You already know this, but romance fans are very knowledgeable about matters of the heart. The mainstream media may joke that we’re holding out for perfection, but the very opposite is true. We know what real, messy love looks like — and we know that we deserve it. As such, we’re so excited to bring you our new column, The Romanswer, aka Brianna Hunter, who answers your love queries using the very best examples there are on the subject — romance novels.
I am a husband, and I love my wife. A while back, my curiosity got the best of me, and I signed up for an Ashley Madison account, but nothing ever came of it. However, now my name and email address are linked to that whole fiasco. I have no idea if my wife has looked up my name, but if possible, I’d like to get ahead of it. How do I bring this up to her? How do I show her this was not about her?
Not Okay, Cupid
Thank you so much for your question. I think yours is a wonderful query to begin this column, because you are struggling with worries that are common among romance novel heroes and heroines: does my partner really love all of me? Even the part of me that was so fascinated by this Ashley Madison phenomenon that I thought of exploring, extramaritally?
Sweet Cupid, I must tell you that this is a tricky situation. It requires trust in yourself — and in your wife. You have to trust each other not to cause one another pain, and you have to trust each other to be honest when feelings are hurt. You say you don’t know whether your wife looked up your name. Would you want her to tell you if she had? What does it mean that she may have done so and not told you?
This is the central question in Thea Harrison’s Midnight’s Kiss, the most recent book in her Elder Races series. In this story, Julian Regillus is the King of the Nightkind Demesne, ruling over all Vampyres. Melisande Aindris is heir to the Light Fae throne; she’s also a blonde bombshell and a movie star. Julian and Melly were once inseparable lovers, but their relationship was ruined when Julian received proof that Melly had cheated on him. They are thrown together again when another Vampyre kidnaps Melly in a plot to overthrow Julian. Trapped by a band of feral vamps in tunnels deep below San Francisco, Julian and Melly must work together to find a means of escape. Along the way, they revisit their past and all the distrust that continues to drive a rift between them. Julian can’t believe in Melisande’s faithfulness, and Melisande doesn’t trust that Julian can truly forgive her, especially if he won’t believe her.
Eventually, Julian decides that he loves Melisande, even though she cheated on him — and he is convinced that she did. He explains: “When we were together, I wanted to believe all the things you said to me, but I think at my core, I never did believe I was worthy of you. So of course you would end up with someone else. It was inevitable, wasn’t it?”
Later, Melisande responds: “It’s a hell of a thing to know, isn’t it? That somebody loves you enough to forgive you for anything.”
Yet still, she rejects his forgiveness. She needs to know that he believes himself capable of being loved.
You already feel badly, and you don’t trust your wife to tell you if your actions have hurt her. Chances are that you have always been the sort of person whose curiosity is piqued by new realms, and chances are, your wife knows this and loves you for it. But if you doubt yourself, chances are you probably don’t trust her to know herself, or to trust you.
Because of all these complicated woes, I suggest that the most likely route to healing lies in a conversation about your actions. “Getting ahead of it,” as you say, likely won’t ease your guilty conscience. Even if you were to cover up what you’ve done, you will never know whether she found out, and whether you caused her pain.
Of course, Julian and Melisande are coerced into a scary, underground dungeon and forced to fight for their lives. Presumably a lot of truths come out when death is imminent. Since such an eventuality is less likely to come to pass for you, your task is to find a way to give each of you the chance to prove you trust each other.
And, for future ethical dilemmas, you might do well to consider Julian’s advice, toward the end of the book: “Relationships are breakable … It would be smart for you to be sure you know what you want to do before you break them.”
Do you have a query for The Romanswer? Of course you do! You can reach Brianna via Elissa@RTBookReviews.com. We reserve the right to edit your question for content and clarity. Stay tuned for another Romanswer column next month, and you can find Brianna’s archives here!