Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – Inappropriate relationships No2

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums

I’ve had a long email from a wife asking for some more help having read my previous post about ‘Inappropriate Relationships’.

My answer is basically ‘Yes’ that woman is a wrong un, but I thought I’d include the whole email with my comments all the way through in red to help guys understand the general nuance when dealing with situations like this:

Email 1

I came across your website when looking for information on cross sex relationships as my partner of 25 years has recently struck up a friendship with a female co-worker, he has known her for couple of years but has only just recently got to know her better and she has also recently confided in him with a lot of her emotional problems. When the friendship first became known to me I wasn’t sure what to think as I did not know this girl he has befriended but he told me that she was confiding in him about her marital troubles and was telling him personal things that she did not share with her own husband.  He also told me that she confided in him at work about her life and problems initially also and that they had the occasional work lunch out of the office, although my partner tells me he does this occasionally with other work colleagues too.

OK so generally it would be crazy to say that our guys can’t have female friends, plus there is some sense about talking to a guy about marital problems for their different perspective.  But there is a limit to it – so it’s about the quantity of the asking for help that starts to fall into problematic waters here.  

Lunch out – hmm I would say that as a one off that’s OK, but frequently it would be odd to go out with only ONE person for lunch regularly if they were of the opposite sex.

The biggest NO NO is that she is confiding in him and NOT her own husband.  Without meaning it your husband is therefore worsening the problems with the husband.  She should have been talking to her OWN husband.

My partner has said that he has best advised her on her marital problems as best he could but has learnt that he can only say so much and now says that they are past those issues and have more of a normal friendship now that doesn’t involve so much talking about her problems.  In the meantime though, they both text message each other regularly and have struck up a friendship separately from me because they go running together after work, where they go for a casual run and chat and then a further chat and drink after before he comes home to me.  A few weeks ago, I did meet this girl and her husband and we all went out for a meal together and since then have also been on another night out but my partner arranges to do ‘runs’ with her and then includes me or me and her husband for the rest of the evening to do something all together.

Running I get, but going for a drink with a woman – again is something I wouldn’t be comfortable with.  If he wants to go for a drink with her, I would wonder wether it would be an idea for you to ‘pop down’ to meet them.  Show her that you are aware that he is of value – just a very gentle ‘female territory marking’ situation.

I like the fact that you have all been out as a foursome though – but that isn’t any kind of ‘protection’ from trouble.

Re the text messages, if it is every day, and first thing in the morning or evening, then it definitely isn’t quite right.

I just wanted to obtain some advice on whether I should be worried or not about this relationship that has formed between this co-worker or not, because initially I felt this woman was vulnerable because of her marital problems and the fact she has confided in my partner.  He was also trying to make her feel better by the way he spoke to her in text messages and I felt it should be her husband talking to her like that and not my partner.  I have told my partner that I feel uneasy by some of the words he was using and he has said he will be more careful about that.  I did read up about emotional cheating also though and did feel and wonder if that was what she was doing by befriending my partner in this way.  To give you some ages, I am 42 years old, my partner is 48 and the married co-worker is 29.

Hmmm that’s a big age gap. 

I have felt like the text messaging has become way too invasive, she and him would text every couple of days and felt like he was always checking his phone for messages.  He would tell me this is how you maintain friendships though and she was just a texty type friend.  I have since asked him to share what the messages contain so I do read them now and although they are just chit chatty messages a lot of the time I don’t fully understand why she has to text him quite so much and often late in to the evenings, in the mornings and have found it annoying when I’m out with my partner for a meal and he is there texting back to her all the time.

OH NO PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN HERE!  I don’t care who is texting him, he doesn’t reply when he is out for a meal with you! 

