Wedding Woes

Yes, therapy.

Dear Prudence,

Last summer, my world crumbled when I found out my husband had an emotional affair with a coworker. This girl was 10 years younger, his subordinate, and insanely beautiful. We had been together since our early 20s, just had a child, and things in our life became routine. I guess coming home to a tired wife wasn’t sexy. To say this affair devastated me was an understatement, and I shut down and grieved in my own way. I didn’t want my child to suffer so I decided to stay.

During this time, while my self-esteem was being kicked, a coworker reached out and told me he had, in his words, a crush on me. This wasn’t the first time someone reached out but this time I went to a stage-5 clinger. I have no idea what came over me, but at that moment I became slightly obsessed and acted ridiculous. Said things I shouldn’t have and was a lot more vulnerable than I would have liked. This was completely out of character, and I am completely embarrassed about the things I said. I have to see this person every day and when I do, I cringe. I have no idea how to act without feeling like a complete loser. I have been with my husband for over 13 years and never so much as flirted with anyone until that moment. I have a stellar reputation within my field, which is male-dominated, and have always been “unattainable.” What’s worse is the feeling that maybe (most likely) I made this person uncomfortable and created a stressful working environment. How do I fix this? Do I address it and apologize? Leave it alone and hope my embarrassment eventually goes away? I can’t leave this job, and it doesn’t appear like he will be going anywhere anytime soon. We do small cordial talk and occasionally he’ll send an email with a flirty undertone, but I can’t look at him without feeling foolish. Ugh … maybe therapy?

— Just Dumb

Re: Yes, therapy.

  • Return the emails with nothing more than professionalism.

    And now get to a therapist and work on your marriage if it's what you want to save.  
  • Sounds like both the LW and her H would benefit from WFH jobs!

    Seriously though, the LW needs to forgive themselves.  It was a badly timed e-mail, when she was at a low point.  I can understand how and why this happened. 

    I actually think she should send one more personal e-mail to this coworker.  Something along the lines of regret that lines were blurred, because she values the professional relationship they have.  That she was in a vulnerable moment when she received the e-mail and hopes she didn't make things uncomfortable for him.   
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Yes therapy. But also, you have to reframe your thinking about all of this. Your husband didn't cheat because you were unsexy or because she is beautiful. He cheated because he is a cheater. You are not protecting your child if staying in the marriage means internalizing your husband's mistakes and seeking validation from coworkers. 

    If your behavior was really over the line, you probably need to put the fish on the table with the coworker and shut it down. 
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