Strategies to overcome insecurity/jealousy of husband's female friend?
April 21, 2015 8:46 AM   Subscribe

In the past several months, my husband has become close with one of my female friends, and they have started spending a lot of time together and texting each other almost daily. I'm uncomfortable with this, but I know this is my own issue to overcome because I trust them both and am 100% confident nothing questionable is happening between them.

My husband's friendship with her triggers my insecurity for several reasons:

a) She's ridiculously physically attractive. Much more attractive than I am, by conventional standards.
b) Their personalities are much more compatible with each other than my husband's personality is with mine. Very frequently (as in basically every day), I find myself disagreeing with both of them on a topic, and they almost inevitably agree with each other. This is frustrating to me because I feel like my husband often takes her side over mine.
c) Following from point B above, my husband has been complaining to me for the past several weeks that I am not pleasant to be around, because I lack the personality traits that the female friend already has. (I've been struggling with anxiety and depression for many months now). This makes me feel like he enjoys her company a lot more than he enjoys mine.

Before anyone suggests therapy, I am actually starting therapy this week and intend to discuss these issues with the therapist. I am more looking for resources on how to deal with this on my own/ in the meantime. And I have also discussed my feelings extensively with my husband, so he is well aware of my discomfort, but we both agree that this is basically my own problem to contend with, because neither of us thinks it is reasonable for him to stop being friends with her because of my own insecurity.
posted by Librarypt to Human Relations (93 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
>we both agree that this is basically my own problem to contend with, because neither of us thinks it is reasonable for him to stop being friends with her because of my own insecurity

BS. His loyalty is to you, not to her.
posted by Dragonness at 8:52 AM on April 21, 2015 [106 favorites]

Man, my blood pressure went up 20 points reading this. Girl, you need to get your head out of the sand. Your husband and so called friend are having an emotional affair, and he is gaslighting you into making you believe you are being unreasonable. It's only a matter of time before the affair becomes physical. Tell him to knock it off with the texting and insist he goes to marriage counseling with you.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 8:55 AM on April 21, 2015 [158 favorites]

Your depression and anxiety may be your problem to solve, but it's certainly your husband's job to support you, to put you first, and to make that clear to everyone around him. Including you.
posted by Dashy at 9:01 AM on April 21, 2015 [50 favorites]

While I agree that husbands and wives should be able to have opposite-sex friends without restriction due to jealousy... I would suggest that your particular husband could help you deal with your particular jealousy by cutting this the hell out immediately:

my husband has been complaining to me for the past several weeks that I am not pleasant to be around, because I lack the personality traits that the female friend already has.

That's just cruel, especially since he's aware you're struggling with jealousy. Maybe your jealousy is your problem - I can't tell from what you've written here. But if he thinks it's only your problem, he's deluding himself. In a partnership, your problem becomes your partner's problem. Maybe it's down to you to do the heavy-lifting with regards to feeling secure, but it's his job to support your efforts kindly and compassionately, not undermine them with this comparison.

One way to deal with this while waiting for therapy is to explain that to him and hold him accountable for his half of your relationship.
posted by kythuen at 9:02 AM on April 21, 2015 [46 favorites]

I think you need to think less about overcoming jealousy and insecurity and more about why your husband and "friend" think it's acceptable to behave like this. This has emotional affair written all over it.

I trust them both and am 100% confident nothing questionable is happening between them.

You don't trust them. You wouldn't be asking this question if you did. And for what it's worth, my partner has female friends that he hangs out with without me sometimes, but I would not be okay with what you described above. Taking her side all the time? Telling you he basically wishes you were more like her? Texting and hanging out all the time? Oh no, not okay at all. I get it. You don't want to be the crazy, jealous wife. But here's the thing. You're not being that at all. Your concerns are valid and your husband needs to get on board with that.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:02 AM on April 21, 2015 [78 favorites]

I think there is something to be said for not being overly anxious or insecure when our significant others have friends they could potentially be attracted to. That being said, though, that doesn't mean that there isn't a line in which loyalties end up being compromised. So, I'm not sure that I agree that this is totally your thing to figure out. Some of the activities you mention seem to be potentially problematic and tiptoeing up to some line of inappropriateness (it's one of those things where even if you can't define the line, you sort of recognize it when it shows up). Also, if some of those behaviors are painful to you, they are painful to you, and a good partner will at least try to be sensitive to that rather than say it's totally your thing to figure out.

I think that perhaps a good thing might be for the two of you to pursue counseling together, and the counselor can help answer the question of whether or not you are overreacting. Because it just might be that you are not, but it's hard to make a good judgment call about it due to some of the other things you are currently dealing with.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:02 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Eh yeah I agree with the above, your husband is being pretty awful here. I don't think this IS actually your problem to solve, and I'd be surprised if your therapist thinks it is. And, it's pretty shitty of your friend to gang up on you with your husband's help.

Sounds like one or both of them has a pretty big bad crush going on and you being the "spoilsport" is the excuse they use to justify it.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:02 AM on April 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Ok, I was all, this is just like my friend's boyfriend and me, we were like, the same person in different gender (which is why we would NEVER have been attracted to each other, ew).

But then I read this "my husband has been complaining to me for the past several weeks that I am not pleasant to be around, because I lack the personality traits that the female friend already has. "

HELL NO. Unacceptable.
posted by greenish at 9:03 AM on April 21, 2015 [70 favorites]

The friendship might be fine and harmless, but this is not fine and harmless:

Following from point B above, my husband has been complaining to me for the past several weeks that I am not pleasant to be around, because I lack the personality traits that the female friend already has.

That is not cool and he needs to adjust his personality traits in order to be a living and supportive partner.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:03 AM on April 21, 2015 [10 favorites]

Librarypt: "And I have also discussed my feelings extensively with my husband, so he is well aware of my discomfort, but we both agree that this is basically my own problem to contend with, because neither of us thinks it is reasonable for him to stop being friends with her because of my own insecurity."

Stroooooongly disagree. Like any problem in your marriage, it is a problem for the two of you to solve, probably involving some sort of compromise on both your parts. It is completely within your rights to ask that your spouse discontinue a friendship that is causing strife in your marriage. If he is unwilling to do that, I have to question how much he values your marriage.

You also need to talk with your friend. Does she know what kind of an effect this friendship is having on your marriage? If so, and she continues pursuing it in the same way, she might not be a great friend...
posted by Rock Steady at 9:04 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

(Or rather, I don't think it's ONLY your problem to solve.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:04 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

When my partner started telling me that I wasn't as kind or as nice to be around as this other girl we knew, it was his super cowardly way of telling me he was having an affair with her. Your husband is being unfaithful and unfair to you.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:06 AM on April 21, 2015 [33 favorites]

Putting aside any feelings of jealousy, or the relative attractiveness of the friend, the idea your husband would never stick up for you in a discussion (or at least be diplomatic) and continue to compare you unfavourably to the friend, even after you said that upset you? That sucks. Whether or not you are jealous and whoever's problem that is, those are crappy things to do.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:07 AM on April 21, 2015 [11 favorites]

Uh. Dude. Let me get this straight. Your husband is texting daily with your friend and then he tells you that he wishes you were more like her, and this is your problem for being insecure?

Nuh uh. That's just really beyond the pale. This isn't you, it's him, 100 percent. Assuming that he wants to stay married to you, it is completely reasonable that he stop being friends with her, or at the very very least, stops texting her. He then needs to decide that he's going to stop treating you disrespectfully if he wants to stay married to you.
posted by holborne at 9:08 AM on April 21, 2015 [27 favorites]

I think that - absent some significant mitigating factors that you do not describe - your husband and your husband's friend are actually doing things that would make anyone insecure. They would make people feel insecure in an ordinary friendship with no romance involved.

Seriously - repeatedly "taking one person's side" in a disagreement often makes friendships feel really bad because it makes one person feel that they're the odd person out. Comparing people in a friendship in order to advantage one person is bad and rude.

Your husband's behavior would make me feel insecure. It doesn't have to be "is he going to have an affair"; it can just be "is our connection dying on the vine and am I seeing the signs of it in the way he is no longer prioritizing me".

Also, honestly, I would not expect a partner to be hanging out with someone else and texting them every day (unless the partner and I spent even more time together).

I feel like while your jealousy may be "your" issue, it's perfectly reasonable to ask your husband not to do certain things for no other reason than that they make you feel bad. That includes, to my mind, dialing things back with the friend and stopping comparing you. Frankly, now that I am an employed adult, it takes a great deal of effort to see my friends even semi-regularly; thinking that you should be seeing one friend daily or near daily to the neglect of your wife is pretty....atypical.
posted by Frowner at 9:10 AM on April 21, 2015 [25 favorites]

Agree, agree, agree with EVERYTHING said above.
He's into the other woman - he's even told you so explicitly:

my husband has been complaining to me for the past several weeks that I am not pleasant to be around, because I lack the personality traits that the female friend already has

my husband often takes her side over mine.

So basically you're asking how to get your insecurities in check, when all he is doing is giving you reason to be insecure? This is not cool. You need to have another conversation with your husband... print these responses off if you need to.
posted by JenThePro at 9:14 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, I feel like I have to step in because I may have unintentionally misrepresented my husband here. He has never actually said anything like "I wish you were more like her." Rather I think my insecurity has led me to think that he does wish that. He has said he wants me to be happier and more positive, which is a perfectly fair request I think. She however already is a happy, bubbly person.

My husband has been nothing but supportive and has listened to my concerns, he just doesn't think he should have to stop being friends with her, and I agree with him. I also think I should say that I haven't been on my best behavior with him lately including making sarcastic comments about his "girlfriend" which is not fair to him.

I absolutely do not think they are having an emotional affair, whatever that is.
posted by Librarypt at 9:15 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Their relationship seems all-the-way inappropriate to me. Regardless of whether they'd engage in anything physical, it sounds like your friend's relationship with your husband is undermining your relationship with your husband, and he's content to let that happen. I think you should eliminate the word "insecure" to describe yourself in this situation, and replace it with "justifiably suspicious."

Even if you are depressed, anxious, and/or jealous, the burden of working toward a happy marriage does not fall solely on you. He doesn't get to do whatever he wants and expect you to just adapt. Seconding holborne above-- it's not you. It's him.
posted by schooley at 9:15 AM on April 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

Honestly, if my spouse was behaving like this, it would bother the crap out of me too. Even if there really is absolutely nothing funny going on, I don't think it would be at all unreasonable to ask him to at least dial it back a bit with the friend; in a marriage, there really isn't anything that's "your own problem to contend with" - if this situation is making you feel threatened, then he ought to be willing to compromise, even if things are all in your head. It is problematic if he is prioritizing an (apparently new?) platonic friendship over the security of your relationship.

