Q&A: Miner husband swapping photos/texts with female co-workers
By psychologist Angie Willcocks
Q: My husband works away on mine sites. There have been a couple of instances where he makes and receives a lot of texts from female co-workers, including pictures and personal comments. He knows it upsets me and that I feel it's crossing marriage borders, but he doesn't feel that he's doing anything wrong. He has said he will attend counselling and respect borders, but then crosses the line again with someone new. I don't know what to do, how to deal with my jealousy and anger, and how to get him to see that his thoughtless actions upset me and are going to end our relationship.
A: Thanks for your email.
I've come to realise that there aren't necessarily "right" and "wrong" behaviours in relationships – just those that are OK with people within the relationship and those that aren't. And however your husband tries to convince you that there's "nothing wrong" with his texts and photos from other women, there clearly is ... because you don't like it. You feel as though it threatens your marriage, and he has agreed not to do it in the past.
It sounds like you have attended counselling in the past, and I assume that this is where your husband learnt to "respect borders," so the best advice I can give you is to return to counselling to continue to work together on this issue. Obviously I don't know the whole story from your short email, but it doesn't sound to me like your jealously is the issue here. You've stated your (entirely reasonable) preference that your husband does not swap personal texts and photos with other women. He has agreed to this, and then he has gone ahead and done it anyway.
It's very understandable that you are angry, and it’s reasonable that your husband knows you are angry. As for dealing with your anger, exercise helps and so will having a long chat to a trusted friend or family member. Also, it will probably help you to go along to some individual counselling as well as relationship counselling. This will allow you to fully explore your thoughts and feelings about the situation away from the heat of relationship counselling sessions.
I really wish there was an easier answer for you, but this is a tricky one that needs face-to-face counselling work.
I hope it all works out for you and your husband.
To read other columns written by Angie Willcocks during her six years with Mining Family Matters, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career. All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.