didn't. And the lying is nearly constant. Finally, trying to make his behavior be about you reading his messages is gaslighting."
"Up to you where you go from here." -- UnsightlyFuzz
"He broke your trust for him and you gave him more than once chance. And he doesn't seem like he feels guilty nor does it seems like he cares about how this is effecting you."
"He doesn't really respect you because he believes he won't lose you because you will always give him another chance." -- tryingtoochill
Some advised that she take this as a sign and get out of the marriage altogether.
"Forget about whether those two are having an affair or not. Your husband told you he wouldn't do things (repeatedly!) and then went & immediately did those things. He straight up doesn't respect you."
"You don't need to know anything more than that. That alone is enough to start walking away & keep walking. Don't waste your best years on someone who would be so blatantly disrespectful to you." -- dump_cake
"Your husband is a liar. He's acting like because he might not be cheating he's in the clear. No. He's lied. Constantly. The level of arrogance required to lie to you this way is astounding."
"I would ask him to stay elsewhere or do so yourself; if you can't do that tell him he finds a marital counselor, this week, online if need be, or you need that space." -- Ladyughsalot1
"So he misrepresented the relationship with this woman from the start and has been trickle-truthing you about the amount of contact and the nature of the contact."
"Either he's a tremendous baby who's rebelling against "mommy" or he's having an emotional affair or worse. It's continuing because there have been no real consequences. You're still there, you haven't gone to couples counseling."
"So you can continue living with a naughty boy or put your foot down and require couples counseling as a condition of continuing the marriage. You can't stay married with someone you can't trust." -- degeneratescholar
"To me, the worst thing about your post is that when he had a big news to share, he told her first. There's no going back from that. She's the most important person in his life, even before you."
"If you stay with him, you set yourself up for more betrayals, disappointment, anger and sadness. How could you ever trust him again?"
"Do yourself both a favor and dump him. In no time he'll be an item with his 'she's-just-a-colleague' and yes, that will hurt, but at least he won't drag you in this endless charade."
"You deserve to be with someone you can trust and who'll make you the most important person in their life." -- Docyfome
Her original post mentioned that she planned to go away for a week and confront afterwards.
She did, and then posted an update.
"So, I mentioned in my comments that we were just about to leave town for a week and therefore did not want to confront him and have our marriage implode at my parents house. We are on our last day here, and frankly I am so glad I waited."
"This has given me a lot of time to really think about the situation our marriage and how I can realistically move forward from this. Also did lots and lots of relevant reading."
"Honestly, the biggest thing was me this week has been finally accepting that this was and is a case of emotional cheating (or an [Emotional Affair], if you will). Short of trash talking me and discussing sex (which they could very well be doing and just hiding/deleting), this situation checks off every single box under the 'EA' playbook.
"And the biggest thing for me is that after that last time, I had been very clear that the next time would be the last for our marriage."
The time away helped her acknowledge some truths about the relationship that were very difficult to accept.
"We had discussed therapy after the incident last year and didn't go. I own my part in that, I let life get busy and didn't push it."
"For the last year I've struggled so much with what happened. It felt just as bad as when I've been cheated on in the past. And I've felt like I wasn't justified in feeling that way because he made me feel like I was crazy, had unwarranted jealousy, and was wrong for snooping."
"I now fully know that this was pure gaslighting, minimizing, and manipulation. Which is also tough for me to accept because he's otherwise not a terrible person."
But just to be sure, she reached out to a qualified family member.
"The big kicker for me this week was telling my sister. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She knows me better than anyone, and will call me on my sh*t if I'm being unreasonable. She's thoughtful, logical, and also knows my husband very well so I knew could give reasonable input."
"Her takeaways were: 'F**k him. This is textbook emotional cheating, gaslighting, etc. This is also purely about him lying and is a choice HE made. If he felt the marriage was lacking he could have chosen to communicate ([from what I've written], he never has told me he had any issues).'"
"Also: 'F**k him again, because he's an inattentive and unsupportive husband and father, and me and my husband have never said anything out of respect for you but it pisses us the f**k off.' (and here I always thought I was just ungrateful for expecting him to help more)."
"She went on: 'As a professional I will say that I've seen a million sh*tshow marriages and anything can be saved if both people are truly willing to be honest and vulnerable and to put in the work' (and that only I could really know if I'm willing to put in that work or if he will actually be honest and hold himself accountable)."
The update closed with her final decision.
"SO! After that talk and a lot of thinking all weekend, I know what I am going to say when we get home. I am not going to bother snooping anymore, because it doesn't f**king matter."
"He knew the consequences and did it anyway, then hid it, lied, and even had the balls a month back to give me sh*t for having a hard time trusting him still."
"He can tell me everything if it makes him feel better. But it doesn't matter to me either way. I won't ever be able to trust him or look past the fact that he put someone else first. That he did this while I've been at home raising a toddler with autism and taking care of everyone but myself because I didn't have enough support."
"I'm done with not feeling any empathy or affection. So I'm letting him know that the marriage is over for me, and all I'm interested in discussing is the best way to move forward for our toddler."
"So thanks again Redditors, see you on the divorce [subReddit]!"
That post also went on to be deleted.
She wrote and shared a lot and she worked through all her thoughts by doing so. But clearly, after coming out on the other side of that with clarity and advice, she was ready to put the issue behind her.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the Relationship Advice link below.*