In need of a reality check, please
March 11, 2018 3:17 AM   Subscribe

My spouse of a couple of decades has made a new opposite-sex friend, and this relationship has my spidey-senses tingling. I could use a quick reality-check to see if I'm being completely out of line.

My spouse has made a new friend at the gym. They meet for workouts, and recently I found out that Spouse has been giving Friend rides home. There have been a few incidents of infidelity on Spouse's end (emotional and otherwise) in our past that I admittedly have not completely processed and come to terms with, and I'm in the midst of a pretty bad depressive episode (in therapy, on meds) so I'm afraid that my judgment of this situation might be off.

My spouse seems unusually energetic and happy talking about this friend, and my gut is telling me that there is a crush involved. I expressed my worries, and spouse got VERY angry and defensive, accusing me of being controlling and attempting to stop them from going to they gym. They said that my depression is causing me to be "mean," and that my worries about this friendship are because depression is distorting my perception of reality. I feel like I'm being gaslighted, but the depression DOES mess with my brain in all sorts of fun and interesting ways, so maybe I'm wrong about this. But the unusually strong, hostile, reaction to my bringing it up did the opposite of reassuring me.

So, hivemind, thoughts? I realize there is no way for internet strangers to know what is actually going on, but does it seem like I'm way off base to be a little uncomfortable about this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That's a really shitty way for your spouse to act given their past infidelity. You are well within your rights to express your concerns.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:22 AM on March 11 [132 favorites]

Look, this isn't your first rodeo so if your gut feels like something is off, I'd be inclined to believe it. And let's face it, he already knows you won't leave him for it. It's interesting that your spouse has tried everything, attempting to deflect by blaming you, accusing you of being controlling and even saying you're stopping him from going to the gym - but nowhere mentioned does he actually flat out say that there's nothing going on. He's just talking around it. I wouldn't feel reassured either, he's not being reassuring.

Even more interesting is his blaming your depression. Here's a thought, if he stopped being a cheating asshole, maybe your depression would magically go away. I don't think the two are as mutually exclusive as he would have you believe.
posted by Jubey at 3:31 AM on March 11 [95 favorites]

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t sound innocent to me. Also once you have expressed concern and they are still doing this - I’d say it’s time for everything to be on the table. This is not how a marriage survives.
posted by machinecraig at 3:34 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]

I've been reading Spider-Man since the 60's and my spider sense is tingling as well.
There are few red flags that you have picked up on, and those sound legit. To answer your question, you are not EVEN off base. You have every right to question their actions, given past actions, and if they're getting all huffy and taking great umbrage, then where there's smoke, there's fire.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 3:36 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

No, doesn't seem way off base for you to be concerned, given your past experience of their actions. They should understand exactly why you would be concerned and be looking to reassure you, not throw a tantrum that seems to this Internet stranger to be motivated by a sense of guilt as much as anything. Not that they're actually physically involved at this stage necessarily, but maybe that there is some basis to think they have feelings for this person.

On preview, what Jubey says, and also don't allow them to blame your illness for any part of this or for your reaction - they sound unsympathetic at best. There have been times when my gut has told me something about people and only where I've ignored it have I regretted it.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 3:41 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

Even if it's depression distorting your view of things, the way he should be discussing it with you is with sympathy and understanding, not anger and defensiveness.

(also I don't think you have a distorted view here, you are totally within your rights to be concerned)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:50 AM on March 11 [31 favorites]

Regardless of the situation- even if all you were doing was arguing about who ate the last brownie-- any reaction that frames it as all your fault due to depression, dismisses your feelings, accuses you of being 'mean,' etc. etc. is WRONG. This is a communication and boundaries issue. It's only a symptom of something deeper. If you cannot have a calm, even-handed conversation when one party raises a concern, ANY concern, then there is a definite problem.

Throw the fact that it's a concern about infidelity, in an atmosphere of prior incidents.. yeah. Time for counseling or something. This has reached critical mass.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:06 AM on March 11 [8 favorites]

I don't blame you for feeling suspicious. Especially when they made friends at the gym... I mean (maybe this is just me but) it just doesn't seem like somewhere to make opposite sex friends somehow? It seems like somewhere you either go to focus on exercising, or to hit on people you think look good in their gym gear. It's not like a book club or something.
posted by KateViolet at 4:06 AM on March 11 [12 favorites]

It somewhat depends on how you define infidelity. When I meet someone I really click with, I get excited and it puts me in a good mood in the same way a high school crush might have, even if there's no chance of romantic involvement. I've observed this in other people too.

