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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Smitten by Second Cousin Hides Relationship From Wife

DEAR ABBY: Three months ago, my husband ran into a second cousin he hadn't seen in 40 years. They were close for a short time during high school and saw each other a couple times after that.

I was not aware until recently that he had looked her up on social media and has been communicating with her every day since then. I didn't think much of it when he did tell me -- until one night when he stayed on the computer with her until 3 a.m.

He has lied to me about the number of times he has been online with her and, if she calls or texts, he tells me it is someone else. She sent him pictures -- which I saw -- yet he denied receiving them. One time he forgot to sign off on a message he sent and, of course, I read it. To my shock, he was confiding a lot of things he has done while married to me that I was unaware of. It hurt me deeply, and I told him so.

Recently I was in the hospital. When I called him a couple of times at night, he claimed he didn't pick up because he was "tired." I found out later he was on the computer with her.

I have asked him more than once why this relationship is so private, and he says they are just friends. But when I asked to see some of the things he has written to her, he refused to show me. I said fine, then I will ask her. Well, he blew up!

When I told him it hurts me that he spends so much time with her in the evening, he didn't give an answer. Am I overreacting? If so, can you please tell me how to settle down and deal with what is happening? -- COUSIN TROUBLE IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR COUSIN TROUBLE: You are not overreacting. It's time to do what you said you were going to do -- call the woman and ask her what has been going on. After she fills you in, ask yourself if you still want to be married to a man who has cheated on you emotionally and probably physically.

If you feel there is any hope of saving your marriage, offer your husband the option of seeing a marriage and family therapist together. However, knowing he has no compunction about lying to you or any respect for your feelings, you might prefer to simply consult a lawyer about what your next steps should be.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce