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Am I getting all worked up about nothing?

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hill posted 6/24/2013 08:49 AM

I debated whether or not to even post this, so it may be a bit rambling. I apologize in advance.

Some of you may remember me from several years ago. I D'd XWH and re-married a couple of years later. DH and I had a few rocky times while dating, including the confession of his that he had once been an OM and had remained friends with the woman, even though her H disapproved (FWIW, she lied to him about the status of their marriage- he thought they were divorcing- and in the end it sounds as if DH was a revenge A on her part- but I still cringe about it all). He has been NC with her for many years now, and NC with other exes. We've been married 5 years and have 2 little ones.

DH knew me while I was going through my divorce- in some ways I wonder why he had interest in me after his prior experience, but that's another thread. Point is, he knows how devastating XH's infidelity (a year-long A with a married but much younger co-worker) was.

Let me preface by saying I have no problems with having friends of the opposite sex, as long as there are appropriate boundaries.

I am starting to feel that boundaries are getting blurred with a female ex-co-worker of DH's.

They were friendly while they worked together, and I met her several times, liked her, and she seemed to always ask about me and how I was doing (a good thing, I think). She's very attractive, fun, out-going. Although I noticed how attractive she was, I have complete faith in DH... and still do. But I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable.

A few weeks ago, DH went out to lunch with her but another woman co-worker went too. DH told me about it ahead of time, and told me he wasn't sure if the third person was going but mentioned that the ex-coworker said if it was just the two of them, that'd be OK because it would be good to catch up... hmmm...

A week later, DH thinks she was down in the dumps and asks her to lunch. This time they go alone. She tells him she is separating from her H and he is moving out. DH tells me about the lunch and the news that night, and is slightly pissed and defensive when I ask him who asked who to lunch... I think all of you know why I asked that... but yeah, maybe I jumped the gun a bit.

DH have long drawn-out conversation about boundaries, which we've discussed ad nauseum before (while dating, I felt uncomfortable with some of his communications with exes, the reason why he is no longer in contact with them... he admits he was overly flirtatious at the time).

After our conversation, I do something I haven't done in years. I search his personal email for her name (I could have access to his work email, but I am trying NOT to be a cop here). I find a chat, moments after they've both gotten back from their lunch together. She is still pissed off about work and down about home life, and DH mentioned something about they should've driven around with the top down (convertible)... (he later says he was trying to boost her spirits, I get into it about how he is NOT responsible for another woman's emotional state, and that he is NOT a knight in shining armor). She responds to the top down comment with some joke about how she had to read that twice. Har har.

So, I'm not feeling comfortable. DH knows all this (and that I checked his email), we've talked about it, he still doesn't understand really... he says he knows he'll never cross a line and so doesn't think it was really inappropriate because HE knows he will never be unfaithful. I say everybody thinks that, and reiterate all the stuff we say about boundaries on here.

She happens to run into a mutual friend- they did not know he was a mutual friend... she contacts him to tell him... DH forwards me the email (work email) to show he is being transparent and showing me all the correspondence... but I don't think he's happy about it because it is slightly accusatory of me to request all of this...

So, I don't want to police. Heck, I don't want to worry about this type of stuff to begin with. I really thought DH understood how I felt about boundaries, since we've discussed so many times before....

So, thoughts? How would my infinitely wise SIers handle this situation? Am I being too accusatory? Or does this strike you odd? I actually don't think they are INTENTIONALLY trying to start anything, I just see the beginning of the slippery slope and I wonder how much I can (and should) guard the rail....

[This message edited by hill at 8:50 AM, June 24th (Monday)]

Amazonia posted 6/24/2013 08:53 AM

No advice, but I would be feeling exactly what you are - uncomfortable with the fact that he's standing on a slippery slope.

Sad in AZ posted 6/24/2013 09:52 AM

It depends on how firmly you set your boundaries when you two married. Did you tell him in no uncertain terms that you will not tolerate KISA behavior? Did you discuss what 'blurring boundaries' looks like? Did you set consequences for any breach in your agreed upon behavior standards? If you did, are you ready to enforce these consequences?

If not, you are between a rock and a hard place; obviously his behavior is making you uncomfortable--and I agree that he's on a slippery slope at the VERY least. But if you jump all over him, it's going to appear punitive and erratic. If you have not done so already, you need to have a clear picture of what is and is not acceptable to you--and that standard should hold for you also.

