"What if I had met another man before my husband?"


My husband and I are trying to work through some problems, and right now, we’re failing. Please tell me what you think about this latest “sticking point.” (We’ve been married for 22 years.)

Long story, but due to stupid things that I have done in the past - not good wife stuff - stuff that makes husbands lose trust - my husband has often been angry with me and expressed it in very strong ways. I have felt terrible - like sinking into the ground and never coming back up.

At four times during the 22 years - two of them about 18 years ago and two of them within the past two years, I have let myself go to think that I would have been better off with another man. That is, after our fight, I would talk with or hear about a man and think “What if I had met that man before I met my husband. I think I could have been a good wife to that man, and he wouldn’t be so mad at me about this stuff.” No real fantasizing involved, but not a good thought for a good wife to have.

I told my husband about these thoughts during an argument in June 2007. He told me he considers it cheating and that any woman who could have such a thought is a cheater and nothing could keep such a woman from physically cheating.

I know I could NEVER cheat on my husband, but I can’t “prove” it, and it seems this is all he needs to say that he can’t live with such a woman. I’m done trying to defend myself or prove it’s “OK,” because I really believe it’s wrong, too. At the time, I figured it was “pretty normal,” and that “everyone did it.” (I can almost here my mother saying “if everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?”)

I’m not sure what I’m asking you all to say, but if you have insight, PLEASE share.


You have never cheated on your husband. He gets angry with you and makes you feel like sinking into the ground and never coming back. This is the hallmark of an abusive relationship. It’s no wonder that you are left contemplating the what if’s. As long as you are not taking that thought and actively dwelling on it with plans about how you would actually go about being unfaithful…it is not the same as cheating. Fleeting thoughts are fleeting thoughts and not something that you have any control over, not something you need to share with your husband, and not something that your husband needs to hold over your head and make you prove your fidelity over.

Seriously though, I think you need to think more about what is going on in the marriage that you are in. How are you treated?


HI You are both in my prayers. I have to say I have fallen into this temptation myself in the past. Dont let the Devil fool you into thinking another man would have been more understanding or you could have been a better wife. That is not true. We are all human and have our failings. This is a form of escapism and not taking responsiblity for your marriage. – This is the conclusion I came to for myself when I fell into this temptation. Pray or say the rosary do what you can. That is what I do and it has helped. I see Gods work in my marriage and how my husband was made for me.

For your husband saying you are a cheater. That is not true. Maybe you should talk to a Priest or a Catholic marriage councelor? It wouldnt hurt to try. You can learn some forms of communication. Also – if you have a Retro Vi retreat for married couples that is suppose to be awesome! (sorry dont know the spelling) I have heard excellent things on this retreat for healing marriages.



Thanks for the reply. Thing is, when I’m not “causing trouble” to kill the trust between us, he is an EXCELLENT husband, very understanding, very sweet, etc. (Obviously not perfect: There have been long years of drinking - ostensibly to escape from the bad thoughts I caused through my early mistakes.)

But really, my question is, it is NEVER the right thing to seek divorce because of the quality of the relationship, right? What kind of a woman am I if I want out of a relationship because I don’t want to be accountable or be blamed for things that I do that are disrespectful?

I agree that fleeting thoughts shouldn’t be an issue. The only reason I divulged these to my husband was that he was pushing strongly for a “confession” of some type of infedelity. I thought if he could see the small scale of it, he could stop worrying or at least feel comforted. WRONG! Now this is the big issue.

I hope to get more insights. Thanks in advance to all who reply.


Hi Ruby.

You mentioned you would ‘talk with’ other men. Is this ‘talk’ more than meets the eye? As a husband this would concern me.


What exactly have you done to cause trouble?

And you are not to blame for anyone else’s drinking.

People who have anger issues are always looking for someone to blame. You don’t have to responsible or accountable for their accusations that are just not reality based.

You might do well to keep a journal about all of the things that your husband gets upset about. It might help you to see things a little more clearly, especially if you could share this with someone objective like your priest or a counselor.

