Another maritial issue: Contact with old flame okay or not?


#1

Proper or not?
My cousin’s husband went to his childhood friend’s father’s funeral. He was very, very close to this family. He went alone as they could not afford for the whole family to go.

At the funeral, he ran into his ex girlfriend. They chatted and sat together. She has a car (he flew in and took the train to the funeral) and he rode with her to and from the burial…just the two of them. They then sat together at the repass dinner back at the church. He got back on the train and flew back home that evening.

My cousin knows all of this because she asked how he got to the burial and he said: “Oh, a lady I knew long ago was there and gave me a ride”. He said the name and it was a shock to my cousin because this was the one and only other person her husband has been intimate with (long before their marriage). My cousin was LIVID and still is. The woman is now married with kids, but she and my cousin’s husband exchanged email and phone numbers and he emailed her some contacts of folks they both knew from the past she had lost touch with.

He (cousin’s husband) has no idea why his wife is upset. He said he ran into her, road with her and that was that. No big deal. My cousin feels it was inappropriate for him to ride alone with her, sit with her and exchange any contact information with her. She is embarrassed to go back to his home town, as she is picturing everyone seeing her husband with ‘jane’ and whispering about the ‘meet up’ at the funeral. Ugh.

Her husband has never been unfaithful and I believe is a ‘stand up’ guy. He is totally blindsided by her reaction. He does not get it…at all. He said he will have no further contact with her if that will make her feel better. Her view is that she would have never, ever been alone with a man she once dated, let alone had been intimate with, under any circumstances…disrespectful to the marriage. She also would not have exchanged email if it were her.

Thoughts?

I get my cousin’s point, but also think her husband really did not do anything with a bad intent. I also think an old flame to a guy can carry a lot less significance to that of a woman. I get the feeling my cousin’s husband just thinks of the lady as someone he once knew. Period. Not some long lost first love, as a woman might view it. Sigh.

Taben


#2

It sounds almost like she’s looking for a reason to slam him. She now doesn’t want to go to his hometown because people will be talking about him hooking up with “Jane”? It sounds like she thinks he went home to hook up with someone. He was at a funeral.

I realize there are situations where it is highly inappropriate for married people to be with their exes – there’s another thread where there is a lady who is trying to infiltrate herself in the husband’s life. That’s a totally different scenario than is mentioned here. My personal thought is if she’s not careful, your cousin could end up seriously damaging her relationship with her husband.


#3

Well I can only offer my experience with my husband being friends with a couple of his exes. I've never had a problem with it personally. My husband has always been upfront about his past relationships, he has always had some kind of friendship with the exes to one degree or another, one was even one of my bridesmaids when we got married. One of the things that attracted me to my husband was that he treated his exes with respect and kindness. So I wouldn't even think twice about the situation your cousin is experiencing.

Perhaps though your cousin is just as blindsided with this ex popping up suddenly as her husband was by her reaction? If I hadn't known about an ex, I could possible be irked if one suddenly showed up in my husband's life again. I don't know though I would automatically jump to the conclusion that it would be the latest town gossip, that seems like a pretty big jump to an assumption. If I was the wife, I think I might understand how the situation unfolded like it did and see it as an opportunity to foster further growth in the trust issues in my marriage.


#4

I have had something a bit similar to this happen to me. My feeling is this: If the guy is my friend, then my top prioirity is to help him have the best marriage possible. If that means that his wife is not comfortable having me as a family friend, then so be it. I ought to respect her wishes and leave him alone entirely, if that is what she wants. In my own marriage, the rule is to be open about time we spend with our friends, where we go with them, and so on. Generally speaking, if one of us goes to lunch with a friend of the opposite sex, our spouse is automatically invited. They can decide whether or not to be there.