I'm not a big fan of counseling, but this would appear to be a situation for MC. Would he agree to go?

hill posted 6/24/2013 10:03 AM

Sad in AZ- we discussed what blurred boundaries looked like a number of times before we were married. Most of these discussions related to correspondence with exes, however, but I suppose I ASSumed he would be able to extrapolate to female friends. Actually, now that I think about it, we did have this conversation about female friends a couple times before (a recently separated friend asked him to drinks while we were dating...).

As far as consequences, I guess I never specifically said, if you cross X boundary, then Y will happen. However, he knew how upset a breach would make me. I just didn't know that he didn't know what a breach was.

He doesn't seem to understand that he has to treat female friends differently than male friends. He doesn't get that you set boundaries WELL BEFORE anything gets to the point of being a compromising situation. This is ALL NEWS TO ME, as I thought we had this conversation over. and over. and over again.

He would be open to MC, as we've discussed it before. We are coming out of a stressful period in our marriage due to outside stressors (another "yellow" flag for me, BTW)... and had discussed going to MC.

[This message edited by hill at 10:06 AM, June 24th (Monday)]

Spirit13 posted 6/24/2013 11:09 AM

He says he would never cross a boundary, but he really already has.

Ok so maybe the first lunch is just a coincidence and a catch up from old times. Who knows who contacted who. But after that .... he is way out of line.

She is an EX coworker and so how exactly did he know she was "down in the dumps" and he wanted to take her out for this second lunch? He has to have been in continued contact with her. Then they are having a chat online right after this lunch? Totally inappropriate. Flirty comments from her about the top down? Inappropriate!

You are 100000% right and he is defensive because he is WRONG. I would watch this one very carefully - sad to say.

Crescita posted 6/24/2013 11:17 AM

If he is a KISA maybe speak to him in those terms. Let him know that you are the damsel in distress and you arenít feeling the emotional closeness with your husband when he gets tangled up in other womenís emotional problems. You would feel really special if he could make your concerns a bigger priority and go to MC with you.

hill posted 6/24/2013 11:19 AM

Spirit13, yes, they have stayed in contact. They worked closely together, have the same work contacts, and remained friends. I was OK with this as at the time I felt everything was on the up and up.

It's only since this second lunch that my spidey senses have been tingling. He knew she was down in the dumps as her new job has been stressful; he did tell me about this beforehand.

He currently is back-tracking on his defensiveness, saying his reactions to my questioning were wrong, and that he doesn't mind being open about his communications with her.

I'm definitely watching it... but I'm more bummed that a line was crossed to begin with.

[This message edited by hill at 11:22 AM, June 24th (Monday)]

phillygirl posted 6/24/2013 18:24 PM

2 cents. Don't be the cool wife.

If this woman is someone he USED to work with, then if she is starting to give you the heebee jeebees, then why doesn't he just drop her as a friend?

There is no need for him to give her any big "I can't talk to you any more because" speeches, he can just simply slowly fade to black, stop being responsive to her calls, emails, etc, and stop initiating all contact. Lots of ex work friends fade back into the wood work like this.

And why didn't he simply do this on his own? Why should you and he waste a single second or a single breath or a single neuron thinking/talking about her? He should just let ex-coworker go. Your feelings are 1000 times more important.

hill posted 6/24/2013 18:55 PM

phillygirl- I hear you. He didn't respond to her last email, intentionally letting it die.

I haven't really felt I needed to be the "cool wife," nor the "policing wife." I don't want either role. I want to be able to trust that he understands that attraction may be normal, but that setting boundaries before there is any HINT of availability is what is necessary.

I don't like what he did regarding the lunch alone or the chat afterward, and I'm left wondering if he really gets it all. In the meantime I think she senses he's available to her for emotional support- and I hope that he understands now that he can't open himself up to that.

I do feel badly for her that her personal and professional life are not going well right now, but I'm not at all happy about the top down joke or the increased frequency of contact- whether or not initiated by him. Hopefully it'll all stop now, but I'm afraid the damage is done to my psyche.


NaiveAgain posted 6/24/2013 19:24 PM

I'm sorry you are dealing with this. Honestly, the only woman he needs to be driving around with the top down is you. And you should be getting his emotional availability, not co-worker whoever.....

Your gut is tingling because this is not good for your relationship. If he doesn't get it, he better figure it out soon.

