- 3 years ago
- Wedding: August 2011
I apologize in advance for this exceedingly long post, but here it goes.
Darling Husband and I have been married for almost 6 years now. He works in a job that is female-dominated and has two female coworkers with whom he is particularly close. One of them, “Michelle,” I am completely okay with, but the other, “Jen,” rubs me the wrong way with regards to their closeness. I have zero fear of anything physical happening between them, but I do fear an emotional infidelity is not far off, if it hasn’t already arrived between the two of them. Jen is constantly Facebook messaging him, either 1:1 or within a group setting with Michelle. Michelle is better at being unplugged outside of work hours, but my husband and Jen were always in contact throughout the night. I would hear his phone buzz as late as midnight some nights. Most of the texts are work related, but they are never work emergencies.
Jen is married with two kids, and she and my husband also graduated from the same higher ed institution, which is the institution where they both work. Independent of her relationship with my husband, I would honestly say that Jen is really a good person. But she has done things like invited him to join her sister for a Beyonce concert (they had an extra ticket (?)), she and my husband went to an alumni cooking class together that was only for alum, he invited her on one of our date nights to a sporting event because he got discounted tickets through an alumni event (she didn’t know about it until he told her,) she comes to our house during the summer when I am at work and they have the summers off, her kids and her met up with my husband and our daughter at the beach while I was at work about three times over the summer while I was at work….she is uncomfortably close to him. For the longest time, I was trynig to not be the psycho sounding wife and forbidding their relationship, but it got to a point where I couldn’t handle it anymore. The first time I noticed him putting on cologne (which he NEVER wore before) was when he went out for the cooking event. After that, they went out for drinks and ice cream. I asked him about the cologne and why he started wearing it….he said, “My mom got this for me a while back. Do I need to throw it away now?” I hated the defensive nature of his tone. I feel like they’ve done more date-like things than he and I have done ever since our daughter was born in June 2015. Every time he goes to work or an event where she’ll be there, he wears the cologne.
Flash forward to last month, and my husband went to a conference–he didn’t bring his cologne, by the way. I was using his iPad that night, and lo and behold, it starts buzzing with messages from Jen. It was synced. I noticed that he would often write to Jen and Michelle (in a group chat) things about the conference that weren’t work-related (e.g. the band is playing Journey songs, LOL the people dancing look ridiculous right now, etc.) and then I would hear the same thing about 5 minutes later. It hurt that I wasn’t the first person he wanted to share those moments with. This happened throughout the conference. I once wrote to him, “How’s the conference going?” and I didn’t hear back from him for a over an hour. Yet, he was messaging Jen throughout that time. When he responded to me, he wrote, “I need to remind you that I’m at a conference. I can’t chat during sessions.”
My curiosity got the best of me, and I started snooping through the messages he has had with her. While most of the messages are work-related, there were some that I thought were really inappropriate. One was when he wrote to her in response to a vaguebook, “Do you mind tellin me what’s up? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.” She responded that she was in an unhappy place often and she and her husband had been having some problems; she completely blamed herself for the problems but it was just hard to deal with anyway. During their winter break, she wrote to him, “This may sound odd, but I’m glad we still chat over break. I think a lot of the others [colleagues] like to go offline to get some separation from work. Which I understand but it can be jarring to me.” My husband wrote back, “Yes, I like chatting with you, too. I don’t find it jarring, but I like staying connected.” He wrote to her another time, “I hope all is well. You’ve been quiet on chat for the past several days (they were on summer break,) but I imagine you are busy.” He also went through the process of helping her find a therapist….and on days they did go to the beach together with our daughter and her kids, they were chatting more that evening when I was home from work. She invited him to join her and her for fireworks on 4th of July (we already had plans, thank God,) but he told her that he wished he could join her and that we’d go next year (as in this year.) He was her shoulder when things at home were not going as she wanted with a friend of her husband’s moving in (a friend she wasn’t fond of.) He told her of some of his past with his dad and alcohol and was trying to help her through some heavier drinking times. They were chatting nearly every day during the summer while I was at work, and they continued to chat when I was home in the evenings and on the weekends. Not non-stop every minute, but regularly enough that it was grating on me.
He has another conference coming up in May near the city where we got engaged (and it would be a 7 year engagement anniversary). Jen invited him to present with her in a suburb of said larger city. I got excited because I was talking about how we could go together and make it a fun anniversary event. He said it wouldn’t be any fun for me because it was such a long commute from the suburb into the city with no car. I backed down at that point after trying to convince him of other things I/we could do during that time. After backing down, I was sick to my stomach but said okay because professional development is important to him. The conference was from Tuesday through Friday. At this point, I spilled ALL my feelings about my discomfort of his relationship with Jen. I told him I feared an emotional affair was happening or about to happen. He became defensive and said, “So you don’t trust me now?” I tried to explain that we don’t have as much control over our feeilngs as we might think we do. In his defensive nature, he said, “Fine, I will stop talking to her.” I knew this was hyperbole, but I let him know that this wasn’t far off from what I would want to happen, honestly. We eventually agreed that he would be allowed to read her messages but couldn’t respond unless it was during work hours. I felt these were reasonable boundaries. During the summer, I have asked him to not have any 1:1 chats with her. If he wanted to catch up, we can have her (and her family, if he wished) over for dinner as much as he wanted. Or we could meet up with them at the beach. I just made it clear that I wanted to be present. He also, on his own, changed his conference (where he’ll be presenting) to fly out Thursday and return Friday after he presents. It has now been about a month that these boundaries have been set. He is not fond of them and says I’m controlling and manipulating him but he’ll do it if it will keep the peace. At this point, he angrily told me he would not stay at the conference any longer than he needed to. (The conference was not directly relevent to most of what he does for work, and he was really only going for the presentation.)
I wanted to see if he was staying true to his word, so I looked at the iPad again yesterday while he was out. For the most part, he is. There have been a few times where he’s responded to her, but it was very brief…maybe because I was in the room or coming into the room, I don’t know. I did see a conversation that took place between them where she brought up the conference saying she wanted to just get to the fun stuff right away and talking about how “we” could go to the city, or that there was a nice nature reserve not far with good hiking, a fun restaurant she wanted to try with him, she could rent a car for them to use, etc. This was before he said he would only go from Thursday to Friday. I asked him if she was going for the whole conference (I think it would be telling if she suddenly was only going for one or two nights now that he is only doing that, too.)
I feel like I am controlling and manipulative, and maybe it’s because I’m internalizing what he has said, but I honestly don’t know how else to deal with this. It is impacting my productivity at work, too. I have asked him many times to consider couples counseling, and he flat out said no. He thinks I want to do it so I can get validation that my feelings are normal and that he is in the wrong for “doing nothing but being friends with a coworker.” I feel more distant from my husband than I’ve ever felt. I can’t stand this person (but like I said, under different circumstances, I would probably like her company.) I hate having such conflicting feelings. It makes me wish I had a male friend/colleague who would message me late into the night throughout the weekend, etc. so he can understand what it’s like. It sucks being on this end.
Right now, I do feel that he loves me, but only in the minimal way. I want to know what she provides for him daily that I don’t. Was it merely that she gave him the attention? I gave him plenty of attention, too. Was it the thrill of the sexual tension that he would deny to his grave is there? Has anyone had a spouse with a coworker (of the sex that the spouse is attracted to) that has made them uncomfortable? I don’t expect him to avoid her at work, of course, but I just want him to leave her at work and not have her CONSTANT messages interrupting our time together. I’m just tired of feeling like the third wheel in my own marriage but want my happy husband back, too. 🙁 For those of you who have had similar situations, how have you dealt?