Help me not be jealous of my wife's male friend.
January 14, 2010 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Help me not be jealous of my wife's male friend.

My wife of almost seven years has started hanging out with a male co-worker. Oftentimes, they stay out late drinking, watching movies, etc.

The problem is that this usually makes me pretty angry and jealous, and it's starting to affect our marriage.
I don't think they're physically involved, and my wife still acts pretty fond of me, but it still happens. I suppose a part of it is the fact that it seems she would prefer to spend time with someone else.

For instance, yesterday she said she'd be home late because that's when this guy was going to bed, not because she wanted to see me. I also think it's weird this guy keeps asking my wife to hang out with him.

I do have abandonment issues, and we went through a real rough patch involving another guy previously.

I know that if my wife isn't friends with this guy she'll be upset, which will also affect our marriage, so I have to get over my (somewhat) irrational jealousy issues.

How? I have no desire to hang out with my wife's friend.
posted by elder18 to Human Relations (128 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
No, no, no. You're not required to put up with this. You aren't comfortable with it. She needs to knock it the hell off.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2010 [27 favorites]


Instead of getting angry, have you tried sitting down and talking it through?
She needs to know how you honestly feel and how her actions are affecting you, expressed in a loving, safe way. No screaming, slamming of doors or threats allowed.

If need be, get thee to marriage counseling and allow an impartial third party to help you work through it and perhaps even the previously mentioned rough patch and abandonment issues.

Bonus! :)

Hang in there.
posted by willmize at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2010


Is your wife still unhappy with where you are living? I asked this because you posted a previous question to this effect. I wonder if the two issues aren't interrelated. If she still feels geographically isolated and possibly resentful about living in WY, then this may be her way of escaping the issue, the situation, and the relationship. In any case, you are not in the wrong, and you have valid reasons to feel jealous. There's past trust issues you're still dealing with, and this current issue does not inspire much trust. You do not have to get over this. You do need to talk to her, and you both probably need couple's therapy. At the very least, you should talk to one too, so that you can get confirmation that your feelings are valid and that you are not the only one who has to compromise.
posted by dhn at 12:28 PM on January 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


You aren't required to be comfortable with it, but do you want to be the guy who tells your wife who she can and can't be friends with? I think you maybe need to talk with her about how much this is bugging you, about how you don't want to control her but you DO want to figure out how to stop feeling this way. Maybe that means that she's home by a certain hour no matter what; maybe that means that she texts or calls you at a certain time to tell you when she's coming home, maybe it means that she calls you before she goes to hang out with this person to make sure it's OK. But whatever you would need in order to feel secure, be OK with asking for it. If there's literally not one thing she could do to make you OK with this, though, then maybe you need to work on why not.
posted by KathrynT at 12:28 PM on January 14, 2010


We've communicated about it quite well, but she can tell it makes me upset, and always talking about it has had a negative impact on our relationship.

I want her to go out and have friends. I just want to know how I, as a husband, can feel better about this situation. I don't want her to not hang out with someone she likes because I can't deal with it very well.
posted by elder18 at 12:29 PM on January 14, 2010


I know that if my wife isn't friends with this guy she'll be upset, which will also affect our marriage, so I have to get over my (somewhat) irrational jealousy issues.
Even if she knows how much it upsets you?

dhn above also makes a very good point.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:29 PM on January 14, 2010


Should have previewed. Is there any reason why she isn't asking you to tag along? Have you met the guy / spent time with him? The whole staying out until he goes to bed thing irks me, and being angry and jealous - while it sucks - seems to be an appropriate way to feel without knowing more.

I do have abandonment issues, and we went through a real rough patch involving another guy previously.
Was this situation similar to what she is starting to do right now?
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:33 PM on January 14, 2010


Is there some reason you can't also go out drinking or to the movies? I'm confused about why you aren't also invited.

If you want to work on not feeling jealous without the therapy (although I think talking and therapy sound warranted), what about limiting the time she hangs out with him to something specific, that way there are appropriate expectations. She can hang out late with him on Wednesday nights; you know to expect that, and then there isn't hurt when she calls up and says "hey I'm not coming home"? Controlling expectations always went along way to helping me not feel hurt about things.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:36 PM on January 14, 2010


If this new male friend creates problems in your marriage, it is because she is facilitating those problems by not respecting your discomfort. Normally I would say "Trust her!" but if this has been an issue in the past, she needs to be a bit more understanding. In this case, you have every right to feel jealous and angry.

If you really do want to feel better about it, while continuing to have them as friends, why not hang out with them? You say you don't want to, but maybe once you meet the guy (if you haven't) and have a few beers, you'll find you have a lot in common. You'll get time with your wife, become more involved in her life, and make a new friend in the deal.

(on preview, I like the time restrictions that dpx.mfx suggests, also)

My gut, however, says your wife needs to consider how this is making you feel and make a decision on what's most important: her husband's happiness and her marriage, or her new best friend.
posted by caveat at 12:40 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What are you doing while she's out with her friend? Maybe you can help yourself feel less jealous if you're genuinely enjoying yourself at the same time? Maybe you can have a hobby or get important things accomplished when she's away, freeing up the time that you are together to be closer with your wife. I would also be jealous if my S.O. was having a grand old time with her buddy while I was sitting alone and bored out of my mind or otherwise prevented from having an equally pleasant evening, and I don't have an abandonment issues. Are you unused to doing fun things alone?
posted by Mizu at 12:41 PM on January 14, 2010


I respect her and want her to be independent, so I've really resisted putting limits on when she can do things.

She has called lately to give me updates on when she might be home, which helps, but there is initial anger before that happens.
posted by elder18 at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2010


What she's doing is already unacceptable, but when I read this ...

we went through a real rough patch involving another guy previously.

... her behavior becomes totally unacceptable.

Just curious --- consider what would happen if you invited yourself to hang out with them:
1) Would you be welcome?
2) Would the guy have a problem with it?
3) Would she have a problem with it?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then her relationship with the guy is a huge problem.
posted by jayder at 12:44 PM on January 14, 2010 [20 favorites]


A million times what A Terrible Llama said. Nail ----> head.

I would get into couples therapy, stat. She is essentially putting their time above your time and saying through her actions that she would rather hang out with him than with you. Not saying people can't have friends, but you seem to be indicating that you are not invited here.

Listen to your gut. There's a reason why you are feeling jealous here, and have no desire to hang out with him. Maybe some of that *is* due to your own issues, but I bet not all of it is. Don't be so quick to pick up all of the blame/responsibility for this, that way lies codependency. Stick up for yourself and ask for your needs to be met. If she doesn't like that, then she doesn't like that. That's where counseling and compromise come in. I guess what I am saying is don't just assume a default stance of 'this is my issue to deal with alone, and I am a bad person for feeling this way'.



Full disclosure? I had the same sort of thing happen - almost to the letter. I could have written this very AskMe. My ex-wife moved in with the guy the day I asked her to leave.

I am much more inclined to listen to my own feelings now.
posted by kaseijin at 12:44 PM on January 14, 2010 [15 favorites]


Also, what jayder said. Also x1000.
posted by kaseijin at 12:45 PM on January 14, 2010


Follow the anger. Are you angry about being left out? About being uninformed? About the idea that another man gets her smiles and laughter? There are no wrong emotions, no wrong way to feel, so see if you can be as honest as you possibly can about what's bothering you.
posted by KathrynT at 12:46 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would you have the same issue with this were it a female friend? No? Then get some therapy (perhaps as a group).

Yes? Then suggest to your wife she include you a bit more in her social life.

There's nothing wrong with having a social life, unless you got into this marriage with the explicit understanding that your wife is not allowed to have friends. There is however, something wrong with excluding your partner or spouse from large parts of your life.
posted by shownomercy at 12:48 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


No.

Overcoming your jealousy does not actually solve the problem.

Your wife will either understand your problems and be willing to compromise, or she won't, and that will be that.

It is not okay for her to have non-negotiable friendships that take up huge amounts of her time; the fact that it is with a man should makes the whole thing MORE negotiable from your perspective, not less. Your jealousy is not irrational, and the burden of allaying it should not be solely yours.
posted by pts at 12:49 PM on January 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


This isn't about having friends of the opposite sex. You can do that. She can do that. You can't "put limits" on her, she's an adult.

The problem is this: She doesn't care that she's out all night with a guy that isn't you, and that she's got a bit of a history and that you're apparently not welcome and she gets pouty when you say you're not comfortable with it. She doesn't care.

Good luck to you, sincerely.
posted by sageleaf at 12:52 PM on January 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


Have you met this guy yet?