When I confront him about this, he says it is not harming our relationship though and she is simply a friend.  In my head I have been worried that by letting him have one on one time alone with her though, that this could develop into something more.  I used to see him come back from doing his runs with her and he seemed to be on some sort of emotional high, he would then text her and says what a great time he had enjoyed with her.  I felt hurt when he said this, even though he says she is just a friend.  When I ask him about the risks of having such a close personal female friend, he says that he is in control of his feelings though and knows what he wants (that he would never ‘go there with anybody else because he is happy and secure with me’,) and that although he thinks she is an attractive woman, he would never let anything happen and says he doesn’t get any vibes off her whatsoever that she has any romantic interest in him either.  He is therefore telling me that I should have faith and trust in him and that it wouldn’t be fair of me not to let him have a female friend because of what happens to a lot of other people who do become romantically involved through similar friendships.  I have said to him I would be fine to go out in group situations, but that I don’t like it when they arrange to perhaps have lunch together at her house and I still don’t really like the fact that she asks him to go for these runs with her and he seems to have all these happy fun times with her.

The whole ‘you should trust me thing’ – that’s messing with your head, so suggest he doesn’t say that one again.  Tell him instead that it just means that you are not taking him for granted, and that it is healthy for you to be aware of the fact that he is an attractive man.

Lunch at her HOUSE – no no no!

He is not understanding the female rules of territory – this woman is crossing them big time!  Explain to him that she is dodgy – no woman would think that it was OK to do this.

Am I being unreasonable and paranoid for no good reason.  My partner is a good man and I do trust him, but I still feel uneasy about this for reasons I can’t explain, my partner just thinks I’m being jealous of their friendship!!

That’s fine – a bit of jealousy is wise.  Just own up to it and don’t try to pretend that you are not.

Thanks for any help…

Other info as requested on your site about me:-

I am 42, reasonably fit, gym 2 or 3 times a week, my partner is fit too although losing lots of weight through his gym work and running…

I don’t work but my partner works full time, we don’t have any kids, just our house-bunnies!!

This concerns me a little, as it leaves you very reliant on him.

Have been in relationship for 25 years, sex life has been difficult as I’ve had some issues and got an awful condition called ‘vulvodynia’ a few years ago which has been a battle to get over, I believe I am doing well at the moment but not completely cured yet.

Ahh I can understand you being a little insecure due to this.  I would concentrate on yourself and getting healthier.

We are  ok financially, neither of us excessively drink, we do drink lots of water, sleeping patterns usually fine and both healthy except for the above condition for myself and my partner has medical condition called ‘Colitis’.

He needs to be careful with the weight loss and the Colitis – that’s a tricky illness.

Email 2

Firstly, my partner is still very much friends with this female co-worker, but last week he told me she confided in him again and told him she had been having an affair quite recently.  Apparently, she had been talking about the male in question previously and kind of sub-consciously told my partner that this is what she had done but without saying the actual words.  She went and told him he was absolutely correct in his thinking and that she had in fact had this affair with another man (who is married also and with kids).

SEE!!! Sorry I didn’t reply before your second email – SERIOUSLY – she is a VERY Selfish woman if she has messed around with a married man with kids.  I think that she is a bit of a victim.

I was horrified to hear this and told him what I think about her, ie, that people like this are out to potentially destroy other peoples marriages and although he agrees how awful it is, he seems to be able to put all this negative aspects of her aside and still says he likes her and wants to be her friend.

Fair enough, but hope he now sees that there are reasons for you to not trust HER and that there should be clearer boundaries on where and when they meet.

She actually came round to our house last week also as my partner still does ‘weekly’ running sessions with her (one-on-one time) and in the morning on the day she was coming round, I discovered a note my partner had put in our bathroom cupboard for her.  The note read ‘ How well do I know Thee’….  I felt my blood boiling up and the note annoyed me so much to think he had put this in a cupboard in our bathroom for her to find.  He knew she would be using our shower later after they had done their run.  I rang him up at work to explain the note and he said it was a jokey note to make her laugh as she had previously said how she apparently goes nosing round other peoples cupboards, so, the thought it would be funny.  I felt so mad with my partner, not only for writing what he did but for then also saying he wanted to make her laugh or whatever as it’s like he wants to have this private joke thing going on.