However, my gut feeling is that something stinks big-time about this. I have lots of close friends, but outside of social media, I don't communicate with any particular one of them more than once or twice a week, tops. Him complaining that you're not pleasant to be around is raising all sorts of red flags for me. Is he actually comparing you to her when he does this, i.e., saying stuff like "I wish you were more like [friend]?" If so, that's all kinds of not OK. Seeking emotional intimacy outside of a monogamous relationship at least as bad as seeking physical intimacy, if not worse. It sounds to me like he's crossed well over the line into cheating territory, even if sex has not yet been involved.
posted by jordemort at 9:17 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've said this before but--it's your husband's job to not do stuff that makes you super anxious and uncomfortable unless it's really really important. If skydiving, for instance, was really important to me, then I would hope my wife would understand. Or, as an opposite example, if driving my car at night made my wife really anxious, despite that being a pretty unreasonable fear, well I would try to avoid it. If eating meat made her morally upset, I would avoid that too. And she'd do the same for me. People are irrational sometimes, and when you are married you do your best to compromise with one-another's irrationality.

So what I'm saying is that you telling him how upset their friendship makes you is enough for him to cut down on it. If he resists, then you are well within your rights to ask: Why is this friendship so important to you that you can't ease back on the contact to make me less upset? It doesn't have to be 100% no contact, but it is completely normal to ask him to respect your wishes over his own in this and many other situations, and vice versa. That's the way that he is not being a good husband in this situation imo.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:22 AM on April 21, 2015 [14 favorites]

They text daily. He's married.

There is little about this that is your problem, or your problem alone to work on.

They still have an extraordinary amount of interaction when one person is married to someone else (YOU.) Sorry. Also, he should be willing to knock it off just to prioritize you in this moment, because healthy monogamous marriages don't have room for a 3rd adult in the mix.
posted by jbenben at 9:23 AM on April 21, 2015 [25 favorites]

I had an ex who, while we were not married, started comparing me extensively to a coworker with whom they were fast friends, and always in ways that were uncomplimentary towards me. I don't actually believe that they were doing anything physical during the time that I was involved with this person, having talked with my ex since. But soon after we broke up, they were together, and married not long after that. Which is to say, it doesn't matter if they're sleeping together, if he prefers her company to yours then that is a problem that needs resolving and he needs to be part of that resolution, if you intend to stay together.
posted by Sequence at 9:24 AM on April 21, 2015 [14 favorites]

He can reassure you, draw better boundaries, and respect you and your relationship all while still being friends with her. You aren't presenting an ultimatum of either he keeps doing what he is doing or he cuts off all contact with her. He can be friends with her while still respecting you, your feelings, and honouring your relationship. Right now he isn't. And you know, even if nothing is going on and you're reading too much in to this, I believe asking him to scale back a behaviour that is causing you a lot of anxiety, stress, and worry is reasonable.

If he refuses to scale back, he is putting his relationship with her above his relationship with you. And that is bad.

And for the record, to me this sounds very reg flaggy. I know a handful of people whose spouses cheated on them, and they ALL mentioned how their spouse was texting that other person all the time and that they should have picked that up as a warning sign.

Also, have you mentioned any of this to this woman/friend of yours? Is she aware of how you are feeling? If my relationship with the husband of one of my friends was causing tension in their relationship I would sure as hell want to know.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:24 AM on April 21, 2015 [9 favorites]

Their friendship must end
posted by Ironmouth at 9:25 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is a train wreck waiting to happen. I would, without hesitation, stop hanging out with a male friend if my husband/boyfriend had legitimate reasons to be uncomfortable with our friendship, and you definitely have legitimate reasons.

Hell, even if your reasons weren't very legitimate, he should do it to support you. A marriage is supposed to trump any outside friendship or forces. He should break off the friendship, and put that energy into supporting your mental health while you work through things.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:26 AM on April 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think maybe that your depression and anxiety are dovetailing with things your husband is telling you, and leading you away from a self- and marriage-protective position, here.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:26 AM on April 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

I couldn't be close friends with anyone else's husband, especially at the level of contact and interaction that you describe, and think that it was "OK."
posted by jbenben at 9:27 AM on April 21, 2015 [18 favorites]

I'm really glad you are going to be in therapy. I hope it'll be really useful for you.

I DO want to echo that it's perfectly reasonable to ask your partner to scale back on a relationship that is causing a lot of problems in your marriage. Part of being in a partnership is helping to make your partner feel loved and supported, not alienated and ganged up on. Your husband telling his depressed wife he wishes she was happier and more positive isn't helpful. You need to work on your anxiety and depression, but for your marriage to work, he needs to not feed more into your fears and anxieties, which this relationship is doing. Your husband and your friend are not being fair to you, separate from the issues YOU have to work on.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 9:29 AM on April 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

I do not agree with telling someone who they can or cannot be friends with and recently ended a relationship over this issue. I'm also quite close with a number of people who have committed partners. So I'm disagreeing with nearly everyone in this thread.

I think it's valid that your husband has a close friend (regardless of gender) who he talks to a lot, and your description does sound like a lot of this is about your insecurity and magnified by other mental health issues. What I would want here is for your husband to work with you on mitigating your anxiety and being more supportive of you - can you talk to him about what parts of this are especially hard for you and what you would need to feel more comfortable? Can you talk to the friend about it?
posted by bile and syntax at 9:30 AM on April 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

A few years ago an ex-gf of mind and I were friends on FB. Not a big deal and my wife didn't care at all. Then over a period of about 2 weeks the ex-gf started posting pictures of she and I from when we were teenagers and it making cutesy comments. My wife had no question about my faithfulness but the friends comments made her very uncomfortable and she asked if I would simply unfriend her. The last thing I ever wanted was for the person dearest to me to be uncomfortable so I unfriended the ex immediately and never looked back.

Your husband is actively choosing to put the blame on you so he can continue his "friendship" instead of just saying, "Oh wow, the person dearest to me is uncomfortable. I should really stop whatever that it is I'm doing so she feels comforted, loved, and supported."
posted by ThomasBrobber at 9:31 AM on April 21, 2015 [22 favorites]

Stripped away from the extraneous stuff it boils down to: he cares more about his friendship with her than about your well-being.

If he's not prepared to put the friendship on hold, even temporarily, while you sort your stuff out, by yourself and with him, then that's... a pretty bold statement right there. I would drop all sorts of things to support my husband if he was going through some tough shit, and I'd expect him to do the same for me. Friendships included.
posted by gaspode at 9:31 AM on April 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

Have you thought about setting up some couples therapy as well as individual therapy for yourself? Best case scenario, this is a miscommunication between you and your husband, and talking it through as a couple with someone trained in helping people communicate can't hurt.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:31 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'd also like to say that Insecurity isn't some mental illness that must be cured. It's a normal reaction to the demeaning chaos of dealing with other people. It's ESPECIALLY normal when it comes to dealing with friendships of spouses with people they could potentially get involved with. Your feelings are extremely normal. Your husband should be trying to alleviate this issue for you, not just doing whatever the hell he wants and letting you deal with it in therapy. The world is fucked up and people hurt each other on purpose and by accidentally constantly. He needs to be on the side of your marriage, not on his own. Dang.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:32 AM on April 21, 2015 [33 favorites]

You are taking steps toward solving your end of the problem, but let us not forget that he carries at least 50% of this burden. His allegiance should be to you. Period. Full stop.

It is his job to love you.
It is his job to support you.
It is his job to do whatever it takes to help you.
It is his job to stop saying things that are known to be hurtful to you.
It is his job to protect you.
It is his job to go to this woman, tell her in no uncertain terms that they have to pull back a bit.
He can give a high level reason, but it should be in terms that are both non-negotiable and respectful to your privacy and the privacy and sanctity of your marriage.

This is no muy bueno when it comes to your marriage and I highly recommend that you straighten this out with him immediately.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 9:33 AM on April 21, 2015 [12 favorites]

If two people are so goddamn excited about each other that they feel the need to text daily (in spite of having a partner at home) there is an issue. At least the beginnings of one.

Out of all the people I genuinely like, love and enjoy talking to, the only people I chat/text/talk with daily is my husband and my daughter. Because I have very close connections with them.

The times in my life (long ago, I hasten to add) that I wanted to be in daily contact with someone of the opposite sex other than my husband, it's because I had a huge crush on them.

I think your husband needs to dial it back A LOT. I'd also be icing this "friend" right the fuck out of my life and his.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:33 AM on April 21, 2015 [10 favorites]

I also think I should say that I haven't been on my best behavior with him lately including making sarcastic comments about his "girlfriend" which is not fair to him.

It seems to me that the question really isn't about your husband and his friend, then. It's really how do you stop letting anxiety and fear drive your interactions ?

First, I think you should be honest with your husband about your insecurities. Fears don't have to be rational to exist. Talking about it will help. Second, stop comparing yourself to her - he married you, and continues to be married to you - and both of those things are active choices he makes. It pays to remind yourself that you are, in fact, pretty awesome.

Thirdly, maybe pick up a hobby or something that you can feel good about doing. My wife got a lot less insecure once she took up running and made some friends and is improving her times. Her successes in that and other things helps her compare herself positively to other people, and it's had a positive effect on our relationship.

Lastly - don't be so hard on yourself. You'll have plenty of time when you're dead to beat yourself up over your shortcomings. The time, now, while you're alive is to enjoy what you have got.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:35 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

He has said he wants me to be happier and more positive, which is a perfectly fair request I think.

"Happy" isn't a personality trait, it's a result of external circumstances, internal state, and timing. His friend might be really mean or sad at home, or she might be mellow and sweet, but can be bubbly and happy when interacting casually with people.

So, your statement that he admired personality traits of hers and wished you possessed them was in fact misleading, which is good, because, as you indicated, he's not being that awful. It's natural to want our partners to be happy!

So, don't feel bad. However, I think it's reasonable to raise your happy time / unhappy time ratio with him, so plan some regular fun things to do together with him (and maybe some things that will make you happy all on your own, so your baseline happiness will increase). If you only spend time with him worried about chores or cleaning or things that upset you at work, that's going to make it seem like you are focused on those things all the time.