I say this because when I make a new friend, it's almost like a new romantic relationship, and I go to my husband and spout off how wonderful this person is and how much we have in common and oh-so-grand! But my glowing affection for my new friend ends in, "And I can't wait for you to meet him/her!" And eventually it happens that he meets said friend and we hang out together either just the three of us or in a group setting of some sort (mutual friends' party for example) and that person is either enfolded into our group of friends or I just hang out with said person on occasion if my husband doesn't care to or doesn't want to.

Doing so may put you at ease, and maybe this new friend of your wife's will become a friend of yours, too. But then maybe not and maybe by meeting him your mind will be put at ease.

And, do you know his relationship status? Is he married? Is he single? Divorced? Getting divorced? In a longterm relationship? Interested more in men than in women, maybe? I ask because knowing where he is in his own relationships may also help.

But I also nth you two needing to work on your issues a little more in depth either in our out of therapy. But together.
posted by zizzle at 12:53 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


sageleaf has it, exactly.
posted by scody at 12:54 PM on January 14, 2010


One reason she gives for hanging out with this guy is that we do (normally) spend a lot of time together, so even if I did want to hang out with them (which I really don't), I don't know how receptive to that she would be.

I am going to try and be more productive when she's gone so it's more enjoyable, but I have trouble sleeping when she's out late, and so I end up laying in bed all angry (especially if I have to work the next morning.)
posted by elder18 at 12:54 PM on January 14, 2010


Just to clarify where I'm coming from: I have several close friends, including a couple of close male friends (I'm female, bi, and married). Some of those friends I often really would rather spend time with one-on-one, without my husband, and if he felt like he had to be there with me, I'd be kind of chapped. But there's _nobody_ whose friendship excludes my husband, and before I ditch him for time with a friend, I always ask him first if it's a good time. Even before my standing after-rehearsal late-night drink once a week with my best friend, I call him and say "Hey, are you cool with me going out or do you need me home this week?"

I will say that in fourteen years, I've never been unfaithful, my husband is exceptionally disinclined towards jealousy, and I am much, much more extroverted than he is. So it's possible those are factors that seriously influence my thinking here. But I don't think that your discomfort should unilaterally end this friendship without first trying to work on a compromise.
posted by KathrynT at 12:55 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I will also add this:

The world is full of all sorts of guys out there, but I know that I personally (as is the case for pretty much every other guy I personally know) would never make a pattern of repeatedly asking somebody else's wife to hang out, at the exclusion of her husband.

It's crossing a line. When you get to know a married couple, you get to know them as a couple. You might be better friends with one over the other, and that can certainly cross gender lines, but come on -- politeness and openness pretty much dictate that you respect their partner. He's competing with you.
posted by kaseijin at 12:56 PM on January 14, 2010 [28 favorites]


this behavior is unacceptable. and i say this as a person who is really not a jealous person when it comes to who my SO can and can not see. this isn't about her having friends of her own; this is about her choosing to spend time alone with a friend of the opposite sex. it would be another matter if she had been friends with him prior to knowing you but i think it's unacceptable for married people (or people in serious relationships) to spend social time alone with members of the opposite sex. it's too much of a slippery slope.

i also say this as an oft-single woman whose male friends are almost all married or in relationships--the majority of whom flirt with me to one degree or another (from the very benign to the borderline shady) and who has had crushes on several of them to one degree or another. the only ones whom i would spend time alone with are the ones with whom i have had a close relationship prior to their meeting their significant others. the others, i hang out with only in groups or with a mutual friend or the significant other present.

to me, it's just about a matter of respect towards my (male) friends' relationships and their significant others. sure, as a single person, i am free to do as i please and the non-single person needs to set the boundaries, but i honestly don't want to have to needlessly add drama to the lives of anyone involved. and if the shoe were on the other foot, and i was the one in the relationship, i wouldn't be spending alone time with a new friend of the opposite sex either. it's just disrespectful to the partner and the existing, and presumably, much more serious relationship.
posted by violetk at 12:58 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


the only ones whom i would spend time alone with are the ones with whom i have had a close relationship prior to their meeting their significant others.

this sounded shadier than i had intended. i meant in terms of that person being a very, very close friend--i.e. my best friend is a man who has been dating the same woman for several years. his girlfriend understands and respects our friendship and has no issues with it. we all get along great together, but she also has no problems with me just hanging out with just him, my best friend.
posted by violetk at 1:00 PM on January 14, 2010


I really hate feeling like I need to compete to spend time with her. Like, just because I don't have a romantic dinner planned or something shouldn't be a reason for her to hang out with this guy. I don't want to feel pressure to plan something out just so she'll spend time with me. And lately, that how I've been feeling.

For the most part, she has been good about asking if we already have plans, but even if we do something together, she'll mention going to this guy's apartment afterwards. I don't think it's fair for me to feel this pressure.

Generally, I don't feel like being social. But I do like spending time with her. She's more of an extrovert than I am, for sure.
posted by elder18 at 1:01 PM on January 14, 2010


You need to figure out if your wife is having an affair with is man, emotional or physical. Have you asked directly?

Because, given only what you've given us here, I would not tolerate this situation. There's always a chance we don't have the full picture, but women cheat too.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:03 PM on January 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


"For the most part, she has been good about asking if we already have plans, but even if we do something together, she'll mention going to this guy's apartment afterwards. I don't think it's fair for me to feel this pressure."

OK, even for me, this seems a little off. She shouldn't be defaulting to have her time spent with someone else; she's your spouse, and that means she puts you first. You shouldn't need to have plans in order to get your time with her; it should be enough to say "you know what, I kind of want to just have some time at home with you tonight." If that's a problem for her, then yeah, something's up.
posted by KathrynT at 1:06 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Nthing crossing the line.

Hanging out with friends is one thing. Hanging out with friends (especially of the opposite sex) to the exclusion of you is something else entirely.

If the shoe was on the other foot, and you were hanging out all night with a female coworker, would that be remotely acceptable to your wife?

Look, we're (generally) all modern, forward-thinking human beings who want the best for our spouses, want them to be happy, and free, and don't want to put restrictions on what they can and cannot do. Sure.

But what she's doing isn't kosher. Especially because she's not doing anything to reassure you, and making you feel like it's not ok to have a problem with it. You have a right to be uncomfortable with this, and you have a right to be angry about it.

Don't torture yourself about this. Call BS. Call her out on it. Either she chooses you, and you guys figure this out (insert standard MeFi couples-therapy suggestion here), or she chooses otherwise, and well then you have an answer.

Again, she has no right to put you in this position and expect you to be happy with it. She's waiting for you to make a stink about it, because until you do, well, she's having fun with it, and apparently, you don't care enough, because you haven't said anything forcefully enough.

Speaking from hard-won experience.
posted by swngnmonk at 1:06 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, I didn't mean "put limits" like "tell her she can only see her on Wed.". I guess I meant more of "set a schedule." I'm only suggesting that as a way to help you feel better. She should want to help you feel better, and therefore should be able to set and keep expectations.

Also, your follow up talking about how she goes to hang out at his apartment after she does something with you? That is just plain weird. That would be weird to me if it was a man, a woman, or even her family. Unless there's a party, and you're invited and don't go. Then maybe it wouldn't be weird. But to just send you home alone while she hangs out at the home of another man...... that's strange.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:07 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no desire to hang out with my wife's friend.

Suck it up and do it anyways. If you're at all even HINTING that you don't want to hang out with the two of them, you're shooting yourself in the foot, because then it basically becomes "Well, I'd invite you along, but you've suggested/mentioned/repeated that you don't like hanging out with him, so I'm not going to invite you along."

Actually seeing how the two of them interact will probably give you lots to think about with regards to WHY this bothers you so much. You're perfectly entitled to feel this way, but if all you can say about it is "I don't like it when you're out with that guy because I don't think you should be out with that guy", you're not bringing anything to the bargaining table to help resolve this situation. If you really don't want her to stop seeing him, then you need to think of things that she can do to help whatever is causing your jealousy.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I generally have very little patience with those who suggest that spouses shouldn't have close opposite-sex friends. I am still best friends with a former girlfriend and my wife is still very close friends with a former boyfriend.

However ...

Any time that I go off to spend time with my close female friend, my wife is welcome (and generally encouraged) to come along if she so desires. The same is true for me when my wife wants to spend time with her close male friend. Whether or not we go along, the invitation is always there.

If my wife was regularly staying out late doing date-like activities (drinking, watching movies) with another guy and I wasn't welcome to come along, that would raise huge red flags for me. If I were to behave that way with another woman, my wife would completely freak out and I wouldn't blame her.

You shouldn't be jealous just because your wife spends time with another guy. You have every right to be jealous if your wife is spending time with another guy in a way which is inappropriate and disrespectful of your feelings.
posted by tdismukes at 1:13 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


My wife of almost seven years has started hanging out with a male co-worker. Oftentimes, they stay out late drinking, watching movies, etc.

