When wives behave badly

Behaving badly- iStockphotoGarth 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.

Answer:

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.

Affairs …. sometimes we can’t undo what we’ve done!

Rights Reserved to Cleo Malaysia via Flickr*Claudia broke off a 3 year old affair with a married co-worker when her husband of 25 years found out. Even though her husband was a hard worker and is sweet, kind, and generous, she said she had an affair because he worked long hours. Even when he was at home, he didn’t make time for her. He would still work more hours. On the weekends it was the same routine: more work. Claudia was lonely and sad.

It has now been 6 months since she broke off the affair; but she still has feelings for the married co-worker, who has since then reconciled with his wife. Claudia, on the other hand, made a conscious decision to stay in her marriage; and for the past two months, at her husband’s request, she has been attending counseling sessions with heim in an effort to put their marriage back together.  Her husband decided that he wouldn’t work as much; he’d change his habits and do whatever needed to be done. Claudia feels too much time has passed and doesn’t believe she can get the feelings back. She wants to know how to break the news to her husband that she still has feelings for the other guy and no longer wants to stay in the marriage.

Answer:

Basically, Claudia, you are only in counseling because he asked and not because you truly want to be. You are simply going through the motions in order to say that you tried but in reality you want to unload him. I think you should not throw away a 25 year marriage just because you’re no longer  “feeling it.” I think before you blast him off, you could give it another go. Then, if you would like to save your marriage, you are going to have to ignore your feelings for your stallion (remember that he has moved on) and behave towards your husband like you still love him. Usually feelings follow behaviors. If you act lovingly, sweetly, and kindly towards him and treat him as if you’re in love just like when you first met him, the loving feelings will follow. However, if you still decide that you don’t want to be with him, then be kind to him. In one of your counseling sessions, with the help of the therapist, tell him you want to terminate your marriage.

Make sure that’s what you want and that you won’t feel regret later. If you follow my blog, you probably read about a few ladies ladies in the same situation as yours and they decided that they no longer wanted to be married. Well, after their divorces, they found out that life alone in singleton wasn’t what it was cracked up to be and were trying to win their nice husbands back. Unfortunately, their husbands had already moved on to someone else and didn’t want anything to do with them. Think carefully, like their situation, your husband is a nice guy and he still wants you even though you breached his trust. Sometimes we can’t undo what we have already done.

*names has been changed for privacy reasons

 

 

 

The results are in: people think she’s a nut job!

Remember the reader who was asking if he was a liar or overly sensitive? He would tell his wife something and she, in turn, would say he didn’t tell her. He asked for help and I asked the readers to weigh in. Read the original post in its entirety here: http://www.cristinarobinson.com/am-i-a-liar-or-simply-overly-sensitive/

I received the most responses through emails and twitters instead of Facebook. Here is the final result: 8% thought she may be having a medication that is making her forgetful but the other 92% thought she was a nut job and was “gaslighting” him.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception, and sanity. The term “gaslighting” comes from the play Gas Light and its film adaptations in which a husband secretly dims the gas lights in the house and when his wife remarks on it, he claims that she is mistaken. This is done to convince the woman that she cannot trust her own judgment and so will not be believed if she tries to report other strange things that are genuinely occurring. The term is now also used in clinical and research literature.

Now, my answer to him: you knew her well before getting married. You acknowledged that she used to behave this way when you were dating and you still thought she was good enough to be your bride. You say you still love her; and if you still do, I don’t think divorcing her is the right thing to do. Not every marriage needs to end up in divorce. Some marriages are destructive and dangerous; but in your case, that doesn’t apply. I think your wife has a very bad and annoying behavior; but if everything about her is good, then there is a way that you can cut her bad behavior by modifying yours. You have no control over her behavior. However, you do have control over yours.

This is what you are going to do: instead of taking notes privately, you are going to do it in her face but “gently.” Buy one of those square calendars with pictures in it and put it in a place where you both can look at it every day. When having a conversation that you deem important, tell her that because “your” memory seems to be faulty, you will make a little note of your conversation.  By placing the blame on yourself, you’ll ensure that she won’t become defensive about it. When you’re out having an important conversation, mention that you better make a note of it so you won’t forget about it. It will be annoying in the beginning for you; but once she slips and says, “You didn’t tell me that,” you can gently tell her, “I need to check the calendar and see my notes. You may be right.” Then once you show her that she was the wrong one, she will start behaving better because she will know that she can no longer use that excuse.

