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6.07.2007

(SH)Email

I've had this post rolling around in my head for the past few days because I'm scared to actually write it. Not because I'm scared of you guys (who could be scared of you? look how cute you are), but because I fear that my husband will not be pleased with me bringing up this subject.

The problem is, it brings itself up.

It is in the back of my mind almost every day. So, I have no choice but to write about it. As Liz said - which I love so much because it is so simple and powerful - "you have to speak your truth". There it is.

I am talking about cheating. And what constitutes cheating.

Right at the outset, I need to say that I know two things for sure: 1) Chris worships the shaky ground I walk upon and 2) he would never knowingly hurt me.

However, he is a man. And, no offense to you men, but you're kind of dumb sometimes. I think most of you end up cheating without even knowing how it started.

My first real serious relationship was with a man named Matt.

Matt had a friend. This friend was tall and blond and married and flirtatious. Matt's friendship with her pre-dated me and when he and I started dating, she and I became friendly. She and her husband even threw Matt and I a party. I was never threatened by her because frankly, I'm more attractive. But, my intuition said that she was not a good influence on my boyfriend and I admit I was more than a little relieved when we moved 500 miles away from her.

But, they continued to email each other.

Years went by and I mostly forgot about her. Except when I would catch an email or two from her to my boyfriend. While mostly benign, the "cutesy" overtone never settled well with me. But, I trusted my boyfriend and was sick about confronting it, so I ignored it. (I know, right. ..The hell?)

Soon, I found out why that was a mistake.

Without getting too graphic, I'll tell you this: Their emails were heavy flirtation couched in harmless conversation. Use your imagination.

Upon discovering these emails, I was devastated. Devastated that this woman would so flagrantly flirt with my boyfriend ...for YEARS. Devastated that my boyfriend had convinced himself they were just friends.

Devastated that I let this email friendship continue for so long. Because in my heart I knew and I didn't do anything about it.

After much discussion, I do believe with all my heart that to Matt these email exchanges were just harmless fun. Unfortunately, that does not undo the damage to my heart or my pride. I see the rationalization that she lived on the other side of the state and the compliments and flirtatious banter were a nice stroke to the ego. I see the false security provided by the fact that their friendship never expanded beyond email.

I also see now that he was addicted to the attention.

Ever since this experience I have been hyper-sensitive to the idea of Chris having a personal relationship with a female. When we met, he had many women friends and while I tried to not be that girlfriend, eventually I was. He doesn't speak to any of them anymore.

I want to trust him, but I just can't.

I asked this question in the Sorority forum a few weeks ago to get a feel for the general consensus on the subject and I received so many emails and comments from women with completely opposing views.

And, I was shocked!

Some women, apparently, have no problem with their boyfriend or husband having a friendship with a woman in real life. (Like a real woman! With boobs and hair!). Others don't mind as long as the friendship stays confined to the computer. And still others said if he so much as breathes on another woman they'll take the pruning shears to his middle third.

So, I wonder what our reactions say about us? How much of our reaction is about how secure we are with ourselves as women?

What do you think? Is flirtatious email cheating?

Is it too much to ask that our husbands forsake friendships with the opposite sex?

46 comments:

Poppy said...

eeek...what a way to delurk :)

I'm fairly new to your blog, I can't at this moment remember how I found it but I've had a lot of laughs reading the saga of selling your home.

This topic however really hit home for me. I won't go into deep detail but suffice to say my husband and a co worker claimed they were "just friends" but the manner in which they conducted their "friendship" crossed too many lines for me. When I became aware of it our 23 yr. marriage came very, very close to falling apart.

My husband has always been a bit flirtatious but like you I knew he loved me and I trusted him implicitly. However, he truly believed that what was happening between he and her was no big deal. I beg to differ. He didn't share the ins and outs of their "friendship" with me, so that told me that deep down he "knew" it was crossing the line. As good ol Dr. Phil says...those with nothing to hide, hide nothing. He was sharing things with her that he was not sharing with me. So he was forming an emotional attachment/relationship with her. In my mind he was allowing her to interfere with our relationship.

We ended up in counseling. We read many good books together about what our counselor labeled an "emotional affair" (google it, there's loads of info out there) and he finally understood that he was on a slippery slope to a full blown affair. The relationship had to end. Period. And it did.