I don't think they're physically involved, and my wife still acts pretty fond of me, but it still happens. I suppose a part of it is the fact that it seems she would prefer to spend time with someone else. I do have abandonment issues, and we went through a real rough patch involving another guy previously.


I would bet serious cash money she is having an affair. I'm ninety percent sure it's physical, one hundred percent sure it's emotional. If they are not yet physically intimate, they will be within the month. I'm sorry. Get your financial and logistical needs in order. Good luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:14 PM on January 14, 2010 [25 favorites]


Danger Will Robinson!

Even if she's not physically cheating on you (and this is a big if!) what she's doing crosses the line into emotional affair territory, which can be just as destructive. If she's your wife, you shouldn't have to compete for her time and affection, period. You're supposed to be partners, and your relationship is supposed to be the foremost priority in your (social) lives.
posted by Oktober at 1:15 PM on January 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I know that if my wife isn't friends with this guy she'll be upset, which will also affect our marriage, so I have to get over my (somewhat) irrational jealousy issues.

Put another way, the fact that she will be upset does not make it a bad thing for the marriage. Your marriage needs to be affected.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:17 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


As this is bothering you so much, and understandably so, don't worry that she'll be upset if she can't see him anymore. Serious relationships require sacrifices by both parties. She should be more concerned about how you may be upset by the situation.

That said, don't make her feel like the walls are closing in around her. You say you are less extroverted and not as socially driven as she is (I hear you on this, I'm the same), maybe you need to sacrifice some of your comfort and go do things that she'll enjoy - parties, dinners out, theatre, whatever. Don't let her be the one to suggest these outings, show her that you are willing to go out and have fun with her.
posted by Elmore at 1:18 PM on January 14, 2010


Thing that gets me the most here, is that you are going to bed angry and alone, and she knows it and is not willing to change.

That's a huge flag to me. I would never, ever, treat my spouse like that.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:19 PM on January 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


Ok, I guess I should be more blunt.

Your wife is sleeping with this guy, and when you make her a romantic dinner and then she goes over to his apartment afterwards, they're laughing at you behind your back.
posted by Oktober at 1:19 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


even if we do something together, she'll mention going to this guy's apartment afterwards

It would be really strange for a spouse not to be jealous of that level of attachment to another person. He's her coworker and friend, she sees him plenty. This is not a one-week visit, during which she needs to maximize time spent with him to your and others' exclusion. She does not need to be going over to his place after spending time with you. She does not need to be staying out late with him when she knows it makes you uneasy and keeps you awake.

In order to get your irrational jealousy in check, you first need to find a way to create a situation in which your rational jealousy is not being continually stirred up.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:21 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the most part, she has been good about asking if we already have plans, but even if we do something together, she'll mention going to this guy's apartment afterwards. I don't think it's fair for me to feel this pressure.

The more I read your follow-ups, and the more I think about what she's doing to you, it all comes down to this --- you should dump her inconsiderate, emotional cuckolding ass.

Seriously, man, fuck her. You shouldn't put up with her behavior with another man that reduces you to seething at home while she's snugly enjoying herself in another guy's apartment. Get rid of her.
posted by jayder at 1:23 PM on January 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Generally, I don't feel like being social.

How has this issue been dealt with before in the past? I imagine a super-outgoing extrovert would be really at odds with an introvert who kind of just expects that hanging out and doing nothing is a pleasant way to spend an evening.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:27 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


You sound like I sounded fifteen years ago, when my wife was sleeping with someone else and I was trying to talk myself into thinking, variously, that it wasn't actually happening, that it would somehow be okay, and that my discomfort signaled a personal failing. The obvious conclusions -- that it was actually happening, that it wasn't okay, and that my discomfort made perfect sense were almost impossible for me to conceive of, because these sorts of thoughts all pointed towards divorce and a situation totally beyond my control; I couldn't handle the thought of divorce, couldn't accept my own inability to fix the situation, so I did a lot of rationalizing to make my divorce-free life seem sustainable. I was kidding myself. So, I fear, are you.
posted by jon1270 at 1:28 PM on January 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Yeah this whole situation sounds really hinky. She's treating the other guy like her boyfriend. From your other post about her being unhappy where you live, it sounds like you guys have Issues and need to work them out (probably with a marriage counselor). She is running away by being infatuated with another guy instead of addressing what's going on in her own home despite the fact that it greatly upsets you (and despite the fact that this is a recurring problem).

Even if I thought I were in the right in any given situation, if said situation were hurting my husband, I would find a compromise at the very least if not stop altogether.

This is not something to just suck-up and feel better about.
posted by Kimberly at 1:31 PM on January 14, 2010


even if I did want to hang out with them (which I really don't), I don't know how receptive to that she would be.

Ask anyway, because the answer (and, if "sure!" is actually followed up on in any consistent way) is the difference between her having an affair and her having a friend.

But really, I have to say: she goes out for a nice dinner with you, then leaves you to go be with him when he goes to bed? It doesn't matter whether or not she's having an affair, she's emotionally distanced from you to an absurd degree. The two of you need to go to counseling, and if she gets "pouty" or won't do it, you should walk away.

FWIW, it's not about you setting limits on her behavior; it's about you setting boundaries. You don't control what she does, but you make clear what things you simply will not tolerate. Given the way you're describing her behavior and her feelings right now, this particularly boundary is well-crossed and you'd best assert yourself about it now.

Also, I'm Memailing you separately.
posted by davejay at 1:34 PM on January 14, 2010


OK, I posed a similar hypothetical to my husband -- my husband who, I should point out, recently had no objection to staying at home with our three-year-old while I went out to dinner and a concert with another man with whom I have a close and flirtatious friendship.

My husband says, "That's inappropriate behavior on the wife's part, and it has to end. If this were you, I'd ask you to be home by my bedtime every night, and not see the guy more than twice a month -- at a maximum. I might even ask if the get-togethers could happen at our house or with me along for the foreseeable future. And if you balked, I'd ask you to cut contact completely and come to counseling with me. Even if this were a polyamorous marriage, this would be inappropriate; even if this were a friend who was outside the potential-interest zone, this would be inappropriate."

So there you have it. If the Least Jealous Husband in the Universe would have a problem, I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest that there's probably a problem to be had.
posted by KathrynT at 1:34 PM on January 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


We've communicated about it quite well, but she can tell it makes me upset, and always talking about it has had a negative impact on our relationship.

I don't really know your situation, but from this line, it sounds like you're still not communicating enough. If it keeps coming up, it's not resolved, and if it's not resolved, it needs to be discussed.

She has called lately to give me updates on when she might be home, which helps, but there is initial anger before that happens.

So she wouldn't tell you when she would come home before? That's selfish/ self-centered, and not something normal.

I've been married for a few years now, so I'm not speaking from a lifetime of experience, but it's OK to have some incompatibilities in a marriage, as long as they don't anger or annoy the other party. I'm more active than my wife, and I'm coming to terms with that, and we're figuring out how that will work for us. We like spending time together, but sometimes I need to get out and go for a hike or a jog, which isn't her kind of thing. If I don't get out, she's holding me back, but if I just disappear because I need some time for myself, I'm being mean to her. So I tell her I want to go out some evening or on the weekend, and I'll head out by myself or with friends. Sometimes I need to get active, and she now realizes it's not that I am tired of being around her, but that I need to move, and she seems to respect that. I don't do it every day, and I tell her I'll be back soon.

If you're more of a home-body and your wife is more social, it can work, as long as you get enough time with her for your own satisfaction. But if she doesn't work out the time she spends with you and the time she spends with others, she's not being fair to you.

As for the other guy: he's allowed to be friends with your wife, and maybe your wife is telling him you're OK with the two of them spending time together. Maybe you should try to spend time with them, and you should make the effort to be social, so you make an effort to meet your wife's chosen level of activeness. You don't have to go out with her every night, but once a week could help your situation.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:38 PM on January 14, 2010


As a married woman with male friends, I would never hang out with a male friend at their house. It just wouldn't happen. I really don't mean to sound puritanical, but if I were to hang out with a single male friend, it would be in public with my husband's knowledge and with an open invitation to husband to join us, or it would be me + husband inviting the friend to our house, or me + husband visiting the friend at his. It would never be me (the wife) plus some dude, alone most evenings watching movies or whatever. My husband and I are a social unit, and that's how we present ourselves. It is vanishingly rare that one of us has a social engagement without inviting the other along.

