Q: My husband of 16 years and I have two sons. We’ve known each other since we met in college, so there have been few surprises, until recently.
He got a new job five years ago and was given a project teammate. He introduced me very early and I liked him.
He said she was gay, and he didn’t mind if he told me. She came to our house for dinner several times and was very good company. Everything was very friendly and relaxed.
Then, before COVID, my husband said they had another more demanding project and he sometimes worked late, also traveling occasionally. I didn’t think about it and just adjusted my own schedule by working from home, which I stuck with when the pandemic started.
During this time, I began to wonder about their relationship. Once they weren’t in the office, my husband always insisted that his “partner” was in his COVID bubble and that they needed to get together sometimes. When some restrictions were lowered, he was at her house several times a week.
I wonder now if the two took me for a fool? What are your thoughts?
Suspicious third party
A:Your thoughts are the important clue here. An evening or two a week working with a project partner is just a matter of “time”. What worries you is the content of this era.
Evaluate your response by considering his behavior when he is home alone with you after the children have fallen asleep. Is he warm and personal with you, interested in your day, cuddly and intimate in bed? Or tired of work and soon to be asleep?
Ask him directly: Does he use the word “gay” as a cover for having sex? If he insists she’s gay, tell him that doesn’t mean their relationship doesn’t interfere with your married life. He is.
What matters is the honesty between you two. If he considers her his best friend, then he is denying you that same important bond. If, instead, he’s honest about an attachment to her — whether they have sex or not — the future is now up to you.
Reader’s Comment Regarding the question from a reader whose mother has Alzheimer’s disease (January 22):
“Her husband knows. What will she say to him that will make him more understanding? Nothing. All she can do is tell him she’s sorry, and that’s hard on her too.
“I propose a discussion on what can be done. Does the husband have any suggestions? They can ask around if people who have been through this situation can offer advice.
“I experienced this situation with my mother. First, I took her to a neurologist who prescribed me some very good medication — not a cure, but a way to slow down the process.
“I also realized that I needed time off. I hired someone to take care of my mother for this reason. Also, I hired someone who would take my mother for walks every day. Little things that make life easier.
“I think it was also easier for my mother, not to be stuck with me.
“There are solutions, small steps, that can be taken and make everyone feel better. Also, it’s good to hear other people’s stories because you might learn how to deal with new situations that arise.
“The worst thing is when that person dies, if you feel so guilty thinking you didn’t do your best.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Don’t let doubts cloud your most important relationship. Ask directly what is going on.
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