My personal feeling is that yes, fliratious email is "cheating"...it falls very much under the heading of an emotional affair in my mind.

I don't feel it is wrong to insist that a "friendship" like that ceases to exist. In fact, I think taking a big risk if you don't insist it ends.

I don't think feeling that way means I'm insecure. I'd have no problem with my husband being friendly with a female...but flirting leads to the impression on both sides whether they see or admit it to themselves. They're playing with fire...and I don't know anyone who likes getting burned.

Sorry to be so long winded. But as I said...your topic hit home with me.

I enjoy your blog :)

Jenny said...

On one hand I think it is sort of ridiculous to think that one's husband cannot be friends with a woman just because she's a woman. On the other hand, my husband's close friends are all male so if he had female friends I don't know if I could say that first bit with so much confidence. However, it IS possible to be friends with someone of the opposite sex without flirtation. Although I do think that the minute that flirtation enters into the mix some lines are going to be crossed. Is the husband AND the woman friend both people that can step backwards and not let any flirtation enter in again? Or are they people that don't know how to operate such a friendship without flirtation? I think it depends. I know some women that I would feel pretty good about my husband spending time with and others that I would TOTALLY NOT.

Chelle said...

Friendships are fine. My husband has a few female friends. Flirtation IS where it crosses the line.

The fact that she flirted with your husband means she was a bad friend (to him) and a bad wife (to her own husband.) But Chris was just as bad for flirting back.

We are all guilty of letting life get in the way of our marriages (kids, school, illness, lack of sleep, etc., etc.) and our husbands all lack the attention they deserve. Mine especially. Does my DH worship the ground I walk on? I doubt it. But he loves me with all his heart and soul, admires me for the job I do raising our kids, and respects me enough to know that this stage in our marriage won't last forever.

That being said, I'm sorry to hear what you've gone through. Somewhere, it seems Chris' respect has left for you. I hope you both get it back....

Butrfly4404 said...

I am friendly to everyone at my work, and I would expect the same from him. But a friendship would weird me out too much. Mostly because I would wonder what the hell they had in common that they became friends in the first place (he's a machine operator).

He hated most of the women in our 'group' except one. Like you said, I was just much better looking than her and I don't mean that to be rude, I was 19 and a size 6 and she was far from that in both aspects. But she was SUPER sweet and SUPER funny. And The Man would always crack jokes with her and just act...more like he acted with me than how he acted with other people. It drove me fucking crazy. I started hating her. We're not friends with her anymore. But not just because of that.

So, that's my answer: I am insecure and I wouldn't want him being friends with any woman unless I knew them...and maybe even not then.

Lena, I think all relationships hit a spot at one point or another where we realize how much we can really hurt each other. I'm glad you and Chris got through yours so early and are so happy now.

Priscilla said...

Flirting is quasi-cheating. On old friend of my DH's kept leaving him suggestive messages on his VM at work...until he had me check his VM when he was out of the country, that is! I asked him to say something to her about the inappropriateness of the messages, and while he didn't exactly rip her head off as I would have liked, he did mention that I do check his VM for him from time to time. She apologized, blah blah blah. I hope she was mortified. I know she quit with the vm's.

And she wonders why we didn't go to her wedding. As if!

Also have to note - I love that you said you're hotter and younger so you didn't worry too much. I thought the same thing at the time!!

Alicia said...

Being hot has nothing to do with nothing. If Halle Berry's husband will cheat on her, it can happen to anyone.

But still, there are other ways of cheating. And every relationship has it's own definition of The Line That Shall Not Be Crossed. And The Line commands total respect from husband and wife. Doesn't mean friendships with the opposite sex need to be off limits, but there are friendships and there are "friendships". It might be a subtle difference, but it can make all the difference in the long run.

Patricia said...

Okay. So, here's how I feel about this... I don't mind my boyfriend having female friends. I think it's healthy and important, and I have some very good male friends -- blah blah blah.

BUT -- I think that blantant and open flirting is disrespectful on the part of both parties. It's wrong for a boyfriend to engage in flirtatious behavior with another woman, and it's wrong for women to seek romantic, sexually tensioned attention from someone in a commited relationship.

