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Ask Rene: An Affair To Remember?


Hi Rene,

My husband John and I have been married for 14 generally happy years and have a young daughter called Katie, who’s two-years-old.

Recently however I found out through my friend, Tina, that John had a one-night stand just before we were married. It was with an old friend we’ve now lost touch with and we’re talking 15 years ago – but Tina thinks I should Facebook the old friend and find out what happened – and confront my husband!

I’m honestly not sure what to do. Part of me thinks it was so long ago that I should just let it lie. But then part of me really wants to know the truth. Plus I’m worried that if John did this once – could he do it again? Do I really know my husband and what he’s capable of?

What would you do Rene? Would you keep quiet – or want to dig deeper, knowing you could be digging up a can of worms? Is it worth getting worked up over an ancient one-night stand?

Stressed out!

Stevie, Milwaukee


Dear Stevie:

This problem, if you want to call it that, has a simple, one-word answer. NO. No, it is not worth digging up ancient history or getting worked up over a one-night stand from more than a decade ago.  You sound more ambivalent than anything else, like you almost feel like you’re SUPPOSED to be angry, but really are not.  I think that’s because even you know chasing this down is sort of silly. You might be more curious than else and you know what they say about curiosity! Here’s why you’re gonna leave this in the past where it belongs:

IT HAPPENED 15 YEARS AGO! You have moved on, you have built a life and a future with this man. You have a baby and admit yourself that the years have been “generally happy”. One of the things I like to do is approach certain situations like a chess game where you examine each move and it’s effect/outcome. Let’s say you go ahead and friend this woman on Facebook. If she even accepts your request, then what? You’re gonna just blurt out “I hear you slept with my husband before he was my husband.” “ She says, “Uh…” because first she’s trying to sift through 15 years of memories, then she’ll try to formulate an answer, all the while wondering, ‘WHAT THE HELL? That was 15 years ago!” She’ll be left scratching her head and you’ll be left feeling awkward and foolish.

WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO GAIN? Can you tell me one good thing that will happen after you hang up the phone or sign off the email with this woman? What exactly are you hoping to get from her? You want details? Like she could even remember. What will you do with that information? Stew on it, taking years off your life and happiness until you confront John? Oh please, this sounds more like high school drama than real life. The fact of the matter is he clearly does not want her because he chose YOU. You ask if he could do it again. Well, I suppose that’s a possibility but I would guess unlikely. He’s carved out a life and future with you, the woman he loves, why would you question that?

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW, SKIP THE FACEBOOK FRIEND AND GO TO JOHN: If it’s eating you up inside I would recommend asking John since that is where this is all going to end up. This really is about your relationship with John, not the friend from years ago and because of that I think the fewer people involved, the better. But really, by your own admission this woman is someone who is no longer in your life; why open the door for her to be back, especially under these circumstances? Makes no sense to me.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH TINA? I’m not as concerned about your husband or the 15-year-old, one-night stand as I am your “friend” who is urging you to drudge up stuff from the past that has no real bearing on your future. Aren’t you a little curious about HER motive? I believe if Tina really had your best interest at heart, was truly your friend, she would have kept her fat trap shut. It’s one thing if John was carrying on like this now, placing you and your daughter in jeopardy. That’s not what’s happening here. She is, for reasons unbeknownst to you (and me frankly) just trying to cause drama. I have a name for people like this, shit-starter. If you want to ask questions start with Tina. Ask her why she thought it necessary to bring this up now (instead of 15 years ago, hello?) and how she thought this knowledge was going to help you. I don’t buy the whole “Because I’m your friend” because a true friend would take your feelings and current situation into account. She would (in her head) go over the pro’s and con’s of telling you and, after she came to the conclusion that this would cause more hurt than anything else, would go to her grave with it. If you want to reassess relationships, this is the one I would be looking long and hard at.

You need to look at what you have and potentially what you have to lose if you start unearthing ancient history, which is what this is. How would you feel if John, at the urging of a “friend” started contacting your old boyfriends on Facebook? You need to ask yourself if this really matters to you (without Tina’s voice rattling around in your head) and where you want to live. Do you want to live, in the past where mistakes were made or in the future where you can implement the knowledge you learned from them? I think you know the answer.