As a rule, I think that people should not expect their spouses to accept any friends that are not friends of the couple, even if these are people that only one of them ever spends an appreciable amount of time with. I think it is a bad idea to have a close friendship with a married person that doesn’t include at least an acquaintance with their spouse, if that can be arranged at all. This is particularly true of opposite-sex friendships. The “radar” of the spouse is very important, as sometimes a pair of opposite-sex friends are the very last ones to realize they are getting too close for the good of any two people who can’t marry each other. The spouse will often (not always) pick up on this right away, though. Still, I wouldn’t forbid opposite-sex friends entirely. Done right, opposite-sex friendships can be good for a marriage, since a spouse can get valuable insights into their marriages from their opposite-sex friends.

IOW, it isn’t something to be abused, but I think that within reasonable limits, spouses should give each other veto power on close friendships. You need some close friendships outside the marriage, it is a huge red flag when there is no one or even almost no one outside of relatives who make the grade as friends. Still, friendships of married people need to be ones that don’t threaten the security of the marriage. When there is doubt, the marriage takes precedence.

All this is a very good reason not to marry a person when you don’t like their choice of friends! You’d be asking for trouble, and lots of it!


#5

Appropriateness of these relationships is heavily weighed on the maturity of those involved. The husband seems like he is acting mature. The wife does not. The husband saw an old flame. He had to fly and take a train to run into her. I do not see much danger here - unless he travels a lot.


#6

I think she is blowing this whole thing way up out of proportion. It wasn't as if this were a big "fun" social event like, say, a high-school reunion, or that this was a pre-planned meeting; it was a funeral, for cryin' out loud. They rode together in the same car in a funeral procession; hardly a romantic drive. And the dinner was back at the church, it wasn't as if they had gone out alone together to a fancy restaurant or something. If people are going to "talk" about anything, it's going to be about how your cousin made such a huge deal out of an innocent chance meeting, not about the fact that her husband sat with an "old flame" at a public event. Sheesh.

And so he emailed this woman with some contact info about old mutual acquaintances; so what? I might advise him to "cc" his wife on any future emailings between the two of them, so that both women will know that his communications with this old flame are completely innocent. I keep in touch with an old male friend of mine, and that is what he does when we email (and I make it a point to be friends with them as a couple, not just with him alone).

Your cousin's dh should respect that his wife has a problem with this and keep his contact with this other woman to a minimum, but your cousin needs to be careful that she doesn't drive a wedge between herself and her husband over this, esp. if she won't let it go. A woman who keeps accusing an innocent man of inappropriate relationships with other women stands a very good chance of driving the man to that very thing. Just ask my ex-sister-in-law, who drove my brother away with that very behavior. And notice that I said "ex." :(


#7

Jesus.our Lords peace be whit You.
There is nothing wrong. We all come whit a life before marriage,and what then happend wos what then happend. I cant see nothing wrong in to persons who have not seen eachother in years,and who had have no contact for a long time meet,talk and then give phone numbers and e-mail adresses wich they most likely forget in a week. As a man I know that a sure way to get problem is to accuse,be jelous and chase the other in a corner. Believe me,You have nothing to worry about.
Blessings,Totterman


#8

Based on what has been relayed to us the actions of the husband and the ex were innocent enough.

I will just add that this is why we have that “rule” that we should avoid the appearances of impropriety. The wife’s reaction to the situation might have been out of proportion to the seriousness of the matter but it was still fairly “normal”. While normal behaviors sometimes need to be curbed, normal emotional reactions (however inconvenient) often need to be honored.

The actions of the husband and the ex were very close to the edge of the propriety/impropriety boundary. Not over the edge, but getting close.

I think the wife’s family and friends need to inform her (privately) that she overreacted. I think the husband needs to be informed that his wife is obviously rather sensitive in this area and he needs to put extra effort into putting her at ease. If he thinks he is likely to be put into such situations he should inform his wife before hand.


#9

Her husband has never been unfaithful and I believe is a ‘stand up’ guy. He is totally blindsided by her reaction. He does not get it…at all. He said he will have no further contact with her if that will make her feel better. Her view is that she would have never, ever been alone with a man she once dated, let alone had been intimate with, under any circumstances…disrespectful to the marriage. She also would not have exchanged email if it were her.

Thoughts?

These are my thoughts: Because he loves his wife, he will regret that he did not think before he acted. While he did not intend to hurt his wife, he will deeply regret her suffering and pain. It might take years before he regains her trust. Lots of love, undertanding and prayer will be required to heal this wound.

