Latest update: May 22nd, 2012
Question: I trust my husband implicitly. He has never given me reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. So, why am I writing? Three years ago he began a new job. He works very closely with a frum woman. They make a very good team – she is the salesperson and crucial to the business. A few months ago they started to train together to run in a half marathon for tzedakah. Then I found out that she and her husband had separated. I did not hear this from my husband – it was a friend who told me. When I asked my husband why he didn’t tell me, he said that she asked him not to tell anyone and he respected her privacy. Then I found out that they skipped a workout because of the rain and instead had lunch together. This I heard from a friend who saw them together. Please understand I don’t want to think he’s doing anything wrong. Surely he wouldn’t be in a restaurant for all to see if he was up to no good. He says I’m being overly sensitive. Is he right?
Answer: Let me begin by saying – stop trusting your husband implicitly. You said he’s never given you reason to suspect him of wrongdoing. Guess what? Now he has. I’m not a fan of any married person spending loads of time with a member of the opposite sex – alone – especially for extracurricular activities. Training for a half marathon means they have practice runs for at least an hour to start and eventually it will work itself up to two hours or more. As they jog they chat, laugh, discuss business; all the things you’d like to do with your husband but probably don’t have the time to. One of the reasons you don’t have that time is because he’s with her. It’s one thing to have a business relationship, and even that should be scrutinized, but this is a further step – and it’s dangerous. The number one place men meet the women they cheat with is at work, the number two place is while engaging in a hobby. Your situation rings both bells. Trust your intuition. If you are getting a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach over this, that tells you better than any list I could give you that something is up.
What may be confusing you is that you don’t want to believe your husband is physically cheating on you. But this doesn’t mean you should be ignoring his behavior. Unlike what many think, research has proven that the vast majority of men who cheat had an emotional relationship with the woman well before it became physical. Perhaps your husband is out in public with this woman because he hasn’t gone so far as to physically cheat, so he’s not hiding the relationship. However, this doesn’t mean he is not doing anything inappropriate. Spending hours of leisure time alone with her and having this emotional relationship is inappropriate. It is also likely to develop into an emotional bond that will threaten your marriage, regardless of whether he ever turns it into a physical affair. You have every right to be concerned.
Have a serious talk with him and explain that you want to feel closer to him. Let him know that you value your marriage and don’t want to take what seems to be the easy route of not confronting the situation. Tell him your frustration; don’t make it about this other woman as much as it being about the two of you. Both of you deserve to have more time together and should be working on how to make it happen. Maybe the two of you need a new hobby or exercise routine. Be willing to listen to what he’d like to do for fun and share your own ideas as well. You want to stop him from relating to this other woman, but you need to give him an outlet for this emotional energy. I’m not suggesting he’s missing something and you’re at fault. I’m suggesting that he’s acting inappropriately, but this emotional energy needs to find a home and it better be your home. You want to get your marriage back on track to where he’s getting this emotional bond and then some, with you.
And what about you? Don’t you deserve that love and energy coming your way? Both of you deserve to be in love and it doesn’t happen by ignoring your marriage. When you talk, immediately find time for the two of you to spend leisure time together – right away. Mark it on your calendar and make the time sacrosanct. Be clear that he needs to put you and your marriage first, and that the training sessions with her need to stop. If he refuses to stop training with her, it’s likely a sign of significant trouble and you may need to bring in outside help.
About the Author: M. Gary Neuman is a psychotherapist, rabbi, and New York Times best-selling author. He is the creator of NeumanMethod.com video programs for marriages and parenting.
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