Good luck, mommy.

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9 Comments

  1. samg

    January 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Leave it in the past it was before you were married wasnt like he was having an affair now that may be different but really dont go back look to the future that you are building for your family

  2. Nikki

    January 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Wow, I’m with Rene. What is Tina’s angle in all of this? Does she even have a life? Who has time 2 drum up drama from 15 YEARS AGO? PPl are already blaming FB 4 problems N marriages. Use FB for connecting with FRIENDS, having fun & keeping N touch. If u contacted me on FB about a relationship I had with a single man 15 years ago, I’d think you were an escapee from the Psych ward. Leave the past in the past!!! Re-examine Tina’s motives, cause I would never bring up some old “stuff” that could possibly hurt 1 of my friends, I love my friends & would protect their feelings at all costs.

  3. Rene Syler

    January 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Exactly! Thanks Nikki (I LOL’d at escapee from psych ward.. right?!)

  4. jethrolyn

    January 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Leave it alone! Not only was it 15 years ago, it happened before you were married. Yes u might have been engaged or ” exclusive” at the time, but just don’t go there. If this is something that is keeping you up at night or you can’t seem to get past, speak to him directly. Maybe even with a counselor so that u can be sure to move past this without every other issue from the past coming back to surface. Also, I wouldnt let your so called friend know that this is an issue. Im not certain that she’s not seceretly enjoying trying to ruin what she probably wishes that she had….a good marriage! Good luck and best wishes!

  5. Rene Syler

    January 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    “So-called friend” is so right!

  6. Will Jones

    January 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    “…but part of me really wants to know the truth.” Are you sure? Are you sure that’s what you want?
    That’s what this all boils down to. I, of course, don’t know you, but I DO know what usually happens after a woman tells a man, “…just tell me the truth…”, and it generally aint good. I’m not condoning lying; I’m saying some truths are better left untold. Let’s say you do ask this woman, or you ask John, (remember; they are the only ones who actually KNOW what happened), and they both say there was no sex. Will you believe that and just leave it alone forever? OF COURSE NOT. They must both be lying because your good friend Tina wouldn’t lie to you about this. So it still wouldn’t be over. Well, OK then. Lets say there WAS sex. And it was really good. The earth moved. The bed broke. Doves were crying. John was speaking in tongues. It was so good that… should I keep going? Do you want to know more truth? OF COURSE NOT. It won’t be over then either. It’s can’t be over and done with until you MAKE it over and done with.
    So what’s the right thing to do? I suggest wood carving. It’s slow, patient work, and it calms the soul. Go to Home Depot and get yourself a nice chunk of fire wood. Then sit on your porch with a pocket knife and carve off little chunks while you think about the last fourteen years. Think of the times that John has done things to show you he loved you. The times he was there for you when you or your daughter really needed him. Keep carving. Think of the times he kissed you when things were good, or the times he held you when things were bad. Think of the times you’ve been proud he was your husband and the father of your child. And keep carving… just keep carving… until that log is in the shape of a baseball bat… and then go find Tina… and use it to teach her to stay out of happily married people’s business. Then it’s over.

  7. Rene Syler

    January 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    OMG, there are so many truths here I don’t even know where to start. When will it be over? When she decides it’s over. Does she want to know the truth? Maybe but I want to eat ice cream everyday and not gain a pound or have my cholesterol skyrocket. I know that won’t happen so I choose to do what’s good for me, bypassing the ice cream for broccoli. Stevie, I think in her heart of hearts knows this will not have a good ending, so why even start it? It’s ancient history (forget about the fact that it happened BEFORE they were married). And yeah, Tina is suspect at best.. Way to go Will!

  8. M.E. Johnson

    January 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Will, you are precious!
    All of you are right on.

  9. Mia

    January 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Leave it alone and dump the friend who would come tell you some garbage like that all these years later. I would ask her, what exactly was the point. SHE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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