Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au's weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred. This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie tackles a wife who found her husband's "sex list", a woman keen to take things further with her sexy barista and two sisters determined to battle it out.
I FOUND MY HUSBAND'S SEX LIST
QUESTION: My now husband cheated on me seven years ago and although we did counselling, he never opened up fully and discussed it. With the cheating came the stalking; I read his messages, looked through his stuff, his Facebook etc. At that time, I found his 'sex list' and on it was a girl named Tamara. He won't tell me who she is and I was already suspicious of a Tamara at that time. He now has two "friends" named Tamara, one of which he has come in contact with again recently. She has also separated from her partner. The issue is he had never referred to her as a friend — only a work colleague — and the other day, he let slip he knew her outside of work but then closed up.
My question is: should I bury this and move on or should I push to get an answer?
ANSWER: I don't think you can bury this. I suspect that the issue of trust will continue to arise between you until you're able to have open conversations together and fully heal from what happened in the past.
Even if you could pretend this doesn't bother you, your husband would need to bury this also, and it doesn't necessarily sound like he has moved on from his deception.
There are deep challenges with communication and trust here. You still don't trust him (which is understandable) and he's not able to talk about this with you. Even if nothing has happened with Tamara, he hasn't been transparent about his true relationship with her.
If you're suspicious, you quite possibly have a reason to be. You deserve to have the details of the relationship (whatever that may be) disclosed to you.
Given the previous infidelity in your relationship, it's not unreasonable to me that you would need your husband to be truthful, open and reassuring about any other relationships he has. If he wants to be able to move on from the past, it's only fair that he's willing to do this.
How you proceed is, of course, up to you. We all have different values and priorities in a relationship. Honesty is one of my top values. It might not be yours. By pressing the issue with your husband further, you do risk frustrating him or having him become more distant.
Either way, your relationship doesn't sound like it's solid and thriving.
Trust, commitment and being able to talk through difficult issues with respect are proven, by the most comprehensive relationship research we have, to be vital to a long-term thriving relationship. I would be asking him to talk openly and honestly about it in order to heal the relationship.
Infidelity is an important issue to be raised in therapy and I'm surprised to hear you finished counselling without fully and openly discussing this.
If you continue to have trouble talking about it between just the two of you, I highly recommend re-engaging a counsellor or therapist to help you have these conversations and move on to a strong, happier relationship.
HOW CAN I ASK OUT MY SEXY BARISTA?
QUESTION: I have so much flirty banter with the cute guy who runs the coffee cart outside my office. How do I move things to the next level with him?
ANSWER: How fun. I love flirty banter with baristas!
Ask him if he has any plans for the weekend. It's a great opportunity for him to tell you if there's anyone else (his partner) that he spends his weekends with or for him to invite you out to something fun. And vice versa.
He's also likely to ask you what you're doing, which gives you an opportunity to casually invite him to something. You can always soften it with, "You could bring your friends or partner if you like." It gives him an opportunity to let you know if he's seeing anyone and to meet in a more casual setting.
HELP, MY SISTERS-IN-LAW ARE CRAZY
QUESTION: My partner's sisters fight all the time and always try to pull me into it, getting me to choose a side but I genuinely don't care and don't want to get involved. How can I get them to leave me out of it?
ANSWER: You've put it really well in the question when you say, "I don't want to get involved."
Here's what I suggest: When they do something that tries to pull you in, validate their feelings by saying something like, "I can absolutely see how that would be upsetting/frustrating for you." But then refuse to take sides.
Let them know, that, "I really want to maintain a great relationship with all of you and I hope that's possible. I think this is something you need to sort out between yourselves. I don't want to get involved."
Hopefully once you set this boundary and show that you're not going to get involved further, they'll stop trying.
Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sex therapist and sexologist. For more expert advice follow her on Instagram