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Advice needed on Marriage

Posted by db0916 (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 16, 07 at 6:51

I have never posted on this site before but I have been a lurker. I think the advice that is given is outstanding and I wanted to see what you all thought of my problem.
My husband has been traveling overseas for his job since January. For the last 3 months he has been traveling with a women(from the states)and another man (from the states).
Their recent project is in Spain and they work 2 weeks there and come home for 2 weeks. While there my husband and this woman spend breakfast,lunch,dinner,drinks and weekend outings together. The other man does not socialize with them even though they invite him. They think he is strange for wanting to be alone all the time. I told my husband I think it is strange that he spends so much time with this women. He doesn't think so.
He says they keep each other company-there is nothing to do when not working-you don't know what it is like being in a strange country. He says they are like brother and sister and they have a lot in common. They have shared some sibling history. I feel that personal life and work should not mix. He doesn't see it that way. He told me if I shared personal information with people maybe I would have more friends. He told me if I met her I would like her and she is a very nice person.
What do you think? Does this sound like it could lead to something? Am i over reacting?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Advice needed on Marriage

A few years ago I was in the same situation. I traveled away from home for months on end. I flew so much, I knew all about the flight attendent's kids soccer games and their medical issues and they knew about mine. My wife and kids suffered because of my absence but given the job market in my area, I had no opportunity to switch jobs at that time.

You state that it is your wish that work and personal life not be mixed. In this situation, that is next to impossible. What do you expect him to do? Avoid his workmates in the resturant and sit by himself? Traveling like this is lonely enough.

BUT - this much closeness can lead to trouble. But only if the parties want it to. I don't think you are overreacting yet, it sounds like concern to me. All you can do though, is state your concerns to your husband. Really, that's it. Either he is a decent man who does the right thing when he is away, or he's not. He (and his buddy) are making their own choices. You can't affect that.

I hope it works out for you.

Best wishes, Doc


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Thanks doc for responding. He is a decent man and a very good father. THings blew up on THursday when I walked into his home office to see what he was laughing about. He was instant messaging with her. She is in Spain this week. The first time without him. He didn't want me to see his im.
I wanted to know why he was talking to her about after work hours 9:30 her time. He said she was bored. Apparently she told him that working and drinking alone sucks. She can do that at home. I was our anniversary that day and we had dinner reservations. Needless to say the evening was very tense.


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That is a delicate situation... Like Doc, I've been in that situation before, and he's expressed my thoughts and feelings exactly. Your husband's in a difficult position where he can either become a recluse or socialize with his colleagues, and he needs to be able to do that within the limits that he feels are appropriate. The work/friendship relationships that develop on the road can be very close, and some can cross the line into something improper, though more often, they don't.

I'm going to suggest that you make a great extra effort to make sure your marriage and home life is rewarding and satisfying for your husband -- something he will want to come home to. Make sure you tell him (calmly) how much you love him and how much your marriage and family mean to you, how much he means to you, and how much the entire life you two have built together means to you. You can explain that you were feeling insecure and jealous -- but only if you can do it calmly and without starting a fight. Apologize for not trusting him if you can, and express confidence in his character and that he values your marriage as much as you do.

When he's on the road, call, text and e-mail him often with upbeat news about your day, the kids, and your life -- the kinds of tidbits that will keep him involved in his 'real life' back home. No whining, complaining or lists of things that are broken, worn out, or chores that need to be done lists (hire a handyman). You want to come across as competent and pleasant, but still needing him and depending on him. In a nutshell, I'm just saying to keep him involved with you, your family and your homelife while he's away. Put some time and effort into your communications -- imagine he's an on-line date and flirt a little. Get creative -

If you can do that, you will have done your part, and the rest is up to him.


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Spending weekends together? Having drinks? I'm not a jealous person but I don't think I would be comfortable with a work relationship like that, either. Is there any way you could accompany your husband on some of those trips? I hear Spain is quite lovely.


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I used to travel for business with my boss quite a bit. We would always have meals and drinks together, and we'd window shop or do whatever else there was to do there. However, there were clear boundaries. We each made our own hotel reservations (same hotel), and we would rarely end up on the same floor. We NEVER went to the other's room. NEVER - not in 9 years of working together (not even to meet up in the hallway, we'd meet in the lobby). In fact, I don't think we usually knew where the other's room was. We would connect by using our cell phones or the hotel phone.