I've been in a situation where my boyfriend's online dalliance has turned into something far more damaging and nefarious (as in calling off a wedding that was 4 months off damaging) so I'm a little sensitive to this subject.

I use this guideline and have asked my current boyfriend to do the same: Would I feel uncomfortable if my S.O. heard this conversation/read this email? If the answer is yes, then I know I need to back away or change the subject.

(Sils/Patricia)

Sarah said...

I can honestly say that if I were in your shoes Lena, my kitchen would also be a mess. I'd be throwing pots and pans and probably anything else I can get my hands on. And for sure, there would be yelling. Lots and lots of yelling.

I personally would find one lone email unsettling, but to be perfectly honest, I would probably close my eyes and hope the situation just kind of went away. Because, right or wrong, that's what I do. But repeated emails??? That would quite frankly Piss Me Off. That is not a momentary lapse of judgement. That is a pattern of behavior. And that's just not cool. I would be irate...Hell Hath No Fury and all of that.

I know it's touchy and the argument can be made that it's not technically cheating,and maybe it's not. But it's still disrespectful to you and to your marriage.

That said, I give you and Chris both tons of credit for working it out and moving on. That shows how strong your relationship is.

PS: If you ever need help spamming her email again I totally have your back!

Erin said...

I am totally with you on the hurt and upset. I would be devastated if I found my husband had these emails.

He and I always approach things like this as a "how would you feel if it was reversed" i.e. how would Chris feel if you were having the same kind of relationship with a male friend.

I know for us, friends of the opposite sex, wouldn't happen. Our friends of the opposite sex are those we have because we are friends with the couple(does that make sense at all???)

That and when I hear about male/female friends I think of the Chris Rock sketch where he talks about how men never really have "platonic friends" . http://youtube.com/watch?v=rxWWi8prOO4

Michelle Smiles said...

Obviously a sticky topic considering the long responses you are getting.

My hubby and I both have opposite sex friends who we keep in touch with online. Our rule is that nothing should be written (in either direction) that we wouldn't want the other to read. We talk about our spouses to these friends as a reminder that we are happily married.

Is it cheating when it turns flirtacious? I think that depends on how your partner feels if he/she reads the exchanges. If it feels like cheating? It probably is and has crossed the line somewhere.

Lena said...

Alicia - "hot has nothing to do with nothing". Believe me, I know. It was a semi-joke. She's actually pretty hot. (GAG)

chirky said...

Heavy subject. But I'll offer my opinion: Flirting, to me, can be like cheating.

Most affairs start exactly that way: with some sort of emotional bond. When one spouse begins seeking (and getting) what they need (be it sex, adoration, or an ego boost) OUT of the marriage, an emotional bond occurs. That emotional bond is more devastating than anything else because it is the beginning of something else.

Can a married man be friends with a single woman, or another married woman (or vice versa)? Absolutely.

But, in my opinion, once that friendship borders on flirtation, flirtation undeflected can turn into emotional attachment, which can turn into an affair.

And frankly, if we can deflect the "testing of the waters," (the purpose of flirtation - to detect mutual attraction) we can deflect most affairs.

Or, it seems so.

Shelby said...

My husband was cheated on - twice, and discovered via email - by a woman he was engaged to before me. It crushed him. I was previously engaged to someone who had an email affair similar to the one of which you speak. I was devastated. As a result, my husband and I had an open email policy for YEARS. It just made us both feel more comfortable and it was a sacrifice we were willing to make...

Here's the distinction that my husband came up with before we got married: If you feel guilty about your interaction with someone of the opposite sex, then it is wrong. It is then your responsibility to bring that to your wife/husband to talk about what's going on. We both agreed that if we were turning to someone else for attention, that something was missing in our marriage and, even though it would be difficult to hear, we would both want to know about that so that we could attempt to fix it. I believe (perhaps naively?) that we are both self-aware enough that we could identify the guilty feeling and acknowledge it, instead of ignoring it.

Anonymous said...

When men do this, it's because they're bored at home. You have a child and your kid is a priority, as it is with all of us moms. Men love their kids but they hate not having the attention the child gets.

Women always forget that their man actually needs more attention than their children. How do I know that? Lost my first husband over it.

