My husband was just transferred 2 hours away and I’m staying behind to pack up the house. He has been having an emotional affair with a coworker. Now that he has confessed, he swears they’ve gone back to just being friends.
I just don’t see how I can reconcile with him while he remains in contact with her. He insists she’s the best friend he’s ever had and point blank told me that losing her would make him bitter. But he also admits that he’s in love with her. How can you be “just friends” with someone you love?
I’ve given him the choice that he cuts contact with her or with me. It devastates me that this would take a father away from two young boys (4 and 9 mos) but in all honesty, he’s been emotionally checked out for a long time. I’ve felt like a single mother with one extra fully grown kid for years. He’s barely even been a father to them. He’s been at the new job for two weeks and our 4 year old has barely noticed.
By every shred of logic, I need to walk away. Most everyone I seek advice from tells me the same. So someone please tell me how and why I am struggling so much and feel so torn on what to do. Obviously reconciliation can’t happen as long as he’s unrepentant. And as long as he continues to speak with this woman, he is unrepentant. But I am continuing to give him chance after chance even though it rips my heart out every time. And I don’t even understand why.
Infidelity Recovery Specialist
I’m so sorry you’re have to deal with this situation right now. You must feel like you’re in the Twilight zone at times. This should be time of happiness for you and your family. You and your husband found each other, married, and started a family. The idea was to grow older together!? And yet somehow, your husband has an workplace wife and you’re left scratching your head thinking “what am I missing here?”
It is easy for me to say, “give him an ultimatum” but you know that you want to raise your family with both a Mum and Dad. And so you should. Walking away is quite a modern solution for difficult situations. Plus, while I don’t know how you got your husband to confess, the point is that he did confess to this workplace relationship with you. He told you that he needs a friend, and that it is important to him to be emotionally connected with another human. This is incredibly painful to hear. And now you are left with the truth – your husband’s “Love bank” is getting filled by another woman and not by you.
Giving advice to you knowing such little detail it’s not ideal as I don’t know all the other facts. What you have said, is that your relationship communication style has had long-term issues. Also, many couples who are raising young families allow the children to be an excuse for not putting the marriage relationship first. The sex life becomes non-existent at worst, to infrequent at best. Once a couple stops communicating as friends, and stops having sex, the relationship is at risk.
When I ask men with young children, who have also cheated, “Why didn’t you ask your wife for sex?” They will often say statements like:
- I know she’s tired after being with the children all day
- She doesn’t like sex any more
- She rejected my sexual advances so much, that I don’t even bother to ask any more
- She doesn’t put in any effort in her appearance
- She makes hurtful comments such as “hurry up then” “just get it over with” etc
- I feel like I need to Force her into sex, and that doesn’t make me feel good as a man
For the record, I am not saying your husband has an excuse in turning to another woman for friendship. I personally believe modern relationships have very little boundaries that assist in the marriage lasting a lifetime. People deflect and dismiss concerned comments from their spouse about their opposite sex friends, as “jealously” or that their spouse is “controlling”. However I’m sure you’re not asking for my advice, just to give you confirmation that your husband’s behaviour is wrong.
Now we come to a painful junction, where we need to put our ego aside, and look at the reality of our current relationship (not the “ideal” relationship). Your husband said “losing the friendship with her will make him bitter” – it doesn’t sound like he said, “I want a divorce from you because you make me unhappy.” It’s clear to me that your husband has not set any boundaries to protect your marriage from outside influence. So the solution, before you decide to divorce, is to discover if you in fact can become his best friend, as well as his wife.
Many people today feel that it is okay to share their deepest feelings to members of the opposite sex when they married. Unless we had parents as role models, who put each other first, we don’t know how dangerous it is to have opposite sex friends – that are not friends of the relationship. Role models are how we learn to conduct ourselves, how to treat each other, how to behave. Who was your husband’s role model for being a husband, a father, and a man?
You said that you are in the process of packing up the house to move closer to his workplace. This is great news. You’ll now be able to spend more time with him alone and as a family. Perhaps you could go to the workplace at his lunchtime. Allowing both the other woman and the work colleagues to meet you, and see that you are REAL. Nothing shatters a fantasy workplace relationship, then to see the reality walk through the door. Work colleagues Will not be as accepting of your husband’s relationship with the female colleague, when they see you face-to-face. People then have to reflect on their own values and morals – and many will share their dislike for the workplace relationship to the individuals, and in some cases, to the workplace HR department.
As a infidelity recovery counselor, I recommend you find a relationship coach, or therapist in your area who has helped couples in this situation. If your husband does not want to attend the counselling session, then you should start by yourself. Frequently, when one person begins counselling, the other will follow if the therapist is not judgemental and has an actual strategy.
NOTE: if money is an issue, there are many free online support services. Also, your local church, or community centre may have some options you can explore.
Ideally, the counsellor Will assess the state of the relationship. The counselling session shouldn’t be focused on having your husband judged on his relationship with the other woman. Right now, the argument will be that nothing sexually happened, and that he is doing no harm. The counsellor Will need to find out what each person needs, and from that point, look at why these needs are not getting met. You and your husband Will then be given strategies, education, and motivation, to move away from the old patterns that do not serve the greater good of the relationship.
Each person needs to be able to say what their needs are (Emotional Needs), and rank their partners ability to meet these needs on a scale of 1 to 10. Natalie, imagine if your husband said to you, “I really need you to be my friend right now. All we do is talk about the children. I feel like my only role is to bring home the money. I’ve lost my identity as a person…..” What would you do? Would you change some part of your day for one on one Time with your husband?
Why am I talking about this versus giving you advice about the workplace wife?
It is more socially acceptable to divorce then to work through life’s challenges. This strategy is extremely damaging on the individual, the family, and at the societal level. Instead of looking constructively at how we can work together to overcome challenges, we choose to start again with someone new.
Unfortunately the idea of workplace husband and wife relationships are tolerated, for most part, in the workforce. People in the workplace spend the majority of the time sharing their lives with complete strangers. If the individual doesn’t have strong boundaries because of one reason or another, they allow their emotional needs to be fulfilled by others.
Couples need to talk about relationship boundaries often. Unfortunately, it is not until mistakes are made that people look too expanding their knowledge and skill set in maintaining healthy marriages. Marriage coaching is extremely difficult when you start, because even though you know changes are necessary, the process of change is extremely hard. You need to find a counsellor who will give you the skills to facilitate this change.
Natalie your relationship can be saved. You need to act now, and begin the personal growth journey on how to communicate effectively with your partner. Once your husband sees that you are fighting for your relationship, he will also beginning to reflect on ways to save his family.
You may also find these posts useful: