Am I being unreasonable for having a problem with my husband’s ongoing relationship with a woman he tried unsuccessfully to seduce?
One night about a year ago, we both got home from our respective jobs and my husband burst into tears. I’m talking, deep, rasping sobs. With his head on my lap he told me he’d been courting a coworker for a few months, buying her gifts and taking secret time off of work to take her on day trips. When he finally put the moves on her the previous evening (he often stays late), she shut him down and said, “not going to happen.”
At first I thought his tears were bitter tears of remorse, having almost ruined a twenty-year marriage. But upon further probing, I discovered that it was the rejection that had him crying in my lap. “Just once I want to be loved!” Excuse me, hello? Who said “I do” in front of our family, our pastor, and our entire church? He explained that he was having trouble forgiving me for my initial rejection of him when we were in high school and then he dumped a laundry list of problems he had with me that could circle the planet three times.
He said the almost-OW made him feel alive. I asked, “well then sweetie, shall we separate?” He said no, there was no point. Oh well then, allow me to be your consolation prize! Long story short, we separated for nine months. Our fifteen-year-old son was furious with both of us. My husband and I stayed in touch and tried to work it out. He and the almost-OW never had sex and now we’re back together.
However… he has remained very good friends with the almost-OW. He texts her regularly right in front of me. I won’t stoop to snooping on his phone but I can see what he’s writing! It’s mildly flirtatious, which is how, incidentally, he describes their relationship. I’m positive they haven’t had sex because this woman is perfectly happy to be worshiped for free, but I have a serious problem with their relationship. When my husband announced that he was going to meet her after work for drinks last night, I made a very snarky remark and he was furious. He told me the courtesy of telling me he was going to spend time with her was over. He maintains that he is doing absolutely nothing wrong, they are just friends, and that I’m being petty. So, am I the one being a jerk about this? Technically he hasn’t cheated.
Dear Perfectly Reasonable Lady,
Technically, you haven’t stuffed his balls down his throat yet.
Is this a question about technicalities? Because uh, technically you’re still his wife and technically, he’s not supposed to go on dates until you are technically divorced.
He’s got some fucking nerve.
Sobbing about his failed dating strategies? You let this man drape his moist, snotty self all over your lap and wail about another woman?
Look, Lady, he’s a flaming asshole, but you have to stop being a chump. You separated and then took him back without any consequences or boundaries. He meets her for drinks? No, he meets her for CAKE. This whole “I’m going on dates and you’re not the boss of me!” is completely unacceptable. Start ACTING like it is unacceptable to you. Lawyer up. Why does he think you separated? Because you’re just mean like that? NO. Because he was openly trying to have an affair in front of you. He’s moves home, and then he goes right back to the same old shit?
Is this relationship ACCEPTABLE to YOU? Who cares if he thinks you are “petty” — do you think this kind of flagrant disrespect belongs in a marriage? If you don’t, then get to a lawyer’s office. You don’t need a marriage counselor to explain to him that dating other women in front of you and then whinging about it is wrong. If he’s that dim, you should divorce him for felony stupid.
No, he knows EXACTLY what he is doing. He’s being abusive. He’s being very in-your-face about his attempted infidelities to hurt you. To goad you into the pick me dance. To humiliate you. To belittle you into accepting his cake-eating as Right and Proper.
Lady, you need to shut that shit down.
For one thing, get to a lawyer fast before his employer does. You only have his side of this kibble love affair. For all you know, his advances are unwelcome and that woman is seeing an EEOC officer as we speak. This guys is walking the razor’s edge of a sexual harassment lawsuit. You need to get a settlement in place before he loses his job. She told him “not gonna happen” — next she’ll be telling that to Human Resources.
I’m sorry your 15 year old is in the middle of this, but he’s a kid and he doesn’t get to call the shots in your marriage. Staying with this asshole is modeling TERRIBLE things to him about how you treat a marriage partner. He needs to see you stand up and not tolerate abuse. He needs to see that there are consequences to disrespecting and endangering the people we purport to love. He might not like it at first. Kids want to know if their world is going to be safe (where will I spend holidays? will I see my mom and dad both? will I move away from my friends?) Get him some therapy and be the sane parent.
It doesn’t matter if the affair was physical or not, start calling the shots, Lady. It matters that he is emotionally abusing you and refuses to stop. It matters that he’s blaming YOU for some perceived slight from high school.
He doesn’t get to do everything short of fuck her and then claim it’s A-okay because he didn’t consummate the act. (He probably did. Adults fuck. That’s what they do.) The issue is that he wants to live like a single person, but enjoy all the rights and privileges of marriage. That’s more than enough reason to divorce his ass yesterday.
When you serve him papers, say “Just once you want to be loved? Here’s your freedom. Have at it, Tiger.”
This column ran previously.