Wedding Woes

Why did only you go to therapy when y'all should have went together?

Dear Prudence,

I’ve been married for over 30 years. My husband has been retired for six months. We’ve spent the last two years working out career/retirement decisions for the “golden” phase of our life. To keep working or retire was a big question for my spouse. I voted for retirement. The biggest thorn in these conversations has been, and still is, my husband’s relationship with his previous colleague. They met over 15 years ago when he was developing a new community project for his work. She was employed elsewhere and he worked really hard to get her employed at his agency so they could collaborate, which he did.

While I respect the good community work they’ve achieved over the years, I’ve felt uncomfortable and bothered by the intimate and (in my opinion) flirtatious manner in which they speak. (Within these last 15 years, I worked seven of them in the same community with her and my husband and tried to develop a friendship with her during this time, to no avail. A couple of family members who met her said she seemed flirty and interested in my husband for more than work. Since I had not mentioned how I felt, I became bold with their validation, and I have to admit, I became especially negative toward her and her intentions.)

The last two years of conversation have included me stating my discomfort (and anger) and asking him to step away from their relationship, especially since he is now retired. I feel that I sacrificed enough time and attention for myself and our kids to these great community works over the years. It was and is important work for the community; I’ve never doubted that. I believe my spouse when he says he hasn’t slept with her, but I also strongly feel she would jump at the chance to be with him romantically if she could.

I said last March, when he retired, enough is enough. I asked him to cut all future work ties and communications with this woman for six months to give her a chance to find her own feet in the agency and to give him a chance to decide what he wants to do with his life. I told him, without anger, that if he wanted to continue his community work, I’d step away from the marriage so he could do so, but that I couldn’t stay and take any more of the drama and politics of the work, but I especially couldn’t take feeling like this woman is a third wheel in our marriage.

With counseling (for me) and what feels like a million conversations, we are at a really good place. Some moments feel like we are dating again. I honestly remember why I fell in love with him and am excited about our future. The problem is he won’t tell this woman to stop calling and texting. She’s asked him if he “really wants to quit” the committees, boards, and LLC they’ve created. He said he does. We don’t go more than three weeks without her checking in. When she contacts my spouse, I can tell right away because of the change in his disposition. He’s edgy, preoccupied, and more argumentative. I don’t want that in our relationship anymore. I tie it directly to his previous job and this woman. I said in late 2020, if she’s your best friend and you need her in your life, then invite her to dinner so we can all get on the same page, so I can squash these feelings of jealousy and neglect. I was told she’s a work colleague and nothing more. Yet still, she calls…Help!

—Third Wheel Angst

Re: Why did only you go to therapy when y'all should have went together?

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    They formed an LLC together?!?! Yah that’s way too close. 

    Why didn’t he go to therapy with you? Why won’t he quit her all the way? If he can’t or won’t answer those questions I think you actually do have your answer. 
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