The Vine: July 3, 2012
I did something really stupid. Do you have any advice on how, or if, I should try to fix it?
I've been married for about 2 years. I knew going in that my husband is a little insecure about other men in my life. I have guy friends that I've known for years, never had any romantic interest on either side (some of whom are gay), but Hubby thinks I'm irresistible and they all secretly want me anyway. He's not normally possessive or crazy or controlling; he's not jealous about my past. So we acknowledge that it's an issue, but it's not a gigantic, red-flag issue. We don't fight about it. So far we've addressed it by me continuing to see my friends appropriately and Hubby and I talking about his insecurities openly, working toward alleviating them. Often Hubby is invited along too, so it's not like I have a whole social life that excludes my husband.
My husband's been feeling ill this past week. Nothing serious, but he's not especially perky or communicative. I had plans with some female friends on Tuesday night. I was going to break them to stay home with him, but he told me I should go ahead and go. Also on Tuesday, I found out that a male former co-worker from out of town would be visiting and wanted to get together. Wednesday evening was the best available time for that, so I went ahead and made plans for dinner with him. The Tuesday plans would have been able to be rescheduled, but since the former co-worker lives in another state, we wouldn't have an opportunity to get together again for months or more.
I didn't tell my husband. In fact, I lied to my husband and told him I was going out with some other female friends. Since I was already going on out Tuesday, I didn't have a chance to sit down with him and talk about it openly beforehand. And then I feared that he would ask me to stay home because he was "sick." Now that wasn't an issue the previous night when I was with the girls, but I thought he might make it an issue for the guy. So I didn't deal with it when I should have. And now I don't know whether to deal with it at all or to let it go.
I went out straight after work, and the guy and I hung out for an hour and a half and ate dinner. Nothing inappropriate happened. Neither one of us ever thought about anything like that. It's not an issue of cheating or temptation at all. I was home by 8:15.
I'm afraid that coming clean and attempting to discuss it now with my husband will focus, naturally, on my lie. I would, also naturally, prefer to focus on how I made that bad choice due to a momentary inability for me to deal with his insecurity at that point.
It's not lost on me that my behavior in this situation could certainly increase his insecurity going forward. Nor is it lost on me that I have so far handled this terribly. I feel fairly confident that I wouldn't handle a similar situation this way, because I feel awful about it.
So, come clean and have the discussion? Or let it go and handle similar situations differently in the future? Or something else I haven't thought of? Let me have it!
Don't have the discussion. A discussion turns it into A Big Deal, and that's the problem here: to date, you've trained Hubby, and yourself, to treat his insecurity about your male friends like it's A Big Deal.
It's nice of you to want to put his mind at ease with the issue, generally, and I don't mean to suggest that you should just blow off his concerns because he's being a big baby. The thing is…he's being a baby of some size, let's say a 6, and it's at least in part because you've gone to such solicitous lengths to make sure he's informed and included and soothed. But it's probably time for the baby to learn how to self-soothe, as they say.
And for me to put down the baby metaphor now that it's flattened beyond recognition (heh), so here's the point: you and Hubby both act like you've cheated on him in the past, or like someone else cheated on him in the past, or like you spend a lot of time with ex-boyfriends of serious stature. As far as I can see from your letter, none of these things has happened, and yet the kid-glove treatment continues, and it should stop — because it's driven you to the point where you'd rather lie about your plans than deal with yet another conversation about the co-worker, his relationship status, what kind of lighting the restaurant has, blah blah blah, which is totally understandable. Ditto your suspicion that admitting to the lie would then become a whole "but if there's nothing going on then WHY'DJA LIE ABOUT IT AIEEEE" that won't address the central issue, which: see above.
So. Don't bring it up, and adopt a more businesslike attitude towards these circumstances in future — "I'm going here, with this guy, if you'd like to come; if not, see you at home later, goodbye now." Make it clear that, while you don't want him to worry, you've also given him no cause to worry, and you kind of can't have this talk anymore, because it's a little insulting and there's only so many hours in a day and…you just can't. (Nicer than that.) (A little.)
If that's not working, he's spinning about it and/or you're getting resentful, consider counseling, just for a few sessions. A handful of hours with a relationship therapist could really help in terms of getting to the real issue here, and teaching you both the most productive and kind ways to talk about it, ways that address the insecurity instead of enabling it.
Generally speaking, though, this is as big a deal as you choose to make it. Start choosing to make it smaller. You didn't, and won't, do anything wrong; choose not to act like you did, or might. Again, I respect your desire to be kind — but enough already.
Tags: boys (and girls)