MommasWorld said...

I am very confident now but who is to say what I would actually if I found myself in the same position. I hope I would handle it in a teasing way. It would be our on going joke so long as he was not constantly on the computer. Chatting someone up on the computer to me is like watching Porn. I am not into watching porn but I would be ok with him watching it. If it becomes an issue of him slipping out of bed in the middle of the night to rush off to the computer he will be unplugged.

Mrs. M said...

there is a girl who my hubs was friends with long before we ever met. they never dated, but had crushes on each other at all the wrong times. once he and i started dating, she was full fledged in love with him and demanded his attention. she would ask him questions like "do you really love her" "do you think you'll marry her" "have you had sex yet" LUCKILY he was smart enough to ignore such questions and kept our private life, well, private. she got married before us after a 3 mo. relationship and when it was going downhill would call MY HUSBAND for comfort. He never answered in efforts to get rid of her. She started calling him at times she knew he'd be at the office and away from me "just to see if you could answer your phone now". I resisted to break out the redneck, white trash, smackdown that i was perfectly capable of (if you knew my hometown, you'd understand)and she's currently quit contacting him. However i'm still pissy at my hubs that he just ignored it when i'd rather he tell her to f*ck off!

what is chris doing about it? Do you think i'm in the wrong about him telling her that? it's a question i've struggled with. thanks for bringing it up.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Yikes. What a controversy!

I, personally wouldn't mind. I am not the jealous type. If, and only if it is harmless...If he cheated. I'd be pissed, but then again she could have him after that. (This is my total short answer...)

I know my husband wouldn't like it. I have a male friend from high school and husband still questions our relationship today...I don't know why really. He is just a friend.

But people think things and people do things and it's all a matter of perspective...Like I said, I wouldn't mind. But that's just me.

Becky said...

I guess I'm going to have to be devil's advocate -- if only because I'm on the other side of things at the moment. I've been close friends with a man for about six years or so - and during most of that time, both of us have been single (dating here or there.) Neither of us are interested in a relationship with each other, or we obviously would have pursued that. Instead, I'm the one that listened to him complain about women, the one who gave him advice, etc.

But now he's in a relationship and she wants him to cut off contact with me. Obviously, I expected our friendship to change, but her insecurities just boggle my mind.

Just wanted to present the other side. If a man told a woman to cut off contact with her friends, he would be labeled as controlling, bordering on abusive. But it seems that many women think it's perfectly ok to do so to their partner - regardless of whether its warranted or not. (Obviously, if there's issues of cheating, flirtation or other inappropriate behavior, it's warranted.)

Bunny said...

A good rule for me is to only do/say things that you would do/say in front of your spouse. If there are things said or implied that your spouse wouldn't be comfortable with, then they shouldn't be said or listened to.

I'm so sorry about this. Really, it's the emotions that hurt so badly. That he was getting and maybe even needing the stroked from this woman.

Katie said...

I'm a very insecure girl. I hate that about myself, but it's just the way I am and I haven't been able to change that. My husband loves me like Chris loves you, but I still get a jealous twinge when he mentions a female co-worker who he's friendly with or does lunch with.
As I've told my husband time and again, it's not that I don't trust him, it's that I don't trust other women. It usually takes me meeting them for me to not feel worried that their friendship might escalate into something deeper.
I think it's hard for me to understand that women and men can be just friends because in my experiences, most of my close guy friends have fallen in love with me. I'm not trying to be pompous or anything else, but that is seriously what has happened. And it's unfortunate because I've lost a lot of close guy friends because they couldn't just be friends with me.

Two Kids and a Husband said...

Rob has plenty of girl friends and he is a flert. He enjoys stroking womens egos but the difference is he does it in front of me. There is no hidden flert and no off limits emails. I know about it all and these are my friends to ... So I see it as harmless fun... however if he was doing it behind my back or skewing details then i would become suspicioius... and that would not be okay with me.
He had a coworker once that was going through a big break up and he was being nice to her...he drove her home a few times because they worked overnights and she was basically on his way home...he was always home in good time so I KNEW it was just a drop off...then one day he was over an hour late... and I freaked out. He said that they sat in the car talking and she did invite him up to "sleep" because it was late and that is when he said no and came home... I refuse to let him have any part in any kind or a relationship with her anymore and he never did. He recognized that it was getting out of hand and he was getting sucked in... I trust him to do the right thing and provided he is honest and not secretive then we have no issues.