The only explanation for your wife's behavior is that your wife is having an affair with this guy. There is no doubt in my mind at all.
posted by 2xplor at 1:40 PM on January 14, 2010


THe instance that I mentioned before was that we had a pair of other married couples over to watch a movie. We had food, talked, etc., and it was nice. Afterwards, she mentioned going over to this guy's place (at like 1030pm) and when she saw the look on my face, didn't end up going.

I think she's been lonely for most of her life, and so when she gets a chance to have a close friend, she really dives in. I don't think I'm being naive when I say I'm certain she's not having a physical affair. Emotional is possible, more so because we've not been getting along very well lately.

Thanks for your advice so far. I think, more than anything, I wanted to hear that I wasn't being irrational and controlling, which I've really tried to not be.
posted by elder18 at 1:41 PM on January 14, 2010


You need to talk to her, and tell her how you feel without accusing her.

I went through a similar thing with my S.O.

The words "I am really hurt by this" motivated me to change my behavior 100%.
posted by thisperon at 1:41 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yikes. Staying out late drinking with him? Going over to his apartment repeatedly? No way. I can't see a scenario in which this is OK and is your problem. When people do this, they know what they're doing. I've been in the situation where the woman isn't getting what she needs from her husband emotionally and I'm the guy paying attention to her and we become almost an item. And it almost went across the line. But even in the lead up to that near miss, we both knew there was something sort of conspiratorial going on, that she was hitting back at her husband by violating their bond. Just in the things we talked about, lines were crossed. There was an understanding.

Unless this guy is gay, he knows that what he's doing is in that danger zone. Your wife knows too. I have to add the I-don't-know-either-of-you caveat, and the people-are-different caveat, but this still seems like a stretch. People compromise in relationships for the sake of the relationship and this is the kind where she gives up this side item she likes, not where you give up something you need, which is a basic expectation in most marriages. With that said, you may need to give up something you like (not going out much) in order to ensure that she gets what she needs (?). But if the the thing she needs is time away from you, she can do that with female friends.
posted by kookoobirdz at 1:43 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was in exactly the same situation: long-term gf had a male friend she spent lots of time with, to the point where it seemed inappropraite. I was jealous at first, but once she explained the situation to me and I met the guy and we all hung out, I was okay with it.

Fast forward 6 years -- turns out she was fucking him the whole time and they were both lying to me. Can't wait to run into that fucking guy...
posted by coolguymichael at 1:43 PM on January 14, 2010


Is there a reason you are not invited? I don't see the problem being that she has a male friend as that she isn't inviting you. When I hang out with people, be they male or female, I kind assume that unless it's a girls night out my husband is automatically invited to come with.
posted by bananafish at 1:44 PM on January 14, 2010


I know that if my wife isn't friends with this guy she'll be upset, which will also affect our marriage, so I have to get over my (somewhat) irrational jealousy issues.

Sorry, but that's you being steamrolled. At best, you guys need counseling, but I'm tempted to believe that she's already crossed that line into when you need to prepare for a divorce. I mean, your jealousy issues aren't even somewhat irrational, they're completely justified. If not being friends with someone (male or female) "affects your marriage," then there's something seriously wrong here. You break plans with your friends to meet up with your partner later. You pay attention to when your partner's bedtime is (especially if you know he's angry about it), not your friend's. People in a relationship don't treat their partner as a friend and their friend as a partner, and that's exactly what she's doing.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:45 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think you are being irrational or controlling. You need to talk to her and put it on the line. Let her know how much anxiety this friendship she has is causing you. There are times when controlling a situation is necessary and does not equate to controlling the relationship.
posted by Elmore at 1:46 PM on January 14, 2010


Another thing. It doesn't matter that the guy keeps asking her to spend time with him; what matters is that she keeps going with him even though it's upsetting you. What matters is that she never asks you to go with even though you're her husband. In a normal marriage, a spouse is always trying to get the other spouse involved in things, because they want to spend time with their spouse while doing the things they like.

I am so frustrated on your behalf that I need to go punch something, and that's pretty f'ing rare for me
posted by davejay at 1:49 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


I honestly don't think she's cheating on me. The situation we had a few years ago with another guy was horribly traumatic for us both, and I really don't think she'd be willing to go through something like that.

I think she has really dived into being friends with this guy, maybe because we don't have many friends here, and has overlooked a few things in pursuit of that.
posted by elder18 at 1:49 PM on January 14, 2010


Ditto coolguymichael and others. Same situation. It was an affair, not a platonic friendship in the least. Jealousy is a completely reasonable reaction to the situation.

Looking back, the biggest clue was the fact that I wasn't invited out with them. If you are also not invited out with them, then it's almost certainly an affair. Does she have other friends she spends this much time with? Without you?
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 1:50 PM on January 14, 2010


I mean, your jealousy issues aren't even somewhat irrational, they're completely justified

This, this, a thousand times this.
posted by davejay at 1:50 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think she's been lonely for most of her life, and so when she gets a chance to have a close friend, she really dives in.

Wow - past self, is that you? She's fucking him.

I don't think I'm being naive when I say I'm certain she's not having a physical affair. Emotional is possible, more so because we've not been getting along very well lately.

If you thought you were being naive, then you wouldn't be naive. You're not getting along because she's fucking him.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:51 PM on January 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I honestly don't think she's cheating on me. The situation we had a few years ago with another guy was horribly traumatic for us both, and I really don't think she'd be willing to go through something like that.

My two cents on this comment: her behavior is not the behavior of a person who cares that their partner was traumatized by a past affair; in fact, it is the behavior of someone who through the affair would break up the marriage, and when it didn't, they decided to ramp it up to a ridiculous degree to make the break happen.
posted by davejay at 1:52 PM on January 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm not getting a great vibe from this situation, but if you say there's nothing going on and you merely want to feel better about it, I'll take that at face value in offering my bit of advice:

I actually stole one of my husband's friends who is now one of my closest friends; he and I have a TON in common, and that's the reason we both like my husband so much (who is very different from us and more introverted). Friend and I tend to spend time together partly because my husband and Friend's wife both have demanding, long-hours jobs and Friend and I both teach, so we have breaks at the same times and things. Friend and I are both extroverts married to introverts, and both our spouses need more time alone.

Anyway, the reason my husband likes Friend and I both (and the reason Friend's wife likes us both too) is that we are very similar in temperament and personality, so we like hanging out together. But there's a reason I married my husband, who is so different from me in personality and temperament, and not a male version of me. :)

All the same, if my husband told me he wasn't comfortable with me hanging out so much with Friend, I would take that extremely seriously. My marriage is the primary relationship in my life, and while that doesn't mean my husband is never wrong or that I should always acquiesce to him even if he's being irrational, it means I should take his feelings into account first and most, and I expect (and receive) the same consideration from him.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:53 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


er, to a ridiculous degree this time around to make the break happen.
posted by davejay at 1:53 PM on January 14, 2010


This is so weird. I've seen countless threads on metafilter that say when the guy has a friend who is a woman and the wife/gf is jealous then she's somehow irrational and abusive.

I don't think she's cheating on you. But you can tell her how you feel and I think she would understand.
posted by anniecat at 1:53 PM on January 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


I honestly don't think she's cheating on me.

I do think you need to accept that you do not know. The other problem for you is that your lizard brain thinks otherwise. Jealosy is isn't a bug, its a feature. Your own body is telling you there is a problem.

I think you need to sit down and have a long, long talk with her. Ask her directly if she is having an affair with this guy. You have the right to know. Better to know the facts now than later down the road.

Also explain to her how much this is hurting you. Because your question drips with pain and uncertainty.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


You could approach this as you wanting to spend more time with her as opposed to asking her to curtail her friendship. You don't sound controlling at all, but I understand that you don't want to have an accusatory tone when you talk to her.

I mean, this would be your reaction if she threw herself into anything that consumed her time and attention, yes? If she were leaving your house at 10:30 to paint sets for community theater or playing World of Warcraft all night and not spending time with you, it would feel kind of crappy. You might not have the weird jealousy happening, but you'd still feel neglected.