It sounds like you might define this as "emotional infidelity," and I know it's common for people to feel that a spouse should not have any emotional attachment to friends of their preferred gender. I personally embrace friendships of any sort, and especially when I'm depressed, I'm glad that my partner has someone else to give them the joy I'm not.

But it seems like you have good reasons not to trust your partner based on past experience. It might make sense to think about what you're afraid might happen if he maintains this relationship (that he'll leave you?), discuss those specific things with him, and see if you feel reassured or if you want to change the situation.
posted by metasarah at 5:51 AM on March 11 [9 favorites]

(I know that you brought up your concern already, just unsure whether you discussed EXACTLY what you were worried about rather than "I am worried that you have a crush." I think being more specific about what bothers you may lead to a more productive conversation.)
posted by metasarah at 5:55 AM on March 11

I’m someone who gets friend-crushes (and romantic ones) and if my husband asks about it I listen and we talk. It’s no big deal, because his security and comfort is really important to me!
posted by warriorqueen at 5:58 AM on March 11 [22 favorites]

I expressed my worries, and spouse got VERY angry and defensive, accusing me of being controlling and attempting to stop them from going to they gym. They said that my depression is causing me to be "mean," and that my worries about this friendship are because depression is distorting my perception of reality.

Even if Spouse's behaviour is totally legit and on the level, this response is a red flag in itself. Assuming 'expressed my worries' means you explained your feelings in a calm and rational manner (as opposed to, say, picking a fight right off the bat or leaping to conclusions or something that would cause someone to act defensive), such a reaction is problematic. Given Spouse's history of infidelity, it's not an unreasonable fear for you to have, and if Spouse really cares about you they would be cognizant of the fact that their past behaviour has undermined your trust and confidence in the relationship. And even if the friendship is totally innocent, they would do well to put themselves in your shoes, give a bit of latitude, and try to figure out a way for you both to work together to come to an understanding and a solution that works for you both.

But instead Spouse accused you of being controlling, and leapt to the worst-case conclusion that you wanted to stop them doing something they enjoy. This seems to indicate an attempt to short-circuit the conversation through exaggeration/intentional misunderstanding, and implying that this is all in your head and all your fault is a way to shift all the blame to you and off Spouse's behaviour (the poor innocent victim of all that mean, unfair distrust you have because of Evil Depression and not, say, their past infidelity). You are 100% correct that this is a classic gaslighting technique. It's possible Spouse's relationship with Friend is totally innocent, but even if it is this dynamic is a problem.

That being said, my personal take on the situation is that Spouse's feelings for Friend are not totally innocent. Speaking as someone who visits my local gym almost daily, it's not a place people generally make outside friends (potential exception is in a class environment, I'd guess). There are several people at my gym I have friendly chats with, but the vibe is that of a closed environment -- a few minutes' pause to talk about workouts, what you did at the weekend, &c -- and then back to it. Meeting up with an opposite-sex person post-workout, outside the locker room, and then either asking for or offering a ride home, and then discussing that person at length to a significant other is pretty damn unusual. And as you've been together for a couple of decades, I'm assuming that all the behaviour presenting around Friend is unusual enough for Spouse for it to be significant even without Friend being of the opposite sex.
posted by myotahapea at 6:01 AM on March 11 [27 favorites]

I assume that after each incident of infidelity, your partner "promised to do better." Making friends at the gym with someone of the gender your partner is attracted to, giving her rides home, and then making you feel shitty for your tingling spidey senses is not doing better.
posted by hhc5 at 6:34 AM on March 11 [38 favorites]

The way he's turning this around on you is very mean and, yes, you are being gaslighted. Even if he is not being unfaithful in this case. I don't know how you left things after the previous instances of infidelity, or how long it's been. There's no rule book for how an unfaithful spouse is supposed to act moving forward. But the way he is acting is not decent, even if he is doing nothing wrong. And the defensiveness is the sort of thing you see on lists of behaviors that indicate your partner is cheating.
posted by BibiRose at 7:14 AM on March 11 [10 favorites]

Your intuition is not wrong. You are being completely reasonable and your feelings are valid. Your spouse is gaslighting you by trying to convince you that it’s your depression making you unreasonable. This behavior is abusive, manipulative and its goal is to make you doubt yourself so that your spouse can continue cheating without you getting in the way. Don’t believe the lies. Trust yourself.
posted by a strong female character at 7:15 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

I expressed my worries, and spouse got VERY angry and defensive, accusing me of being controlling and attempting to stop them from going to they gym. They said that my depression is causing me to be "mean," and that my worries about this friendship are because depression is distorting my perception of reality.