No way would I deal with this stuff again. I don't care if I am uncool or demanding or whatever whatever.....I am very protective of my relationships now, and although I am okay with giving space and letting him have friends, there is a difference between male and female friends and he doesn't get to have any female friends that aren't "friends of the relationship." No slippery slopes, no policing, not gonna worry about this stuff....

courageous posted 6/24/2013 21:55 PM

You are completely right to feel that way. My exwh was the person who would never cheat.

His A started just like what your DH's relationship with the ex co-worker. Please try to stress the seriousness of his actions. Even though it isn't his intention to cheat it sounds like he is playing with fire.

heartbroken_kk posted 6/24/2013 23:04 PM

Hill, no you are not getting worked up about nothing. This is "something" and what that something is, is behavior on your DH's part that triggers emotions and recalls memories that are creating a LOT of distress inside you.

I suggest you read up about boundaries and consequences again.I disagree a little with Sad in Az about the necessity of you having had certain specific discussions before now. What is important is that you have them NOW.

This is about you protecting yourself. Protecting your emotional health. People who have had angina and arthroscopy suould not be eating a high fat, high cholesterol diet. They should limit their exposure to these things because it is not healthy for them and can set the conditions for a full blown heart attack. And they should not tolerate a loved one preparing meals for them that are bad for their heart. And if you say "I can't eat this" and your loved one argues and tries to make you feel bad about the necessity of caring for your heart, just because he likes steak, then there is something wrong with HIM.

So it is with the diet of your heart, and soul. Don't allow your spirit to be damaged by the harmful behavior of others. Don't tolerate him standing on that slippery slope just because it feels good to him, when it hurts you.

Read this. Set your boundaries. Explain your need to protect yourself. You are entitled, indeed, you have a duty to yourself, to practice self-care.

One of the consequences of him continuing this behavior is that ultimately, it will make you reevaluate your desire to stay in the relationship. He may think that he is the only one on the slope and that he is "strong" enough to not go sliding down. The fact is that it puts YOU on a slope too and he cannot control whether you go slipping off into the abbys. He needs to back the fuck up, if he values you and your marriage.

ButterflyGirl posted 6/25/2013 00:59 AM

Just chiming in to reiterate what everyone already said. He is definitely on a slippery slope and acting all KISA. This was how he admitted to becoming an OM, right? It was an exit revenge affair on her part? Well that's what he fell for last time, and it sounds exactly like what this woman has to offer right now..

For someone who has never been cheated on, this stuff might fall to the wayside, and they might never see the red flags for what they are. You know what the red flags are and what they mean, so that will help you analyze the situation appropriately..

I'm not sure of the best next steps here. You don't want to be too accusatory and cause friction, but you can't let this type of behavior slide either. I may be reading your post wrong, but it sounds like he went to lunch alone with her and THEN told you about it. That's a big no-no..

And I agree with phillygirl, your feelings are 1000 times more important than any friendship he might have with another woman. That should be obvious to him, and he should immediately drop this woman. Any emotional support he gives her damages his relationship with you, and he needs to know and accept that without any argument about it..


Loyalty2Liberty posted 6/25/2013 04:45 AM

He's already a wayward. Whether he's trading ILYs or kissing or screwing these women yet or not is irrelevant. Largely because if he isn't yet, he will soon, partly because he's already lost empathy for you.

You have three choices at the moment. Be a cop, kick him to the curb, or agree to sacrificing your wellbeing just so he can impress third parties for the rest of your life.

What's it gonna be?

SBB posted 6/25/2013 08:43 AM

^^THIS. 1,000% this.

Not fucking someone is not being faithful.

Monitored and forced boundaries are not real or healthy boundaries. They are barriers, speed bumps.

I want to be with someone who has his own barriers, not someone who exists behind mine.

One of the reasons this was a dealbreaker for me is because I did not want to be the boundary police and with that guy and being the person that I am I knew I always would be. It is no way to live IMHO.

hill posted 6/25/2013 08:59 AM

I don't think he's lost empathy for me- although admittedly his first reactions weren't great. He has since talked things out with me and understands where I'm coming from... I guess he just never really got the need to treat friends of the opposite sex differently.

He brought up the example of a male friend ex-coworker, who also went through a divorce. He would lunch and have beers with this male friend, and talk to him about his issues.

