When Alexis and Robert*, both 40, first met at a party two years ago, sparks didn’t fly. But when their paths crossed again during a weekend ski trip a few months later, suddenly there was a connection. The couple started dating and, after six months together, Robert popped the question. Alexis accepted and an elaborate backyard wedding followed.
While dating, Robert mentioned he kept in touch with his exes, particularly Becky, who is friendly with his mother. But Alexis made it clear she felt that was inappropriate, especially since she hadn’t met any of his past girlfriends. Now, one year into their marriage, and with 5-month-old twin girls to keep them busy, the issue has come to a head. Robert says even though he has done nothing wrong, he has cut all ties to Becky. Alexis isn’t buying it.
“When I started dating Robert, I told him that honesty was the most important thing to me in a relationship and that staying in contact with exes was not going to work. He said, ‘I totally understand, but I’m not like that.’ Well, Robert and I argued about it and kept going back and forth until he finally gave in. He said he wouldn’t be friends with them anymore.
“Obviously he was just saying that to placate me. Right after we got back from our honeymoon, I found out I was pregnant. I was home a lot because I was so tired. With the extra time on my hands, I started going through the phone bills and found all these calls from Arizona. I remembered Robert saying his ex had lived there, so I asked if he had been talking to her. He lied and said no. Then I pored over a few past phone bills and discovered he had never stopped talking to her. I even saw her number on a bill the night of our wedding—at 2:00 A.M.! I thought I was going to die.
“I started to feel insecure, not only about him talking to his exes, but also because, in the past, he usually went out with really young women, twentysomethings. I was pregnant then, so my hormones were raging, and he just kept telling one lie after another.
“I made Robert call Becky, his ex-girlfriend, in my presence and tell her that their communication was inappropriate. He says they haven’t spoken since, but I don’t really believe it. I’ve been trying to convince myself that he wants to be here with the twins and me, and that he loves me, but I still don’t completely trust him.”
“Alexis told me that my talking to my ex made her uncomfortable, but I had to speak with Becky. I was having issues with my mom at the time, and Becky still talks to her. My parents had just gotten divorced and my mom was pretty bitter. I told Becky that both my parents had been invited to the wedding, but I didn’t want any problems when they showed up. My mother is stubborn, so Becky helped me with her. I explained that to Alexis, but I don’t think she understood. Becky did call me on my wedding night. It had something to do with my mother, but Alexis didn’t believe me.
“Obviously, staying in contact with Becky has hurt my relationship. I’ve told Alexis there is a reason they’re called ‘exes,’ and it’s not because I still want to be with them. I love Alexis, and when we’re good, it gets no better. Talking to Becky was just my way of coping with what I was going through with my mom without getting Alexis all stressed out—not to mention that Alexis really didn’t know what was going on with my parents. I probably should have involved her more but, like I said, we had too much going on with the wedding.
“Alexis still talks to her ex, but that relationship doesn’t really bother me. She says her ex was there for her when her dad needed help. It’s almost the same relationship that I have with my ex. So it’s a double standard for Alexis to not want me to talk to Becky. It’s also a race thing. For some reason, most sisters don’t like White women, especially one who is talking to her man. I don’t communicate with Becky anymore, so it’s not really an issue for me. I’m hoping that with time the situation with Alexis will resolve itself.”
*Names and identifying details have been changed.
AN EXPERT’S OPINION
By saying good-bye to Becky in front of Alexis, Robert got on the road to repairing their relationship. But they’ve somehow stalled along the way because trust—the number one thing any couple needs—hasn’t been fully reestablished. Here’s what they need to do.
EXAMINE THE BREACH. Robert needs to figure out why he lied. Does he still have feelings for his ex beyond a platonic friendship? Does he feel like it’s all right for a husband to hide things from his wife in certain areas? He needs to be very honest with himself, and weigh what’s more important to him: What he practiced in his former life, or the habits he needs to establish for his new lifestyle.
APOLOGIZE AND MAKE AMENDS. Robert should ask Alexis to forgive him for lying about what he did, and Alexis needs to grant it, honestly. He should own up to the fact that he was wrong to have that emotional intimacy with Becky, and he should realize that his wife may have feelings of resentment and jealousy because of it. It’s also necessary for Robert to explain to his wife all the reasons he behaved as he did. An explanation could lift the veil of mystery and show he has nothing to hide.
GET MORE COURT TIME. Alexis and Robert should have another courtship period to help establish a stronger bond. They should get a sitter and go on a romantic dinner for two, several times. This will help Alexis have some downtime with Robert—without the babies—so she again feels valued, attractive and wanted by him.
STOP LIVING IN THE PAST. This couple is embarking on a new journey together; it’s time to close the door on old situations. Robert should make sure his ex stays out of the picture; Alexis should open herself up to trusting her husband when he says it’s over. These two need to show they’re invested in the relationship 100 percent and have confidence in their capability to run their marriage as a team that’s even stronger than before.
What do you think of Robert and Alexis’s problem? Have you had ex drama in your relationship? Share your thoughts below.
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