Yeah, ok, look. Mr. Freedom and I are monogamish, so he's free to chat up and go out with others. But if a situation arose that made me upset, he would 100% take my side. In fact, one such situation recently did arise, and while he felt that I was wrong (and I was! I was the one that had made a mistake in this case), he immediately told his partner that he was on my side and supportive of me, and if they didn't like it, then it was going to be a problem for their possible relationship.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if your spouse doesn't have your back, even if you are the one in the "wrong" (and FWIW I don't think you are wrong at all in wanting your spouse to be more careful with this relationship), then they are not being your partner and you should be very, very worried.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:20 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]

Hi, so I'm a 28 year old homo- romantic dude and know nothing about life but uh, your spouse of a couple DECADES is behaving in this way and turning your life into a shitty ABC family high school drama? These are not conversations you should be having after being married for so long. That there is even the slightest hint of doubt about their commitment to you and your happiness at this point necessitates a serious re-evaluation of your circumstances. There are ~ 8 billion people in the world. A good many of them won't make you feel this way. Whether your suspicions have merit ( and I strongly believe they might, because once a cheater...*pretty much* always a cheater, but we can't be sure), he shouldn't be making you feel crazy. Ask me how I know.
posted by marsbar77 at 8:13 AM on March 11 [9 favorites]

spouse got VERY angry and defensive, accusing me of being controlling and attempting to stop them from going to they gym.

Dead giveaway that something is amiss.

Time for a meaningful talk with your spouse and maybe a relationship counselor.
posted by mygoditsbob at 8:30 AM on March 11

He’s cheated multiple times and his response to your worries is to get “very angry” and to blame your depression? He’s the one who sounds a bit mean.

Let’s say your gut were off on this one. Given his history of infidelity, and given your depression, he should be more empathetic and reassuring even if you’re wrong.

As the historically unfaithful partner it’s his responsibility to work with you to rebuild trust and it doesn’t sound like he’s ever done that. I notice you seem to blame yourself for that as well, saying you haven’t “processed” it fully. Maybe you could process it if he was actually doing the work to rebuild the partnership.

Also, if your depression were so extreme that it distorted reality to this degree, his response should be concern, not anger and defensiveness.

I don’t believe your gut actually is off. Does he give gym dudes rides home and get all excited and talk them up to you? If something’s not already happening, he’s trying to get it there and he got mad, defensive, blamed you, and called you mean because he was caught and doesn’t intend to stop.
posted by kapers at 8:33 AM on March 11 [20 favorites]

I know marriage is hard. I want to say to you that ideally the person you live with should never ever respond to your concerns the way that you describe.

I also agree that your depression would magically disappear if your husband wasn't an asshole who has also cheated. He hurts you, you do all the work. What does he do to improve himself and the marriage?

Do you need to stay married to this person? I feel sad that you are going to have to now lobby for improvements in your relationship dynamic when, ideally, that is work people do because that's what is necessary to enjoy being together for decades.

Who cares if he cheats? The way he reacts to your concerns is a deal breaker. That's painful and I am sorry.
posted by jbenben at 8:42 AM on March 11 [9 favorites]

Sorry, just realized I responded as though you indicated gender, which you didn’t. I’ll read more closely in the future. My response applies regardless of those particulars.
posted by kapers at 8:44 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]

Were I in your position, I certainly would not have been reassured by that response, but depending on how long ago those part incidents happened I might be willing to forgive some initial defensiveness if I had broached the topic poorly (like being blatantly accusatory with literally no other information) and they later apologized for overreacting.

Otherwise, it sounds exactly like what you think it is, and to be frank, even if it isn't it sounds like your person isn't willing to do what you need them to do to feel secure in your relationship, so you're pretty much stuck if you aren't willing to leave over it.

