My wife and I are in our 60’s, married 40+ years. Two winters ago, I was hired to consult on a business in a warm locale. We were thrilled to rent a great house in a resort community for the duration of my work there.
A local man, early-20s, gardened and did household chores for us. He was a charming, good-looking guy who treated us like his family.
Sadly, my wife became increasingly infatuated with him when we were there - frequently touching him, giggling and flirtatious, engaging in private conversations, even texting him late at night occasionally.
I told her how hurt I was by her actions. She told me that I was overly suspicious.
Since my job ended and we left that place, the messaging has continued.
Recently, she showed me a picture he’d sent of the house and property in spring. While looking at it, I saw dozens of texts, often several a day, all “benign” (the weather, local news, etc). She snatched the phone with the photo out of my hand.
Confronted, she admits she once had “strong feelings” for him but says they never became physical. She claims that he’s now “only a friend,” that she’s helping him with his immigration papers to his adopted country, and that they do text about other things.
I believe her that the messaging isn’t “romantic,” but their intensity and frequency, plus her hiding them from me, is troublesome.
She’s rather introverted, has few close friends, and initiates little contact with our own adult children. This young man seems to fill a void.
She’s loving to me, but oblivious to the harm that my feelings about her relationship with him are having on our own relationship. She’s adamant about maintaining him in her life.
So, I remain jealous and troubled. Am I being over-controlling?
Jealous of a Young Man
Knowing that he “fills a void,” should help you both understand that it puts your own relationship at risk.
Long-term couples have just as much need for re-assurance of love and faithfulness as younger couples.
There’s potential for insecurity even in a normally self-assured spouse, if the partner starts an opposite-sex friendship that has increasing familiarity that exists mainly between those two.
There’s nothing wrong with the young man seeking her help with his immigration papers, except that you, her husband, aren’t part of that project… apparently because she didn’t tell you about it till pressed about their frequent contact.
You could ask her: How would she feel if you’d become friendly with a young woman helper, and you frequently touched her arm, say, and laughed and flirted, and texted her late at night?
Suspicious? Jealous? You bet!
Now, consider that “void” she has, whereby she’s not that much in contact with your grown children. Likely, they’re busy adults, and don’t “need” her like he does.
Her feeling needed is at the root of this situation, along with her insisting there’s no harm in their carrying on as just friends.
She’s wrong. You need her, too. If you’re to have more years together, with mutual love and mutual respect, she needs a wake-up call through your getting counselling together (this can be arranged online with a professional therapist, during stay-home rules).
This isn’t about being “over-controlling.” If you even think you are, or have a tendency to be, all the more reason you two need professional help.
It’s about saving a marriage.
FEEDBACK Regarding a volatile mother-daughter relationship since childhood, and cutting contact (April 29):
Reader – “The daughter should send cards and gifts at birthdays/holidays but keep her distance. She has a duty to protect her children. The best way to do that is to maintain her own mental stability.
“The mother won’t change. Change is difficult even when people want it.
“Mothers can be controlling and use guilt to manipulate.
“Better to keep distance and reduce conflict.”
Reader #2 – “I went non-contact for the third and LAST time with my birth mom four years ago. What a relief!
“Yes, my mom gave me, my brother, and sister (my BFFs ) life, but that doesn’t give her the right to abuse me in my 60s!!
“Not when I’m that middle people-pleasing child who only wanted her to love and respect me. I did everything I could and I’m pretty accomplished despite not ever having any support.”
Tip of the day:
When a long-time spouse turns elsewhere for flirting and frequent contact, look for what’s gone missing in your relationship.