Dear Chump Lady,
My wife and I were good friends for 5 years, dated for almost another 5 and have been married for 8 years, have 2 kids, with our 9th anniversary coming up at the end of this month. Prior to marriage, she had dated only one other guy, I dated several others and we were each other’s firsts.
When we were dating, there was an incident with a coworker of hers, we’ll call him Chris. She felt attraction for him as did Chris for her. There was friendly hugging and he gave her gifts such as a Victoria’s Secret gift card and invited her to go to the movies. My wife thought about it for a few days before asking me if she could go. Obviously I said no and we got into a serious discussion. We moved on from it or so I thought.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago from today, she (a type of therapist) was at a crossroads at her current workplace. She was considering going to another company after having worked there for several years. We discussed this together and the idea of her going to private practice came up. I suggested she reach out to her contacts for advice on starting a business and start networking.
One day, she runs into her old high school crush at a coffee shop. We’ll call him “DC”. DC has his own practice (psychologist)and does well for himself. My wife and DC started to talk about it and after a few talks, he convinces her to work with him for a few sessions. He has requests for his services that he professionally cannot take because that’s not his area — it is for my wife though.
They drive out for a few sessions here and there, she does some work free of cost in return of advice and mentorship on starting a business. I notice lately that they’ve been texting each other pretty late and I joke to her about it saying things like “Oh, who’s that secret lover are you texting so late?” I know it’s him because she’s told me who it was and showed me a few texts. The texting at night occurs sometimes when I’m sitting next to her. There isn’t anything unusual in their conversations besides the joking and friendly workplace flirting/teasing.
A few days after I joke about the texting, she comes home an hour later than usual. I ask her about her day and she said she went on a walk around a park with him to talk and catch up on times (remember they used to go to high school together). I also joke about it saying that I wasn’t invited to their date. She says it wasn’t anything like that, it was just a walk and talk kinda deal with a friend/coworker.
At the end of the following day, she comes home crying. She told me that she told DC they could only be friends, she had attraction to him and she was sorry. I was numb. While I had joked about the texting and the walk, I was slightly suspicious of the behavior but chose to trust her.
We had a serious conversation. She was attracted to him and wanted to see how far it went. She states that she wasn’t trying to sleep with him, but was very interested in him. In our conversation, I told her I didn’t fully believe that statement and asked her what would’ve happened if I didn’t joke about it? How far would it have gone?
She admits that she was interested emotionally. She is curious about him. I agreed with her that nothing happened, and understanding feelings can occur (human nature, etc) but had hoped she would taken precautions a bit earlier. After that conversation, things somewhat returned to normal.
Two days later, after we had sex and were going to take a shower, she asked if she could kiss him. She was interested in what kissing him was like. She wasn’t interested in running off with him or having sex, but she wanted to know what kissing him was like. Not just a peck but tongue and possibly makeout session. At this point my heart sank.
After struggling with this, I told her that this was her choice, and like it is everyday, we have to make choices. I did tell her that if you do anything to tell me. I don’t want anything to be hidden from each other and that if you made the choice to kiss him, that things would probably change. At the least, I probably wouldn’t want to kiss or be intimate with her. At the worst, who knows what could happen.
At the end of that day, she told me she kissed him. My heart sank and broke. She had knowingly and intentionally kissed him. I was sad. She admitted that she chose her own desires and selfishness and said she didn’t think she did anything wrong. She keeps telling me she loves me, that she has everything she needs with me/isn’t lacking anything and she only did it to find out more about herself and that she’s done with it. I feel like she’s broken the “marriage” in the sense when we got married, we agreed to make sacrifices and dedicate to each other. We’ve thrown the divorce word a few times. She says she understands and won’t fault me if I leave but wants to be with me.
I’m hurt and I am looking for advice (do I stay, do I leave, do I do something else) or just someone to type and chat with.
Your wife wants to date other men while married to you. Explore her attractions. Act on them. Accept gifts. Spend special time together.
Where do you fit in? Well, you’re welcome to do all the Husband Things. Raise children, bring home a paycheck, roll the trash to the curb on Thursdays. And you can still have sex, just so long as you’re willing to listen to her natter on about Dr. Dreamy’s kissable lips. I mean, you don’t mind, do you?
Dance, motherfucker, dance.
after we had sex and were going to take a shower, she asked if she could kiss him. She was interested in what kissing him was like. She wasn’t interested in running off with him or having sex, but she wanted to know what kissing him was like. Not just a peck but tongue and possibly makeout session.
Oh sure. Just a kiss. Like a Disney princess. Their eyes will lock in a magic forest and birds and mice will dress her for the ball. Just a few Viennese waltzes and then they’ll just chastely hold hands, until the clock strikes midnight and she transforms once more into a staid suburban mom.
How could you begrudge Ms. Hallmark channel her romantic fantasy? To make out with her co-worker and tell you about it?
JB — is this your idea of marriage?
Look, I’m sure your therapist wife fills her empty head with Esther Perel nonsense, that affairs are Quests For Aliveness and Exuberant Acts of Defiance, and she’s just constrained by the cruel, cruel forces of monogamy. And at least she’s telling you about her attractions! Getting buy in! Before she acts on it. (Trust me, she’s acted on it.)
Let me tell you what this really is — emotional abuse.
She’s fucking with your heart for ego kibbles. She’s trying to provoke a reaction in you, of jealousy, of anger, of hurt — with which she can register her centrality and her power.
And of course she has power to play — because you are deeply invested in a life with her and made small children together and a lifetime commitment. It’s a game of chicken. You wouldn’t risk all that, to deny her mere mentorship?
After struggling with this, I told her that this was her choice, and like it is everyday, we have to make choices.
Yes, everyone here has agency. And you’re allowed to give her a choice — cut this shit out, or I’m gone.
But then here’s what you’re left with, JB — a woman you have to threaten with an ultimatum to commit to you.
Is that a prize worth “winning”?
Don’t go down the rabbit hole of Isn’t It Natural To Be Attracted To Other People? (Yes, sure. The world is full of attractive people. It’s what you do about it.) Stick to the topic of — This Is Not the Marriage I Signed Up For.
Can you ever feel safe in a relationship in which you wife signals her availability to other men? A woman who is committed to you is shutting down a man who gives her a Victoria’s Secret card. And unless he’s a creepy stalker dude, that gift idea didn’t come out of the ether. He’s a guy who knows what underwear she likes. It’s not YOUR job to have boundaries for your wife (“Shut that shit down!”) — it’s HER job.
Same with Dr. Dreamy there. Woman have professional work relationships and mentorships that don’t devolve into make-out sessions. She’s chosen a nice veneer there “oh, it’s for WORK” to disguise her affair.
She was attracted to him and wanted to see how far it went.
JB — fuck what she wants. What do YOU want?
It’s totally okay and normal to want your wife’s full attention and devotion. There are good women out there who would cherish you and not risk your family for fucks and flattery.
I suggest you lawyer up. If she complains, tell her you were considering a life without her. You just wanted to see how far it would go.