That is my $.25 cents..

Julie

Butrfly4404 said...

becky - I do see your point. I was friends with an engineer here at work that DH wasn't very happy about so I quit hanging out with him. We still talked, because we worked together, but didn't go out of our way to sit down and talk anymore. I think he felt the crunch from his wife, too. It was sad, but like everyone's saying - "If the shoes were on the other feet" or I was HIS wife, I probably wouldn't be too comfortable with it either.

Also, I was good friends with a guy who happened to be my pregnant friend's boyfriend. I was a guys' girl - a tomboy - I got along with guys great - soon realized it was because they all wanted to sleep with me. Even my close friend - whom I actually did sleep with. Not that their relationship was really meant to last (she got prego on what was meant to be a 1 nighter and they started dating for sake of baby and didn't get along) - but then it was really on me that it ended. (REALLY! Not him at all! In No Way, Shape or Form was it HIS fault!!! The other woman is ALWAYS at fault because **Men are just too stupid to make decisions for themselves**). Sometimes, they don't have to be "out for" your man - sometimes it JUST HAPPENS and it's a huge mistake that you can't take back. We didn't even flirt before that day. I know first hand how simple friendships can escalate from playing video games to getting drunk and doin' it in the barn. Not pretty, but real.

Anonymous said...

De-lurking to share my advice on how my husband and I deal with these situations.

Before we were even married we sat down and had a talk about cheating. We both agreed that there is a zero tolerance feeling, but we had yet to define what exactly was cheating (a topic that arose with friends one night).

Hubby came to me days later and summed it up perfectly...cheating is anything I wouldn't do right in front of you. Perfect. We have followed that ever since.

jennster said...

i believe there is a line you don't cross. with every situation- there is a line. and you don't cross it. did he knowingly NOT tell you that he was talking to her? i mean, was he being deceitful or hiding it from you?
i think the best policy to go by is to constantly ask yourself "would i act this way? or would i talk this way, do this, email this, say this, etc if my significant other was standing right here?" know what i mean?

would you feel differently if it was a woman that didn't bother you? i mean, boyfriend has some girl friends- and some i'm fine with, but there are some that just rub me wrong. i'm not consistant in how i feel- it depends on the person. shitty, but it's true

Jhianna said...

I've tried to leave a comment 3 times and ended up deleting them. Tough, tough subject.

I guess I've finally (after a freakout on my part not too long ago about a female friend and my husband - no kitchen target practice, just made myself sick) decided that if either partner is having a problem with a relationship, then it has to change.

I trust my husband and I hope he trusts me. I don't mind mild flirt from him and I certainly enjoy mild flirting myself. But if any of it crosses a line for him or me, then that's it.

And to echo several commenters - if I'm doing something that makes me feel guilty or I wouldn't say in front of him, well then that's a wake up call that I'm being stupid.

Good luck, btw. It took a lot of talking with my friends and several talks with the husband before I got over the issue I was having. Realizing that my main problem was my fear of losing him more than any betrayal on his part really helped me.

PS - and since I can't seem to shut up, I eventually got to the same point as Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom": if he cheats, then she can freaking have him.

Lauren said...

I was just wondering, how did you discover those emails?

I guess my boyfriend and I are pretty trusting. I'm the one with more friends of the opposite sex anyway, but we're pretty honest about things and it just never enters our heads to worry...

Mom101 said...

Such a complex topic and I haven't read the other comments so forgive if I'm restating what's been said.

I think there's cheating and there's crossing a line. Flirting crosses a line which could lead to cheating.

But in the end it doesn't matter what you call it or how you categorize it. If it hurts the relationship and breaks any rules, either stated or implicit, then that makes it wrong.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. It's painful.

samantha said...

I am totally going to put myself out there...

I re-developed a "friendship" with an ex-boyfriend (from a very long time ago) while I was married, and started to noticed that the guy was getting a little flirtatious. I talked to a very straight foward friend of mine who told me to envision how my hubby would feel if he heard the conversations.