DH is a very outgoing, friendly, social person by nature and I think he has some trouble reconciling the fact that he needs to change how he interacts with people. He believed that whatever other people misinterpreted from his actions, that was their issue, not his. We've discussed it more, and he does understand where I'm coming from and will be careful from now on about his friendships with women, and specifically with her.

I feel better about it, but time will tell.

SBB posted 6/26/2013 03:40 AM

I don't think he's lost empathy for me

Hill, Gently here - you joined in 2008 so you've been dealing with this for some time.

I don't believe he has lost empathy either - IMHO he never really had it if you're having to have these conversations 5 years down the track.

ANYONE would understand that once someone has cheated they need to change how they deal with the opposite sex (or same sex if that is who the APs were).

If I have a history of breaking glasses I know to be careful with glassware.

If I have a history of nudging other cars when parking I know to be careful when parking.

He is not being careful with himself - let alone with your feelings, let alone with your M.

The sad clown was just like this - a lot of these Waywards are.

In (False) R I re-visited my OWN boundaries precisely because the marriage was changed by infidelity - even when I was not the cheater.

You need to step back from this. This woman is not the problem - your WH is. If he had solid boundaries it wouldn't matter what she tried on, none of it would work. Stop focussing on the branches of this problem and look at the trunk of it. His boundaries are piss poor - worse still he apparently doesn't 'see' that they are piss poor.

If this isn't a classic example of someone definitely on that slippery slope I honestly don't know what is.

I told myself the same lies friend. I too ignored the flaming red flags right in my face. I ignored the fact that he fought harder to protect his right to maintain friendships that made me uncomfortable rather than fighting to protect the marriage.

I ignored it all - most of us did. I suspect you will too. In your heart of hearts you know what this is. You are trying to gaslight yourself just as we all did.

The thread title "Am I getting worked up about nothing?" in itself was a trigger for me. It is exactly what I told myself for 5 long years. I know right where you are - chances are my words here will cause an angry or negative reaction in you. I urge you to examine why besides the fact that you might think I don't "understand" your husband, you or your M.

Waywards aren't the only ones who follow a script. We do too.

((hill)) Please see this as a gentle 2x4 swung with good intentions.

[This message edited by StrongButBroken at 3:41 AM, June 26th (Wednesday)]

hill posted 6/26/2013 05:10 AM

StrongButBroken- DH is not a wayward. He is my second husband. I joined in 2006 while divorcing from XWH.

SBB posted 6/26/2013 06:11 AM

Ah, I misunderstood. I thought you remarried XWH.

In all honesty it doesn't change my post that much. He is on that slippery slope friend.

Uncertainone has a great thread about "Dry Adultery" -

This is not about his female friendships.

It is about your feelings and your boundaries and his own boundaries.

The X in my situation was faithful for a number of years, if by faithful one means not fucking other women. Yet he was a wayward the entire time and still is today.

hill posted 6/26/2013 07:15 AM

I do hear you, and I totally see your point. I'm not worried about her, I'm worried about his boundaries.

I am trying to view this with eyes wide open, which is why my radar went off as soon as he told me about the lunch.

But I am trying to see this from DH's perspective. I have male co-workers that I lunch with, sometimes alone. We chat casual stuff about families, etc. I don't think twice about it, as I know my boundaries are firm. In fact, I've probably ate lunch with them and not told DH about it as I didn't even think to mention it. Again, because I know my boundaries. If DH ever had a problem with it, I would change all of this. Granted, this is usually cafeteria lunch and not restaurant lunches... so maybe not on the same level as what DH did.

But this co-worker is now emotionally vulnerable. DH says it sucks that you have to change your friendship with an opposite sex if their situation changes... but to me, that's protecting yourself. He sort of gets it, but I still honestly think he's naive to the whole idea.

There are other female co-workers of DH's that I'd feel perfectly fine if he had lunch with, alone.

However, I don't set up chats with male co-workers who may be emotionally vulnerable, and I certainly don't tell them we should've driven around in my sports car after lunch. THIS is where I feel things went south. Proof positive is she felt comfortable enough to drop a sexual joke.

I have asked that he let me know about correspondence and that he not go to lunch alone, but I am done policing. I don't want to do it. I think at this point I have to trust that he'll figure it out, and if he doesn't, well, then I'll have to figure things out on my own end.

[This message edited by hill at 7:21 AM, June 26th (Wednesday)]

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