Have you gone go-karting lately? It's surprisingly fun.
posted by amtho at 9:38 AM on April 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

If two people are so goddamn excited about each other that they feel the need to text daily (in spite of having a partner at home) there is an issue.


I have 6-10 friends that I am so "goddamn excited" about that I text daily, some of them are female, this thread is really, really weird.
posted by Cosine at 9:39 AM on April 21, 2015 [26 favorites]

There seem to be a few things going on here that are at odds with each other.

In a general sense, I feel like any married-or-otherwise-basically-exclusive-relationship people are happier and healthier if they have friends of varying genders, including the particular gender and physical configurations that are sexually attractive to them. (I mean, I'm gay, and if a boyfriend told me I couldn't be friends with other gay men, I'd lose--well, I'd lose my boyfriend, but that's because otherwise I'd lose most of my friends).

At the same time, partners have an absolute duty to put each other first.

And at the same time as that, partners don't get to dictate each others' friends.

Except when those friends are causing actual friction within the marriage. Which this relationship is. It sounds to me like your jealousy/insecurity is stemming from the fact that he appears to be spending more time/attention/social-contact with her than with you. That is a totally, completely reasonable thing for you to have problems with. I don't think that partners need to be their SO's only social contact--that way lies madness, for most. They do, however, owe their primary time to their partners.

He is knowingly pursuing a relationship that is causing you distress. He is saying to you that this friendship (and, seriously, while it may be just friendship for now, it is unlikely to remain so) is more important to him than your distress. That is not acceptable in any definition of a committed relationship I'm aware of. The appropriate thing for him to do at this point is say "Hey, Friend. We're good friends. And I'm spending time interacting with you that is causing problems with my wife. My #1 priority is her, and so I need us to cool off this friendship."

It's good that you're seeking therapy. This is, however, not only a you issue; it's a you+husband issue, because marriages are about teamwork. I strongly suggest that in addition to your individual therapy you two seek counselling together.

I mean, by way of example... I have a very close friend, we've known each other for years and years, and our relationship is extremely intimate--we talk about literally everything, we get each other. He's married, I know his husband, he is comfortable with our friendship. And both my friend and I have made it absolutely clear to his husband that if he is ever even remotely uncomfortable with our interactions, if it ever causes him distress, I am out of the picture to whatever degree makes him comfortable. It's non-negotiable for both me and my friend that, even though I've known him for longer, I will never be a bit of friction between them.

She is friction in your relationship. It is incumbent upon your husband to take responsibility for his actions, and make the choice between your feelings or his red-flags-everywhere friendship.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:39 AM on April 21, 2015 [38 favorites]

Let me clarify: I don't think it's ok in general for a spouse to say, "Hon, I think Jane is a jerk, and I want you to stop hanging out with her because I don't care for her." I had an acquaintance who did that once to her husband and I found it appalling, and I was shocked that he would put up with it. My husband has friends I don't care for and I just don't hang out with the two of them together; they go out alone. Works in reverse, too; I have friends he doesn't much like and those friends and I hang out together.

But when your spouse become friends with an woman who was your friend, texts her every day, starts complaining that you're no fun to hang out with anymore, and regularly gangs up on you with her (exaggerating for effect here, but that seems to be roughly the size of it), then yep, I think it's reasonable to prioritize your spouse over your friendship in that instance, and if that means cutting off the friendship in this particular situation, then that's what you do.

Standing on principle because it's JUST NO FAIR that you should have to ditch a friend in your wife's favor -- well, knock yourself out, but don't expect the marriage to go too well after that, especially because it's your shit behavior that started the problem in the first place.

On preview: I, too, have two very close friends who are male, and I text one of them every day, the other every second day or so. (I also have a female BFF whom I text every day.) So I don't think that's weird per se. The situation as described here, specifically, is weird, and is different, and is not ok.
posted by holborne at 9:42 AM on April 21, 2015 [13 favorites]

I think one of the biggest mistakes we make as couples and as adults is making assumptions about what monogamy means to us and how we should practice it. For example, to me my SO could never have an "emotional affair" because I would not care about him being emotionally close to another woman in a way he might not be with me. Obviously that matters to a lot of other people, though.

One of the best things I've ever done in my relationship is to really talk about monogamy, both physical and emotional, and what it means and how we see it and express it. This came about when I went to him crying because I was so attracted to a friend of ours. We talked about what was ok, what wasn't, how to handle this situation and that one when it comes along because it probably will.

I don't know, I just feel as if not texting this woman might be a quick fix, even if it might be necessary. For my SO and I it was essential to talk about all of this in general, not about one specific person, and I would encourage you to do the same.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:45 AM on April 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

I would also like to add that jealousy is something that happens in a lot of perfectly healthy relationships. It is normal to feel jealous sometimes, but when you start getting in to trouble is determined by how that jealousy is dealt with within your relationship.

Sometimes I get jealous of other women interacting with my husband. There is never any reason, and never any untoward worrying behaviours like you're describing. Just... jealousy. I tell my husband this. He listens, we discuss what (if anything) specific is going on that gives me anxiety. He reassures me and scales back contact to a level I'm more comfortable with, though usually just the talking about it is enough to make me feel better. Problem solved. In only one case where the woman was totally blatantly hitting on him right in front of me did he have to cut her out of his life. I did request that he do so because her behaviours were escalating, and her behaving this way was disrepectful to me, to him, and to our relationship and it was really upsetting me. He didn't think she posed any threat because he is/was fully committed to me, but he heard and understood that it was upsetting to me and that this woman's behaviour was pretty ridiculous so he cut her out.

Similarly, I was friends on facebook with an exboyfriend, and it made my husband uncomfortable for very specific reasons, namely that out of all my exes he was the only one who dumped ME (I ended all the other relationships) and he knew it had been a bad time for me. I was friends with other exes on facebook and he had no issue with it, and actually I was good friends with a different guy and hung out one on one with him frequently and my husband had no issue with it. It was only this one ex boyfriend specifically. We talked about why it bothered him, reassured him, and I ultimately decided to unfriend the ex. Problem solved.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:49 AM on April 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

AskMe is an amazing thing. I was in a similar situation years ago but had a hard time articulating why I was so upset about it. I'm reading this thread and the answers I am seeing here are actually giving me a huge sense of closure for that relationship. I wish I could favorite you all.

OP, to speak specifically about how to handle the stress in the short term: Build up your supports and focus on developing something outside your marriage that gives you a sense of strength and purpose. This could be family, work, volunteering, building a circle of friends, taking a class, taking a trip. Something that helps you remember who you are.

Your husband absolutely should be a source of unconditional support, and he's acting foolish. By diversifying your sources of support and sense of purpose, your husband's foolishness will impact you less and less, regardless of your future together.
posted by mochapickle at 9:51 AM on April 21, 2015 [11 favorites]

I'm a lot like you, somewhat insecure and easily jealous. My bf can be outgoing and friendly and over time has become closer friends with some of my female friends. Sometimes this makes me uncomfortable.

The thing is, he rarely hangs out with them without me, and definitely no texting at all. When they text, I'm in the group. This is my friend respecting our relationship. When we're at parties together, they'll have long conversations together, but everyone recognizes social boundaries and are not pursuing a friendship with only each other. Even with his female friends that he'd known before we met, they text maybe once a week. Once at a party, he left with another female friend to go get more beers (after inviting me). When later he thought I was uncomfortable with that, he immediately said he can stop doing that, and asked if I wanted him to not leave parties with another female, and that it's a totally reasonable request if I were to request it. This is him prioritizing me over a friendship. I hope your partner is showing some signs of prioritizing you over a friendship.

Honestly, I think it's totally reasonable for anyone in a relationship to have opposite sex friends and hell, even have crushes. The important part is not acting on your weak spots. If I thought one of my bf's friends was attractive and awesome, I certainly wouldn't go down a path of texting with him daily and hanging out without my bf, deluding myself that I'd never cheat.
posted by monologish at 9:53 AM on April 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

One more thing and then I'll (probably) shut up: there have been a couple of instances where I've introduced two of my friends and then they start hanging out, and eventually become better friends with each other than with me. I'm usually a little hurt by this, for reasons I can't quite articulate and are beyond the scope of this question anyhow. I guess there's an element of feeling superfluous.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if that kind of thing was in the mix here, and making things more complicated, i.e., a feeling that, well, these people only know each other because I introduced them, and now they don't need me any more and are cutting me out. And that's maybe another reason that you feel so hurt, OP; that can be hurtful when it happens with two of your friends, but your friend and your husband? Eek.
posted by holborne at 9:58 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Just chipping in here to vote with the "this is not entirely on you" crowd. The marriage is the primary thing. It's OK to have opposite sex friends, but when it interferes with the primary relationship, even if it is just due to some insecurity, it's not unreasonable to expect some pulling back from the friendship. You've already compromised some - he should be willing to do so too, as should your friend.

This can obviously be taken too far, to the point where somebody's neurosis imposes an unreasonable amount of control or erects unreasonable boundaries - it's clear you're trying not to be that person. And there's no exact line or standard here, but some kind of reasonable balance must be found. Both people in a marriage have to be OK with how things work for both people and that involves effort and sacrifices by both people. Sacrifice really does mean sacrifice of otherwise good things that we want. They are the currency with which we buy things that we value more. In this case, you're that thing.

If my wife were having this kind of daily close relationship with an opposite sex friend of mine if it's as close as you make it sound, particularly while having problems with me, I would be uncomfortable and something would need to change, at least in part on their end. I would want to make sure they knew I trusted them, but I would also want some hazy boundaries respected. This is my wife we're talking about here.

Likewise, I would not be comfortable having that kind of close daily relationship with my buddies' wives and I know my buddies would feel uncomfortable with it. Wait let me put that another way - I'd love to have that kind of relationship with some of their wives but I absolutely wouldn't because I know it would be a source of unease, even if my buddies tolerated it. We all trust each other but there's this sort of unstated but known level of respectful distance - a line that you recognize if you cross it. So your friend is not just an NPC here - she needs to be aware of how this is making you feel and help to adjust things, even if nothing untoward is happening or ever would, even if it's a sacrifice on her part in a friendship she'd otherwise like to have fully.

Nobody wants to be a controlling, jealous jerk, but there's just a certain amount of respect for the marriage and the other person's emotions that both people in a marriage must maintain. This is obviously an opinion, but it's the kind of expectation couples have to be clear about and in synch on. If things aren't where you're comfortable with them, it's time to have another talk with your husband and possibly your friend.

