Joe Beam, chairman of www.marriagehelper.com, answers a Family Savvy reader who has concerns over her husband’s having lunch with a female co-worker.
QUESTION: Joe, my husband works with several women, and occasionally they will have lunch meetings (usually as a group). I was okay with this until a friend told me that she saw my husband and one female co-worker at lunch (in a very trendy restaurant) and that they looked “too comfortable” for her liking. She said they laughed, looked at iPhone photos, and seemed to be socializing more than working. Should I be concerned?
ANSWER: There are a couple of issues in your question that I would like to address. First, be careful that you do not let your friend’s view of your husband’s being “too comfortable” with another person weigh too heavily on you. Everyone has her own ideas about how people should behave. Maybe her judgment is valid. Maybe not. Therefore, if you rely on her opinion about your husband’s actions, you may wind up in conflict with your husband over nothing. Many times, I have witnessed marriage trouble because friends (of either spouse) cause suspicion by their opinions, innuendos, and occasionally, malicious gossip.
Second, I personally think that in most situations it is a bad idea for any married person to have lunch with a person of the opposite gender. Groups are one thing; lunch with just one other of the opposite sex is another.
Every month, I conduct a workshop for marriages in trouble. While difficulties range from controlling behavior to in-law problems to fighting over money and more, by far the most common marriage problem we work with is infidelity.
Typically, unfaithfulness does not occur because someone looks for a sexual partner; it most often stems from two good people crossing boundaries. They first become friends. Then, the friendship deepens as they begin to share their thoughts, histories, frustrations, dreams, and feelings. They erect no barriers because they do not intend to do anything wrong. As I said, these are most often good people living good lives. However, somewhere along the line, their openness and transparency with each other develops emotions much stronger than friendship. Before they realize what is happening, these people wind up in trouble from such seemingly innocent beginnings.
My agreement with my wife Alice is that I never have lunch – or any meeting – with a woman unless she approves it. She did not demand this. I made this commitment on my own for two reasons. First, I want Alice to feel safe – always. Second, Alice has a keen sense of which women I am attracted to – or who are attracted to me – even when I do not.
Therefore, I suggest that rather than worrying about your husband’s having lunch with a woman, you make an agreement with him that for your peace of mind, he will not meet with any woman alone – for lunch or otherwise. If he replies that he feels you do not trust him, assure him this has nothing to do with trust and everything to do with putting your marriage first over all other relationships. Tell him that you are not making a demand; you are asking for his loving and understanding agreement.
If your marriage is in trouble, there are many who will help. If you wish my organization to assist you in getting the help you need, please call us toll free at 866-903-0990. We will listen, and we will help if we can.