Perhaps you could make a concession to her extroversion by offering to do things out in the world that she'd enjoy. Your goal is more time together, not more time with her at home. Otherwise, I have to agree with a lot of the other answers that counseling should be on the table. Your feelings aren't irrational, and I don't think you should feel guilty about them. (And, ugh, I do think the whole co-worker friendship is very, very sketchy.)
posted by gladly at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2010


It sounds as though your wife is still lonely, and the fact that she's an extrovert married to an introvert probably doesn't help. If I were you, I'd encourage her to socialize more, not less, but with a wider variety of people. Encourage her to get a social hobby, take a class in something she's interested in, or join a meetup. That way, she gets the social time she craves, you get the alone time you want, and she's not dependent on this one guy for her social life. Figure out how much you want to go out, and then beyond that limit, help her to find a variety of people to spend time with and do activities with.
posted by decathecting at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


She's basically dating this guy. I mean, I've had a ton of male friends over the years and have both had and seen many successful male/female friendships, but this is totally out of bounds. Whether anything physical is going on yet, they are going on dates. Multiple dates per week, from the sound of it.
posted by MsMolly at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whether or not she's in a sexual relationship with this person, she is having a relationship with him that interferes with your marriage. I agree with MsMolly's assessment that she's "dating" him. That's absolutely what it sounds like and it's harmful to your marriage even if they're fully clothed at all times.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:57 PM on January 14, 2010


I didn't mean to imply they are always together alone. There are, from what I can tell, other people with them most of the time.
posted by elder18 at 1:58 PM on January 14, 2010


She has called lately to give me updates on when she might be home, which helps, but there is initial anger before that happens.

You're telling yourself that she's being thoughtful, but to me it sounds like she's pre-emptively calling you so that you won't call and interrupt something later.
posted by amro at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


The thing is, hanging out with someone of the opposite sex when you're in a committed relationship is strictly okay with the approval of the other partner. I have dinner with my ex-husband now and then, Mr. Llama has lunch with an ex-girlfriend now and then -- not a big deal.

However, this is not an everyday occurrence, we always check with each other to be sure we're cool with it before making the plans, but most importantly we have the most fun with each other. He's the person I want to hang out with. I'm excited when I come home from work and his car is in the garage. I think, yay! Mr. Llama! (This was something I didn't realize until after I got divorced, I'd come home, see my ex-husband's car in the driveway and think, oh, crap).

So you should want to hang out together. You should be the keepers of each other's secrets and your go-to sources for lulz. That's not to say you can't have others in your life, but this is the most important relationship either of you have.

Your wife should act that way. And you should tell her so. And if that doesn't get things cleared up, you have a really big fat problem on your hands. As far as I'm concerned, she should drop the relationship entirely, not 'fewer nights out', but entirely. It's gone too far and it's not cool.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I didn't mean to imply they are always together alone. There are, from what I can tell, other people with them most of the time.
posted by elder18 at 1:58 PM on January 14


With love and respect dude, who are you really trying to convince here?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


If I may be so bold, I could have said this as well:

"I honestly don't think she's cheating on me. The situation we had a few years ago with another guy was horribly traumatic for us both, and I really don't think she'd be willing to go through something like that."

The time I spoke about in my post above, wherein I went through the range of emotions you have laid out, was not the first time we had an issue. The first was horribly traumatic for us both. We 'worked through' it. I was thoroughly, 100% convinced that it would not happen again.

Except that I wasn't. I was just telling myself that I was. My gut knew the signs, and so it was screaming "DANGER DANGER!", but my head wanted to rationalize this away as my own not being over prior issues. She was all too willing to capitalize on that feeling, as well.

I got the "I should be able to have my own friends" bit, the "you really need to get past all of that because it's caging me in" bit, all of it. She invited me to hang out with them a couple of times. I met the guy. But, just like you, there would be times when she would put hanging out with him above and beyond any consideration for me.

And he was shameless, as well. You don't call up somebody's wife and ask her to go see a movie without inviting her husband along. You don't invite her to a party at your place without inviting him. And you certainly don't invite her to go swimming together without inviting him. He was actively competing with me, just as your wife's 'friend' is competing with you. Bank on it.

I apologized and apologized and apologized for my issues, for my 'irrational' jealousy. I reiterated that I trusted her completely, and knew she would never do anything like that again. In short, I picked up the price tag for her dalliance.

When I found out they had become mildly physical, I insisted on counseling despite wanting to pretty much get the hell out of dodge at that point. I guess that I held my vows in that much esteem that I needed to at least fight for my marriage. Know what I was told when I suggested counseling? "Well.. what if we go to counseling for 5 months and it doesn't work out? I'll have blown my shot with _______"

Feel free to MeMail me if you want to talk. I sincerely feel, based on what you have laid out, that you are being played.
posted by kaseijin at 2:06 PM on January 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


You say your wife doesn't have a lot of friends where you are -- can she join a women's volunteer organization such as the Junior League or a church women's group or something like that? Then maybe she'd be able to meet her social needs without clinging so hard to a single individual to the detriment of your marriage ... and perhaps in this situation it would also help if she had more female friends.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:06 PM on January 14, 2010


I didn't mean to imply they are always together alone. There are, from what I can tell, other people with them most of the time.

I don't believe that. You didn't ask about your wife hanging out with a group, you asked about her hanging out with one man.
posted by amro at 2:06 PM on January 14, 2010


I'm sorry, this is a shitty thing to hear: whether or not she's having sex with him, she's cheating on you. Frankly, if I had to choose between my wife having sex with some guy without me knowing, and her spending tons of free time alone with some guy to my exclusion, I'd be hard-pressed to make a decision.

I don't know you or her, so maybe I'm way off base, but there's _nothing_ you've said that makes me think she isn't walking all over you, having an affair in front of your face, and generally treating you just well enough to keep you around.

IMO, if you want to stay with this woman, you need to accept this, mutually agree to an open-ish relationship and SET SOME GROUND RULES. Otherwise it's not fair to you in any way. If you can't make that leap, it just ain't going to work out in the long run. :(
posted by paanta at 2:08 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Elder18 - there is a lot more going on here than your wife's friend, and you know it.


I read your question about your wife's unhappiness where you live, and all of your follow-ups within the thread. There seems a relationship-poisoning pattern of tit-for-tat resentment building between you and Mrs. Elder18. What's that about?

Currently, it seems here you are willing to tolerate your wife stepping outside of your marriage and making this guy her primary concern because you feel guilty for unilaterally deciding to take a job that meant a big move and dramatic change for you and your wife.

Is sucking up the consequences of your actions (her acting out) really the direction you want to go here with this ask? Because if so - I can help you with that!

...Accept that your wife is doing this now because you betrayed her in a deep and lasting way. Making this guy her primary makes up for the fact that every day she wakes up someplace she moved to, for your sake, even though living there is probably crushing her soul. The End.


If that didn't help, than please read on...

Like any other human being, your wife has needs. Your current lifestyle, although it satisfies your needs, does not nourish your wife's. Just like water finds a way, so human beings usually seek fulfillment wherever they can find it. Your wife's not happy generally, but this guy makes her happy. Ergo, she spends time with guy.


Is she cheating on you?

- I don't know, but I'm certain the guy has nefarious intentions (see other mefites answers, above.)


Is she trying to get back at you with this behavior?

- "glass half empty" type-folks will say "Yes!" but I like to think people are more nuanced than that.

I think first and foremost, Mrs. Elder18 is trying to find happiness. I think this happened because you've recently proved to her, in a very dramatic way, that you can't be counted on to provide for her happiness. At least subconsciously, this is the very important message you've given her by making life-changing decisions without consulting her.


I'm not jumping on you here! But I think it is very important to look at the dynamics and such if you want to reach resolution. Otherwise, your marriage will continue on the tit-for-tat spiral until it falls apart entirely.


I think you should put her desires and her needs back on the table if you want your wife back, if you want a happy marriage. Another word for marriage is: Partnership. You might meditate on that term before you approach your wife. It seems somewhere along the way you lost the plot.

I know you thought career security was important - but was it worth all this?

Mr. Jbenben and I try not to do things unless they make us both happy. I think most successful marriages operate on that principle.

Good Luck!

(upon preview - I read your comment that your wife has been "lonely most of her life" or words to that effect. This triple underlines how important I think your current environs is effecting your marriage. Yes. You should make it up to her - but not by allowing this guy into your marriage! Find another way to show her respect, K?)
posted by jbenben at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


er. "then please read on..."
posted by jbenben at 2:11 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're not getting along because she's fucking him.

And making *you* feel guilty about it!
posted by torquemaniac at 2:13 PM on January 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think it's fair to say that my wife is lonely here, and that she was reluctant to move here, but she seems a lot happier now than she did when I made my previous post about her unhappiness here. I certainly don't think she's unhappy enough to have an affair because she lives here, and I really don't think she's having on in any definition of the term.

I agree that she hasn't been putting me first, and that's what a spouse should do. And we're going to talk about this. I don't believe the sky is falling. I probably would feel more comfortable if I hung out with her and this guy, and as much as I don't want to, I just may.

I really think some of the ideas and points here will help my relationship, so thanks.
posted by elder18 at 2:36 PM on January 14, 2010


O.k. I am going to gently call out your responsibility in the matter. You sound like you are being too passive in the marriage. Your being upset affects both people in the marriage. You're letting her bring in another person into your marriage, almost as much as she is. By not supporting yourself, your are not supporting the marriage. Just a thought.