I really thought about it, and realized that if I did not stop the friendship in it's tracks, we would be playing with fire.

So I told the ex that I had to respect my husband, and in order to do that, I could no longer be in contact with him.

It was tough, but I know that I love my husband and would never want to do anything that could jeopardize our marriage.

(I came clean to hubby and apologized to him.)

Do I think men and women can be just friends?

I am not really sure...

mamatulip said...

Friendships and flirtatious friendships are different from one another, IMHO. When flirtation comes into the picture, that changes everything completely.

mamatulip said...

And...I'm really sorry, Lena. Hang in.

Anonymous Boxer said...

Oh, I have lots to say, but, these great women who have already commented have said it well. So, I'll say this, and believe that I'm a feminist... I blame HER. HER, HER, HER. Not your Chris, because men are dumb/naive, what ev, when it comes to women. But HER... she knows. Big hug to you. Let it go, because believe me when I tell you that life has many more things to throw your way and you two need to be holding each other tight when it (whatever it IS) happens. He had no idea.

verybadcat said...

Interestingly, my WH came home while I was reading your post. I got off the computer to talk with him, and he told about what happened to him at work this week.

There is a girl he works with who hates him. HATES HIM. She is pretty hateful, generally, anyway, but she harbors a special hatred for my husband.

She started a rumor that my WH is sleeping with another girl at work. He works retail, and he helps Other Girl stock her section of the store. He also helps everyone else that he gets along with stock their section of the store.

He is very, very angry, but also somewhat amused, and while he plans a strategy to deal with the rumor, has been making a joke of it at work.

WH and Other Girl get along well. She is older than me, and not as hot. He said that her husband has a lot of guns. I reminded him that I, too, have a gun, and that he might want to think very carefully about how he explains to me that it is impossible that the rumor is true. It's not true because you can't, or because you don't want to?

He has always assured me time and time again that he is not a cheater. That never comforts me- why do you feel this need to reassure me whenever the subject comes up? I don't feel the need to reassure you! I don't think I should have to- you should know that I am not that kind of girl and that I love you to the moon.

He works frequent afternoon shifts, and I am a 9-5 girl, so sometimes I get off work and come bring him dinner. I get to meet all of the people he works with, and most of them tell me that he speaks very highly of me. I don't *think* he's paying them to do that.

We have the rule that so many others have stated here: if you wouldn't do it in front of your better half, it's wrong. I have had to enforce this rule with guy friends several times. It's easy to do. I am flirtatious by nature but have curbed this for the most part, because I find that any hint of flirtation can: create interest where there was none, foster growing interest, or give the impression that interest is mutual. All of which are unacceptable.

We have another rule, as I do not play well with other girls and generally form friendships with a few men in my life. Before he or I will go anywhere- lunch, errands, business trip- with a member of the opposite sex, they have to be introduced to the spouse in a situation with ample opportunity to get to know that third party. We both have veto rights at that point.

I have a guy friend at work that I've had drinks with- something that I think most of your other readers would never have done or be allowed to do. He's always a perfect gentlemen, but has made it apparent that it is only a thin veil that would be pierced at the slightest encouragement from me. Which he will never get, because I am married (thought I cannot say happily right at this moment), and because he is icky.

I am in college, and this means that occasionally I am invited to do collegy things with collegy people.

After a great class had ended for the term, a group of us (mostly guys, with me and two other girls) planned to go out for drinks.

WH had a fit. A massive fit. I offered to host a after-class get together at the house, where he could be there. He didn't want that (we had just moved in and the place was not pin-perfect), so I told him he could suck eggs-that I was going.

I was home by midnight, had a great time, and WH admitted later that he was being insecure and was nervous about his hot little wife being a part of the college scene, where free love reigns. I did have to turn down a request to dance- a request I would have very much liked to honor, which is *exactly* why I couldn't.

I think that men and women can have friendships, but that there will almost always be a hint of sexual tension in them. In a marriage, what matters most in an opposite sex friendship is familiarity (knowing your spouse's friend), transparency (I know what she knows, I know what she says, no private time alone) and tone.

Lena, your Chris has the wrong shade of transparency and the wrong tone. Particularly for email. I understand how it happened to him. The chance to be wanted and admired, the thrill of connection, and the absence of reality (she never goes to use the bathroom and realizes that he forgot to flush), are all tempting.