Craig


#10

I respectfully disagree. The guy did nothing wrong. This was not a planned encounter. He ran into her at a funeral and they spent some time catching up. If this were my husband I would not be suffering and in pain because he spent a few hours catching up with her. Maybe I’m abnormal, but I would not automatically jump to the conclusion that he was up to something. I have to have more trust in my spouse than that. That’s got to be a terribly sad way to live, thinking that just because my husband speaks to someone he once dated years ago that that automatically threatens my marriage. I could not live that way. Much less than to be the husband who is now afraid to share anything that happens in his life with a wife who’s going to go into such dramatics over a chance encounter.

All this is being said on the assumption that this is NOT a pattern of behavior, but I didn’t get the impression from the OP that it was.


#11

Speaking of the OP....who asked us? Has either the cousin or the cousin's wife ever asked for advice about this?

If not, let them work it out. This is a question that different couples work out in different ways. It is prudent to stand back and let this be, if you're given the chance.

If either comes to you, let them do most of the talking. Let them think it through out loud, with your help. Whatever you say, let it be as if both spouses were in the room. Defuse anger, suggest charitable ways of looking at things, allow that there might be more than any one person knows, presume nothing but the best of both, advocate for handling the matter calmly. Be on the side of the marriage, not on the side of one spouse or the other. If you never get in the middle of a couple's disagreements when it could have been avoided, you'll have kept yourself out of a mighty dangerous zone!

When it is over, act as if you never knew about it. Never tell a third party what you have heard from either spouse, unless you get to the point that you need advice from a priest or a counsellor who is professionally sworn to secrecy.* A person of discretion is prized in any family. Be that person.

*(If you change enough facts to keep the people from being recognized, a forum like this isn't a bad place to look for opinions. Just value us according to what you've paid us!! :thumbsup: :D)


#12

If it’s a really small town, and people knew that they were a couple before, this could happen. Believe me! Before my husband and I dated we were close friends. People would mention to him at work how they noticed my car was there. And how they noticed how long it was there. Weird? Um, yeah. But, just saying it can happen.

I don’t think the OP’s cousin overreacted personally. I would be really upset. I would probably NOT be upset if my husband had sent me a txt message or a phone call explaining the situation and was I OK with that. My husband and I are able to stay in close communication. I can’t imagine he didn’t talk to his wife the whole day of the funeral, why not mention it? Seems like he knew she wouldn’t like it. And then when he told her he said “I ran into a lady…”? But the wife knew the name, so he KNEW she’d know. Just sounds weird to me.

It wasn’t planned, I’m sure, it was a chance encounter. But I think it seems like he knew she’d be upset.


#13

I respectfully disagree. The guy did nothing wrong. This was not a planned encounter. He ran into her at a funeral and they spent some time catching up. If this were my husband I would not be suffering and in pain because he spent a few hours catching up with her. Maybe I'm abnormal, but I would not automatically jump to the conclusion that he was up to something. I have to have more trust in my spouse than that. That's got to be a terribly sad way to live, thinking that just because my husband speaks to someone he once dated years ago that that automatically threatens my marriage. I could not live that way. Much less than to be the husband who is now afraid to share anything that happens in his life with a wife who's going to go into such dramatics over a chance encounter.

You are entitled to disagree if you wish, but when you love your spouse, anything that causes them pain will be unpleasant to you, regardless of the cause. If you feel that you could have done or failed to do something that contributed to that pain, it will cause regret. I know. I have been there and done that.


#14

Unless she has some real reason not to trust him, I think she's blowing this way out of proportion. When you go back to your home town, you're going to see people you knew back then.

[quote="taben, post:1, topic:213398"]
Proper or not?
My cousin's husband went to his childhood friend's father's funeral. He was very, very close to this family. He went alone as they could not afford for the whole family to go.

At the funeral, he ran into his ex girlfriend. They chatted and sat together. She has a car (he flew in and took the train to the funeral) and he rode with her to and from the burial...just the two of them. They then sat together at the repass dinner back at the church. He got back on the train and flew back home that evening.

