Are my husband and his ‘gay’ female co-worker playing me for a fool? Ask Ellie
Q:My husband of 16 years and I have two sons. We’ve known each other since we met at university, so there’ve been few surprises, until recently.
He got a new job five years ago and was given a project teammate. He introduced me to her early on, and I liked her.
He said she was gay, and didn’t mind if he told me. She came to dinner at our house a couple of times, and was very good company. It was all very friendly and relaxed.
Then, before COVID, my husband said they had another more demanding project and he’d be working late sometimes, also travelling occasionally. I thought nothing of it, and just adjusted my own schedule by working from home, which I stayed with when the pandemic started.
Meanwhile, I began to wonder about their relationship. Once they weren’t going to the office, my husband still insisted his “partner” was in his COVID bubble and they had to get together sometimes. When some restrictions were lowered, he was at her place several times a week.
I’m now wondering if both of them have been playing me for a fool? What are your thoughts?
Suspect Third Party
A:Your thoughts are the important clue here. An evening or two a week of working with a project partner is only about “time.” What you’re uneasy about is the content of that time.
Assess your response by considering his behaviour when he’s at home alone with you, after the kids go to sleep. Is he warm and personal with you, interested in your day, cuddling and intimate in bed? Or tired from work and soon asleep?
Ask him directly: Is he using the word “gay” as a cover for their having a sexual relationship? If he insists that she’s gay, tell him that doesn’t mean that their relationship isn’t interfering with your marital life. It is.
What matters is honesty between you two. If he considers her his best friend, then he’s denying you that same important bond. If, instead, he’s honest about an attachment to her — whether they’re having sex or not — the future is now up to you to decide.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the question from a reader whose mother has Alzheimer’s (Jan. 22):
“Her husband knows. What is she going to tell him that’ll make him more understanding? Nothing. All she can do is tell him that she’s sorry, and it’s tough for her as well.
“I suggest a discussion about what can be done. Does the husband have any suggestions? They can ask around, whether people who went through that situation can offer any advice.
“I experienced this situation with my mom. First, I took her to a neurologist who prescribed very good medication — not a cure, but a way of slowing down the process.
“I also realized I needed time off. I hired somebody to take care of my mom for this reason. Also, I hired somebody who’d take my mom for walks every day. Small things that made life easier.
“I think it was also easier for my mom, not being stuck with just me.
“There are solutions, small steps, that can be taken and make everybody feel better. Also, it’s good to hear other people’s stories because you might learn how to deal with new situations that arise.