When is a married partner’s affair a cry for help vs. when it’s an escape route?
My close colleague at work is cheating on his wife, yet he calls her several times daily, asks how her working-from-home is going, discusses their two daughters’ online schooling with her, even tells her what he had for lunch.
But he leaves out the real reason for “working late tonight” which includes slipping off to his girlfriend’s apartment for a couple of hours.
I know all this because, since our company had us return to working in the office, we’re a small crew and not much is able to stay private.
The problem for me is that I know and think highly of his wife.
They’ve been married for 14 years. She’s been the backbone of their family - quietly capable of everything that’s needed to keep the household and daughters’ lives going smoothly, while she’s also advanced in her own career.
Her husband is a show-boater who always has his eye on the next level of success.
I wonder, is this “other woman” just a distraction from work stress? Or is he hiding dissatisfaction with his current home life and preparing to make a total break?
Do I have any responsibility to prepare his wife for when she discovers what’s going on?
There’s a positive role you can play instead of being a snitch (making the workplace uncomfortable for you both).
Alert this colleague that he’s headed for a fall from grace both in his marriage, family life, and his career, when his affair’s discovered (usually inevitable).
When his lying and sneaking around is exposed, his motive won’t matter at work. Someone trying to rise to the top isn’t considered as smart or valuable to the company once a lack of good judgement becomes evident.
And in a small office of co-workers, such blatant disrespect for a spouse and family becomes distasteful to all.
If you tell him so, he’ll likely distance from you. Do it anyway. He’s already lost your previous respect for him.
It’s hard to consider his actions a cry for help, since he’s apparently not discussed any marital problems with his wife (that’s why he’s sneaking around).
But seeking distraction with another woman - risking his family’s health during a pandemic! - may eventually have him tossed out by his wife.
Your potential talk with him may be the best thing that can happen for him, before it’s too late.
FEEDBACK Regarding the ex-husband who won’t allow the stepfather attending the wedding of his stepdaughter (October 24):
Reader – “I took care of my step-daughter from a young age, so our bond was already strong when she decided to marry.
“Ultimately, her father didn’t come to the wedding because he wouldn’t walk her down the aisle together with me, which is what my daughter and I wanted.
“My comments on this letter-writer’s situation:
- A father cannot "order" his adult daughter to do anything. Just accepting that word is wrong.
- Did the stepfather, have a direct conversation on this topic with his stepdaughter, to gauge her feelings on this? Accepting that she’s being evasive needs to be carefully addressed. (Ellie - She accepted his demand, fearing he’d otherwise ruin her whole wedding).
3. Does his wife accept "orders" from her ex? Or should she stand up to his bullying? Maybe she should stand by her husband, or the bullying won’t stop.
My husband and I, both Canadian-born, lived in the United States when our kids were young, moved “home” for several years, and are now back in the US, all for his job.
Currently, I just want to be in Canada with my parents, siblings and extended family. But our kids, now in university, want to stay here.
My husband will accept whatever I want.
I’m afraid that I won’t be able to travel back and forth as much as before. Or, I won’t see my children. How do I make this tough decision in this pandemic climate?
Canada’s borders have been closed to the US, against non-essential travel, since the pandemic, and originally set till November 21... but barring any changes in the days after I write this column, opening up may still remain uncertain.
For now, stay where your children can come home if necessary, and keep close online contact with your Canadian family.
Tip of the day:
Aware that a friend’s cheating? Don’t snitch. Instead, warn him/her of the inevitable harm to spouse/kids/career.