Q: My stay-at-home wife recently became friends with a stay-at-home Dad (connected by our respective children). Initially, it was a play date here and there, but since the summer started, the frequency of play dates has increased and my wife has become friends with him and texts him often (very often). After a few days of feeling uneasy, I sat down with her and told her I was uncomfortable with the level of communication. She expressed her care for me and we moved forward.
The communication died down somewhat but after a recent long day together, I let her know how I was feeling, that I was still upset. After a long argument, we both said some hurtful things and I strongly advised that the communication with him cease. She now (of course) sees me as trying to control her. She is angrier at me than she has ever been and I am having an extremely hard time reconciling. She expressed the need for space but continues to make extremely hurtful comments. I am so afraid that this could potentially ruin on marriage.
I have attempted to move forward but she will not join me and shows no sign of doing it anytime soon. I am lost. I know she would never do anything physically but I felt that their connection was emotional and I was scared and threatened. She did tell me I have nothing to worry about, but I cannot change the way I feel. I felt awful when they were spending lots of time together, not just as a mom and dad -- but as friends!
– Extremely Uncomfy Dad, 93 North
A: I'm extremely uncomfy on your behalf, EUD. Really.
But let's think for a minute about why your wife might want to maintain a friendship with this guy. Sure, maybe she likes the male attention, but maybe it's more about having someone around who understands what it's like to feel isolated with kids. Maybe they bond about how much they dislike the neighbors, or about traffic on the way to the playground, or about ... well, the life they share as stay-at-home parents.
The trick isn't to say, "Honey, this makes me feel jealous and I want you to cut him off." I mean, you can say that a little. But it might be more productive to say, "We all need friends, but ... is there anything I can do to be a better friend to you? Are you enjoying the stay-at-home lifestyle? Do you feel isolated? Are there things that we can do to preserve our friendship while you make new companions?"
It sounds like you guys have been fighting too much about this man instead of being better friends to each other. My advice (and this is just a first step) is to ask her about her day-to-day and how the two of you can be more respectful in your marriage. It'll take some work on both sides. And here's a hint: Telling her that you're scared is important. You want her to have friends, you just don't want to lose her. Once she trusts your motives, you can set some boundaries together.
Readers? Anyone think this friendship is OK? Any stay-at-home people want to weigh in on the lifestyle? Anyone read "Little Children"? Thoughts on what this letter writer should do next? Discuss.
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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.