My cousin knows all of this because she asked how he got to the burial and he said: "Oh, a lady I knew long ago was there and gave me a ride". He said the name and it was a shock to my cousin because this was the one and only other person her husband has been intimate with (long before their marriage). My cousin was LIVID and still is. The woman is now married with kids, but she and my cousin's husband exchanged email and phone numbers and he emailed her some contacts of folks they both knew from the past she had lost touch with.

He (cousin's husband) has no idea why his wife is upset. He said he ran into her, road with her and that was that. No big deal. My cousin feels it was inappropriate for him to ride alone with her, sit with her and exchange any contact information with her. She is embarrassed to go back to his home town, as she is picturing everyone seeing her husband with 'jane' and whispering about the 'meet up' at the funeral. Ugh.

Her husband has never been unfaithful and I believe is a 'stand up' guy. He is totally blindsided by her reaction. He does not get it...at all. He said he will have no further contact with her if that will make her feel better. Her view is that she would have never, ever been alone with a man she once dated, let alone had been intimate with, under any circumstances...disrespectful to the marriage. She also would not have exchanged email if it were her.

Thoughts?

I get my cousin's point, but also think her husband really did not do anything with a bad intent. I also think an old flame to a guy can carry a lot less significance to that of a woman. I get the feeling my cousin's husband just thinks of the lady as someone he once knew. Period. Not some long lost first love, as a woman might view it. Sigh.

Taben

[/quote]


#15

[quote="Craig_W, post:9, topic:213398"]
These are my thoughts: Because he loves his wife, he will regret that he did not think before he acted. While he did not intend to hurt his wife, he will deeply regret her suffering and pain. It might take years before he regains her trust. Lots of love, undertanding and prayer will be required to heal this wound.

Craig

[/quote]

I also agree with Nanny PK.

Under these unique circumstances, I see no issue at all. This is an exceptional, one-off situation where one person helped another. Nothing more. No one is even saying it was anything else or that either party had an intention for anything else or that it could realistically lead to anything else. I think it would have been rude and hurtful to refuse the ride.

If the marriage is rocked by this I would conclude that there must be some other serious problems to warrant this overreaction.


#16

marriage needs lots of trust – trust is not a ‘given’ just because you are married – it needs to be earned and nurtured. not thinking about how spending time with an old partner would make your spouse feel does not build trust or confidence in your love and vows.

marriage is about respect and understanding – spending time alone with an old sexual partner does not respect the spouse and does not show understanding of the spouses feelings or understanding of the pain caused by appearances of impropriety.

you all can trust and love and believe in your spouses as much as you do and still find in a few years that all the little improprieties you glossed over and thought nothing about may actually be weakening your marriage because the more chances you take the more likely something little may happen – just a new feeling, a tiny reawakening, a fresh look at an old flame when the marriage stuff gets tough or boring or hard.

sure, nothing happened, but saying it is fine lets those fences stay down and we all need nice neat strong fences or boundaries to protect our marriages from the mindset of the world that there are no hard and fast rules or right and wrong.

marriage is hard work but totally worth the growth and maturity required.

he didn’t think and took the easy way – now hopefully he won’t make that choice again.


#17

I think he is innocent but what he did was still wrong. I also think it is not appropriate and I would've avoided that situation, if it were me. He might not understand but he should respect his wife's feelings and learn from what happened. If I were his wife, I'd ask that he not contact her again. He and his wife both need to move on with a new understanding of the 'rules'.


#18

[quote="taben, post:1, topic:213398"]
Proper or not?

[/quote]

When I read stories like this, I am SOOOOO thankful that I married a woman who does not make a big deal out of things that don't have to be a big deal. In fact, it's ALMOST enough to make me believe in divine guidance.


#19

“Almost”? And in CAPS? Goodness, you’re a tough nut to crack! :smiley:


#20

[quote="EasterJoy, post:19, topic:213398"]
"Almost"? And in CAPS? Goodness, you're a tough nut to crack! :D

[/quote]

:rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:


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