Author and marriage expert Joe Beam, chairman of www.marriagehelper.com, advises a Family Savvy reader who has concerns over her husband’s lunch with a female co-worker.
For years, my friend, author and marriage expert Joe Beam has been a contributor to Family Savvy and has answered many readers’ questions. All can be found by clicking “Savvys” in the header and going to Joe Beam. All posts by Joe will be listed under the header.
QUESTION: Joe, my husband has occasional lunch meetings but they are usually with a mixed group. This has never bothered me, but a friend saw my husband lunching with one female co-worker with whom he seemed “very comfortable.” She said they appeared to be socializing more than working and that she felt uneasy. He didn’t tell me about this lunch; I heard about if from my friend. Should I be concerned?
Joe Beam, Marriage Expert, Author and Chairman of marriagehelpers.com
Although I would advise you not to jump to conclusions based upon your friend’s perspective, I will say this: 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 money and more, by far the most common marriage problem we work with is infidelity. And there is a pattern that I have seen time and again. Boundaries are not set, and seemingly small things lead to a big problem.
Typically, unfaithfulness does not occur because someone looks sets out looking for sexual partner; it most often stems from two good people crossing boundaries.
Here’s a common scenario. They first become friends or co-workers. With time and familiarity, they begin to share their thoughts/feelings and other personal information. They don’t erect 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 mutual openness and transparency ignites emotions much stronger than friendship. Before they realize what is happening, these people wind up in trouble with feelings much stronger than they ever intended.
My agreement with my wife Alice is that I never meet or dine alone with a woman unless Alice 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 or you want to make it stronger, contact marriagehelpers.com. We are here to help in any way that we can.