He and I are very close. I know all about his personal stuff, and he knows mine. He's close in age to my husband (about 10 years older than me), and in some ways he is the brother I never had. DH used to be uncomfortable with me traveling with him, but I told him about how we never hang out or even meet at our rooms. And once he met him he felt more comfortable as well.

Boundaries are the big thing, I think. He shouldn't go to her room. He shouldn't IM or email her things he won't share with you. If you think something is going on I'd recommend that you have her over for dinner sometime and see how they are together (he said you'd like her if you met her, right?). If he or she refuses that would make me suspicious.

I used to do quite a but of traveling for work, usually with guys. We never met at our rooms, always in the lobby. The appearance of impropriety should be avoided. It seemed to be an unwritten rule at the company I worked at.


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I'm going to offer a little bit different point of view.

While I agree to some extent with sweeby and doc, I think that extended periods of time with the same (opposite sex) person is a recipe for trouble when those people choose to spend all of their work and social time together.

It may well be that neither intends for it to be anything other than platonic, but human beings are human beings. Once we begin to invest emotionally in others and allow them to share our personal lives in the way you describe, we crack open the door for other things. This is only heightened when it is two people who rely on one another to "fill in" for spouses, family, etc while isolated away from those other people.

I think it was both disrespectful and dangerous for your husband to be sharing an intimate IM moment with this other woman on your anniversary. She was alone and drinking and contacting your dh to tell him she was alone and drinking and it sucks? More bad judgment.

Surely there are opportunities for your dh to do things after work that don't always include this woman. It seems like a good time to develop other friendships, explore the area, learn some of the language and try it out, learn some local history, etc. I'm not saying he should cut off all social contact with her, but I certainly think that what is presently going on is too much.

I will now tell you that I had such a platonic friend. I was not married but he was. We used to laugh at all the people with wagging tongues, thinking how little they understood us. We were best friends. We shared everything with each other but with none of the problems associated with love relationships because we were just friends. I admired his wife, who accepted that we were friends and never seemed to mind at all. She would take off for months at a time and tell him she was glad he had me to hang around with in her absence. I was madly in love with someone but we'd been on again, off again and my friend was always there to listen to my love angst for this other guy.

And then one day, I got a call from my friend's wife. She'd discovered something he'd written and left on top of the trash. It talked about how much he loved me. He then came forward with all of these thoughts and feelings that I'd never even suspected, and everything came crashing down. I still feel like the biggest idiot in the world for not seeing it. Every relationship not only crumbled into dust but was irrevocably destroyed (except for mine with the on again, off again guy--he's now my hubby). I haven't spoken with my old friend in years and if we do happen to see one another, it's tense and uncomfortable.

My point in telling all that is that even if your husband thinks that nothing is going on with this woman but friendship, that doesn't mean that things aren't going on for her. I can look at my situation now and see that in some ways, I encouraged it though I didn't do so consciously.

It's just dangerous.

Finally, I don't think it's your responsibility to make all of the assurances and concessions in this. Your dh must realize how a situation like this can lead a wife to feel scared and insecure, and he should be doing his part to reassure you. It irks me that the little wife is encouraged to happily keep home and hearth without complaint or question while her husband is off socializing in another country with another woman. Of course you are unsure and uneasy about it, but I think if your marriage is strong and your communication is good, it is something you and your dh can discuss and that compromise on both sides can help alleviate those worries and doubts. You need to trust your dh and he needs to demonstrate that he is someone to be trusted.


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I know it didn't sound like it, but I completely agree with you too Seeking. And I've also had a best friend experience like yours that went south in the same way for the same reasons. And you're right -- it isn't fair to ask the 'little wife' to step back in time and keep house and hearth without complaint or question. The whole idea smacks of sexism and paternalism -- so NOT my cup of tea. And a part of me was on the verge of gagging when I wrote it!

But I still think it's good advice and I'm standing by it. Why? It's part of keeping the relationship intimate, pleasant, and positive. The idea is making him want to set and enforce his own limits without feeling like 'she made him' by being insecure, demanding, suspicious, or nagging. Focusing on making him feel the 'want to' instead of the 'have to'.


