My husband has a crush.
August 28, 2005 10:30 PM   Subscribe

My husband has a crush on a woman friend of his. I heard it in the sound of his voice when he spoke to her on the phone. As I'm not a jealous person, this has really taken me aback. He doesn't deny it but says that it will never progress to anything else and that they are very good friends. I like her too, don't believe that either of them would ever be unfaithful. Just knowing that he has romantic feelings for another woman makes me feel terrible, and I can hardly look him in the eye. How do I deal with this and move along?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I wish you'd said why this makes you feel terrible. Of course you have every right to feel jealous and a even a little scared and worried.

I wish you'd also said what 'crush' means in this instance. Romantic feelings are quite different from lusty ones. Lusty feelings for others is pretty par for the course, but romantic feelings are quite dangerous.

I think you need to talk this out more with your husband, he should respect whatever it will take to make you feel comfortable again.
posted by LadyBonita at 12:08 AM on August 29, 2005

People in committed relationships will inevitably be attracted to other people to varying degrees throughout the relationship, the important thing is whether or not your partner acts on that attraction. If you trust him not to act on this (or other) attraction than perhaps you should try to give him the benefit of the doubt. I know, easier said than done; there is a second factor that is important to me personally: although I accept that my wife is going to be attracted to other people, I prefer that she is discrete about manifesting that attraction. That is, I do not want her to tell me about it or act in a way that is going to make me unnecessarily jealous. Let it be her happy little secret. As long as she doesn't act on it in a real way (beyond mild flirting say) than I don't really want to know about it because it will just make me uptight. The same goes for my little flirtations. I think his big mistake is not being discrete. I doesn't mean that he isn't in love with you anymore!

Good relationships last a long time -- although it sounds counter-intuitive, having these little outside sparks helps a couple get through the years (as long as they don't become something else).
posted by sic at 2:30 AM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

My good friends wife and I have a crush on each other. It's not a lusty or romantic thing, we simply like each other a lot. In another life, sure, we would probably have pursued something, but in this life, no. We simply look at it as a compliment to my friend / her husband who simply has good taste in people. We have been quite open about it with each other and other friends. We hug each other all the time, give each other winks, and its fine with my friend. It's almost become a joke with us. It's almost childlike.

To expect that you will be the only person out of 6 billion who might be appealing to your significant other is unrealistic. Attraction comes in a lot of different flavors and it may not be as insidious as you may think. Honest, open communication about flirtation, sexuality and attraction are in my eyes key to a healthy relationship. And as we say in my irreverant circle of guy friends: "It doesn't matter where you get your appetite, as long as you eat at home."
posted by jasondigitized at 5:41 AM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

As I'm not a jealous person...

You say this, but you sound pretty jealous if mere attraction, even when you are confident of your husband's fidelity, gets you that upset. I can understand being a bit bothered, but the fact that he owned up to it and isn't trying to hide anything suggests that there isn't a real problem. There could be, though, if you allow yourself to obsess about it, so talk yourself out of it if at all possible. We're all attracted to people we're not married to; it's just a question of what we do about it. If it's no more than a little extra warmth in the voice, maybe a little light flirting, it's perfectly normal.

That said, are you quite sure, jasondigitized, that it's fine with your friend? I mean cast-iron sure? Because it seems possible to me that it does bother him but he doesn't want to endanger a good friendship by bringing it up. Frankly, what you describe sounds like it would bother me if it were my wife. What happens if he and his wife have a fight and she turns to you for sympathy? You might want to tone it down a little. Not that you asked.
posted by languagehat at 6:55 AM on August 29, 2005

My dad had a crush on a woman for a long time. My mom had a lot of problems with it. If you actually asked my dad about it (I did), he'd respond that he'd never leave my mom for the woman because the other woman, although fun to party with, beautiful, and a great friend, was batshit crazy. YMMV, but...
posted by SpecialK at 8:37 AM on August 29, 2005

Life is biology, and biology is chemical. When you got married, I hope you didn't expect that you would spend a half-century with your husband without ever falling in love with anyone else. I'm sure you've heard that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather action despite fear. Ditto for commitment: It's not the absence of attraction or even love toward another woman -- it's the decision not to act upon those feelings.

And like any other behavior, it's not a one-time choice. It's a decision you make every day.
posted by cribcage at 8:40 AM on August 29, 2005 [4 favorites]

I agree with languagehat on your comment jasondigitized-- that is precisely the kind of indiscrete behavior that would gnaw at my insides, best friend or not. It's not really about being afraid that you two would do something more than just flirt, but rather about a certain feeling that I was being disrespected. Your friend may be less rigid than I am, but then again maybe he just feels uncomfortable bringing it up.