The anxiety and depression are an extra wrinkle, because once you acknowledge that those things are in play, you acknowledge that your perceptions and feelings are not entirely rational, and it's difficult to know what's real and what's the disease. So you try to compensate, but really you're flying blind in that regard because each of us only has one reality no matter what all factors into it. Real just looks real. But at the end of the day, after you make a reasonable effort to compensate in that department, you need to feel comfortable in your marriage. If you are not comfortable (you're not), some combination of changes needs to happen.

This isn't just a "get over it" situation. Because you won't. It'll keep nagging at you and keep being one more source of stress that you don't need. Time may heal all wounds, but not if something keeps reopening them. That thing must be removed one way or another if you're to achieve resolution. After you get established with your therapist, it might make sense to ask your husband to join you so you guys can have one of those, "When you X, it makes me feel Y" guided conversations, with a reasonable compromise and a happy marriage as the goal. Also it would be a good place to air and address some of these "I think he thinks X" assumptions. Maybe after some sessions like that, you wind up finding a way to be totally OK with the way things are, or maybe he realizes he has to flip 100%. Or maybe it's 75/25 or 50/50 or 25/75. But both of you will need to have different conversations than the ones you've had to date in order for this to get better for you.

One day at a time. Good luck!
posted by Askr at 10:00 AM on April 21, 2015 [11 favorites]

Your depression and anxiety may be coloring your perspective a bit (as you noted), but he also may not also be handling it in the best way possible. A lot of people don't innately know how to be supportive (in a useful way), especially when they're under strain themselves (which a depressed partner can be for some people). So he behaves in a less than ideal fashion because he's under stress and/or a bit clueless.

Would it help in the short term for you to reframe your husbands (unintentionally) hurtful actions as his (perhaps inept and thoughtless) way of coping with your depression? He's not saying "be happier like Friend is!" But "I want you to be happier because I love you but I can't fix it and so I say something that's a little thoughtless." He's not wishing you were friend at all, just wants you to be healthy. He talks to friend because it's a superficial easy relationship, which he may need so he can (try to) be more supportive of you, not because he finds her intellectually challenging.

And I want to emphasize that I do not mean in any way you are at fault for his actions (which I do see as a bit thoughtless) or how they are making you feel. It's not your fault you're depressed, but you're taking steps to work on it (which is so hard!). Heck, you are having a rough go of it and you're also trying to accommodate him.

Data point: I do know spouses where one has pulled back a bit from some friendships in a temporary fashion to be supportive of a spouse going through a difficult time. Everyone was adult about it (spouses and friends) and friendships resumed after the brief hiatus. But you also don't want to cut his support network either though if that is what's going on (does he have a hard time making friends?). Could you ask your therapist for any recommendations they have for how spouses can both be supportive and take care of themselves? That way you both can work together on balancing each others needs?
posted by ghost phoneme at 10:07 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

This situation can be extra painful if you grew up in a family with favoritism toward the kids and you were not the most-favored one.
posted by puddledork at 10:07 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised by all of the blowback against the husband here.

OP has not said "I'd like you to dial back this relationship a bit" and he has not refused.

OP, I think it's unreasonable to say "husband, no more hanging out with this friend," but "husband, I'm in a weird place right now and it would make me feel better if you dialed it back" is a perfectly reasonable request. If the response you get is "no, this relationship is more important than your mental health," then that's a problem. But if it's "okay, I understand and will cool things off for a while," I think the reaction is reasonable and fair.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:13 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Uh craven_morhead, "And I have also discussed my feelings extensively with my husband, so he is well aware of my discomfort..."

So her husband knows she's uncomfortable with it. They are in a marriage, a partnership, her discomfort should be enough for him to say "whoa whoa whoa...sorry babe, I didn't realize, let me take a step back from this friendship." Instead he (and OP) decided, "but we both agree that this is basically my own problem to contend with, because neither of us thinks it is reasonable for him to stop being friends with her because of my own insecurity." But it's not just OP's problem, it's both of their "problem" because they are in a relationship.
posted by ThomasBrobber at 10:20 AM on April 21, 2015 [22 favorites]

Odd story here. This is one of your friends and your husband. You can speak to both of them, even at the same time.

Also, it is perfectly acceptable to have more in common with, be (more) attracted to, and even communicate more with anyone, man or woman, outside your marriage. But....if your spouse puts on you the baggage for feeling uncomfortable about it, then they have abandoned you.

The rest is BS. They agree with each other and he never agrees with you? Garbage. Maybe what all you guys were talking about they are right. How one disagrees with another person, though, is where the substance is. Does he treat you like you're stupid or does he respectfully disagree?

Anyhow, work on this together.

If we're taking votes: he's having an affair, albeit it might only be an emotional one, for now.
posted by teg4rvn at 10:27 AM on April 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Broadly speaking, I agree with what others have said here, and if I give your husband the same benefit of the doubt that you're giving him, I still wind up with a lot of questions for him.

Is he willing to spend more time with you and show you additional affection? If not, why not? Is it not OK in your relationship for you to ask for more or at least temporarily more attention? Is he willing to go to counseling with you? If not, why wouldn't he be supportive of, you know, just a sort of check-up or an opportunity to think about the relationship he wants to maintain for a lifetime? Is he willing to take your side or at least not disagree with you in discussions with third parties? Are the stakes of those discussions really so high that he can't afford to be diplomatic and non-committal when it exposes disagreement with you? When he says he wants you to be happier and more positive, does he see how that sounds like not accepting you as you are? Instead of implicitly criticizing the state of mind you happen to have, is he willing to take action that actually increases your happiness and positivity, whether that's more time and attention or helping with chores or going to visit your family or whatever else it is that's dragging you down in addition to this stuff?

I think if he's willing to actually *do* stuff here then maybe--maybe--what you're sensing in his behavior is just a minor crush or a way of getting mildly inappropriate ego boo (as opposed to extensive and mutual ego support that takes over some emotional functions from your marriage--that's what an emotional affair is). But what I've heard about so far is not just denial and refusal but an active effort to put this all on you, which is in itself troubling. I mean, there's so much he could do to reassure you of where he stands without ending the friendship, and he's doing what?
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:32 AM on April 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

Looking at your posting history, you've been struggling with depression for awhile. You've also been interested in making your good marriage a great one. Have dealt with grief issues. What does your husband do to help you? Well, he gets into an inappropriate friendship which includes excessive texting, and ganging up on you in discussions. All the while, you take the blame for his asinine behavior. I understand that you want to be openminded. But while you are stepping forward to meet him halfway, he is waltzing backwards as fast as he can, while telling you that you haven't come halfway yet. Don't sell yourself down the river here. You don't deserve to be treated with this much disrespect. Insist on him going to marriage counseling with you, because you have a big problem.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 10:36 AM on April 21, 2015 [32 favorites]

Well...I'm all for spouses allowing spouses to have friends of the opposite sex. And yes trust is key...but I think your husband and your friend are at the very least just not being cool. Now I'm not saying they're having an affair but their behavior at the very root is exemplary of just being a bad friend to you. Now going deeper...could there be an affair going on? Maybe. Texting every day seems kind of excessive. Do they hang out together with out you more then once a week? If so then that's a red flag. I'd say that you should go to couples therapy both you and your husban tell the therapist what's going on. I don't think the therapist will immediately point to you as the main problem. Also having a neutral person to oversee things will hopefully help to show your husband what a complete jerk he is being. the least.
posted by ljs30 at 10:44 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

1. Spend more time with your husband. Especially doing fun things.
2. Remember that she must have flaws you don't know about.
3. Go to therapy, get on medication, do whatever you need to do to overcome your depression.
4. Consider getting to know her as a friend yourself.
posted by quincunx at 10:44 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sometimes in relationships you want something unreasonable! And sometimes in relationships you give in to your partner's unreasonable request because you love them.

You've been honest with your husband that this is really bothering you, justified or not, and his response should have been to step back.

My fiance doesn't talk to his exgirlfriend much because the amount they talked bothered me. Did I think he was cheating? Nope. Was I bothered anyways for some reason I couldn't quite explain but felt like a big ol' rock in my stomach when I thought about it? Yes.

The "good husband" thing for him to do would be to step back from the relationship a little for you. He doesn't have to cut off her as a friend, but he could just cool it a little.

I have no opinion on "emotional affair" as there's lots of people I text daily that aren't my fiance, that I have less than zero interest in having any kind of affair with, but I'm also not weirdly intense enough about these people to make my fiance think they're anything to worry about. Which I think is the problem here. I don't think you sound like a weirdo who is just saying you're jealous for no reason, I think you sound reasonable and just worried that there's some line crossing here, but you're not seeing it and this isn't something that should bother you but it does.

I think the reason you're not seeing the line crossing is because you're not being shown the line crossing. However, I do think it's happening and I do think you're justified in this worry. They're just pushing at the fuzzy boundaries of your marriage agreements, and then acting like you're the problem for drawing a hard line.

Look, I really think this is what's important:

If my love told me that something that I was doing was hurting him and causing him stress and worry and bad feelings, it doesn't matter what that is, I'm going to try to stop. I'd scale back a worrisome friendship for him in a hot second.

why is your husband so reluctant about it? Even if you guys have the discussion and decide it's silly for him to need to do that, I think I'd naturally just end up scaling back, because I wouldn't want to hurt the other person.
posted by euphoria066 at 11:03 AM on April 21, 2015 [10 favorites]

Your husband seems disloyal, and incredibly unsympathetic to your insecurity and especially to your unhappiness! He should be helping you with these things, or at bare minimum, he should try to understand them. Instead he's told you you're on your own.

one of my female friends
I don't like this at all-- she was your friend first? And now they text every day? Is this junior high?

Whether you consider it an emotional affair is up to you. It does seem specially engineered to make you feel bad but conveniently place you in the position of JEALOUS NAG if you speak up. I would not accept this treatment and I don't like that you feel you have to.
posted by kapers at 11:17 AM on April 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

Anyway, in the meantime before your therapist gives you better suggestions, I think the way you deal with this is with your husband's help. There are a lot of miles between "text her every day and gang up on you and complain you are unpleasant" and "never speak to her again."

He could, for example, for the time being, in the spirit of you two being a team, dial back the contact slightly-- say, dial it back to the frequency at which he texts his dude friends, because I am willing to bet it's not every day. He could keep his opinions about your unpleasantness to himself since he knows you are actively working on it. He could take your side every once in a while just in the spirit of loyalty to your marriage. None of these are unreasonable requests.