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db, I'll just add that - from the way you describe your conversation about the issue - I hear some big defensiveness in your husband's response, especially the "dig" about your not having friends. Granted, I wasn't in the room to hear your conversation, so I may be off here, but that's what seems to me to be noteworthy. Perhaps when he heard the word "strange" coming at him his defenses went up. Regardless, though, you need to know that he's concerned first and foremost about protecting his relationship with you over his relationship with a co-worker: the defensiveness sounds like he's protecting that relationship and not hearing your needs to know that you're safe in your marriage and loved securely by him.

That said, I find in my marriage that sometimes the "frontal attack" approach of confronting my husband directly on something will often lead him haturally to the position of defensiveness (that fight or flight mechanism kicks in). I wonder what would happen if you approached your conversation with him by sharing first how you're feeling ("I feel like I'm not as important to you as I once was," for example...or whatever fits best for you). Sometimes using the "I" statments first, and taking the initiative to share our hurts/fears can soften the approach to a difficult conversation.

Best of luck to you.


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sweeby, for my part, I understand and totally agree about the way to project yourself so that your actions and words do not come across as accusatory and jealous. I think halfdecaf put it very well--just what I wanted to say but in a much better way :) Nothing can kill communication and derail a relationship faster than confrontation and demands. However, there are times when a partner needs to be made aware that something he or she is doing may not be in the best interests of the relationship, and if he or she values that relationship, then concessions must sometimes be made. In this case, it sounds like the dh disagrees that his behavior sometimes crosses the line. I don't really know what to do about that. Maybe an objective outside party might help them, though her dh might view this suggestion as an assault on his integrity. Still, he needs to realize that his feelings aren't the only ones that are valid. I hope that it is something that can be rationally discussed between the two of them so that he understands (if not agrees with) her point of view and makes an effort to diffuse things. If he doesn't, then I agree with halfdecaf that his defensiveness raises a red flag.

I suspect that it is good for his ego to get this female attention and perhaps he is reluctant to do anything that, in his mind, might make him look "pussy whipped," an expression I detest but something men seem to greatly fear. With this other person, he can live a kind of fantasy life, free from the constraints of everyday routine and responsibility. That is fine up to a point, but care must be taken that the fantasy doesn't eclipse reality, which is wife/children/home come first.

I got delayed in finishing this response, so I don't know what (if anything) was written after halfdecaf's post.


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I have to say that the situation raises red flags for me too, the way you described it. Particularly not wanting to show you the IM. The traveling extensively together sounds like a dangerous situation to me and I too would not be comfortable with it.

I wish I had some sound advice but I don't. He is defensive and I don't think you are going to get an honest answer from him if something is in fact going astray.

This sound horrible and even juvenile but I would want to know for sure what is going on. Can you surprise him on a trip? Hire a private detective? If nothing is going on, then you can go from there and try to open up a dialogue with him about your worries. But I would really want to know for sure before spending any more time worrying and wondering.


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Infidelity is a tough one to call - finding out your spouse has been cheating on you makes you feel a fool, peremptorily accusing someone of cheating or almost-cheating on you when they haven't is, if possible, even more devastating. There are weighty ethical and moral assessments of a partner made you accuse them of cheating - very very hard to overcome if the accusations are untrue. I'd recommend you not do the latter and don't keep bugging him about "what are you doing with her" or even "show me the IMs" - you're not his mother, and you'll come across as someone who he will need a diversion from (I would). Not saying you are doing any of the above, just an advocation that you not do them.

But I do agree with some of the other assessments that seeking, half-decaf and sweeby have made. Don't accuse him, don't be needy, BUT you can ask him very calmly what is going on, do I (you) need to be worried, etc. always with the focus in a very calm and contained way on the fact that you need a bit of reassurance in this a-typical situation that you both find yourselves in - aka with his sudden close friendship with a colleague (honour the fact that she is a colleague to him even if you'd like to call her a "skank" ;-) ) which is not something he's ever had before in his professsional life (he's not been this friendly with his male colleagues, has he?). Then let it go.

