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Girl Talk: Marriage on the Rocks

Q. Since our baby was born, my husband and I haven't been as close as we used to be...and now I think he may be cheating on me. I don't want to ask, because I'm afraid of the answer. What should I do?

A. For the most part, I embrace the credo "Ignorance is bliss." If I didn't, I'd spend my time worrying whether an old sippy cup is under my couch. Not concerning myself with problems that might not exist (until the smell makes them apparent) helps me get through each day.

However, what you are describing is willful ignorance. You believe there is something amiss, but would rather not deal with it. Unfortunately, this flushes bliss down the crapper. Even if you tell yourself that it's your imagination, not your husband, that's playing you for a fool, there will always be one part of your brain yelling, "He's cheating!" And with this idea plaguing your every waking moment, you can look forward to days and nights of paranoia, resentment, anger, and self-pity.

You wouldn't be the only person affected, as your doubts may impair your ability to function normally around your family  -- including your baby  -- and friends. If your husband is indeed being unfaithful, why should you punish yourself and those you love for his misdeeds?

What you ultimately want is to prove that your partner is not cheating, and the only way to know this is to ask. Let me rephrase that: The only way to know this is to ask, wait for him to say "no," then list the reasons why you're suspicious.

If a face-to-face talk is too daunting, hand him a letter explaining your concerns. But don't leave it lying out for him to trip over like a land mine, or he'll blow up in your face. Tell him that you needed to write things down in order to make sure your ideas were clear and not sidetracked by emotion. Then sit with him while he reads it.

As you mention, you don't feel as close to him as you once did. Perhaps you could make that the starting point of your conversation. Ask him if the baby has introduced unexpected difficulties into your relationship. This won't go away after one conversation. Neither will his defensive attitude. It's only a first step: a hard, courageous, and unavoidable first step. But it's one that will bring you closer to learning the truth of his actions and the nature of your relationship.