Men are weird in that they really need and crave attention, affection and admiration, but like they accuse women of doing, they don't want to ask for it. They don't think they should have to.

I'm a little worried about the rumor, because I know my WH was lonely and a tad threatened by my schoolwork. It's the exact kind of situation that is ripe for indiscretion.

In the end, I expect him to walk the line. I want him not only to dispel the rumor, but to search his soul carefully for the reasons why it might be believable. I won't ask him not to help her anymore or be friendly with her anymore. Because I don't want him to ask that of me, at least very easily, without a lot of just cause.

The marriage must be honored, respected, and primary. At some point, though, to survive, you have to decide that even if your spouse makes a complete and utter fool of you by cheating, that the love you shared was worth the pain and humiliation. Cheating can happen anywhere, at any time, if you are so inclined. There is no immunity.

So, sorry for being such an incredible bandwidth hog, but that's my $1.50. I think that what Chris did is wrong, but I don't think that married people should be forced to only having active, meaningful friendships with people of the same sex. It's a careful, precarious balance that hurts the marriage intensely when out of whack on either end of the spectrum.

Anonymous said...

when we were first married and my husband was still in the army, he came up with a rule he shared with me.

It was called the SISTER RULE and it meant he would not do anything with a woman he would not feel perfectly comfortable doing with his sister.
So now (15 years later) we still use the sister rule and anything you wouldn't say to your sister or do with your sister (or brother for me) is the line in the sand for us. Some people think that is too extreme but is it? I hug my brother, I kiss him on the cheek, I call him, I email him, I share stuff but we don't flirt, or caress, or talk dirty to each other because that's gross.

So Lena, and anyone else so inclined feel free to steal the sister rule - it helps me be comfortable with his business trips and office politics and helps me to not flirt inappropriately with the cute UPS guy.

JoAnn said...

I just found your blog and have really enjoyed reading it.

For me, there is a difference between a friendship, and a flirty friendship. I would be LIVID, and jealous and all those things. I would have a HUGE problem with the situation you describe and well, I'd be totally upset. Nope, no way, not okay in my book.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

I'm going to jump in on this one, too. I think the "sister rule" mentioned below is a good one to abide by. In general, I see no problem with my DH having female friends, and he has no problem with my having close male friends - it's just a non-issue. However, if either of us were to do something with those friends (flirty emails, coffee after work, whatever) and we KEPT IT from one another, it would be game over for that friendship.

For us, it's not about the existence of the friendship, it's about the secrecy. If he was hiding those emails (and by omission is hiding, IMHO) - then it counts as having an emotional affair. If he's told you about them, "Oh so-and-so has been flirting with me on email, it's kinda funy..." then it's cool. By not telling you, he's crossed the line. So it's not the flirting part, it's the hiding part.

...and of course, it's the hiding part which makes it more fun for the parties involved. They know they're doing something naughty, even if it never comes to fruition.

Hope you sell that @%^&*@#$(*@ house soon. :) Since I'm a fairly new reader here, can you tell me why you guys are so desperate to go?

Em

Heather B. said...

I'm a pruning shears kinda gal. Enough said.

Butrfly4404 said...

Going for my third comment here...kinda feeling like a geek for it, but oh, well.

anonymous boxer - I was being sarcastic, or bitchy, or whatever - when I said it was always the woman's fault. I couldn't tell if you were serious or not, but I think that placing all the blame for an act that takes two consenting adults on just one person is extremely simple-minded. And to say "But HER... she knows." Does that mean if the wife has an affair, it's all her fault and none goes to the other man? Are single men smarter than married men?

I'm not trying to pick a fight here, just wanted to clarify that I - in NO way - think that husbands are really **too dumb** to understand that cheating is wrong.

And in my own relationship, I really would rather assume my husband has the free will to make his own decisions and isn't going to be the proverbial moth to all hot women, too brainless to stop himself from sticking his piece where it doesn't belong. It may hurt to admit that he, in his own right mind, made the decision to hurt his wife - but that's reality - not this "she's a floozy who STOLE my man" theory.

Lisa said...