Although, I will ask this, is there an office he goes to when he's not in Spain? Fact is that if their behaviour is remotely suspicious, the office rumour mill will pick it up and nobody needs that hassle. Somehow or the other, do suggest that he find out if there are rumours swirling at the office. I wonder about it because this time the woman (and guy #3?) went to Spain without your husband. I wonder if a bad wind bloweth in the office and their boss is trying to do damage control. You should know that if such is the case, there will be repercussions - professional ones - on your husband and/or this lady. Managers & companies don't like to have to do damage control - someone pays when that needs to happen. So, you should convey to him that not only should there be no impropriety (for your sake), there should not even be the appearance of one (for both of yours sakes).

Lastly, I work and take trips often. My colleagues and I usually eat every meal together - nobody is obligated and sometimes there are emergencies that crop up that may make someone cop out of going but in general, we eat together. The trip may be a 2 person trip - often - or it may be an 8 person trip. So frankly, traveling together and eating together is not suspicious to me at all. Texting each other though ... that seems a bit much and a bit intimate to me.


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I think you should invite her over for dinner. Use your gut instincts and maybe you will get your answers.
Donna


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RE: Advice needed on Marriage

I want to say thanks for all the responses. I am short on time now so I will be back later to respond. I have to get ready for work.

We did have a nice weekend. My husband, son and I went to the US Open. We were able to talk a little. He assures me that nothing is going on. I believe him..I wonder what her motives are?


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"Apparently she told him that working and drinking alone sucks."

"He assures me that nothing is going on. I believe him..I wonder what her motives are?"

Quite frankly, she sounds like a woman who has no conscience. She knows your husband is married and unavailable. Is she married? I would venture to guess that she's not. Is this a pattern of behavior for her, being drawn to men who aren't available? I'm not a betting woman but I'll make an exception ;o) There are many women and men who become emotionally (and sometimes physically) involved with people who are not available. They do it on purpose, whether it be a conscious decision or a subconscious decision (note, I did not say unconscious decision because on some level they know exactly what they're doing).
I would gently explain to your DH that you fear she is that type of person and you are concerned. You can say that you understand he's formed a business relationship with her and you know that he would never do anything to jeopardize his relationship with his family. BUT...you're concerned about what *her* motives are and because he's such a nice guy and probably doesn't 'get' what she's doing, wanted to alert him to this. Many men are clueless when it comes to these things. Seriously. And on some level, I'm sure it strokes their male ego to think a woman finds them attractive. Not that they would act on it, but it is a little titillating.
You say you trust your husband. Unless he's given you cause to think or believe otherwise go with your gut. I get the feeling you're not concerned about his motives, but you *are* concerned about hers. And therein lies the problem, because you have no control over that. So by discussing it with him you've accomplished a few things. You've brought your concerns to light. You've helped make him aware of her motives. You've affirmed that you trust him. You've given him food for thought.
Funny story - A few years ago my DH and I went to a family Bat Mitzvah. It was pretty obvious that we're married. After returning from the ladies room I found my DH on the hor's d'ouevres line at the temple. He was chatting with a woman who I had previously noticed during the services. The reason I had noticed her was because it was obvious from her constant gazes at him that he had a bullseye on his forehead and she had him in her sights. I went over to them on the line, and he introduced me to her as his wife. He mentioned that she had been kind enough to let him in the line ahead of her (how sweet). She barely acknowledged me and chatted away with my DH, who I could tell was eating up the attention. After the temple we were driving to the reception and I told him that I thought she was definitely hitting on him. His answer was "Really? You think so?". It was said with a big smile. He was obviously flattered by the attention. He said "But honey, you know I love only you. It is pretty flattering, though." We laughed about it and drove on to the reception. We had been at the reception for about 1/2 hour and had by then found the bar. After getting our wine, I turned around to see that same woman making a beeline towards my husband. She walks right past me...hello, am I invisible??...and purrs to my DH "What's good to drink?". Since I was standing right next to him, and at this point I had had just about enough, I sweetly replied, "The arsenic is nice and refreshing. Why don't you have yourself a glass." My DH almost spit out his drink. Much to his credit he realized that the ridiculousness had to stop and said, "My wife and I have a date on the dance floor. They're playing a song that we love." She was stunned. She walked away and we didn't see hide nor hair of her the entire evening.
Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.