Although after reading jbenben's post, I see that there may be much more involved. It sounds like there are multiple breakdowns in your marriage right now. Allowing your wife to get her needs met elsewhere right now, instead of both of you partnering up right now to build up the strength of the marriage, seems very, very dangerous.
posted by Vaike at 2:36 PM on January 14, 2010


Do you know the guy? Have you seen the guy? Merely looking at him ought to give you useful information about whether he's competition or not ... it won't necessarily tell you that he's NOT competition, but it can definitely tell you that he IS competition.
posted by jayder at 2:41 PM on January 14, 2010


Okay, disclaimers:

I have dated, been in a couple of serious relationships, but never been married. To the best of my knowledge, none of my exes have ever cheated on me.

However, a couple I was friends with, now long divorced, had this problem. You described the wife's behavior almost exactly. The wife had made friends with a man, and started spending all of her free time with him, allegedly working on different projects. The husband was less jealous than you, figured things were perfectly innocent. Then one day the wife came home, packed her things, and handed over her wedding ring.

The wife told me later that she had been unhappy in her marriage for a long, long time. She didn't go looking for another man, but when she met her new friend things eventually evolved between them. She finally had to confront how unhappy she was, and end her marriage.


Now:

You've tried talking to her, being open, not being upset. She reluctantly accomodates by calling you from her "friend"-dates occasionally. You offer to go with her and her friend, she demurs. You try to be flexible.

She doesn't change her behavior. She automatically defaults to spending more time with this friend than with her husband. That's a red flag, a woman acting out her marital unhappiness.

So here's what you do. Sit her down, tell her you think she's been very unhappy in the marriage lately, and that's why she's spending so much time with this other guy (MAKE NO ACCUSATIONS ABOUT AFFAIRS). Tell her you value you her happiness, and you want the two of you to go to marriage counseling to see how the two of you together can make things work. Tell her you're committed to helping her be happy.

But she's got to meet you halfway. She's got to show you that she's concerned about your feelings. You've made no secret that you're not happy with the amount of time she spends with this guy. If she wants this marriage to work, she's going to have to drop this friend immediately so that the two of you can focus on getting back on track.

(Yes, I'm telling you to give her an ultimatum. It's past time for one if you want your marriage to survive).


Her reaction to this should tell you everything you need to know. If she refuses to consider counseling or to giving up this friend of hers, she's not committed to you, not in a way that one should be in a marriage.


Good luck.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:45 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you ought to contact a divorce lawyer and through him/her a private investigator. Verify whether or not you are being irrationally paranoid here (I do not believe you are) and then proceed on your lawyers advice.

Even if you are right and there is nothing going on here you two really ought to think about counseling. But my gut is telling me that the well is poisoned and that your marriage is over, so you ought to prepare for that.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:45 PM on January 14, 2010


I agree that she hasn't been putting me first, and that's what a spouse should do.

It's not about one spouse putting the other spouse first; it's about both of you putting your relationship first.
posted by scody at 2:48 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree that she hasn't been putting me first, and that's what a spouse should do. And we're going to talk about this.

Respectfully (and because it needs to be said): Maybe you haven't been putting her first either. I mean, if she wants to go out and you're ready to turn in at like 10:30, that's not putting her first, that's putting you first. Not wanting to plan activities for your extroverted wife, but still expecting her to want to hang around the house is putting you first, not putting her first. I'm not saying that you deserve this or anything like that, but as long as you're going to have a talk, analyze stuff that you could be doing differently that might make you wife WANT to stay at home with you.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:50 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


There's 86 answers in this thread, and you've highlighted the five that 1) put the blame on you and 2) have any explanation other than your wife cheating on you.
posted by Oktober at 3:01 PM on January 14, 2010 [28 favorites]


"I agree that she hasn't been putting me first, and that's what a spouse should do. And we're going to talk about this."

Wow. That is in strong contrast to some of your follow-ups about the move to Wyoming, when the situation concerned something you wanted, but your wife didn't.

I think maybe that's called Cognitive Dissonance? Or perhaps hypocrisy??

Really. Meditate on the meaning of Partnership. I think you're still a little lost here.
posted by jbenben at 3:08 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's 86 answers in this thread, and you've highlighted the five that 1) put the blame on you and 2) have any explanation other than your wife cheating on you.

If you respect his question enough to answer it, and expect your answer to be respected, then have some respect for how he choses to receive those replies.

Wow. That is in strong contrast to some of your follow-ups about the move to Wyoming

Classy/tacky non-answer. Fuck, I'll never use askme again if it is going to end up being used against me even when I am looking for some help.
posted by Elmore at 3:20 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there are people you learn to ignore after they offer a few answers. It's okay.
posted by elder18 at 3:21 PM on January 14, 2010


I am a married woman with one really close male friend that I've had since high school. I know my husband has some minor jealousy issues, but is primarily ok with it. That said, I don't hang out with my friend at his place at night alone. Because I know how my husband feels my friend and I meet in public and usually for lunch or quick drinks and my hubby is ALWAYS invited, even though he usually doesn't come. I would expect the same from him when meeting socially with a female friend. You're not being irrationally jealous at all. You're being a wuss.
posted by cherrybounce at 3:22 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's 86 answers in this thread, and you've highlighted the five that 1) put the blame on you and 2) have any explanation other than your wife cheating on you.

This, more than any of the other facts, indicates to me that there is a there there, if you know what I mean. Let's look at the known facts as OP has them:

(1) wife of almost seven years has started hanging out with a male co-worker. Oftentimes, they stay out late drinking, watching movies, etc.

(2) yesterday she said she'd be home late because that's when this guy was going to bed

(3) this guy keeps asking my wife to hang out with him.

(4) we went through a real rough patch involving another guy previously.

(5) if my wife isn't friends with this guy she'll be upset

(6) I have no desire to hang out with my wife's friend.

(7) We've communicated about it quite well, but she can tell it makes me upset

(8) always talking about it has had a negative impact on our relationship.

(9) She has called lately to give me updates on when she might be home

(10) One reason she gives for hanging out with this guy is that we do (normally) spend a lot of time together, so even if I did want to hang out with them (which I really don't), I don't know how receptive to that she would be.

(11) For the most part, she has been good about asking if we already have plans, but even if we do something together, she'll mention going to this guy's apartment afterwards.

(12) Generally, I don't feel like being social. But I do like spending time with her. She's more of an extrovert than I am, for sure.

(13) THe instance that I mentioned before was that we had a pair of other married couples over to watch a movie. We had food, talked, etc., and it was nice. Afterwards, she mentioned going over to this guy's place (at like 1030pm) and when she saw the look on my face, didn't end up going.

(14) I think it's fair to say that my wife is lonely here

OK, now let's look at the facts that you have that indicate no affair:

(1) I don't think they're physically involved

(2) I don't think I'm being naive when I say I'm certain she's not having a physical affair

(3) I honestly don't think she's cheating on me. The situation we had a few years ago with another guy was horribly traumatic for us both, and I really don't think she'd be willing to go through something like that.

(4) I certainly don't think she's unhappy enough to have an affair because she lives here, and I really don't think she's having on in any definition of the term.

In otherwords, no facts at all to support the no affair position except for your hopes and opinions.

You need to ask difficult questions. The other thing is that no matter what your issues are, there is no justification for an affair. In a relationship, there can be justifications for her leaving you, getting a divorce or whatever, but there is no justification for breaking a promise to remain faithful that a person has made.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:22 PM on January 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


I was your wife. After 8 years of marriage, I started hanging out with a male friend of mine and did many of the things your wife is doing - staying late at his place, drinking, talking, hanging out with him and his friends. My husband's presence was tolerated, then gently discouraged, and then outright avoided. He responded passively by getting "headaches" and wanting me to take him home when he, the guy and I were hanging out. I would take him home and come back out to see the guy.

It was an emotional affair, and my husband never once confronted me about it. I eventually broke it off myself, because I knew it was wrong - but my relationship with my husband never recovered. Wrong or no, I felt that if my husband had really valued our marriage, he would have stood up for it. I had a deep reservoir of contempt for his cowardice after that which never went away, and after a few more years and circumstances that did nothing to change my impression, eventually ended the marriage.

I really recommend that, no matter what you wish to think is going on, that you stand up for yourself NOW. You are not doing yourself, your wife, or your marriage any favors by allowing this behavior to continue. If your wife is resentful over other factors in your marriage (it sounds like this may be the case), then you are on very shaky ground as it is - add contempt to the mix and you're screwed. If you're not willing to fight for what you have, then you WILL lose it, I guarantee it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:25 PM on January 14, 2010 [16 favorites]


Yeah, there are people you learn to ignore after they offer a few answers. It's okay.

