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The Other Side of the Story

I'm the other side of the story. I'm the husband whose wife is attracted to her new boss. We've been married for sixteen years--admittedly, not all of them happy. We've had our problems--some of them big. Perhaps I shouldn't have expected more or better than what's happening in my life now. I certainly don't feel I deserve more, yet I have experienced emotional pain, anxiety and depression, to one degree or another, every day since her confession of the attraction about three months ago.

She said she is troubled by her feelings, she wishes she didn't have them, she wishes she could take a pill and not feel the attraction; she says she can't dictate her feelings. She also said nothing has happened between them, but I wonder and worry how long until something does--if it hasn't already.

In my pain I gave her what I thought was sage advice... The longer you remain in an environment--or around a person--where compromise is likely to occur the greater the probability that compromise will occur.

For her such "sage" advice is irrelevant. She maintains that she cannot dictate her feelings, try as she might. To me it sounds like the excuse of someone either falling prey to a "victim mentality" or someone who, on some level, likes the feelings of attraction and doesn't want to do anything about them. Coming from me either of those suggestions sounded insulting to her.

If she's telling the truth then there must be a side to this situation that one who has not experienced attraction to someone other than one's spouse cannot truly understand. I'm willing to concede that as a truism. Never-the-less, the emotional pain and depression is very real, like a huge cloud hanging over me every minute. My chest feels heavy. I have difficulty concentrating, my thoughts are obsessive. I ask myself if there's anything I can do to change her feelings; maybe if I become a better husband, lose 25 pounds, get a new wardrobe.

In truth, none of those things would matter much.

The best I can hope for, at this point, is that my wife is right in her hope that the attraction will simply wear itself out over time. But what just kills me is that she wouldn't consider quitting her job (admittedly higher paying than mine, and a job she loves) for the sake of the marraige. If I were in her position I'm pretty sure I would do what ever I could, up to and including quitting my job, to save my marraige; to honor my wife and ease her fears and pain. At the very least she needs to have a plan ready to enact if her boss invites her out to socialize after work or makes a pass at her; a plan to establish boundaries, a plan to keep things professional rather than too personal.

I don't know what she'll do. I don't know where this will end up. I can't stand the thought of being shattered; "damaged goods" in my mid-life. I can't stand the though of being the divorced father picking his kids up Wednesdays and every other weekend.

If you're a woman (or man) attracted to someone else I'd ask you to put the person you will be hurting above your tingly, fuzzy feelings--at least if you're married, where putting your spouse's feelings ahead of your own is the ideal. Do whatever you can to avoid a position of compromise--even if you don't feel like it. Heck, we get up in the morning and go to school or work when we don't feel like it. We pay taxes even though we don't feel like it.

Along with taking yourself out of the environment or away from the person where your feelings may compromise you make a committment to love your spouse. By "love" I don't mean feelings. I mean love, as a verb. Choose to committ and love (verb) and I believe the feelings will follow.

I wish my wife would.


lrwilliams lrwilliams 41-45 4 Responses Mar 17, 2009

Your Response


Thank you for sharing this. I had feelings for someone once while I was dating my boyfriend. I told my boyfriend and asked him what to do, but no matter how I asked, he never seemed to understand that I wanted to work with him and figure it out- not rationalize my feelings. I didn't like that I had feelings for the guy, but the more my boyfriend began insulting me and questioning my pas from years before I even met him, the more I wanted to be with that other person. Still, I ended up walking away and going back to my boyfriend. He still doesn't trust me with other men, though. I wish he had listened to me and offered actual help and ways to avoid the guy- I was at a loss and could have used the motivation and reassurance as well as direction. <br />
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Your wife was at the spot I was, but instead of pushing for the answers by sucking it up and humbling herself a tiny bit, she went to see if what she thought was better really was. I think she was on the defensive and, in her mind, her need to defend herself outweighed the effects of her actions. It's scary that women choose that, but it so sadly happens. <br />
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What made my boyfriend and I turn around and leave that subject (for the most part) was his agreement to reassure me first and then explain a solution instead of explaining where I went wrong first. It helps me get my head on straight and let the information sink in as loving advice instead of a better-than-thou statement or my inferiority. I'm not saying that is how you stated it (because you seemed to have stated it nicely), but I think your wife is someone who needs to know the tone of what you're saying before you say it.<br />
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I hope you two have solved your differences by now.

