A Reader Writes…
My husband of 17 years had an affair with a work colleague last year which got pretty sexual but did not get to the deed.
He has always maintained that he loves me and wants our marriage, however the affair continued after I found out and I asked him to leave which he did for 3 months and during that time the affair did not continue. He then returned and we are starting to rebuild our marriage.
She is now pregnant by her husband. However, she is next in command in the company and my husband maintains that she is the best person he has ever worked with, they have a bond and although he has recently resented her now wants to get past this and continue with their working relationship as it was – which was very close.
I have told him that their bond makes me uncomfortable and he understands this, however he is planning on taking her for lunch for her annual appraisal. I am starting to feel that the emotional connection has not gone away. How do I communicate this without becoming a dictator – he does not appear to understand this?
I let out a great big sigh when I read your letter. I can’t tell you how many hours I spend with clients on this problem.
The situation is made worse by your husband continuing to lie after being discovered. I’m also puzzled about why a work appraisal is done over lunch?
So why have you hit this roadblock? I think it is one of three possibilities or possibly some combination:
1. You haven’t explained your case properly. (I have to say ‘uncomfortable’ would not describe my feelings more exasperation, annoyance and a dash of anger: How can he expect to have a close working bond with this woman after he betrayed your marriage?)
Maybe you’ve been so keen to save your marriage that you’ve not been entirely honest about how much you’ve been hurt or did not lay down clearly the conditions for him to return—especially about on-going relations with the OW.
What would happen if you were honest? It does not mean that dictate but explain clearly the impact on you, what is acceptable and what isn’t (if he wishes to stay married).
2. He doesn’t feel heard. (In his mind, he has a good case for continuing as before and, if only, you would listen, he could talk you round to his way of thinking).
So have you ask him to explain, in detail, how it work, what would be the boundaries between allowable contact and tipping back into an affair? Don’t interrupt, get upset or contradict, just let him lay out everything and ask questions to get clarification.
3. The two of you don’t know how to negotiate. The answer is probably not going to be you having your way (she leaves the company and never speaks to him again) or his way (they can continue their friendship as if nothing happened) but somewhere in-between.
What is stopping you from finding a compromise that would be acceptable to both of you? You might like to read Help Your Partner Say Yes and Resolve Your Differences to improve communication and find a middle way through this problem.
Ok am I a dilemma I found out 10 months ago my wife was having strong feelings for her co worker half her age to the point she was in love with him and completely went cold on me and told me she wants space….. this was like a grenade to me as was not expecting this…. we have been married 24years 3 kids and yes life has not always been easy but I’ve always kept a positive outlook and always pushed for us to achieve goals…. Anyway kids found her searches on the computer and highlighted it to me. When I confronted her she completely denied it was her and blamed our kids saying it was them but after weeks of asking she finally told me it was her and she loved her co worker he however had no idea and only had friendship feelings for her.. however the whole scenario of her changing her email password keeping her phone attached to her 247 and opening another bank account and taking 10k out without me even knowing and saying she wanted space and for me to have the kids at the weekend was all to much for me to handle my head and heart just cracked…. I sent texts to her to explain but she just cold shouldered me and I was like a piece of dirt on her shoe I was so confused only my kids pulled me through and ensured me this was not my fault. My wife says am controlling malitavtive and unemotional yes I can agree in some ways but it has been my focus and drive that we have achieved and again my kids agree with me and said if I left they would want to be with me as they would get nowhere with their mum…. My wife says she is over it now and denied she ever said anything like that to me but I have the kids to prove she did she still works with this guy on a daily bases so I know now whatever she thinks or does she will surely cover her tracks. She wants to make the marriage work and says we must work on it but I have always been there I can’t give more I don’t know how to give more than what I’ve always have given but think really she brought this to the table she should step up and prove she wants to make this work she has no goals and I’ve asked her why does she want to be with me… i get no answer, I’ve lost the trust and respect for her and don’t see a future with her anymore…. it’s a shame to throw away 24years but am no longer happy and I’ve said to her she doesn’t love me yet we still sleep together but I don’t feel right anymore with her she says she hasn’t done anything wrong but if that’s right why am I feeling so sad and unhappy. My friends whom know of the situation said am good to continue I think my wife is going through some sort of midlife disappointment she did say she could of done better with her life…. Am lost now I suggested we go to marriage therapy I never thought I would of suggested that but she refuses yet she won’t talk to anyone so am at a stalemate am no longer happy in this relationship yet don’t want to throw away all those years am confused……
Andrew G. Marshall says
It sounds like you’ve been through a really tough time but sorry to hear that it has reached stalemate. You wife must have been very unhappy if she thought a man half her age, who only wanted her as a friend, was the solution! However, it has brought her unhappiness up to the surface and that’s positive because something can be done about it. I’d like you to read my book ‘My wife doesn’t love me any more’ which will help you move forward. In particular, to step into your partner’s shoes and see things through their eyes. So although your immediate response to her saying you are ‘manipulative’ and ‘controlling’ is to leap to your own defence and get the kids to back you up, remember: this is HER truth and how SHE sees the situation and in from where she stands this is how your behaviour comes across. So ask yourself: what could make her draw this conclusion and if there is even SOME truth, what would I like to do differently? There might be a stalemate because she doesn’t want to go to counselling – perhaps she is afraid that it will be used as a stick to beat her – but you can go for counselling and discuss what you might like to change in yourself, because you’ll respond differently to her and that will change the whole dynamic and she might feel positive to engage with couple counselling. Good luck
Really Andrew?!? That’s all you have… Just like every other blog, post, and article I have read so far…
I caught my wife when she invited her “co worker” to her friends house just 2 doors down from our home to hang out thinking I was sleeping… knowing it was wrong… and maybe even looking to get caught…. weeks later I’m still struggling with thus as she and I have been trying to find a compromise… but it sounds like I’ll be either settling for what’s been …. Oh whatever… this will not help….she knows I want no contact between them and she doesn’t want to leave her job as she worked hard to get there… how can we heal … how can I heal when she won’t find some way to have no contact out of fear of losing financial security?
Andrew G. Marshall says
No that’s not all I have. I have two books, countless videos and a support group.
You’re angry. That’s normal and natural. You are hurting and you want the pain over as soon as possible. You have your ONE solution and you want to push it home. In the meantime, you are jumping to conclusions. Are you sure it is just to do with financial security? It might be to do with lots of different things. Talk to her, listen to her, ask for her suggestions on how to move forward. It could be that ‘giving up her job’ is not the only solution. I wish you every success with your recovery.
I found out 3yrs ago my husband was having a affair with a co worker. I left him & he ended up leaving her. 2 months later we got back together & she left the place they worked at. 6 months later she came back to work there & sometime over the next 2yrs they started having a affair again. He convinced EVERYONE we weren’t together, denied they affair numerous times until I eventually caught them. I left him again & for almost a year he stayed in the relationship with her. He ended up leaving her 6 months ago & we have been trying to put our relationship back together for the past 5 months. The problem is he still works with her & not one time has he wanted to sleep in the bed with me much less have sex with me. He says he doesn’t want her & wants me but I’m having a hard time believing him under the circumstances. Any advice would be appreciated. Also, we’ve been together 30yrs, have two grown children & a young grandchild.
Andrew G. Marshall says
It sounds like you need a third party to help you talk to each other and decide how to move forward. It feels there is a BIG brick wall between the two of you – which is natural under the circumstances – but is stopping you from moving forward. Have you considered couple counselling?