If your husband refuses to meet you part way here, I think that is very telling.
posted by kapers at 11:37 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted. Folks, please direct your answers to the OP and don't debate other commenters. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:56 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

To expand a bit on my point above, OP, it seems like the "ask" you want to make is a reasonable one: "Husband, I'd like you to dial down the relationship with Friend." But you need to make the ask first, before any of the blowback seems reasonable to me. To shift things to a less-charged example, you've already agreed to do the dishes yourself, even though asking for help would have been reasonable. I don't think anyone should get upset at Husband until you say "on second thought, it's a lot for me to do all of these dishes on my own, please help me out."
posted by craven_morhead at 12:06 PM on April 21, 2015

Just to give you another data point: I would NEVER "hang out" with any of my friends' husbands, or text converse with them AT ALL. Also, I'm CERTAIN, that my husband would NEVER think it ok to "hang out" with, or text converse with any of my friends. Similarly, I would never cultivate a friendship with any of my husbands' friends. I think they are being totally inappropriate. (and, just for some context, we are both godless liberals.)
posted by hollyanderbody at 12:11 PM on April 21, 2015

Best answer: OP, I'm going to take your word for it and say you're being unreasonable and jealous. There's not a lot of info to go on in your question that distinguishes who's at fault here, really. Your question words it as if he's being disloyal and a jerk but it may well be your insecurity shaping it that way. Easy way to tell the difference:

1. He's mentioned her looks/personality, commented on her attractiveness, or otherwise pointed out how great she is and how pretty. When he talks about her, he sometimes seems like he is gushing.
2. You have sat there and noticed her physical perfection/her bubbly personality, have always kind of felt inferior/jealous of her, while admiring her somewhat too. You compare the relative difference between you two sometimes, or have in the past, and imagine he must feel the same way-- he has never actually commented on her looks or her personality or gushed about her at all.

If it's 1, you're right in feeling insecure. He's being a pillock and you are justified in being triggered and he should totally cut that shit out. If it's 2, it's probably in your own head, and you're probably cognitively distorting the situation.

I have a feeling it's a combination of 1, and 2, though, which in my opinion means it's just both of you. I do think taking her side constantly is unfair, and that it's kind of disloyal. I wouldn't want my boyfriend to constantly take his friends side in a way that would make me feel ganged up on, small, or stupid. It's disrespectful, and I have a feeling they may do it in a way that makes you feel as if they're in a team against you. You need to talk to your husband about this. You two can disagree in a way that doesn't make it feel like you're being ganged up on at all.

That said, I do think that it's partly in your own mind because you are comparing yourself a lot to her in your question, and I feel that's partly because, perhaps deep down you've always wished you were a little more like her. I feel this is rooted in self esteem issues, possibly.

So yeah, I think therapy is great and it's the best thing you can do for yourself to get over these damaging thoughts. However I do think that your husband isn't blameless in this, and there's a lot at play here that might not be coming out. I was in a dynamic with a man that triggered my insecurity big time, and now I'm out of that, it's like night and day. Yes, I had problems with self esteem. But also, he just had a way of exacerbating my fears and undermining my self worth. In my case, I was almost being gaslighted with it, occasionally. It's important to figure out if that's happening for you here.

Onto your question: So how do you get over your insecurity in the meantime?

You tell yourself that you're the shit. You're great. Start focusing on what's great about you. She's not better than you. Okay, so she may be more attractive on a conventional level. That doesn't actually mean anything. Sure, there are certain traits that make up the conventionally attractive, but looks are still arbitrary, even if people like to act as if their opinion on aesthetics is it. I knew a guy who's idea of beauty was conventionally thin and athletic, with angular striking faces-- and treated his taste as if it were defining. It made me feel quite inadequate, compared. But the women he was into didn't float the boat of my brother-- who valued cute faces and curves over what the other guy liked, and would pick that any day of the week. And my current boyfriend has had 'conventional' beauties in his past and he swears up and down that I'm a million and one times sexier. He acts like it. He looks at me as if it's true. He said that he thought I was sexy the moment he first saw me walking down the lane. I'm sure many guys would not agree-- and I'm sure the dude in my past would never in a million years agree with him and probably thinks my boyfriend is settling. I think my boyfriend would punch him in the nose for that notion; for him, I absolutely am the epitome of sexiness. I just have what he likes.

My point is just because she won some genetic lottery, doesn't mean she's done anything of value to deserve that-- or that these things have value other than the value we give it. Nor that everyone will agree on it, or prefer what she has to something else. I mean, some people don't like chocolate. And so she's attractive. Big whoop. So are you. You're someone's type. You're more than someone's type. You sure as heck were your husband's type, since he married you. Feel secure in that. Feel secure in your traits that make you feel uniquely you, and embrace them. I have big hips and soft curves and I love that about me. While I admire the great traits other women have like strength and athleticism, I'm not going to sit there and wish I were different, because the truth is I like the things that make me, me, deep down. And when I like me, other people do too.

Other ways to help is to eat well, exercise-- even if the idea of exercising right now feels ugh since you feel kinda depressed. You don't have to start big, just start small-- go for a walk or something. Go down to the park. Sit. And healthy distraction. Like starting a hobby. If you feel an insecure thought cropping up, acknowledge the thought, and don't berate yourself for it. Then try and put it aside. Go out. Dress nice. Look nice. Smile even if you don't feel like it. The point is to build up your confidence so you stop feeling inferior. Because you're not inferior.

I hope that helps a bit.
posted by Dimes at 12:15 PM on April 21, 2015 [13 favorites]

You say your husband has been supportive. If you share with him that some event or situation is making you sad, does he ask what he can do to help, encourage you, etc.? Or does he generally "help" you understand that it's your problem to solve?

It seems to me that if his response to this particular hurt is different than his response to other hurts you experience, he is using your depression and insecurity to his advantage, knowing that you will feel even more unpleasant to be around if you dare complain about it, and that your feelings can be dismissed and/or chalked up to your emotional struggles.

I'm not saying that depression gives anyone the right to dictate someone else's behavior, and you haven't.

I think OP needs to make the reasonable request in the first place before anyone gets upset at the husband for not complying with it.

I think this is fair, and I understand that you've told him the relationship with the friend makes you uncomfortable. My suggestion for now is that you tell him again. You've said here that you trust him, so why not tell him, "I trust you, and maybe this is causing me more anxiety than it needs to, but it's hurting my feelings. It would help me even to know that you're willing to scale back the level of contact with Friend while I get professional help."

If he is in fact being supportive, he will be able to afford you that.
posted by whoiam at 12:21 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feel like everyone is still replying to, and kind of invested in replying to the phrasing of the original post and not the followup because it fits their narrative better or something.

Sorry, I feel like I have to step in because I may have unintentionally misrepresented my husband here. He has never actually said anything like "I wish you were more like her." Rather I think my insecurity has led me to think that he does wish that. He has said he wants me to be happier and more positive, which is a perfectly fair request I think. She however already is a happy, bubbly person.

When i read the original post, this is exactly what my question was going to be. As in, what did he actually say. Did he compare her to you, or are you doing that. And it really sounds like it's you, here.

A lot of this doesn't seem focused on this specific person in the sense that it could happen again, with someone else. That's why i'm taking you at face value here. It's also why the comments that he should drop/pull back on this relationship to support you seem out of place. It's one thing to be reassuring and supportive, but at that point it just seems controlling. That isn't just a feeling on your part, i think it's kind of objectively true.

It's one thing to suggest that they hang out less while you deal with this, as others have above, but the suggestions of "he should always be willing to drop someone to support you" are past the mark IMO.

It is absolutely normal to text someone every day. There's several friends of mine, as others have said, that i text every day.(or basically every day). I don't think that's all that weird, and my partner doesn't either. Most of my friends are the same way, and the only people who have had an overt issue with have turned out to be bad news.

Another thing worth mentioning, she's "conventionally attractive" as you said. Is he attracted to her? Are they flirty?

Have you even asked him that you'd like him to hang out with her less because it's making you feel bad? What has he said?

I definitely think you need to have a serious sit down one on one with him(because what the fuck, she is NOT part of the conversation. no triangulating needs to happen here, this is between you and your partner) and tell him how you feel. How he responds will say a ton, whether or not your feelings are unreasonable. There's a huge gulf between "you're being ridiculous!" and being supportive, and from a lot of the responses here i feel like most people are just assuming that he's being an gaslighting asshole or whatever.

Overall though, i don't think that him doing something that makes you uncomfortable automatically means he's doing something wrong, or that his automatic response should be to stop doing that thing. Should you have a serious discussion about it? Absolutely. But i don't agree with the general tide here that he should be moving heaven and earth to satisfy you just because you're not totally ok with this. More than one of my friends has been at one time, or currently is pretty much completely isolated from their preferred gender friends because their partner pretty much slowly worked their way down the list of friends being systematically uncomfortable with their friendship, or they just lost a really good/close friend to that.

The one thing i will say against him, is that publicly disagreeing with your partner on anything that isn't like, trivial "han shot first" kind of stuff in bantery conversation is a wedge. He shouldn't be doing that shit. I've had, and other times almost had relationships end over that shit. Especially if she's your friend and they're both ganging up on you. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to him on most of the other stuff, but yea, that shit needs to stop.

Learning to not really take sides in that stuff at worst, and generally back up your partner even if YOU don't personally 100% agree in situations where agreeing with the other person would just be double teaming is an Adult Relationship Thing. Even if it's something fairly trivial, like wanting a dish remade at a restaurant because you think it came out gross when they think it's fine.

Yet another ask thread that makes me feel like my opinions on relationships mean the general consensus is that i'm a terrible partner and if i was single, no one should date me and i should stay that way for life, wooo!
posted by emptythought at 12:54 PM on April 21, 2015 [10 favorites]

Insecurity is a real problem. A common one, too. All I can add is that sometimes my insecurity jumps up and looks around for something to focus on. Of course it finds something. Other times, though, my insecurity is resting peacefully in the corner, and circumstances rush in, shake it awake, and feed it. To carry out that analogy, I suspect that your current intrapersonal issues won't let your insecurity sleep very soundly, but with that caveat I think your situation is closer to the latter one I describe. And that's considering your clarifying second entry.
posted by Adrian57 at 1:42 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's horseshit. I'm married. I have male and female friends. I don't communicate exclusively with one particular male friend DAILY or to the exclusion of the others during the week.

