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My husband and his women friends

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  October 13, 2010 08:23 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith,

This is my second marriage and my husband's first. We are both in our late 30s. We have been married just over a year after dating for five years. Throughout our dating, my husband continued to have lots of female friends who he dined with, traveled with, and "communicated" with (all without me). I was "OK" with this most of the time, more so when the other woman was already in a relationship with someone else. When we were dating, I was not consulted when he "went out with," met, or talked to other women.

Since we've been married, he does check with me, but on the few occasions when I have expressed discomfort with his going out with other women, a fight has ensued. While he has always agreed to abide by my wishes, he has expressed serious disappointment at what he perceives as my distrust of him. I trust him as much as anyone can trust another person, but a couple of the women have treated their relationship with my husband as if it never changed since we were married.

Two examples. The first is a woman my husband dated for a while. She has never married and her most recent e-mail to my husband professed that she was "always in love with you, but you knew better." When she calls or texts my husband (and he tells me), it is always with reference to something they did or somewhere they went when they were together. I wanted him to stop communicating with her and he said he would, but only because I asked him to, not because he thought there was anything wrong with it or that she had any ill intent.

Most recently, he received an e-mail from a married female friend stating that her husband was out of town and she had one extra ticket to a show and would he want to go with her. I told my husband I thought it was odd, and he agreed, but he said he was inclined to go because, according to him, the woman would never do anything inappropriate. I know the woman and he is probably right, but I don't know her that well. I asked him not to go because it made me uncomfortable, and he agreed, but he made a point of telling me that I was being paranoid and that I didn't trust him. This caused a fight.

I'm open to objective advice on this one. Am I being paranoid, or is it reasonable for me to ask my husband not to go out with other women without me unless it's someone I'm "comfortable" with? I just feel like he's being naive when he states that these two women are harmless. What would you do?

– Lately Wed, Bolton

A: This isn't about crazy paranoia, LW. This is about how he behaved while you were dating.

Of course, I can't blame him for this problem, at least not entirely. He was doing this before you got married and you let him think that you were "OK" with it. I don't know why you thought that he'd magically understand the rules when you got married. It was up to you to say, "Hey, I'm not 'OK' with this," while it was happening.

But it's not too late to have the discussion now. Have it on a neutral day, not after you've just seen an e-mail from a lady friend. Tell your husband that you wish that you had been more honest with him before you got married -- that in reality, you're not sure why he needs attention from so many other women. Tell him that if there are women he really wants as platonic friends, that's cool, but you'd like to know them. You're a couple. He needs to behave like someone with a partner.

You married a guy who likes a lot of attention and has a big group of friends. You knew that going in. The best you can hope for is an understanding of what's appropriate behavior and why. If he tries to make this about your jealousy, just say, "I just want us both to be comfortable. Help me help us so we never have to have this fight again." Then remind him that you're having these issues because you love him. He really can't argue with that.

Readers? Is she allowed to change the rules after marriage? Is this about jealousy, and even if it is, does that mean she's wrong? What's going on here? Does he have a weird perspective on this because he was single into his late 30s? Discuss.

– Meredith

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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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