To anonymous: Is this what is bothering you? If you feel like he is somehow disrespecting you (so to speak) by being so open with his attraction to the other woman maybe you could ask him to be more discrete...?
posted by sic at 10:37 AM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

This is a guy checking in. When you settle into marriage, things get comfortable. When something like this happens, it's a kind of wake up call that makes you feel decidedly uncomfortable/insecure- not good feelings. In my experience, there is no instant-gratification remedy involved. In time, you will get used to this relationship and realize there really is no threat to your marriage or your husband's fidelity (hopefully). The other option is to lay it on the line and ask dear hubby to cut off that relationship. In my opinion, this results in an ultimatum where one of you is the winner and the other is necessarily a loser- not good.

I've had several relationships that fit the description you're talking about, and my wife pulled the ultimatum on one of them... and I cut it off. I felt like I "lost" but I also felt terrible for making my wife feel that way- even though no hanky-panky was involved I felt I had violated her trust. In general, though, these relationships are more of a sibling relationship than a romantic one- I feel close to the "other woman", but not in *that* way.
posted by Doohickie at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2005

I witnessed a situation similar to this from the other side. Two married (to other people) coworkers had a crush on each other. They were best pals, went to lunch a lot, chatted on the phone. I firmly believe that's all that ever happened, but they were the "talk of the office." In my opinion, that was disrepectful to each of their spouses. I think both of them were guilty of replacing some of the emotional intimacy they once had with their spouses with this new friendship/crush.

I'm just saying - sometimes an "innocent" crush isn't so innocent.
posted by clh at 5:07 PM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

"How do I deal with this and move along?"

We all should be able to feel we can trust our spouses and our friends. For some reason your emotions don't seem to agree with your statement that you trust them both. Don't ignore your feelings.

This is a key response: "I think both of them were guilty of replacing some of the emotional intimacy they once had with their spouses with this new friendship/crush." [clh]

If you feel your spouse has pulled some emotional intimacy away from your relationship you have the right to express that. If your spouse starts saying things like "it's nothing," "grow up," "it's harmless," or such then suggest it stop immediately. If it is truly "nothing" then it should be easy to give up.

If he won't then don't allow yourself to live in this situation without finding professional help to deal with your feelings. You need to do what is best for you.
posted by ?! at 6:00 PM on August 29, 2005 [2 favorites]

You've got a great husband. Let's step back and analyze for a moment:

You know what his voice sounds like when he has 'feelings'. That means you must have heard it like that, once or twice. He loves you.

He respects and loves you enough that when you called him on this, it sounds like he answered you directly and honestly without ever a thought of lying. He also told you that nothing would come of it. Unless he's a lying scumbag, that means nothing will come of it. There's a whole hell of a lot to be said for an honest man who keeps his promises. Step back a second and consider some of the things you could have for a husband in place of this.

Would you really prefer an emasculate who was so afraid of your bad opinion that he would never look at another woman? Hell, even Jimmy Carter straight out admitted that he had 'lusted in his heart many times.' When people look back over the life of Jimmy Carter and comment on it, they say a lot of things, but 'bad character', 'moral vacuum', and 'lying scumbag' are generally not phrases that come up.

As the Bard says, and I'm about to mangle: cowards die a thousand deaths; the brave man dies but once. That's because: all that matters is what happens. The images in your head are shibboleths and need to be exorcised by the strength and truth of what's real - you and your husband's strong and real and true non-ideal love.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:05 PM on August 29, 2005 [2 favorites]

Thanks, eveybody. Ikkyu2, your response was poetic and beautifully thought out.

Meanwhile, the husband has decided to leave.
posted by puddinghead at 9:13 PM on August 29, 2005

Wait, what?! Puddinghead, did Anon write you to let you know what actually happened (perhaps you are Anon)? Or were you just writing super-short (and quite effective!) speculative fiction?
posted by scody at 10:42 PM on August 29, 2005

posted by puddinghead at 11:04 PM on August 29, 2005

Well, I could use a date anyway - whattya say, puddinghead?
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:25 PM on August 29, 2005

Thanks for today's first grin, Ikkyu2.
posted by puddinghead at 1:13 AM on August 30, 2005

Whoa. I'm very sorry to hear that, puddinghead, and it looks like ?! was spot-on: "For some reason your emotions don't seem to agree with your statement that you trust them both. Don't ignore your feelings." If it helps any, my first wife and I have both found better relationships after our breakup. Good luck.
posted by languagehat at 5:13 AM on August 30, 2005

I'm really sorry, puddinghead.
posted by scody at 8:55 AM on August 30, 2005

Damn. I'm sorry...
posted by sic at 11:49 AM on August 30, 2005

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