I'm sorry this is happening to you. It really hurts when people who are supposed to have your back and be on your side are clearly not, no matter what the reason. If they can't see how their behavior is hurting you now, it's not going to magically get better. (I'm speaking from experience on this one)
posted by wierdo at 8:52 AM on March 11 [8 favorites]

Adults get crushes on other people; even ones in relationships. There are good ways and bad ways to handle this.... It sounds like he is handling it in very bad ways.

People don't avoid skydiving by getting on planes stocked with parachutes, and people don't avoid affairs by giving themselves alone time with Potential Affair Partner. This behavior plus past behavior is.. not a good sign. +1 to everybody else in this post thinking you have every right to be concerned.

Are you going to initiate couples counseling? Is he open to that? Are you doing individual therapy? How your spouse responds to emergency relationship repair suggestions would be immensely telling, to the point where I'd personally start thinking about divorce.
posted by Jacen at 9:54 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]

I suspect most people would disagree with me, but, for what it's worth - being jealous of your partner's gym friend does seem unreasonably jealous and controlling. Having been the partner of a jealous mate who resented every moment at the gym (and all other social activities), it strikes me as manipulative and totally unreasonable for a partner to be jealous of one's friends without any evidence. Having friends of both genders and spending time with them is an absolutely normal part of living in the world.

On the other hand, the underlying reasons that you're concerned might well be important. Humans are often good at judging people's intentions even without evidence. It's one of the few skills to which we're evolutionary adapted. If something smells wrong, there's a very good chance something is wrong, even if it may not be the thing you suspect.

The question to ask isn't, "is my partner crushing on a gym rat." The question to ask is, "do I want to continue to live with a relationship in which I feel jealous all the time and my partner dismisses my concerns?" For me, needing to ask the question would be more than enough reason for a breakup.
posted by eotvos at 9:57 AM on March 11 [7 favorites]

Based on my personal experience (and unfortunately I do have some), the combination of your spidery-sense and the angry/defensive response is a pretty big indicator that even if something isn’t yet happening, he’s thinking about it.

Sorry you’re going through this - it sucks.
posted by scrute at 10:07 AM on March 11 [3 favorites]

As someone who has been cheated on by a spouse with an athletic partner, I agree with the chorus that all this is quite worrying. I strongly recommend doing some preparation work to make it easy to leave if necessary.

-Identify a good divorce attorney.
-Understand and document the state of the household finances, if you are not usually the person who is in charge of them. If your husband is resistant to this, talk to the divorce attorney that you have identified about what you can do. "I suspect that my husband is cheating. I want to get a handle on the finances, but he is resistant. What are my options?"
-Get your own bank account, and fund it with a few months of living expenses.
-Identify the friend whose couch you can crash on for a few weeks. Ideally, this friend would also be discreet such that you could confirm their availability for this now: "Friend, things aren't going great in my marriage. If I need to leave at a point on short notice, can I crash on your couch for a few weeks?"

You may never need to use any of these tools. But the usual trust relationships in a marriage are under threat right now and you need to do some diligence to protect yourself and give yourself power. You might find that once questions like "Where will I go if I leave?" or "How will I pay for things if I leave?" is answered, that you no longer find a reason to stay. But at least, if you have these preparations sorted out, you can *demand* that he no longer spend time with this athletic partner, from a position of strength. In a healthy relationship with someone who loves you, this kind of demand will be accommodated. If and when it is not, you will have options. I'm so sorry this is happening to you.
posted by Kwine at 10:08 AM on March 11 [11 favorites]

Well, there's only thing I know, which is that I go to the gym every day, and have never once given anyone a ride home from the gym. (Also never had a flirtation with anyone at the gym, not coincidentally.) Come on.

I'm sorry your spouse is gaslighting you about this.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:13 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]

It doesn't feel off-base. It sounds like your relationship needs work, but since you have a potential crisis at hand, I'm a big fan of Dr. Joy Browne's Fidelity Plan, when infidelity has been problem in the past.

"No woman in her right mind would suggest that adultery strengthens a marriage. But a relationship can survive and even thrive afterward if the wounded partner finds the courage to demand answers to three questions…

Why did this happen? Saying, “I was drunk” or “It just happened” doesn’t cut it. If it “just happened” once, it could just happen again — so there’s no basis for resurrecting trust. The unfaithful partner must figure out the real reason — “I felt old and was trying to feel young again” or “I miss the way we used to make love.” Once the problem is acknowledged, it can be worked on.

