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 suspicious text message, a mouthy father-in-law and an awkward allergy issue.
I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT WHAT I SAW ON MY WIFE’S PHONE
QUESTION: I glanced at my wife’s phone when she was in the shower one night and saw a message from a senior manager that was a bit too familiar. It wasn’t a smoking gun — not like a sext or anything — but I can’t stop thinking about it. How can I find out if there’s something going on?
ANSWER: Having your partner know that you’ve looked at their phone can be a tricky situation. They can feel violated and that their trust and privacy has been betrayed. However, if you can’t stop thinking about it, it’s best to address it.
Be open and vulnerable with your wife. Acknowledge the wrongdoing of looking at her phone and explain how you happened to see it.
Tell her what you saw and the emotions (like fear, worry and insecurity) that it brings up for you. When we speak from our perspective and share our emotions, our partner is usually more open to hearing what we have to say and responding in a compassionate, helpful way.
If you’re accusatory or blaming, it’s likely to be met with defensiveness and create disconnection between you, regardless of what’s actually going on.
She might not feel that the texting is inappropriate, she may be enjoying the closeness or validation their relationship brings or it may be an indicator of an affair.
Ask what the nature of their relationship is and how she feels about this person. Asking open-ended questions (rather than yes or no questions) is more likely to generate conversation between you. The way she answers these questions, as much as what she says may be an indicator for you of what’s actually happening.
Sometimes when we seek closeness with people outside our relationship, it’s because we’re not getting our needs met within the relationship. Invite your wife to share how she feels about your relationship — whether she’s happy, if she feels like she’s getting her needs met and if there’s anything that would make your relationship better for her.
You can let her know that the messaging with her colleague is inappropriate to you, but try to be specific about which part is concerning for you — for example the specific words or time of the day the message was sent.
Your reflection to her might be enough to make her reconsider how she interacts with others or for her to reassure you of how much you mean to her.
If she acknowledges something inappropriate has occurred, it isn’t necessarily the end of your relationship. You can choose to work through what’s happened to rebuild your relationship together.
If you continue to suspect something inappropriate is occurring but she denies it, it may be indicative of an affair or of a deeper issue of lack of trust and connection in your relationship. Seek professional support to help you talk through what is happening.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY FATHER-IN-LAW SHUT UP?
QUESTION: I love my husband but I can’t stand his dad, who belittles me and my profession every time he gets drunk. I smile and say nothing but it’s killing me — how do I make him stop without causing a family feud?
ANSWER: Talk to your husband and explain his father’s behaviour isn’t acceptable to you. Your husband has more chance of getting through to his father and should be willing to support you by saying something. They need to have a conversation when your father-in-law is sober.
If your husband thinks it’s okay for someone to speak to you like this, I would be concerned.
When we shame or belittle someone else, it’s indicative of how we feel about ourselves.
Stay strong in yourself and know that his opinion isn’t a reflection of you at all.
If it continues, don’t put yourself in situations where your father-in-law is likely to be drunk and acting up.
HELP! I’M ALLERGIC TO SEX
QUESTION: I think I’m allergic to lube — every time I use it during sex, I ended up with a nasty infection that puts me out of action for a week. What can I do?
ANSWER: Lubricants can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation or yeast infections — it’s important to find the one that works for you.
Firstly, is there anything that coincides with lube use — such as using condoms? Allergy to latex condoms is relatively common.
Stay away from lubes containing glycerine, spermicides, petroleum, flavoured lubes or those with a warming/tingling action as these increase your risk of yeast infections.
Try switching to a natural lubricant, with as few ingredients as possible. Water-based or silicone lubes are best.
If you’re not using latex condoms, you can also try organic coconut oil. (Oil or oil-based lube will weaken latex condoms.) However, this mightn’t be the best option if you’re prone to yeast infections.
Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sex therapist and sexologist. If you’ve got a question you need answered, email firstname.lastname@example.org