While your wife texting her ex-boyfriend may be innocent in nature, it could also be a cause for concern. Although it is easy to assume that affairs are limited to the bedroom, emotional affairs developed though texting or Internet messages can be just as damaging to a marriage as physical infidelity. Before jumping to conclusions about your wife's behavior, examine the situation and discuss with her how her continued communication with her ex is affecting your relationship.
Examining the Situation
There are several legitimate reasons why your wife may be texting her ex-boyfriend. If they share custody of a child, staying in contact with one another is a vital component of co-parenting, including discussing their child's academic performance, scheduling vacations and figuring out logistics for birthdays, holidays and other important events in their child's life. If your wife and her ex work or go to school together, she may also have to remain in contact with him to fulfill her professional or educational obligations. There may be other legitimate reasons for them to stay in contact that you should take into consideration before confronting her about the situation.
Approaching Your Wife
Even if your wife has a legitimate reason for communicating with her ex, you can still express your concern about her texting habit. In the "Psych Central" article "Tips for Talking About Tough Topics," Aaron Karmin, a licensed clinical professional counselor, suggests eliminating distractions when discussing uncomfortable issues by setting aside a time to talk to your wife. You can set the tone for your talk by asking your wife, "Is this a good time to talk?" or "I'd like to talk, can we set aside some time after dinner?" Offering your wife the opportunity to talk can make the conversation seem less demanding than saying, "We need to talk about you texting your ex."
Talking to Your Wife
Karmin suggests minimizing the judgmental or confrontational nature of this type of conversation by journaling your thoughts beforehand. Journaling can provide you the opportunity to put your thoughts onto paper before approaching your wife. While journaling, outline how her behavior makes you feel, what you hope to achieve and what kind of outcome you would like to have after talking. Karmin also suggests using "I" statements when talking to your wife. Using phrases such as "I feel" and "I think" can take the edge off an otherwise harsh statement. Stating "I am uncomfortable with the amount of contact between you and Matt" is less harsh than "Why are you still talking to Matt" or "You spend all of your free time talking to Matt instead of focusing on our relationship."
Listening to Your Wife
After asking your wife about her behavior, give her the time and opportunity to give you an answer without interruption. If your wife has been receiving emotional support from her ex, you can use this opportunity to ask how you can provide that support instead. You might consider asking your wife, "I didn't realize that I had neglected you so much. I want to work on our relationship though. How can we work together to fix this?"
The next steps that you take are up to you and your wife to discuss after relaying your concerns to her. While you can discuss your concerns with her, ultimately you cannot make her change her behavior. While the presence of an affair, intimate or emotional alike, does not necessarily spell the end of your marriage, both you and your wife must be on board to make the positive changes needed to work on your relationship. Your relationship may need time to heal and adjust, even if your wife does cut off contact with her ex. A licensed counselor or marriage and family therapist can help you reconnect and work toward being a stronger couple.
Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.