You would not be a terrible person if you wanted to get out of a marriage that is emotionally and verbally abusive. Separation and even divorce are possible. I know…I left a 17 year abusive marriage. My ex is an alcoholic. He blamed me for everything and took responsibility for nothing. My priest advised me to leave him, and this is the advice most priests would give. We are now divorced and I have filed a petition for nullity.


The two most dangerous words in the English language:

What if

So this fight is over your thoughts?


If you have never cheated, truly never cheated on him, then the major part of getting this resolved is him learning to trust you.

It sounds like you guys are doing what you can at home to work through this but it’s not getting resolved.

Christian marraige must be based upon trust. I know in my marraige there have been times when I, no matter how hard it was, just had to trust my wife was telling me the truth. She in turn has had to do the same thing. Sometimes I still find myself wondering if she was telling the truth but I stop and pray and ask Christ to give me strength to believe and trust her. That dosen’t mean if I had proof of something I would ignore it but it means that when 2 people are together as long as we or you have been, there are just going to be times that things don’t “seem” to make sense and we must trust our spouse.

I do not believe wondering, “what if” is cheating… ok I’m sure it’s not cheating, in fact I believe that thought is fairly common when people have difficult arguement. It doesn’t mean that don’t love each other, or would really want to try to find someone else and start a relationship, it’s just a thought. Thought’s pop into our heads all the time, some, beyond our control. As long as we don’t follow those, I believe we are ok.

I would ask him, falt out, what do you want me to do for you to believe me? Do you want me to take an oath in front of our Priest? What do you want me to do to prove that you can trust me. I shouldn’t have to go to these lengths but I will, because you are my husband, I’m partially responsible for your salvation and most importantly, because I love you.

See what he says…



Ruby…you probably do need to be more specific…is this talking with other dad in the course of your day…like at Scout meetings or at church…where you think, “Wow, he is a great guy and a great dad, I wonder what it would have been like if I had met a man like that before I meet my husband”…or are you spending long hours having deeply personal conversations with another man? There is a big difference.


The grass is never greener on the other side of the fence…that is a lie given to us by the devil. Sure, others’ lawns might be mowed a bit differently…maybe from the outside, others look more appealing…but every person is fallible, every person makes mistakes…every person brings to the marriage, his/her own set of past hurts, circumstances, and faults. Your husband sounds like he is overreacting a bit, but at the same time–your thoughts of ‘what if’ about other men, can be dangerous if left to fester. I would recommend getting to the heart of those thoughts…as thoughts are always more than thoughts. I remember a friend of mine telling me when my dh and I were separated–“if you leave him, you will have a different set of issues with another person.” Now if your marriage was abusive, or your husband was cheating–I would feel differently, and give different advice. But, truthfully, the grass is NEVER greener on the other side–but when we start meandering over the fence, we might think so.:wink:

I will make one point though before going…you mentioned in your post that your husband’s drinking is caused by you. Do not let your husband make you out to be a scapegoat for HIS bad behaviors. Those are his. You have your own, he has his own…It’s his choice to drink…not yours. Be careful to not take the blame for behaviors that are not yours, or your marriage will not be all it could be. I pray your husband and you get back on track–and work things out.


I’ve heard really good things about Retrouvaille too. I was once “married” to a perfect person who never sinned after he “got saved” at the age of five.:bowdown2:

I also believe that just because you CAN leave a marriage doesn’t mean you are required to. I would check into www.retrouvaille.org
It’s a weekend “retreat” for both of you to go to. But, you both have to want to go.

So good luck. God be with you.:gopray:


Just wanted to clarify since a few of you have asked: No, I don’t talk with other men about personal things. When I say I talk with other men, it is in the course of doing my job or perhaps other tasks like dropping my kids off at Scouts. The conversations never last more than max 10 minutes and revolve around either work or whatever brings me there in the first place. I did once early in my marriage talk with a man for nearly two hours. He was someone I knew his wife, and we mostly talked about her, their marriage, etc. My husband told me it was inappropriate, I believed him, so I never did this again.

