Wife's Young Friend
Q: My wife of 17 years has recently befriended a 25-year-old male (I'm 42, she's 37). His little brother plays Little League for me. He is a nice person and has some common interests with my wife. For about the last month and a half, she's been text-messaging and talking to him regularly, even in the middle of the night. She says I don't have the right to see her messages, and she usually won't talk to him on the phone in front of me. She has gone with him as late as 10:30 PM to shop at Wal-Mart. I've come home late after band practice and seen the two of them watching a movie in the dark sitting very close to each other. I was irate, but neither of them could understand why. Oddly, our marital relationship has been better and more intimate than ever before, which I attribute to the fact that she is friends with this guy. I am trying to understand that there is nothing going on because this guy is not very good-looking and my wife is very attractive and young-looking, but I have this gut feeling that something is not right. She also said she would rather I leave than that she give up his friendship. She thinks I am trying to control her, but I'm not. What should I do? -- George
Dr. Susan: Warning lights are blinking bright red on this one, George. Whether or not your wife and this young guy have begun a sexual affair or not, they're playing with fire. Keeping secrets from a mate is the beginning of serious trouble. Not that you need to see every message or listen to every conversation, but the fact that she's hiding so much concerns me plenty, as it should concern you. Even though you say you're benefiting from the sexual energy they're sparking, who's to say it won't set a wildfire that will consume your whole family in the end?
They couldn't understand why you were irate when you caught them cozying up to one another in the dark? Of course they could understand it. Every adulterer on the block has tried that one: "Who, me? I'm innocent. You're the one out of line. You're trying to control me." This is precisely how many affairs begin.
Middle-of-the-night calls, messages, and visits would make a lot of spouses feel left out and anxious. Your wife owes you a little consideration. Admit you're troubled by her secretiveness, as well as the high priority she's placing on her relationship with another man. Suggest she help you find some way of getting the reassurance you need without her feeling controlled.
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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.