The note is funny, it’s the use of the word ‘Thee’ that is worrying.  I do think that he is overly fond of her.

He is on a work course this week and parks his car at her house and walks to the course with her in the morning, he said yesterday she confided in him again and wanted to talk about her problems.  I have a big problem with this as it just sounds like she is pouring her emotions into him all the time.  A while ago, my partner said that bit was over and they were more just friends again, but this is clearly not the case because of what she has just told him and how she keeps confiding in him.

Hmm she is relying on him a lot – where are her female friends?  Why doesn’t she have any?

On top of all this, she invited him to stay over at her house this Thursday as both her and my partner are attending a Works Christmas Party and they are getting taxi back from the place to hers.  Her husband is apparently there too, but I also hate the idea of them both having fun, drinking etc and then going back in a taxi to her place as I do not trust her and not sure I even like her that much as a person now anyway… She also gets repeatedly drunk and told my partner she was hungover this weekend also after attending a party on Saturday night.

Alcohol is a real problem.  I know of people who managed to be unfaithful in the same house as their partners.  He needs to come home honey. 

I’m not sure I see her situation improving as my partner tells me she is still in contact with this married man she had an affair with (although she thinks he won’t leave his marriage and kids) and she’s not happy with her husband and apparently threatened to leave him at the start of this year.

To be honest, I’m not sure there is much to like about her and I don’t like her hanging around with my partner, but he still declares he likes her and because of their shared running bond still wants to continue their friendship.  He says he is being even more guarded with her because of what happened but I just feel uneasy about it all.

 

OK so to summarise …

Tell him that she is really crossing lines that women know not to cross.  It is very worrying that she doesn’t have girl friends to rely on, and she has shown herself as lacking a value on marriage.

So if he wants to remain friends with her fair enough.  But he needs to make it MUCH clearer that there is no chance of the friendship changing by being clearer in his ACTIONS.  So no meetings for lunch alone or drinks – that is unsuitable.  Reduce the texting and make sure that it isn’t interrupting your conversations.

What could you two do in the evenings that might curtail his time with her?  It sounds like he wants to be needed and looked up to.  How could you fulfil that need in him?  Could you guys do more together?  What exercise could you enjoy together?  

Also, I wonder wether you are sitting at home for him a bit too much?  What do you do for your fulfilment?  I would like you to concentrate on you a bit more – show him how valuable you are, and that he wants to come home to YOU.  Be a bit less available for him honey – he is taking you for granted a bit.

Also stand up for yourself a bit more.  It’s OK for him to say that he feels a bit unhappy about you questioning him.  But he is not allowed to make you question how you feel – that is a no no – he is making you question your sanity and that is NOT allowed.  In fact he owes you a bit of an apology now that she has shown herself to be untrustworthy.

I really hope that this helps?

Please can you update us in a little while to tell us how you are doing?

 

 

When the environment we are in doesn’t encourage us to blossom

We are a bit like plants, and our children are too.  Some environments help us to blossom, and some are more of a struggle.

Put us in the right soil, with exactly the right amount of cold, heat, and water, and we’ll take off like a tree and blossom amazingly.

Put us in a place that feels too cold for us, and we’ll shrivel up (become introverted and insecure).  Put us in a place that over stimulates us and we’ll become a man-eating triffid (become precocious and over confident).

Sometimes there is something that needs changing in order to improve our surroundings and help us to feel that perfect balance.  But sometimes it is just to do with changing our view of the world that we are in.  More often than not it’s a bit of both.

Curly Headed Boy is struggling at the moment and his environment isn’t quite right, there is just a little too much stress involved.  It’s not a major deal as it’s at the early stages, but adjustments are definitely needed before bigger changes are required.  I’m hoping that a few adjustments in several places will do the trick, but we’ll see over the coming months and I’ll let you know.

