I think my husband is cheating with this married woman he’s working on a project for. She is in the process of getting a divorce, and meanwhile, confides in my husband about everything that’s happening in her life. He tells me all these things, so that’s how I know. Mind you, they just met a few months ago, when he did another project for her. She has been very pushy and inappropriate — calling all hours of the night, calling weekends, and commenting on his social media with loving emoticons. I wasn’t worried at first because he had said that she was annoying, but now he has taken on this new project and they spend a lot of time together, and he no longer describes her as a hindrance. He has stopped wearing his wedding ring to work, and when I asked him whether there was something going on, his response wasn’t, “Hell no”, it was, “What kind of question is that?”, the way guilty people respond. What can I do? I’m not the type to fight over a man or lower myself for any man, but I don’t want to miss the red flags and then later find out that things were happening right in front of my face.
There are several issues to speak to here. Let me start with this — I like to remind couples that, unless you can relate, you don’t have a relationship. Good communication is critical to maintaining a healthy marriage. The value of spending time relating cannot be overstated. You can often judge the health of a relationship based on the frequency of heart-to-heart chats. It is wonderful to hear of your heart-to-heart conversations with your husband, including about this situation. It says that you are both pretty mature. However, it seems this lady is seeking heart to hearts with him too.
1) Keep communication going. Make sure to work at maintaining heart-to-heart conversations with your husband. Set the most conducive atmosphere, and ask him again if there’s anything romantic happening with this lady. And know that there’s great opportunity to extract information from romantic getaways and from pillow talks.
2) Don’t ‘convict him’ without evidence. There must be some level of trust in your relationship. His spending time with the lady could all be professional. He mentioned her to you, about her confiding in him, etc, trust that he will speak up if their contact got inappropriate.
3) Defending your marriage is noble. Don’t think of yourself as lower in worth because you’re defending your marriage. Fighting for your partner is a display of courage, maturity, and strength. That’s not to say that I condone physically fighting over him. But if the lady is, as you say, pushy and inappropriate, she may be a predator. And men do need defending from predators at times too.
4) Ask him to keep the ring on. You could ask him to not remove his ring without mentioning it to you before he removes it. Unless it has to do with his safety.
5) Discourage his receiving late calls. Remind him to set and keep boundaries for calls and for social media too.
6) Get help when necessary. If you think that the situation is getting worse and he’s pulling away, ask him to join you in a powwow with a third party. A good mature friend or a good counsellor will do. Introducing a counsellor to the situation might require skill to convince him to attend. But a good counsellor can be very helpful to rescue a vulnerable situation.
Loving someone does make us vulnerable to being hurt, but love is the best emotion and best experience this life has to offer. I pray your marriage will be rescued from any threats to your happily ever after.
Get on The Counsellor’s Couch with Rev Christopher Brodber, who is a counsellor and minister of religion. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.