Tips for Understanding a Spouses' Emotional Relationship Infidelity
By April Masini | Category: Infidelity
Q: Dear April,
My husband, a lawyer, works long days and is in the office more often than not. In the last year, the firm has hired a new receptionist. She is a nice woman, don't get me wrong, but I feel the professional boundaries between her and my husband are being blurred. I don't suspect any physical infidelity, but with the long hours he puts in, I feel he is developing an emotional relationship that seems a lot like an affair to me. Just because they are not having sex does not make it inappropriate. Am I being overly paranoid or are these occurances more often than not? Do you have any advice for how I can understand emotional relationship infidelity?
Is He Being Unfaithful?
Dear Is He Being Unfaithful,
Trust your gut -- your instinct is almost always right. But don't ruin the foundation of trust of your marriage. Many men do not consider emotional affairs the same as a sexual affair, so perhaps your definitions are different to begin with. A spouse is a spouse is a spouse, and unless you acknowledge that you have a mistress, you don't get to have an office spouse, a gym spouse, a local coffee shop spouses, etc. Relationships need boundaries if you want to live in a world that is peaceful and devoid of chaos.
Boundaries get blurred more often because we let them. Any uncomfortable feelings that either spouse has, should be acknowledged as a yellow light in the relationship. Oftentimes spouses ignore warning signals, and pay the price down the line. Do the work in the relationship when you have the feeling that something is "off."
Here are a few tips to keep boundaries healthy between opposite sex work partners and marital spouses:
1. Your work buddies are not your social buddies. Keep boundaries between family events and work events. Don't go out on a Saturday night with a work buddy, if you are married, unless it is a work event.
2. Mind your manners. Do not assume intimacy of any kind with a work buddy -- especially when a spouse is around. Know the food chain in these social situations. The husband and wife trump any work partner you have.
3. Keep gifts business like. Better to give another fruit basket, than to gift a co-worker with jewelry, clothing or a gift certificate to a spa. Play it safe -- and keep those interesting parts of your personality for your family and friends -- not your work buddies.
Okay. So does this philosophy keep women out of the “Good Old Boys” network where the locker room is equivalent to the boardroom, and deals are made on the golf course? You bet. Is it fair? Nope. Is it reality? Yes.
Women and men have to work hard to keep sexuality out of the work place, if that is their goal. It's too easy to fall for someone you work with. HOWEVER....If you're both single, there's no reason not to date someone you work with, as long as you keep your dating life outside of the office and the office hours, and don't let it affect your work, adversely.
-- nicknamed "the new millennium's Dear Abby" by the media, is author of the best-selling books Date Out Of Your League
and Think & Date Like A Man
, the two (just released) step-by-step dating and relationship manuals, Ideas for a Fun Date
and Romantic Date Ideas
, and the critically acclaimed dating and relationship online magazine www.AskApril.com