I have conversations with Mr. BlueHorse nearly every day, and I spend several evenings a week or at least one day of the weekend a couple times a month either working, recreating, or vegetating together.

Your husband needs to figure out his priorities. Doesn't sound like his marriage is one.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:56 PM on April 21, 2015 [7 favorites]

I hear you, OP, when you say he never made the comparison directly between you and the woman. That's good. I hear you that your insecurity may be coloring your view of this; sounds likely. My answer is still that he should not be third-wheeling you.

It wouldn't make a difference if he and his 90 y/o male neighbor were third-wheeling you. I still wouldn't think it's loyal or sensitive of him to put this all back on you. It wouldn't be unreasonable to ask for some compromises here as you sort this out, and I don't like that he hasn't offered any compromises.
posted by kapers at 1:59 PM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think a lot of women spend a lot of time learning to misread their guts because it's convenient for their partners.

Telling your wife you wish she was a more positive, happier person---sure, you can say this is reasonable, but you're you, you try your best, you do therapy, you're trying to be your best and do your best.

Look, you can tap dance as much as you want for him, just ignore or minimize the reasons for anxiety, say it's just you, because you know you can't stop your husband from liking this woman and developing a "friendship" with her, but no matter what you do, unless it's for yourself, you're not going to be able to captivate him the way this new lady friend of his does.

Also, he's not a dummy. He knows, maybe doesn't want to admit it, but he knows he's attracted to her.

Look, as a single woman in her mid-thirties who was once in a very long relationship that I got into as a college kid (with an older man) and finally, praise the Lord, got out of a couple of years ago, I know the desire to have the great relationship, the hope that the person you're with values your relationship as much as you---and the overwhelming drive to want to fix everything, to want to make the man you've let yourself love understand the depth of it.

But, girl, it's all going to wear you out, and you might eventually think, why the hell did I try so hard, why did he get to make the requests, why can't he be more jolly and less of a pain to be around. Does he genuinely want you to be happier or act happier and act positive? In a way, it's so weird because you're a person and you'd think he married you for you, appreciates you for trying to be better, thinks you should be yourself.

As a single woman, for the past 2 years, I have become particularly aware that a lot of married men like to flirt. Mostly it's harmless. Sometimes it's a little more, like something hopeful, a little bit of a "Please show interest in me, make me feel like you want me." There are the married men who love their wives so much, and they love being married and they respect and just unknowingly think she's the best thing since sliced bread and it shows.

Then there are the guys who either never mention their wives or they do, and they little by little start mentioning little things that annoy them.

If I make friends with a married man and it's a friendship, I make friends with his wife, I make FB friends with both of them, I make sure she and I are friends. Like real friends. Guy has a gf---same deal. There are married men who love female attention.

Also, daily texting---look, he's attracted to her, physically/emotionally, everything probably. He's probably definitely thought of sleeping with her. At the very least, he's ridiculously compelled by her.

I get you love your husband, I get you don't want to think about him cheating on you or preferring her to you. But, your self esteem is in the toilet. It's not this woman's fault---it's how your husband responds to her.

Maybe you wish he responded to you the way he does to her. That's on him though. He's not really making you feel secure. It's kind of impossible to just really become a positive, cheerful person. And yes, positive, happy cheerful people, men and women, are awesome to be around.

So, you really need to be honest to yourself and loyal to yourself. You seem so down on yourself, willing to take the blame for him being totally unempathetic to you by being like,"Oh, I'm neurotic. I'm the crazy, jealous wife. I don't blame him if he leaves me for this beautiful, positive woman. Because I'm crazy and anxious and if I were the cool wife, he'd care about me more."

But being the martyr, taking all the blame, beating yourself up for "being insecure"---that's way easier and something you think you can learn to control/fix---when a marriage is what 2 people have to value and believe in. You're the wife, you're willing to take all the blame because you don't seem to value yourself or your feelings already.

I think what you should be doing is acknowledging that the guy you're married to might actually leave you for another woman, and nothing you can say or do can help that or even ever get him to admit that he probably wishes he was married to someone who he seems kind of infatuated with and that he does compare you guys.

I just don't think you're wrong for feeling bad. And maybe someday, no matter what you do to become the cool wife, you'll still get cheated on or abandoned for a new woman and maybe he'll be happier with her.

These things happen. If you're going to work on yourself, you have to do it in a way that preserves you And helps you build resilience and learn to trust yourself and, most of all, love and accept yourself.

Maybe it's just time to start spending more time with friends who love you and spend the energy on those relationships. Because you're trying to shape your marriage all by yourself and your husband has chosen to actively put energy into building and shaping and enjoying a relationship with this woman. And whether he admits it or not, yeah, he does think about her sexually unless he is not attracted to women sexually. And you make this woman, assuming she's single, like an amazing catch.

Also, why aren't you two better friends? If I detect that some guy is attracted to me even a tiny bit (and I can tell), and he has a wife or girlfriend, yeah, I'm interested in being real friends with her. I don't see the point of his friends only, especially if they're girls because I love making new girlfriends to do stuff with. I can't even remember when there's an instance of not going to dinner or making friends with his guy friends (except this one guy who was clearly incapable of talking to women and plainly scared of women).

Anyway, you take care of you. You be loyal to you. You stop being afraid of losing him. You go learn to be good with how you feel. And you don't have to go pretending to be happy and positive if you don't feel like it. If he turns out to be a bonehead or just falls in love with her, it's not your fault and if anything, go figure out how not to take the blame for his being selfish or his not valuing his marriage to you more than this new friendship.
posted by discopolo at 2:56 PM on April 21, 2015 [25 favorites]

I'm going to take a slightly different tack than most people on this thread, because I'm attracted to both genders, plus people who identify as trans, intersex, gender fluid, you name it. If I couldn't be friends with people of my "preferred gender", then I would have no friends. So there's that.

I'm going to expound on discopolo's post a bit, but from another angle. My husband had an affair. That's what your anxiety is fueling, right? That (whether it's possible in reality or not) your brain is telling you "OMG she's awesome and I'm not and what if he has a sexual affair with her?"

It would suck.
It would suck if he left afterwards.
It would suck if he stayed afterwards.
It would suck if you kicked him out.
It would suck if you decided to try to work it out.
But you'd live, because you're stronger than you know.

This is going to sound counterproductive, but the best thing I did with my therapist when this happened was really SIT with what happened. Sit quietly for awhile and try these concepts on, like a costume, one after the other. Sit with it and think it through, and once your brain gets past the panic of OMG DOOM, what do you see?

I have anxiety and sometimes the best way for me to deal with the fear, whatever fear I'm having at the moment, is to look it dead in the face and say, "If you were real, what would I do? What would I really do, once the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth and tears were done, and it was the morning after? What would I do?"

For me, I realized that I needed to figure out how to be ok if he left. I needed to figure out how to be ok if he stayed. I needed to remember how to rely on myself, that I am my own best friend, to build myself back up until I thought, "You know what? I have issues, and I'm flawed, but I've got some good things going on for myself as well. If I end up alone, I'll be ok."

I think it's great that you're going to see a therapist. In the meantime, if it were me, I would cultivate a bit of a compassionate distance* from what is going on here. You're not in a space right now where you're willing to issue an ultimatum, or try to influence his relationship with her one way or the other. But what you can do is be your own best friend. If your sister came to you with this problem, what would you say to her? Say those things to yourself.

*This is an actual term, if you aren't familiar with it, Googling it might give you some ideas to work with before therapy starts. It's used more in a caretaker situation, but I found some value in it for stuff like this, too.
posted by RogueTech at 3:28 PM on April 21, 2015 [15 favorites]

There is a book that I recommend for people looking to improve their relationships - The Passion Trap by Dean C. Delis. The author takes a view of relationships that many troubles are not caused because one person is the "good guy" and the other is the "relationship ruining bad guy" - instead, two people form an unhealthy pattern where one person is the one-down (loves more) and the other the one-up (more distant). It sounds like you are the one-down in your marriage, so reading Delis' chapters on what one-downs can do to strengthen their relationships might be something you find useful.

However: your husband has to be invested in making your marriage work, too. He has to treat you with respect, and that means no tag-teaming you with your friend, who, incidentally, should be treating you with respect as well. It's perfectly normal and within your rights to expect your spouse to have your back, and not gang up on you with a "friend." Have you gone to couples therapy? It's not a good sign if he's saying "nuh-uh, I don't need therapy, our marriage problems are all your fault!" It takes two!

I'm friends with a couple - I count her as a dear, close friend, and he is the "bonus" - I like him, but she is my main friend. I would never dream of ganging up with him against his wife, nor do I ever see him socially without her. I respect the wife's friendship too much to want to do anything to hurt her. In your case - is this friend really that good of a friend to you? I'm not talking about her friendship with your husband so much as the way she treats you. Contempt and dismissal and blatantly flirting with a friend's husband don't strike me as very friend-like behaviors.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:55 PM on April 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

O, I think they're having an affair right under your nose.

Do what you have to do to stop it.
posted by Kwadeng at 5:27 PM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

The problem is not that he's in love with her or cheating on you (he might be, but we really have no way of knowing). The problem is that he is putting himself in a position where he is able (even likely) to fall for her, to fall in love with her, to cheat on you.

This is smart advice I got from my parents, who have been married for 33+ years and I still sometimes catch 'em making out.

When you are married, it's not just that you "don't cheat": don't kiss, sleep with, or fall in love with anyone else.

In order to succeed at keeping that vow, you ALSO have to put up barriers to close intimacy with the opposite sex to make sure cheating doesn't happen. You don't text alone everyday with someone of the sex you are attracted to. You don't hang out with them regularly alone. You don't get drunk with them alone. You don't regularly tell them your worries or fears or confide in them or send them funny articles or other things you would do to build intimacy -- because it builds intimacy! And you should be doing that with your partner! It doesn't mean you can't EVER text or go to dinner or get drunk or confide fears or send a funny article with/to someone of the opposite sex who isn't your partner, it means you don't regularly over and over again day in and day out with the same person do those things.

Cheating doesn't "just happen" and it doesn't start with a kiss or making out. It starts with texting and hanging out and talking and building intimacy.

