Garth wrote to me to ask if he’d been out of line. He found out that his wife (of nine years) has been text messaging and talking a little too much with a particular co-worker. This co-worker, Mark, happens to live in the same neighborhood they live in, is also married, and has three little kids. Not only do they text, but they also call each other, carpool once in a while to and from work, and sometimes even work out together at the same gym.
Garth has talked to his wife and has asked her to stop this behavior because it makes him feel uncomfortable. He also has told her, repeatedly, that he could drop her off and/or pick her up from the train station so she wouldn’t have to carpool with Mark. He has offered to work out with her, but there is always an excuse why she cannot. She explains away by asking why she should pay to ride the train all the time if she can save some money by hitching a ride with her co-worker. To pacify Garth, she says she’s going to workout with him; but when the time comes that they have agreed to, she has either gone earlier to do her workout (with Mark) or finds an excuse not to go. Garth doesn’t know what else to say to make her stop. All she has to say when Garth shares his concerns is that she isn’t doing anything wrong. She tells him everything. She says her friendship with Mark is totally platonic and Garth must simply be jealous and insecure. Garth is now asking if I have any helpful advice for him.
Garth has the right to feel insecure, jealous, and uncomfortable. His wife’s behavior is boorish. She’s turning Garth down at every suggestion simply so she can do things with her co-worker. Platonic my butt! If her relationship is still platonic, then she’s flirting with this guy and is on her way to having a full-fledged affair. We all know that this is the way things start. When a spouse starts to behave like Garth’s wife, that’s bad news for the marriage. All that extra time spent with this other guy is going to make her feel much closer to him. Then they start sharing stories; a little problem at their perspective homes becomes a monster when is not necessary to be; they start feeling sorry for each other. Then there’s a little lunch here and a little dinner there, then, “BAM!” They’re starting an affair.
Garth, read carefully: it is time to stop feeling uncomfortable and bring a meeting to order. Tell her that your marriage is in deep trouble and she doesn’t seem to be the least concerned. Tell her she’s hurting your feelings and she doesn’t seem to care. Tell her she’s simply being dismissive by telling you that you’re jealous and insecure. Basically, she’s choosing Mark over you, her husband. Tell her she’s deliberately trying to hurt you; and if this behavior continues, you both need to start talking about whether or not your marriage will survive or it is already doomed. Depending on what her answer is, it will determine what your next step should be. Good luck with that.