It sounds like the previous incidences may have been addressed - but not resolved.

How can you promise it won’t happen again? A fidelity plan identifies the lesson learned (“No fling is worth endangering our marriage”)… puts constraints in place (“I’ll be home by 6 pm every night”)… and offers options (“I’ll go with you for counseling or do whatever you want to show how sorry I am”).

Is your spouse willing to change gyms, or workout times? Have you drop off, pick up, and meet this person?

"What’s in it for me if you cheat again? This idea came about when a caller to my radio show said her cheating husband wanted another chance. He loved his boat — so I said, “If he’ll sign a document saying that if he cheats, you get the boat, then you’ve got a shot. Before he’s unfaithful again, he’ll think, ‘Bimbo? Or boat?’ If he won’t sign, he’s not willing to put his heart into fidelity.”

I disagree with calling the other person a bimbo - because it takes two to tango.

It seems like your spouse is signalling unhappiness, and has been willing to check out of your partnership before. And you have a lot on your plate. There are many good answers above, but I have a question - do you still really love your spouse, and want things to work, even though you'll always have the cheating issues behind you two and the potential for more in front of you? A fidelity plan might remove some of the worry so you can work on the underlying things you need to work on together.

But in my case, I got the car, and out of the marriage debt-free.
posted by peagood at 10:32 AM on March 11 [5 favorites]

1. I think you're right to be suspicious and 2. either way, and even if, in extrapolating from incomplete info, you're incorrect, your spouse should probably be doing more to reassure you. It seems like they could have a crush at very least, and either they're not that good at being chill about it and handling it in an adult way or they don't actually care about being chill about it. None of this is great. People get crushes all the time even as adults, but how you handle it and how honestly you can talk to each other about it is the question. It sounds like your spouse has trouble being upfront with you about their feelings and desires—not that if that's the case, it would be a good excuse for doing whatever they want and not talking about it, but rather that this is something that could be good for them to work on in therapy, both by themselves and with you.

It sounds like your spouse's instinct when they feel uncomfortable may be to accuse and dodge, mentally and emotionally cut and run, and seek out what makes them feel more comfortable, namely the attention of someone new who knows nothing about them and doesn't question them or know them well enough to call them out on their behavior. They may avoid dealing with the issues you two have, or even that you specifically have, by following that urge to connect with someone "easier." The honorable thing to do in that case, the thing that upholds one's integrity, is to talk about how they're feeling, to dig deeper and be more honest.

But right now, what it sounds like is that you two are in an avoidant cycle where they feel something—this could be unhappiness with your relationship, unhappiness with themselves, despair about your depression, desire to feel more desired or appreciated or more emotional connection—and feel unable to acceptably or adequately express it. So they do the easy thing and don't try, while saying everything is fine. You feel cut off and acutely sense that lack of connection, lack of trying, and try to figure out what's going wrong. It may also make you feel more despair yourself. And so then you give chase, you ask a pointed question or two, you worry it pushes them away, maybe you go hot and cold and alternately try to connect and withdraw in despair. They may take this as an excuse to A. deny you're correct to feel what you're feeling and sensing (gaslighting, whether inadvertent or deliberate) and B. pull further away, claiming persecution. And that's how a situation like this escalates.

Anyway, unless there's something you didn't mention about your demeanor when you addressed this with your spouse, it doesn't sound like you're being mean at all. I know when my husband is feeling defensive, he'll often say I'm being mean or I'm yelling at him when I ask him some pointed question or call him out on something, even when I've said whatever it is in a calm but direct voice. Without knowing exactly why or a lot more about the situation, I can say it seems your spouse is being a bit preemptively defensive here. It seems like they're pulling away and seeking happiness elsewhere to some degree, regardless of whether this gym thing is romantic or just friendship. And it sounds like you both may need some structure to find more productive ways to talk and communicate your respective dissatisfaction to each other, if this is going to work.
posted by limeonaire at 11:10 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]

You aren't off base. He is fucking with you. Your depression doesn't give him carte-blanche to treat you like this.

What is in this relationship for you? Do you have kids together? Complicated finances? If you don't have either, you may be exposed to this kind of painful bullshit over and over and over. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
posted by 41swans at 1:33 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]

Would you know this person existed if spouse hadn't told you? Spouse not hiding the relationship makes it more plausible that this is not an affair.

Also, this may sound like an accusation against you, but it’s a genuine question, since we don’t know. Has your reaction to past infidelity been to ask him about this sort of thing a lot? Is this an ongoing issue in your relationship? Again, I may be totally off base here, but if you haven’t really gotten over the infidelities (and I’m not saying you even have to), that could explain part of the defensiveness.

Again, I don’t know the whole situation here - none of us do. I’m just saying it’s possible he’s having a bad response to an unhealthy dynamic. That doesn’t make him a great guy. But I’m not ready to assume he’s a terrible person from what you’ve given us here. Personally, I could not be in a relationship where I couldn’t have opposite sex friendships.

Are you in couples counseling? It sounds like that could be helpful. Recovering from infidelity is hard.
posted by FencingGal at 1:37 PM on March 11

I assume that after each incident of infidelity, your partner "promised to do better." Making friends at the gym with someone of the gender your partner is attracted to, giving her rides home, and then making you feel shitty for your tingling spidey senses is not doing better.

I was going to write a lot, but this pithy comment says it better than I ever could.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 2:09 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]

I am normally really confused as to why straight people get so upset over their partners' friends' gender identities / genitalia because it's awesome to have friends and trust is not about controlling who your partner hangs out with.

All of that said, regardless of whether your husband is actually banging this person - your husband is an asshole. He's got a history of cheating on you and gaslighting you about it, he has a history of not taking appropriate responsibility, and now when he knows you have depression and at least a historical reason to be concerned, he's blaming you and getting pissy and defensive rather than being open and honest with you or showing concern about how you're doing or even his own role in your depression.

He's continued behaving like this because you haven't left him over it yet. He's made clear that he doesn't feel much remorse, certainly not enough to do the heavy lifting on rebuilding your relationship. Get a divorce attorney and start making a plan to get out. This guy has shown you who he is, and what he thinks of you.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:13 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]

My immediate non-helpful answer is we don't really have enough information to give you advice. The situation as you describe it does not seem to me to be worrying-- however, I am someone with many friendships with people of the-gender-to-which-I-am-attracted and yes-- I've even made friends like that at the gym. However, the history of infidelity you mention gives me serious pause, as does his response.

I would ask you the following questions back:

Does spouse normally have friends with people of the gender to-which-he-is-attracted? Is this unusual for him in general (never mind meeting people at the gym-- that seems like a red herring to me)?

In the aftermath of past infidelities, did you make agreements how you were going to protect your relationship? Is he sticking to those? Can you initiate a conversation from that perspective: "Tad, your friendship may be perfectly okay, but I realise because of history X I need a way to feel safer when you make friendships like these. Can we sit down and talk about it?"

Do you feel any animosity about partner going to the gym when you are ill? Has this been a topic of conversation in the past without the added issue of the new friendship? Do you have stress in general what he does or doesn't do when you are in the middle of a depression?

Have you discussed this issue with your therapist?
posted by frumiousb at 5:14 PM on March 11

I'll join the chorus saying this bit was the most problematic to me: spouse got VERY angry and defensive, accusing me of being controlling and attempting to stop them from going to they gym.

At best, spouse is assuming bad faith on your part, which is a Bad Sign. In my book, being in a relationship means that you care enough about a person that their unhappines is important to you and you want to do things to make it better. That doesn't mean caving to everything your spouse asks - if how you fold towels makes Spouse unahppy and so does speaking to your parents, one of those things is much easier to address than the other. But if the response to "this makes me uncomfortable" is assuming the worst of intentions, it's something to be concerned about.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:02 AM on March 12

spouse got VERY angry and defensive, accusing me of being controlling and attempting to stop them from going to they gym. They said that my depression is causing me to be "mean," and that my worries about this friendship are because depression is distorting my perception of reality. I feel like I'm being gaslighted,
I feel you're being gaslighted, too. Even if he is not having sex with her, you have valid concerns and feelings and he's trying to make you feel bad about them. Not okay. I'm sorry you have this happening to you.
posted by theora55 at 1:34 PM on March 13

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