Wife's Affair Rocks His Boat
Q: I'm 34 and married. I've known this man (Mark) for two+ years. We work together and usually grab lunch together. I've usually invited my wife to join us. A few months ago, she told me she didn't have any feelings for a lot of things including me. We worked through that but in the meantime, she began a new ritual of going to the gym to work out at a later time, one that did not allow me to go along as the child care center there was closed. This is also the time Mark was usually there. I saw an interest developing between them (on his part it was more obvious). When I talked to her about this, she denied it and got angry, but three weeks later she did admit to having the same feelings for him she had for me. Although I've talked to Mark about it and he knows how I feel, he is again making very obvious moves. To confront him is to open possible work-related issues. I would ask my wife to make it clear to him she is no longer interested in him, but I believe she still is and she wouldn't do it anyway. My question is do I continue to try to avoid situations (like lunch) where they will be in contact and hope this eventually passes, though I am not sure it will, or do I force the issue knowing that it may very well lead to the end of an otherwise acceptable marriage? -- Dave
Dr. Susan: Dave, only you can decide what an "acceptable marriage" is. If you can be satisfied with a wife who lies and gets angry when confronted with the truth, so long as your work and home lives are free of overt conflict, fine. It's your trade-off to make. You certainly don't sound happy, but you're clearly afraid to set real boundaries lest the situation get even worse. You say you've worked through things, but what does that mean? When your wife first indicated she'd lost her feelings for you, she might have already begun transferring her feelings over to Mark. How you can still have lunch with this man is beyond me. Sure, their affair may eventually pass. Such flings usually do. But can you stand the thought of spending the next several decades with this woman, knowing she won't even come clean when you know what's going on? Don't "settle," unless you're prepared to keep settling for the rest of your life. Insisting on honesty and loyalty all around does risk rocking the boat. Like I said, it's your choice.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.