Which is why, once you are married, if you care about your marriage, you don't do those things with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. You put a bit of a wall up and take steps to cut things off early and keep some distance, to protect your marriage. If you feel yourself getting too chummy, you stop texting them without your spouse or other friends cc'd into the thread. You stop hanging out with them one-on-one and only set up group things for awhile. You choose your marriage over the blossoming affinity for the new person, cause it's way too easy to fall for someone you talk to and text and hang out with all the time.

Talk to your husband about this and how he needs to put some distance into that friendship and choose you as his best friend again.
posted by amaire at 5:35 PM on April 21, 2015 [39 favorites]

My answer was super heteronormative because you and your spouse are straight. I think it still applies if you are gay or bi: don't go making best friends and getting emotionally intimate with someone of a gender you may be attracted to once you are married. Save that closeness for your spouse. Put up some walls earlier on to keep yourself out of trouble later.
posted by amaire at 5:46 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Okay, I will take everything you say at face value -- you are anxious and depressed, this is hard for him, he would appreciate more positive interaction, they wouldn't intend to do anything that'd hurt you.... Unfortunately, I do still think this is really concerning.

The concern I have with what your husband is doing is that emotions grow and change over time, sometimes in unpredictable ways. What seems like nice, meaningless fun now can quickly shift to a full-blown crush. It may not happen, but when someone starts seeking to get their emotional needs met outside the relationship, it's risky.

In my opinion, this kinda needs to be a wake up call for you guys. Your depression, lack of positivity, whatever you guys want to call it, has reached a point where his needs are not getting met. They are not getting met to the point that he is seeking to get them meet elsewhere, perhaps quite innocently, but also perhaps quite naively and without adequate awareness of the risks (and/or perhaps quite desperately, being so needy that he is discounting the risks).

So, no -- this is not a problem solely on your side of the fence. Your depression and anxiety, and the way you treat him (sarcasm) ARE. But, you are right to be concerned; that's not just anxiety talking; that's reality.

The other piece here is his needs and what he can do to own those and communicate clearly about them, as well as your shared responsibility to figure out how they can be met in your relationship, or to acknowledge his needs can't get met inside the relationship at this time and help identify some alternative strategies for meeting them that don't put the relationship at risk.

How is your communication? You guys could have a lot of great conversations about how to support you as you work to overcome depression and anxiety. And you could talk about what needs he's having, how to better meet them, how to acknowledge and communicate well about where they aren't getting met, how he can commit himself to pursuing safe approaches to meeting needs that you can't meet (chat with people on MetaFilter! go out for beers with the guys!). What's going on now -- there's a saying that both parties are 50% responsible for problems in a relationship, but a cheater is 100% responsible for their decision to cheat -- is him unilaterally deciding to travel a risky path, which is not cool in my opinion.

Because this problem is arising at the intersection of your depression etc. and his needs for positive interactions, it is the kind of thing that would respond really well to couples therapy. That's my advice -- get into couples therapy together. It's expensive, but so is divorce.

You could say to him, "I realize that I've been focusing in the wrong place. I've been focusing on your interactions with Amy when we should be talking about how you wish you could be having more positive interactions with me. It sounds like it's been tough on you that I have been so down and negative, and I'm sorry that I haven't been hearing that and even been sarcastic when you've tried to bring it up. I feel like, in addition to me going to therapy to figure out my end of this, we should go to therapy together so that we keep these challenges with my mood from hurting our marriage."
posted by salvia at 7:56 PM on April 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

Thank you. MeFi's skeptical treatment of deep friendships between adults who have partners as weird and suspicious always baffles me utterly.

So there's a difference between wanting to protect one's marriage and refusing to allow one's spouse to have friends of the opposite gender. I have had MANY friends of the opposite sex, and when I was married, my spouse was incredibly threatened and jealous by ALL of those relationships, even though there was ZERO attraction or interest romantically (on either side). He believed that any time I spent talking to someone who was not him was inappropriate. He would freak out about professional conversations I had with colleagues at school during lunch time. It was an attempt to control me and make me more dependent on him...and that just kept getting worse until I couldn't take it. By then, most of my friendships were gone due to years of disrepair.

But I don't think that's what most posters are encouraging here. There's a huge range in friendship, and what is acceptable in some relationships is not in others. As someone who has been accused for leaning too far in one direction, I generally err on the side of "adults should have friends and gender is just a construct." My current partner knows I talk to lots of guys who are mutual friends, but spend much more time interacting with me. And he knows that I'm totally okay with him looking through my email (he has my password) and my phone (his fingerprint unlocks my iPhone).


I read the question and the update and feel like, in this situation at least, there is significant reason to ask the spouse to back off the friendship or put new boundaries in place.

I don't think there's anything wrong with texting a friend/non-family member several times a day. I do think that this particular spouse is not handling the relationship and the response from his spouse to the relationship in the right way. It is reasonable to not want to feel like your spouse is always opposed to you, and who makes you feel like you are not as pretty/smart/fun as someone else. Regardless of the appropriate boundaries for a M/F friendship, there is something off in their relationship that needs to be addressed before it becomes something that could permanently affect their mutual trust and partnership.

So middle road: spouse backs off the 1:1 interactions, makes a conscious effort to not always oppose OP when the three of them are together, but OP deals with some of the intrusive thoughts that she is having about their relationship.

Therapy is a great first step, but if that's the only thing that changes, I really don't think this will get better. He also needs to alter his behaviour as well.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:02 PM on April 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Sure. I'm not talking about those responses. I'm talking about the ones that assume an affair, the ones that assume all single women are trying to sleep with other people's husbands (which is such an unbelievably insulting way to approach single people who know your spouse socially that I cannot express it adequately), and the one quoted that specifically said if you want to be in daily contact with anyone but your spouse, it means something is wrong.

Of course, protect your marriage. But talking about a woman like she's a predatory harlot who must be cast out simply because she's made friends with someone else's husband is gross, and again, it's so, so insulting.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:11 PM on April 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


I've been in the woman's position (the friend) and have had to take steps back when I saw that it was causing strife between the couple. I know this question doesn't address HER behaviour, but she really should be taking a step back in order to make it less awkward for both of them. I mean, she's friends with OP, and it even seems like they were friends first.

If I knew that my actions were causing my friend anxiety and depression, I would walk the fuck away from those actions out of respect for her. Perhaps that's something OP could do - talk to her 1:1 and see how she reacts. If OP were my friend, I would want to know that I was doing something to hurt her! I think most friends would want to know that.

Her reaction should say a lot about the nature of the relationship between her and the OP's husband. And the fallout from that conversation may say a lot about the husband's motivation and view of the situation.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:21 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Personally I'd be tempted to throw a grenade into this budding fucking relationship (because that's what it is, at least from the outside.) Now, most people would be too mortified to do this because it feels too embarrassing or potentially confrontational but I would actually confront them, together.

Get them in front of you and ask them what the hell is going. Make them explain themselves. Tell them it's completely inappropriate behaviour, regardless of whther or not they're screwing and disrespectful towards you, a person they both claim to love. Embarrass the shit out them. Look, I'm sure they'll backpedal and tell you you have it all wrong but both of them know this behaviour makes you uncomfortable yet they do it anyway, so call them out on it.

I would say words to the effect of, let's clear the air right now and establish whether or not you two want to be together. Are you shagging! Do you want to, because it certainly looks like it to me. If so, let's get some divorce papers happening. If not, you (husband) I expect you to scale ask this friendship drastically and focus your attention on our flailing relationship instead and you (friend) have some respect for my relationship with my husband and our friendship and back the heck off.

This is a pretty ballsy move and your husband will likely be highly embarrassed and none too happy with you but who cares, right now, he doesn't seem to value what you have anyway. A direct, clear conversation will douse this one right away!
posted by Jubey at 10:06 PM on April 21, 2015 [14 favorites]

In reply to your statement about not knowing what an emotional affair is, and in response to other people's anxieties about the emotional affair turning into a physical one—this is a great book: NOT "Just Friends" by Shirley Glass (from Amazon: "Personal and professional friendships between men and women have become so prevalent and accepted that, according to Glass, even "good" people in "good" marriages can be swept away in a riptide of emotional intimacy more potent than sheer sexual attraction...")

It helped me explain to myself a relationship with a certain man in my life a long time ago, which never made sense to me, and it taught me a lot about emotional affairs and what to be careful about in future relationships.
posted by Clotilde at 9:53 AM on April 22, 2015

Oy. I'm gonna disagree with cheating narrative here, because that's not your question. I'm going to assume you are not stupid or naive; and that this situation that you describe in your post (and your very clear follow up) is how it is and not some other reality that we here on the internet are secretly privy too.

I'd suggest trying to write down in clear sentences to yourself what you are feeling and when. How much is influenced by what he says? how much is the jealously dependent on how you are otherwise feeling? how much is what you think he is thinking? When we are reading other people's minds we are only reading our own.

I'd take these notes to therapy and ask their help about how and what to communicate with your husband about this. Maybe even have him in at a later session if they think it's appropriate. Because there is clearly a communication issue here. He doesn't seem to be hearing you and you seem very conflicted about what you even want to say.

That's were I'd start, because in my experience jealously feeds on poor communication and insecurity. You and your husband can be part of the solution to both.
posted by French Fry at 10:57 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

From an anonymous commenter:
You state:

"...they have started spending a lot of time together and texting each other almost daily...
...Their personalities are much more compatible with each other than my husband's personality is with mine. husband often takes her side over mine. husband has been complaining to me for the past several weeks that I am not pleasant to be around, because I lack the personality traits that the female friend already has.
...we both agree that this is basically my own problem to contend with..."

This is what the wife of someone with whom I was close friends was going through a long long time ago.

She's no longer his wife. I am. Take care of yourself.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:00 AM on April 22, 2015 [15 favorites]

This question resonated a lot with me and I've been thinking about how to respond.

First off, depression brain (as you know) lies a lot. It takes little things and magnifies them into big things. It encourages you to tell the stories that are, if not worst-case scenarios, more evidence of how broken/unlovable/wrong you are. It can also keep you in a lot of pain, so that sarcasm and lashing out at the people who love you the most becomes something you do without thinking. But sometimes things bother you because they're real, not distortions of reality authored by depression brain. So how do you tell one from the other?

If the thoughts/emotions come up a lot, it's a sign that you need to work on something. You're booked into therapy, that's good. In the meantime, I'd try some of the strategies that are generally useful for recurring intrusive thoughts/feelings. Just recognise what they are, identify them, try not to get wrapped up in judging yourself, and let them go again. Yep, there I go again, thinking that because my husband and my friend have a lot in common, I'm being left out. Let it go. She's happy and bubbly and I'm not, I'm miserable and depressed and why wouldn't he like being with her more than me? Let it go.