Sorry if we seem difficult, but here's what I'm saying. I think there's little doubt that you would prefer that the answer be that there is no affair and that your feelings are a problem you have. I guess what were saying is that you ought to entertain the possibility that your emotional investment in the fact that there is no affair might be clouding your judgement in this matter.

I hope that the suspicions that many of us here have are nothing but that. But I would at least entertain the possibility that things are not as you hope they are. Certainly, ignoring these answers that you don't like is a danger sign that maybe you are not looking at this with clear vision.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:27 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, there are people you learn to ignore after they offer a few answers. It's okay.

I hate to say this, but I have to. Listen to those people you are ignoring. Please.
posted by Elmore at 3:31 PM on January 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


You asked a question, which got more emphatic replies of "you're not being irrationally jealous, what she's doing isn't normal for a spouse" than you expected. I don't think there are hardly any posters actually disagreeing with that.

Everytime you comment more to add something, or mark answers as "best", it's to excuse her, blame yourself or play down what's been happening.

I think you need to stand up for yourself. I wonder if this episode has lost you your wife's respect because you've behaved so meekly.
posted by selton at 3:32 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's more of a case that I think there are things we can both do better in our relationship, and the fact that I really, really don't think she's cheating on me.

I think my wife is someone who would respect me more for being respectful and trusting of her (to a reasonable degree) than someone who boorishly throws down ultimatums.
posted by elder18 at 3:38 PM on January 14, 2010


Well, she married you because you are special to her. Your love is strong. If there is some doubt about that remind her. If you sit back and let this guy charm her, then maybe she'll end up feeling that she has more in common with him than you. Step in and take control, and don't confuse that with being controlling.
posted by Elmore at 3:45 PM on January 14, 2010


I think my wife is someone who would respect me more for being respectful and trusting of her (to a reasonable degree) than someone who boorishly throws down ultimatums.

It's not either/or. Just saying.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:51 PM on January 14, 2010


Elder, I definitely respect my husband for being so respectful and trusting of me. Let me emphasize again that he is about the least jealous monogamous man I've ever encountered; he trusts me hugely, and I welcome his trust. He has no problems with me dancing, flirting &c with other people, and we have a life in which I spend a lot more time out socializing than he does.

When I described your situation to my husband, he said "It's OK to have independent friendships even with people in the 'potential romantic interest' demographic. But this is going way beyond that. I'd lay down an ultimatum to scale it back to a few lunch dates a month. I would be so surprised if she's not having at least some kind of emotional affair with the other guy. It's got to end."

Go back and read my other responses to your question, some of which you've labeled "best answer." I am typically strongly inclined to say "it's just a friendship, leave it alone," but this situation has my spidey-sense tingling. Regardless of what your wife would prefer, I think for the sake of the health of your marriage you have to set some firm boundaries.
posted by KathrynT at 3:52 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


If this was a straight woman friend, I would think she was being horribly disrespectful of you with her behavior.

"Oh, honey, thanks for the nice dinner. Now I'm going to run over to Judy's and hang out with her until she goes to bed. Bye!" is not acceptable.

Not acceptable. She needs to make time for you, and you for her. Yeah, maybe she is acting out because she doesn't like where you live and didn't want to move, but you guys need to work it out.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:04 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly, if this were a straight woman friend I would still think they're having an affair. And the logic of your belief that she's not cheating because she's cheated before escapes me. Ask yourself this: Why are so averse to meeting this guy?
posted by moxiedoll at 4:12 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


In functional, social terms, HE IS HER BOYFRIEND.

She will leave an evening activity with you to end the day at his home. She wants to spend all her time with him. She places more importance on being with him as long as possible than she does on your pain, alone at home.
This is the behavior of someone in the first glow of a relationship.

My cheating ex-husband had a close female friend. They spent all their time together, whenever they were in the same place they sat together and talked with their heads up against each other. I was always upset and felt that they were behaving as boyfriend and girlfriend, right in front of me, his wife. I didn't assume they were actually intimate, but their behavior implied great emotional intimacy as well as excluding me from "them" when we were all in the same room.
Turns out they WERE girlfriend and boyfriend. If it walks, talks and squawks like a cheating spouse, my friend, it is indeed a cheating spouse.
posted by Billegible at 4:35 PM on January 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


With all due respect, elder18, your question and your followups here really mesh together very well. Please don't take this the wrong way --- I don't mean it rudely, but more as a tough-love come-to-your-senses plea --- but your comments in this thread reflect the mentality of a guy who is a doormat. They are weak, rationalizing, and a rude person would say, spineless. My guess is that the guy she's slipping away to spend time with is attractive to her precisely because he is not a doormat --- just a guess. Why are you letting yourself tolerate this and be treated this way? Why are you not moving out tomorrow with a a big middle finger pointed in her direction?
posted by jayder at 5:40 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I feel kind of weird that you marked my answer as a "best" answer. I was simply trying to answer the question directly as asked, which was, how can *you* mitigate your *own* feelings of jealousy.

But after reading all of your follow-ups and even after blatantly ignoring what a lot of people are saying, I don't like my answer anymore.

Most of what people are saying seems spot-on in light of your responses, in that you need to take responsibility for your feelings and the two of you need to get some couples counseling and seriously confront each other about how the other one feels about your social activities and styles.

I would hate to see my advice followed, and then you get some isolating hobby and ignore your own feelings and she feels even more distanced. It would almost be like you're giving up and saying to her "have your own fun, I'll just be over here in the corner, ignoring you with my model airplanes/insect collection/replica antique swords" and that kind of attitude is more commonly found in a dispirited 14 year old kid than a full grown, married man.
posted by Mizu at 5:47 PM on January 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's hard to admit what you already know when you really, really wish it wasn't true. However, that doesn't change the facts.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 5:58 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


A shorter way of stating my comment, is that she is cheating on you under your nose because she knows you very well, and she knows you're a guy who thinks it would be "setting inappropriate boundaries" for you to object to her nocturnal activities with this guy. Your own comments in this thread show exactly how she is getting away with it. You refuse to see what is in front of your face.
posted by jayder at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am a married woman with one really close male friend that I've had since high school.

I'm not sure how anyone can think "pre-existing long term, close friend" is in the same galaxy as "new friend from work that she's now drinking and watching movies all night with". She's meeting up with him after you make dinner in the evening?

I'm really sorry, man, but she's sleeping with this guy. Nothing is certain in life, but I would be willing to put money on it.
posted by spaltavian at 6:33 PM on January 14, 2010


I think she's been lonely for most of her life ... we've not been getting along very well lately.

She's cheating on you.
posted by Avenger at 6:34 PM on January 14, 2010


Does your wife let you use her phone?
posted by benzenedream at 6:34 PM on January 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Man, a lot of comments here.
From a younger guy: you need independence! It sounds like you have the legal part of a marriage, but not the emotional part which is the part that matters. Don't be a doormat! Specifically:

1. Find some friends of your own to spend time with (not in a revenge-dating way; in a i-am-a-strong-and-independent-dude-with-my-own-network way). Don't use work to fill the void; you'll just be lonely and won't get much done. I enjoyed and would recommend beginner dancing and sports classes, even though I'm the type of dude who likes computer games and metafilter.

2. Ask yourself why you're with your wife instead of another woman. Think about why your wife is with you. Don't use marriage in itself as a reason. This may give some clarity. It sounds to me like the emotional split has happened already.

3. Get your finances in order (make sure you have individual bank accounts, and put shared expenses into a shared account; this is reasonable and mature for married people to do, especially if both work).

4. If you're still sleeping together, stop until this gets resolved.

Good luck!
posted by sninctown at 7:07 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a very jealous person at all, but this raises huge red flags to me. Even if you are right about her not cheating -- which from the evidence we Mefites have looks dubious to most of us -- she is more or less having a boyfriend on the side.

At the very, very least, I would start hanging out with the two of them even though you don't want to and I would talk about it and talk about it until I was satisfied that it was harmless. I'd want to know, deep-down in my lizard brain, not just in the part of the brain that prefers denial to accepting hard truths, that she is not attracted to him in that way, period.

The evidence looks so much like an affair that the only other plausible explanation I can come up with is that she's going over to the guy's house to do drugs. But even then, an affair is likely.
posted by callmejay at 7:18 PM on January 14, 2010


This is one of my very favorite comments (posted to Ask Metafilter by taz at 12:13 AM on July 17, 2007):

You know how I feel about my husband? I want to protect him, defend him, honor him, celebrate him, and do whatever I can to make his life better; any day that I can add even a drop more happiness to his life is a good day. I want to SMASH anything that would ever, ever hurt him.

Your wife should have this attitude about you. Instead she's hanging out extensively with some other guy, even though she knows it bothers you.