Lena - you are so much fun to read. I love your sense of humor, and your clever way of writing. You crack me up regularly - really - make me laugh out loud in my office. Now to your post about hubby's flirty friend. Good men screw up sometimes - and we still love them. It's not normal for women to flirt with your hubby and call it friendship. It's just plain stupid for two opposite sex adults (married to other people) to email each other frequently. Sometimes we women are so busy being nice that we forget to be honest. We don't want to seem jealous or insecure so we put up with crap that we would kick our best girlfriend's ass for tolerating. Your husband sounds like a great guy who took the lazy way out to get the attention he wanted. Hope you told him to open his damn mouth if he's not getting enough attention - you're not a mind reader. You could use this situation to keep you both in check with each other - you've come close enough to the fire to know it's really just over the there - so take care of your relationship/love/marriage - cause it can evaporate without attention. I'm glad you two are working it out - I think you're the kind who will make it down the long road. Anybody who told you that the road wouldn't have some potholes was lyin to ya! My hubby knows that if he creates a situation for himself, it's his ass I'm coming after. The she involved may or may not know that he's married, but HE knows, so it doesn't matter what she does, he's in charge of his own choices and behavior. Don't feel sorry for him - he feels the same way about the situation if I were to create a situation for myself. Don't know if you want it, but I just said a prayer for both of you. Thanks for sharing your life online - it's given me great pleasure to read AND I've learned a few things too.

Lena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lena said...

To answer a few questions:

1) I found the emails because I noticed he kept changing his password, so I hacked into his email account. Yes, he was hiding them.

2) I strongly believe this had nothing to do with me and/or my "inattentiveness". Their flirtatious relationship pre-dated me.

3) What is Chris doing about it? Well, he wrote her a email in my presence that apologized to her and her family and to me yada yada yada.

Then *I* wrote her an email and, well, maybe I'll save this for my next post!

Anonymous said...

There was a study released recently which indicated that (in general) men have trouble with the idea of "physical" cheating, and women have more trouble with the idea of "emotional" cheating. In other words, most men wouldn't mind if their wives/girlfriends were friendly with another man, but anything physical was a no-no. Conversely, most women had less of a problem with the idea of their husbands/boyfriends having a meaningless one-night stand than they did with them having feelings for another woman, even if they remained completely faithful.

So from a man's point of view, Chris probably wasn't really doing anything wrong. Ask him how he'd feel if you kissed another man, whether or not things went any further.

Bobealia... said...

I think that first commenter who delurked is my sister-in-law. Don't tell her I said that.
Oprah did a show on this.
I think that emotional cheating is cheating.
Period.

Anonymous said...

Ooo, I've missed your blog. Keeping fingers and toes crossed that your house sells quickly. Mine's on the market too, and I feel your pain.

As far as the flirtation, I have dealt with this in my own marriage. Trust your gut. My husband has good female friends. I have good male friends. When we are all together, I get no "vibe" when I walk into a room where my hubby and a female friend are hanging out. On the other hand, I had one dear friend who always behaved very flirtatiously with EVERY man, including mine, and had always valued her male relationships more than her girlfriends.

One day I walked into the kitchen. They were standing several feet apart, but I got a VIBE. I know nothing happened, but there was a current in the air that was not a platonic one. And I truly believe it was coming mostly from her, as she was single and had a maneater reputation.

You caught a vibe-- trust it. I'm sure Chris meant no harm, but I don't necessarily think the woman meant no harm. I heard a wise woman say once that there is no fellowship of women. Sadly, I think that's true in a lot of cases.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one other comment, Lena. About being younger and hotter: you're thinking logically. That's not how it works. As Howard Stern once said, "Show me a beautiful woman, and I'll show you a man who's tired of f---ing her". Halle Berry, Pam Anderson, Heather Locklear (OK, so the last two were cheated on by the same man. My point stands.)I've had friends whose husbands have left their size 2 wives for their 200 lb coworker who made them feel like Brad Pitt.

Poppy said...

"I think that first commenter who delurked is my sister-in-law. Don't tell her I said that."

Really??? That would be amazing considering I have no sister in laws :)

But I do agree with you...emotional cheating is cheating.

Actos said...

nice post, it's really interesting for me today, thx


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