DEAR ABBY: Because my fiance and I had bad experiences in the past, we settled on just living together for the last 17 years. He has been like a husband to me and faithful all these years. Recently, however, I caught him in an online affair.
I checked his phone one day out of the blue -- something I have never done before because we respect each other's privacy. The emails were daily, back and forth, with only one mentioning a sexual encounter at the beginning.
He confessed that he had made a big mistake once and refused to see her again in person but had kept up the correspondence. He begged me to forgive him and I agreed, since we were together for so long.
The problem is, now we argue about his phone. He still expects the same privacy with it. I don't feel comfortable with that now. Does he still deserve the same privacy? -- HUNG UP IN OHIO
DEAR HUNG UP: No, he does not. What he deserves is the chance to rebuild your trust, and that involves accountability on his part, which includes allowing you access to his phone if you feel insecure.
After 17 years together, both of you have a large emotional investment in this relationship. Because of that, it might be beneficial to schedule some sessions with a licensed relationship counselor to figure out where it went off the rails.