It may be that the thing you need to work on is your insecurity and anxiety. Or your persistent feeling of not being good enough. Or that depression is something you'll never be entirely free of. (I'm not saying these things are true, but they might be true feelings.) It might also be that the way you and your husband approach things - friendships with other people, the effects of your depression on him, how he can support you - need some work too.

Basically, without getting into the whole rabbit hole of saying your husband is doing something wrong (I do think he could help you out a bit more, but that's my opinion and certainly not evidence that he's cheating on you or you should DTMFA or anything) I feel like you are being really quick to take all of this on yourself. This is something I recognise not only from my experience of depression but also my experience of relationships. I can't tell you the number of times I told partners that something I was unhappy about in the relationship was evidence that there was something wrong with me that I needed to fix. Several of my partners agreed with this so enthusiastically that the whole relationship eventually became about what was wrong with me that I needed to fix. Sometimes they meant well and wanted to help me fix the thing that was wrong, particularly one partner who had a lot invested in the role of being the Person Who Can Fix Things. One partner wound up being abusive, but that is another story and not what I think is going on here. But I think it is no coincidence that depression brain also tells you that there is something wrong with you that you need to fix. So you have all these voices, from within and without, telling you or agreeing with you that you are broken and need to fix yourself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes the thing you need to fix is not what you think it is. Sometimes it is not you that's wrong, your feelings that are wrong. Therapy should help you figure out what's really wrong. But I would encourage you to stop problematising yourself, making yourself into the broken thing. You're allowed to feel jealous, unhappy, sad, insecure etc - they are feelings. They are not you. It's a place to start.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:56 PM on April 23, 2015

Best answer: This kind of thing happened to me, when I was also in a bit of a depressive hole. My partner at the time said the same things your partner is saying - be, fun-er, be happier! like WorkWife! I took it on, I went to therapy, I beat myself up for being insecure and jealous.

I watched the whole thing unfold as I had with multiple WorkWife crushes n such over the years. I put it, again, in the realm of my insecurity. My partner was glued to his phone night and day and because I didn't think this was something I was allowed to feel insecure about I didn't snoop or ponder the actualities of what they were texting night and day. Then a year into this, I was in front of his computer that he'd told me to use at his work and I saw an email list with all their emails. I read two or three of them and felt sick. It was waaay more than I thought. It was intimate, 'I love yous' 'how did you sleep/ what did you dream of darling, me?' Etc Maybe they hadn't been fucking, but I didn't care, I cared that he was nursing her, and her him through every goddammed minute of their days n nights. And he was okay with telling me I'm insecure and watching me beat myself up. This wasn't the reason the marriage ended, but it's one of the reasons it ended. He let me do the Bad Feelings about why there was difficulty. He didn't knock that shit off when he should have.

It sounds like you three are meeting together and there is some element of transparency. Some attempt at inclusive friendship. This is positive.

Do you still get to hang out with your friend alone? Is another part of the injury that she has also abandoned you in favour of New Best Friend?

Would he or she feel they had nothing to be ashamed or worried about if you read their texts? Not that you want to read them, but what if you did? Is there transparency around a central supportive relationship with you? Since you are feeling stressed, they have a high bar for that in my opinion. Perhaps ask your husband if he thinks that any part of his conversations with your friend would be something he'd be inclined to hide from you? I hazard a guess that if you read them, they'd not be that supportive of your depression or mood, make light of it or include comparisons. That is very uncool.

Would he be concerned if you overheard or read their communications? Do they still use each other's actual names and not nicknames or petnames? Etc

It's very easy when you are depressed or anxious to think that your gut is lying to you, or that it's pathological unease causing you to sound crazy or unhinge, jealous and insecure, but I have to say that my gut has never lied to me, even when depressed or anxious. It's usually spot on. This is something that therapy taught me to value - that I'm not an idiot and if I feel something is a bit off, it probably is. Listen to your gut, ask for reassurance and expect to get it.
posted by honey-barbara at 1:47 AM on April 24, 2015 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: It turns out that my gut was actually correct, I am very saddened to say. My husband confessed he has been lying to me about a lot of things and turning me into an anxious self doubting mess. I don't know what to do with this information yet but I just wanted to follow up and thank the answers that were spot on against my hopes.
posted by Librarypt at 8:23 PM on June 2, 2015 [10 favorites]

Really sorry to hear that Librarypt, although better that you know. When you feel beaten down and lost, draw strength from the fact that you knew; stand tall - you are someone who knew they deserved better and you've been proved right.

When you feel so sad you can't bear it, let yourself feel angry - how dare he make you feel for so long that you were overreacting and in the wrong?

And when you feel so angry you can't bear it, let yourself feel pity - he has let you down, he is weak and untrustworthy and has demonstrated who he really is, and now he has to live with that. It will affect his life for a long time. You, meanwhile, can rebuild yourself over time and go on to much better.

Stay strong - after the shock of this and the hurt, there will be relief and happiness - I promise.
posted by greenish at 2:04 AM on June 3, 2015

Arrggh. I'm so very sorry, and I feel shockingly angry on your behalf, Librarypt. There is the betrayal, there is the disloyalty, there is the cheating (to whatever degree that has happened, but clearly more than enough just with the initial info shared here), there is the selfishness and disregard, okay, but what makes me feel Hulk-Smash violent anger is that in addition to all this, he tried to sabotage your own sense of self-trust, instinct, and self-care, and preyed on and amplified whatever self doubt you were already trying to constructively deal with – at the same time you were trying to proactively deal with issues in the marriage with an open heart. "... we both agree that this is basically my own problem to contend with." Oh. Wow. Wow. What an empty, rotting carcass of a human being. I would call him a worm, but worms have far more backbone and integrity. And utility.

But you know what? You listened to yourself, however much he tried to undermine and erode that, or you would not have posted. I know you have a ton of supporters here, and hope you reach out to any of us if you need to. There is not One Single Thing that makes this anything less than utterly foul and vile no matter how he tries to spin it. It's not the crush, or the cheating, or even the lying, neglect or selfishness (been there, got out, absolutely no regrets), it's the deliberate psychic damage he intentionally tried to inflict to cover up his putrid, insipid little weakass cheating cheater bullshit affair or would-be affair ("the good friend of my wife? ah yes, what a thoroughly original and terribly virile notion!!").


You have a big heart and a good inner voice that serves you well. Whatever you decide to do, never forget that, and never allow anyone (especially this repulsive, slimy, feeble shell of a man) to convince you otherwise.
posted by taz at 7:15 AM on June 3, 2015 [12 favorites]

Oh, I'm so, so sorry to hear this. You deserve so much better than to be surrounded by these vipers. I don't know what your plan is next, but you have good instincts and you're smart so you can find your way through this. And if you ever need help or shoulders to lean on, we are always here for you. Big hugs.
posted by Jubey at 9:23 PM on June 3, 2015

I am very sorry you are hurting, but from here the only way is up.

I just want to point out that in our lowest moments we often embrace amnesia and want to forgive the person who hurt us just to put the pain behind us and to give love another chance, but please don't forget the events that brought you to this moment. Keep reminding yourself, it will give you resolve to go through with what you need to do. Good luck.
posted by Dragonness at 1:51 PM on June 4, 2015

Response by poster: I'm sobbing reading this responses. Everyone has been so supportive. I have been trying really hard the past few days to be what he wants me to be to save the marriage, and we got into marriage counseling immediately, but.... I am going to need to do a lot of serious thinking for a long time to decide if I even want to stay.

It's only been a few days since the Big Reveal, but this has taught me that I'm not crazy, I'm fucking smart and perceptive, I'm fucking strong as fuck, I'm a worthwhile person and I can trust myself.

Thank you so much everyone for your support.
posted by Librarypt at 4:55 PM on June 5, 2015 [46 favorites]

Just to be clear, the guy who's been lying to you and (I think?) having an affair is still telling you what you need to do if you want the marriage to continue?

He's still screwing with you. He's the one who made the choice to be an assbag, not you. Whatever problems the marriage is having, did you choose to be dishonest? No. He chose. That is not your fault. He needs to own up to all his crap.

Or you can teach him a salutary lesson by telling him to get stuffed, and serve him with divorce papers.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:45 PM on June 5, 2015 [22 favorites]

Fffm is right. You haven't really said what the Big Reveal revealed (and you don't have to) but someone who's admitted to lying, deceitful behaviour has the bigger obligation to change. If he's attempting the "I only lied and cheated because you are deficient" line, he is a fuckwit arsehole who deserves to be dumped like the MF he is.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. You deserve better.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:19 PM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

The only way this marriage can have a chance in hell is if he absolutely, 100% takes responsibility for all his actions, voluntarily owns up to his lies, manipulation and gaslighting you, and gives you the apology of his life and shows genuine remorse. And, needless to say, never ever contacts this woman again. Let the time in therapy show you if he truly wants to reform himself, but for now, treat it as an opportunity for you to clear your head, ask any questions you have, and figure out if your marriage is worth saving.

As for your friendship with her? It's long been over anyway.

(I speak from personal experience when I say to you that people like your husband will repeatedly mistreat you if you give them a chance.)
posted by Dragonness at 8:54 PM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have been trying really hard the past few days to be what he wants me to be to save the marriage

A few years ago, I cut ties with a family member who was big on using apologies for leverage. Basically, if he felt like his stock was low with me, or if he sensed that I wasn't going to comply with his wishes in some regard, he'd make a big, florid, (and often public) show of being sorry for something-- and then he'd behave as though, because he'd made this show (a show that, in most cases, I had in no way asked for) I now had an obligation to immediately give him whatever he wanted. And of course, if I didn't fall in line, I was a heartless and inhuman bitch.

It was a terrible, terrible, life-long mind fuck, and what you've described above seems very similar to me.

I'm saying "seems," because I know I may be projecting, but if this resonates for you, just be aware-- this is a tactic some people use. And I'd like to echo all the folks above who've told you that going forward, you get do decide. You get to decide if you want to say, you get to decide what the terms are going forward, and you get to decide how you feel about every aspect of this, and for how long. Don't let him make you feel like you're the one who's failing the marriage. You absolutely are not.

Wishing you strength, and comfort, and peace.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:20 PM on June 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

« Older Pimp my dull-ass cover letter   |   Recommendations for an allergist in NYC? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.