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How to handle a spouse's flirty coworker relationship

Young woman and man at work, sitting close and looking at the same screen.

It looks innocent enough, but you never know.

How to handle a spouse's flirty coworker relationship

April 19, 2013

Q: My wife has a male friend at work who is touchy-feely with her (he is single), and it makes me uncomfortable. I told her this, and she said I was "jealous and insecure" and continued to put me down. Am I being out of line? I don't have single female friends, nor do I keep anything from my wife.

A: I'm sorry you are going through this with your wife. It is not normal, and she really needs to see how it affects you and upsets you. She may be actually enjoying the male attention she is getting, so stopping this behavior may not be in her best interest. This is the problem.

You may need to talk again with her or perhaps write her an email (preventing her from berating you -- as this too, is unhelpful in your communication with one another). Express within it exactly how this is making you feel, ask her what is the purpose and how does this male colleague really make her feel and what is it that she would perhaps want YOU to give her (she may have reasons for her behavior, she may be feeling neglected/unwanted by you...?).

Some women may feel quite happy due to the fact that they are getting nice attention elsewhere and this could be because they may not be feeling sexy/loved/attractive at home by their partners, hence they are searching for such care and attention elsewhere.

Sometimes these are just obstacles that can very much be ironed out, but if you feel it's something more serious, you may want to ask her to consider couples counseling so that this does not get too out of hand and allows for both of your feelings to be communicated to one another. Another approach might be to ask her how she might feel if a single female colleague at work began to touch you and giggle and enjoy your company this way -- how would that leave her feeling?

It is not acceptable for her to be putting you down, either, and this needs to be addressed. Relationships need to be built upon respect, trust, and honesty; and both partners have to compromise for the good of the relationship -- she doesn't sound as though, at present, she is considering your perspective at all.

Try exploring the above options in a different way with her and see how you go. This won't get resolved immediately, but you need to start somewhere and take small steps  -- together.

-- Answer from Karin Samms, a licensed counselor on JustAnswer.

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