Also, he asked me one night to swear on a Bible that I have not cheated. I did that willingly. I never thought about an oath before a priest or pastor. I don’t think it would help ease his imagination again.

Thanks again, all.


I think that it takes two to Tango but only one to lead.

From your post you say that you have done wrong and that he has a drinking problem. It could be that you are the main cause of the marital problems or that you are in an abusive situation and that you are trying to assume responsibility for his wrong doing.

I have my own take on this whole situation and I am not going to share it, but I would encourage you to seek an independent assessment, as a priest, to see which scenario is most probable. If you are the real cause of the problem the priest will help you in how to change your behaviors. If you are subject to a non physically violent form of abuse, then the priest will help you to see clearly through it and how to take charge of your life.


In that case I would say that you’ve done nothing to lose his trust. He may have trust issues. I would recommend you get him to Retrouvaille as soon as you can.

Don’t fret, almost ALL marriages need help. :wink:



Your husband’s fear of you cheating on him does not sound like it has a basis in reality. A lot of times people will project their own thoughts and motivations on to others. It could be that he is angry with you because of his own issues, that have nothing to do with anything that you have done. I really would recommend that you look into getting some individual counseling so you can get a more clear perspective on all of this guilt that you seem to be feeling.


I have a question that I thought might help you think through this. You don’t need to answer it here. Why is it that your husband is so preoccupied with whether or not you are cheating? It sounds to me like he is very insecure. If you have not given him good reason to doubt you, he should not be repeatedly asking you the question. And it just seems odd behavior to me to ask you to swear on a Bible.

As other posters, I recommend speaking with a priest and getting a good Catholic counselor for yourself at least.


Wow if you openly swore on a Bible that’s a pretty big deal… that being the case, and from the other things, it sounds like the problem is more on his side.

I’m also not sure why a woman talking with another man is a problem… heh, maybe I’m liberal… ok I am liberal but nonetheless if I can’t trust my wife to talk with one of our friends spouses then I’m not sure I could stay married to her. In fact when I’m out of town she has some of my friends on speed dial or they come by to help out with the boys (3 little ones is a lot). I also talk with women all the time when they are in need, married or single, as long as it doesn’t take away from my duties as a husband and father or if there person was in great need, I know my wife would understand, and in fact encourage me to do so…

I have a theory as well as to what is going on but I would also suggest that you talk to your priest, together, or a family counselor about this, I believe they can help bring out the truth of the situation and how you guys can resolve it.



I agree in principle with your husband. Christ says that (to change the pronouns appropriately) she who looks upon another man with lust has already committed adultery with that man. Without omniscience, I cannot know the state of your mind when longingly thinking about another man. Objectively, however, it seems to verge very closely to the sort of thoughts Christ refers to, and your husband is angry on the basis of. This has probably been recommended before, but you and he need to see a good Catholic counselor.


I am not sure if you and your husband attend Mass on a regular basis.

This prayer during Mass really helps me:
I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord, our God.

Yes we all slip up and have thoughts we shouldn’t. As long as we don’t dwell on those thoughts then it is not a sin.

You and your husband need to look into the marriage workshops others on here have suggested. I don’t think there is much you can do on your own to help your husband work on forgiveness. Although, I say stop beating yourself up for a few thoughts here and there. When it gets to you, say the above prayer. If you have problems of dwelling on thoughts go to confession.

I will say a prayer for you and your husband!


There’s a lot that would keep a person thinking that from physically cheating (an oath, anyone?) and “such a woman” is a bit of an insulting bracket - it’s a generalisation, as if the you’re somehow answerable for a whole category of women. However, you should indeed concentrate on your husband and avoid such thoughts. A realisation is one thing, pondering is another. If he makes you feel miserable to the point of you regretting marrying him, it’s not your fault for wishing you had married someone else, and it’s not cheating. But contemplating the different possibilities could at some point lead to bad things in a moment of weakness, so I think it’s best to avoid it.

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