That's just not right. No matter the reasons - even if it is mere innocent friendship - the fact that it hurts you and she's not willing to ease your worries is just flat out horrible.

You have every right to feel the way you do. You are not being irrational about this.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:55 PM on January 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Normally when there are 50+ comments on AskMe, I feel like what I want to say has already been said, much more eloquently than I would say it. So I don't bother commenting.

But in this case, I want to jump up and down and shout to you! Please listen to Ironmouth, Avenger, Sidhedevil and others.
posted by too bad you're not me at 9:26 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are, from what I can tell, other people with them most of the time.

This part sounds funny. From what you can tell? "What did you do tonight, honey?" "Who was there tonight, honey? Jim and Lisa? Jenny and the guys from work?" How would you not have answers to those questions? Why would it be a guessing situation? And if you do have those answers, and it's a group thing, what is it about this one guy out of the group that sticks out? It doesn't seem to square with her going over to his place at 10:30 at night (come on!). Is there a standing party at his place that this group of people are always at? Because if not, if it's just him, that's not a group thing.

If she, the extrovert, has found a group of friends she likes to hang out with, that's a different story. That could be a legit need that otherwise wonderful you can't supply, and then your primary question about jealousy could be relevant. But your comments here make it clear you're worried about the one guy. Are you being irrational about him because he's maybe good looking or something? Is that just making you single him out of what you're describing as group situations?

I'm trying to go with the benefit of the doubt that you're giving her regarding infidelity, but it sounds like you don't know what she's doing and have to guess, but that you know for sure he's involved.
posted by kookoobirdz at 10:55 PM on January 14, 2010


I feel very badly about being snarky in my earlier post - this thread makes my heart ache.

Yes, it is unusual for there to be so many answers to an ask. Usually, this is the sign of contention. In this case, the OP doesn't want the wisdom of the hive. I'm not sure how that happened.

OP - comments like sassyfras' just above are correct, if if if you don't want to look at the history of your current situation. Your ask is straightforward, and even if you stick to the answers that don't look deeper - you are still getting a majority of answers you don't want to acknowledge.

But I think there is a deeper story here.

We know from a previous ask (originally referenced by dhn) that you moved your wife, without her honoring her input, to a place she dislikes. Via your own comments in this thread, we know that there was previous trouble with another man on her part.

OP - I bring you back to my original comment...

I think there is a dangerous tit-for-tat spiral happening in your marriage.

I can only assume from your comments that the previous affair trouble pre-dated your decision to move you both to Laramie.

The timeline then goes:

1. Whatever lead to your wife's first transgression

2. You decide to move you both to Wyoming, against her better interests.

3. She now takes up (in some way, to seek happiness/relief) with another man

4. You pose a question to the green, ignoring the best answers for the ones that fit your filter.

OP - your filter is to find ways to continue this relationship pattern - NOT to move on to a healthier relationship with your wife. You are most assuredly keen on continuing this pattern in your marriage and not in receiving real and useful input.

Hey - that's cool and your business.

But please, in the future...


Don't give MetaFilter half-info in the hopes of shoring up your dysfunction. We're smarter than that. We're maybe good for answering kitten questions, not so much if you want to lie to yourself.

That's just not how MetaFilter works.

Most of us depend on our fellow Mefites to tell us the truth (as they see it.) It's our silent bond. It's why we come here day after day.

I started out asking you to respect your wife and acknowledge the situation you helped create - now I am asking you to respect US.

Cheers & Thanks.

-Jbenben.
posted by jbenben at 11:02 PM on January 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is inappropriate behavior by any estimation.

It doesn't sound like this is your fault. And I hate to be the person who says this in answer to every relationship question, because I can feel people rolling their eyes, but: you deserve better than this. From what you say, you've worked at fixing things, you've extended your trust to her even after having been burned, and you're approaching a situation that's seriously hurting you with a great deal of sensitivity, empathy, devotion, and love. I'm sorry to say that, from your description, it sounds like your wife might not be giving you those things in return, especially since you say she knows how her actions make you feel.

The word "married" casts a tall shadow and carries a lot of weight. It means, among other things, that two people love each other best no matter what, even when things get rough. It also means that both people look out for the happiness of everyone involved--not just the I and the you, but also always the we. "Married" means that you do what it takes to make it work. It does not mean that you rush out after dinner to tuck some guy from the office into bed while, back at the ranch, your husband tosses and turns and hurts.

Please keep your eyes open.
posted by sarabeth at 12:16 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


In case anyone hasn't said this already, this doesn't have to be about sex for it to have the same effects as cheating. (In fact, it may make it worse because there may be an element of unfulfilled longing that just grows worse day by day.)

Even if they aren't having sex, I can bet money on the fact they are being intimate (emotionally, if not physically.) In fact, the only time I've seen people acting the way your wife does is when they are developing a crush of some sort on the other person.
posted by thisperon at 1:49 AM on January 15, 2010


Consider this: AskMe might be one of the most liberal places on the 'net when it comes to relationship advice. People here rarely endorse jealousy or ultimatums, and I don't think I've ever seen anyone here recommend controlling behavior of any kind. Yet here we are, with dozens of people telling you to be more controlling. That says something, doesn't it? It's about taking charge of your marriage. Tell your wife what she needs to do with respect to this guy up to the point where you no longer feel uncomfortable. You're within your rights to tell her to stop seeing him completely, if that's what it takes. If you feel comfortable with something short of that, good for you. But tell her what she needs to do.

It might not save your marriage. Like everyone else, I think she's cheating on you, so I'm not sure it's possible to save it. But it's worth a try.
posted by smorange at 2:42 AM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am not jealous of my wife at all, but there is no f*cking way I would be letting her go hang out at some guys apartment........drinking.......at night. WTF? I don't care if the guy is stupid and ugly with a horrible disposition. I am getting angry just reading this. They both know what they are doing. Go over there, give the guy a DDT and let her in no uncertain terms that this shit is going to end one way of the other.
posted by jasondigitized at 7:18 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not that many people who commented will read this, but:

I had a good talk with my wife last night, and I'm still convinced she's not cheating. I asked her point blank, and I can tell when she's lying. I got the strong impression that she wasn't.

She agreed to be home earlier at night so we can see each other, and she seemed really touched that I was concerned about not spending enough time with each other. I'm also going to hang out with them and get a better idea about their exact relationship.

I don't consider myself a doormat. As many people have pointed out, I did move from Pittsburgh to Wyoming and bring my wife along, pretty much against her will. I asked her last night if her hanging out with this guy had anything to do with being unhappy, either with me or because of that. She said it didn't. Again, she wasn't lying.

I really appreciate everyone's advice, and I think it lead to a very good conversation last night.
posted by elder18 at 7:32 AM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm glad that you were able to talk to her, and that you feel satisfied that a resolution is presenting itself.

Even if you are sufficiently satisfied that she is on the level, however, I would caution you to remain wary of him. I guarantee you that he knows what he is doing, and it is not in your best interests. You have but to imagine yourself in his position to find yourself acutely aware of the line that he is crossing.

Assuming that this situation is as one-sided as you believe, he's engaged you in something of a chess game - one that she could have shut down at any time (my guess? even if she's not cheating, she probably really liked the attention) but didn't. Since she's probably not going to, you need to put an end to it.

Be around more. Go hang out with them. Be a presence.

Good luck!
posted by kaseijin at 8:07 AM on January 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I do think you guys need counseling. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we wish you luck.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:21 AM on January 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nthing the call for counseling. The friend I referenced made promises to spend more time with her husband, too, in an effort to dispel her unhappiness. She meant them, too.

It didn't work, and she continued to tell her husband what needed to be said until she was ready to walk away from the marriage.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:43 AM on January 15, 2010


Oh, and good luck to both of you.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:44 AM on January 15, 2010


One question you may want to ask your wife:

"If some supreme being told you that you could walk away from this marriage with no negative consequences whatsoever, would you first feel relief or sadness?"

If the answer is "relief" it's already over.

Best wishes.
posted by benzenedream at 12:25 PM on January 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Teh biggest red flag for me is the timing. She does not need to be going anywhere without you at 10:30pm, especially to some other guys apartment. This is what us kids refer to as a Booty Call.

Also, if you and her have a nice dinner together, you should make it clear that you want to spend the evening together. she shouldn't be ditching you after dinner to go see this guy with you coming along.

If you are convinced that she is not having an emotional affair with this man, could your wife have some sort of personality disorder or something? Her behavior is very strange and indicative of an affair in normal people.
posted by WeekendJen at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2010


I think I speak for everyone when I say that we wish you luck.

Yes.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:50 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older Can you identify some scientif...   |  Should I buy dried berries fro... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.