It will take a few times, but she will correct her behavior. I know this for sure because I, myself, have used this technique with a friend that I loved and adored but didn’t want to lose the friendship. I know of others who have done it very successfully as well. It’s tiring in the beginning, but you will see results after a few times. Once the person sees that he/she is going to be called out, they will change their behaviors. Otherwise, they are going to be considered the nutty ones, and people don’t like to look bad in front of others who are supposed to love them. Now, if that’s the only complaint you have about your wife, then you’re lucky. There are worse things to worry about. It’s all about your level of tolerance; but I still think this is not something to get a divorce over. Good luck with that.

Are we happier now?

The latest essay coming out on the Atlantic.

The Weaker Sex

How the new gender economics has more and more professional-class women looking at their mates and thinking: How long until I vote you off the island?

By SANDRA TSING LOH

Today’s women have achieved a goal that social commentators have inveighed against for centuries: economic in­dependence. Railed The Times of London in 1868, in opposing property rights for married women: “The proposed change would totally destroy the existing relation between husband and wife.” An American letter-writer declared in 1903:

“The wife who has her own income is thereby rendered a poorer wife [and,] feeling independent of her natural protector, she becomes more critical, less lenient to his faults and failings.”     click here to continue reading

Staying at home mom? Why pursue an education?

*Sylvia, from San Francisco, graduated a few months ago from Stanford. Recently, she quit her job and has been staying home with her 16 month old daughter. She and her husband decided that she would stay home until the little girl turns three. Since staying home with her baby, the thought of having to leave her baby is making her “incredibly sad.” Now that her daughter is almost two years old, she was thinking of possibly having another child. They would be back to back, so she would be able to spend the most amount of time with her children. However, her husband is nervous because by having another child, she would be delayed from going back to the work force. She feels in her heart that she wants to raise her babies. If they scale down their lives, they would not have a need for more money; but every time she brings it up in a most loving way, her husband’s argument is always money. “Why did you go to school to get a degree if you’re not going to use it?” She said she’s feeling a lot of physical anxiety over this. She wants to know if wanting to stay home and raise her babies is being “unreasonable,” as her husband says.

I need to take a deep breath here and measure my words, when in reality I want to SHOUT, “Why do women marry guys like this?” I don’t understand that. The question I have is, why would a woman be with the kind of guy who is just counting the moments until his woman brings in more money; leaving the kids somewhat neglected?” What kind of a man does that, and what kind of a woman would crumble under that? *biting my tongue*

Sylvia, my way of looking at this is that you need to remind him that he’s not only a man but he is THE MAN; and he’s your man and your expectation is that he’s going to slay dragons to take care of his family. He’s not going to sit there and count the seconds until you can bring in more money so he can have more vacations or what have you. You have to have the strength to turn that boy into a man. Their fathers do the first part of taking boys and turning them into men. Then it’s the wife’s turn to do the second part by holding high expectations.

Why did you get your education? To be educated; to be able to vote properly; to be able to have conversations; to teach children … The critical thinking and reasoning skills (just to name a few) you learn in college will stay with you for a lifetime. There are a lot of reasons a person gets educated, it isn’t just to bring in money. If a woman is educated and she CHOOSES to go to work instead of being a mother full time, it’s her choice; but if she chooses to stay home and raise her babies, she should be able to, especially when she knows she can work around the money issue.

I have no idea what kind of woman raised him, but I do understand the kind of environment he’s around in San Francisco, and it’s not pretty. Many men in this town are used to getting a free ride from the women they go out with on their first date and even while the courtship is going on, they expect the woman to pay her half. Then when they see a woman with great potential to earn, their eyes grow bigger. I know. I have seen it with my own eyes. You need to INFORM him LOVINGLY that you will not be returning to work; that you will raise your own babies; that you will want to have influence over your babies. Do not crumble when he starts whining.

Understand that he has no sense of his own worth and value as a provider. You have to help him regain what men used to have; PRIDE in being the provider and the protector.