The update...<br />
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My wife told me she had to go into work on a Sunday to take care of paperwork. I was concerned and suspicious so I asked specifically if she had any other plans or intended to go anywhere else but into work. She said, no.<br />
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Well, I checked her web browsing history and found that she had visited the Starbucks website and pulled up a couple location maps near her office. She doesn't drink coffee, by the way.<br />
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I confronted her and asked if she was planning to go to Starbucks with her boss. She was evasive but led me to believe that she had work to do in the office. I told her I'd trust her, and trust her to do the right thing, and leave it at that.<br />
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When she came home Sunday afternoon I said nothing about her day except to ask if she accomplished the work she needed to catch up on.<br />
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On Tuesday we argued about the issue and, when pressed, admitted that she had, in fact, met with her boss. First she said that he met her halfway to bring her some papers that needed signing. Of course, that was a lie. He lives far enough away that my wife would have to have driven about 12 miles to meet him halfway. I reminded her that the Starbucks maps found in her history file were near the office. What, I wanted to know, should I assume given that they met, supposedly to sign paperwork, a a Starbucks instead of the office? I called it for what I thought it was: a date.<br />
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I told her, "you and your boss, someone to whom you are attracted, secretly arranged a "date" at a Starbucks on a Sunday afternoon. You evaded my questions and lied to me about it. Then you lied and said he met you halfway to sign paperwork. What else really gets me is that you took that time away from our kids, on their day off from school, to meet this guy."<br />
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She has downplayed the encounter. She said that she did not consider it a date, although she can see how I might, given the degree to which I had blown the issue out of proportion.<br />
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Did you catch that? How I had blown the issue out of proportion!<br />
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She downlplayed her attraction for her boss. She said that it wasn't that big a thing anymore. She said that co-workers sometimes socialize in non-business settings and discuss things other than business.<br />
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True enough. <br />
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But a married woman attracted to her boss should have sense enough to know better than to meet him outside of work to discuss personal, non-business things. Not if she values her marraige anyway. And that's the rub. Because we have had our problems I think she's at the place where she just doesn't value the marraige enough to try to rebuild it.<br />
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Married women (or men) in this situation should look closely at their motivation for pursuing an attraction at the expense of their spouse's feelings and their committment to their marraige covenant.<br />
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My wife has demonstrated a measure of raionalization for her behavior. She's somehow told herself that it is OK and doesn't mean anything. She doesn't want to call it what it is: a date. She can't even bring herself to apologize and admit that her behavior was wrong.<br />
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If you're in a similar situation, are you rationalizing your behavior? Are you downplaying the impact on your spouse? Are you lying? Are you keeping secrets?<br />
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If you are. You have a problem.

I am a girl who is sort of in this situation (and is very confused as to what I should do), you have just opened my eyes. I will take your advice. Thank-you so very much.

Don't ever think that changing yourself will make her love you more. Because the bottom line is, you shouldn't have to. As your wife, she chose to marry you. for better or for worse. so nevermind the unhappy times, the good ones are what counts! the commitment you both made.. is what counts.<br />
She needs to take some time alone i think to sort her feelings out. What would she rather? her husband, with whom she has a home and children, a family. Or a boss, who may not even be interested in her anyway?<br />
You should give your wife the option. tell her to consider her children in all of this. how would they feel if the family was ripped apart by a stupid crush. <br />
You need to be strong right now, especially for the sake of your kids. i know it must be really difficult for you but hang in there, try and hold it togeather. give her an ultimatum. make her choose, because this is not only affecting you like i said, it's also going to have a possibly negative impact on your children's lives.<br />
she needs to make her choice. I know what i would do. But is she selfish enough to do the opposite? or does she really care about her 16 years of family building?