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I have absolutely no advice to give but I have to give serious kudos to mrsmarv - that was absolutely HYSTERICAL!!!!! And quite a good line. I'm going to have to file that in my archives. :-)


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mrsmarv, your story is publishable! Your telling of it had me in stitches, too...


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Wow - I agree - kudos to mrsmarv. I think I'm naive about these things - I just don't think anything is ever going on. mrsmarv explains how it can happen though. And I have to say now that I read her perspective I do recall some relevant situations with my DH.

When he was off work for awhile he used to do all the grocery shopping (and cooking too - man that was great). Anyway he used to comment about the "hungry housewives" at the grocery store - he felt like they were stalking him and making up dumb reasons to talk to him. I kind of thought he was exaggerating but one time he and I went to the grocery store together - rare. I was off looking at something in the produce dept and he was over somewhere else getting tomatoes. I turned around to go find him and sure enough - there is some blonde physically helping him put his tomatoes in a bag - I couldn't believe it.

He also refers to them as "sharks". I think mrsmarv has great advice for dealing with them.


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mrsmarv, very funny indeed.... you had to step in and you did, big time.....


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When we talked DH said he didn't realize how I felt and he understands my concerns aboout them spending too much time together. I don't expect him to become a recluse. I need more attention and communication from him when he is away. I do believe he will make an effort to change his behavior. I am working on not sounding like I am attacking when I confront him.
Sweeby- I must admit your response made me laugh. I do agree to an extent but it is hard being positive all the time when you have 2 teenage boys at home. ;)
Sue- Great advice on keeping boundaries.
Seekingadvice- What a story.
mrsmarv- Thanks for the laugh!! You go girl.
She is divorced.
Thanks again for all of the responses.
DB


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DB
I think you are approaching the matter with maturity and grace. Best wishes for a happy outcome. And best wishes raising 2 teen boys. Gotta be tough.


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RE: Advice needed on Marriage

If your husband respects your feelings, he will back away from this woman.It is very important that spouses respect these fears in their wives/husbands, even if they seem groundless. Ask your husband how he would feel if your roles were switched.

I would say that visiting one another's hotel rooms is off limits (that was great advice), he should have no objections to that. But I would also make the dinner meal off limits as well for him and this lady. Do not allow her to schedule business dinners. That can turn into a long, intimate evening, their being mistaken as a married couple, drinking, walking afterwards to see the city, etc. Working lunches, fine. Breakfast? Why? He can read the paper in his room with breakfast brought to him by room-service. Your husband doesn't grasp that this woman may well have him in her sites because he just doesn't get it. But you do. Since it's later in Spain than it is in the US, you can block out an hour or so of your afternoon to spend on the phone with him in his evening. make a daily appointment to talk on the phone. Put the kids on as well. He should also reach out to others (men) while in Spain, developing his professional network only makes good business sense. Before he returns to Spain, give him a 5" by 7" framed photo of yourself in your gorgeous wedding gown. And another framed picture of your children. Every day he can remind himself of how important all of you are to him. He's playing with fire.


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Red flags went up for me when you mentioned that she was complaining to him that drinking alone sucks. On one hand, it gives me the feeling that they are not involved intimately - I can't explain why. Probably because I find it a crass thing to say to a lover? However on the other hand, it is implying that she much prefers drinking with him. What's up with that?

I am comfortable with DH having women friends, and he'll often go to dinner with coworkers or women he knows from charitable activities. I would not like him "going drinking" with them. (Actually he hardly goes out drinking with his buddies either, but that's neither here nor there.) Drinking leads to lapses in judgement and I wouldn't want his judgement compromised while with someone he has an obvious bond with.

I do agree with others who suspect the colleague's intentions are more than platonic. What kind of woman tells a married man that drinking is no fun without him? (Someone like mrsmarv's woman, maybe?) Perhaps now that you've brought this possibility to DH he can better manage that relationship.

DH used to travel about 7-10 days every month. The best advice I can give you is to be sure to make coming home to you is something he *really* looks forward to, if you know what I mean. And while he's gone, remind him of what kind of homecoming he can expect to receive!