How do I know?  Well, he’s been having nightmares for several months (probably since half way through his first term in reception).  He is one for nightmares, but not so regularly.  He’s often worried and asks repeated questions that show it, mainly about whether he is good enough.  He was worried about Little Dimples arrival, and that sometimes resurfaces, but in the main that seems OK as long as we remember to praise both at the same time.  He is also pretty vocal about not liking school and why.  Plus we have had some MEGA tantrums over the last few months, which other Mums have also noticed since their kids started reception.

The long christmas holidays have been great.  They given time for him to tell me lots more about school, and I’ve had a chance to chat to other Mums and get a bit more information about the daily structure etc.  The perspective meant that I was very clear on the ‘problem’, and could go and have a little 10min chat with his teacher.  We are very lucky because his teacher is lovely, and he adores her.  She agrees with me, that he’s bright enough for the school, in fact he is apparently very bright (I’m a bad Mummy, I hadn’t really realised that!), but if we don’t get this sorted out, then it’s not the right environment for him to blossom and grow in.  His brightness is more in emotional understanding, so things that other 5yr olds would ignore bother him, and he is bothered by the degree of competitiveness in his class.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the kids, and it isn’t all of them (he just sees the ones that are, not the ones that aren’t).  It’s just that they have a VERY high value on academic learning, and he appears to have followed me in having a higher value on life experience and creative things.

There is also a touch of what could be called bullying.  It’s not major and no more than we’ve dealt with elsewhere.  It’s more of a general ‘throwing their weight around’ kind of thing, as the kids sort out their social hierarchy and a few lay claim to the top spots.  Now if you’ve read all my stuff about ‘bullying‘, you’ll know that I have a very different view of it from the mainstream, so I’m not upset with the kids involved, and I’m very aware that we have all bullied somewhere, sometime.  But I do need to teach him to sort it out and I know that the school is watching the situation.

So the plan …

  1. I’ve created a facebook group for the year, so that we can have more impromptu play dates: that should set him up to be socially stronger.  Luckily lots of the Mums are up for this.
  2. We started swimming lessons so he can meet more kids and gain confidence in something else
  3. I’m chatting to him and pointing out that not all the children have the same focus on their school work
  4. Some role playing to teach him how to deal with the slightly intimidating behaviour of a few of the kids, so he learns strategies to deal with it (he’s good at this).
  5. I’ve had a chat with him about being naughty to get attention at home, and we’ve come up with a plan that works out better for him, rather than the current one (mummy shouting), so the home environment will also be a little more relaxed for him.

This wouldn’t necessarily be the right plan for all kids, but Curly Headed Boy is a little like me.  We like a pat on the back, and wag our tails when we get them.  We are a little sensitive to a grumpy look, or angry voice and can recede easily.  I have the feisty Leo spirit in me to kick back in those cases, and I understand lots more about relationships and seeing both sides of a picture.  He’s too young for me to explain everything at the moment, so for a little while his environment needs a pick me up, and when he is older I can teach him more about looking for the stuff that helps us to blossom, even if it isn’t obvious.

Ironically, Little Dimples is totally the opposite.  I don’t have to worry about her at all, as she can hold her own with a scary look with babies twice her age.  This is great news, because wherever Curly Headed Boy goes to school, Little Dimples will follow with no trouble and she’ll make sure that she blossoms!

It’s also been a good reminder to me that we all need an environment within which we can blossom, and it can be subtly stressful when it isn’t available.  Again, it might just need a few minor adjustments or a change of perception, but it’s worth it.

I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks how he’s doing and what progress he has made.  Feel free to share your children’s experiences if you are also having a problem at the moment, and I’ll happily give you some ideas if you are struggling to get some.

You might like to sign up for my email list (which is different from subscribing to the blog), as during January you get a free online course.  I’m also about to announce a free webinar for February, which will give you more insight into understanding yourself and your children, which will help with coming up with these sorts of strategies, which goes well with the course.