Nicole


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I'm sorry, but the IM thing really, really bothers me. All the rest is certainly troublesome, but for a person to give a coworker, (of the opposite sex), their IM, and have that coworker on their buddy list, (guarantee that is true), and to be IMing with them at all, much less AT HOME, and *not wanting you to see it*..... red flags all around.

If a phone call, text message, letter, email or IM is something your spouse doesn't want you to see, WHY NOT?!!

Discussing it is great, but IF something is going on, the (possibly) cheating spouse will just get better at hiding things.

Really, sorry to be the downer on this thread, but I just don't like what you have posted, and I think you need to be in heightened awareness mode.

Personally....many might think this awful, but if this were happening to me, I would put a keylogger on the computer. I would want to know, one way or the other.


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Your husband sounds like a good guy. But I also think his relationship with his coworker has gotten out of hand. They should not be drinking together - unprofessional, potentially career damaging. What would happen if she got drunk and accused your husband of some sort of misconduct? As far as her motives go, who cares? It doesn't matter. You matter and your husband matter - thats it. If he is lonely and bored on these trips (and I can't blame him!), I see nothing wrong with you going with him from time to time. If you can arrange it.

I've gone on business trips with my husband when he has gone places that I've wanted to see. I've even brought the kids. During the day, I occupy myself. My husband eats breakfast and lunch with his coworkers. I don't see him until dinner time (sometimes later than that) unless he gets back early, which is rare. We really don't spend that much time together (business does comes first) but we have fun when we do see each other - having dinner, site seeing, etc. I get the opportunity to see places that I might otherwise never get a chance to see and he gets a break from work. Its a win win.


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DH travels for a living. I knew that when we got married and I have always said, you do what you want to do, know the consequences. I will not tolerate poor behavior. He's in the entertainment business where women throw themselves at all of these guys. It is a sight. When I am backstage at a show, and I see it, it does give me a momentary pause, and the old pit of the stomach thing. Then, I take a step back and get clear on the requirements for being married in this type of situation.

Couple of things - You need to go on some of the trips - he must have a million miles to use, it won't cost you a thing. The kids will live, you should go on one trip alone, and if you want another with the whole family. FIND A WAY. I say this not to surprise him, but more so you all can see each other in those surroundings. They are not theirs but all of yours. You will also get a real feel for their friendship there. She needs to see him as married. You need to see his life when he's away. Seeing you together there will do it. The kids and I go on the tour bus. Not my idea of the best vacation, but it makes his world real to me, and he can feel my prescence there. It is really important for you to "get" how lonely it is to be away that much. It is a really hard life.

OK - this is a toughie to say with my screen name exposed.....phone sex. Address the very real needs you both feel. It is so awkward, that it brings enormous intimacy. DH and I started our relationship while he was on the road for 9 months straight. We got to know each other better than we would have ever imagined. We have been together 20 years now, sometimes those late night calls can build an amazing bridge.

You all might think this is totally odd; I have two frinds at work - men, who I travel with, and hang out with when on business trips. It would never occur to me to invite them into my personal life though. I just had a milestone birthday, DH planned a beautiful party. He asked if I wanted to invite one of these guys, and I was like, no, why? This is one of my best work friends, but we don't hang out on off time. Business travel time is not off time. That said, if you want to invite her to dinner, watch for his reaction, but don't be put off if he says, why?.

OK, I'm done - OH, one more thing, I have a blackberry for work, and I send notes all the time, 5:30 am, 10:00pm we work so much that sometimes we will joke around in the emails. For some reason, I still see that as business. I can imagine an email like - "please forward x to ms. y tomorrow" coming in at a weird hour. I would then respond with sure, why are you doing this now? The answer - Because going out drinking alone sucks. I send email like that all the time to my peers who all work too much.

OK - now, don't take these as excuses to make something right - just my experience.


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I just reread my post, and am worried that the first paragraph sounds like I would accept messing around. What I meant is that I will leave him and he knows it. However, being away all the time requires absolute trust or the marriage wont work. There are just too many opportunities that can be trouble. You will eat yourself alive with worry.


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I understood what you meant, it was clear !! your post is excellent as far as showing a similar situation.


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