I am new to this and it is long, but I don't know where to turn. I have been married for over 15 years. Many of those years I have been a stay at home mom. My husband has a job that requires him to travel often for most of our marriage. I have never questioned that he would have any sort of affair until recently.
He has had a personal assistant for the past 7 or 8 years - of the several he has had - never felt threatened until now. He was promoted a year ago and when the opportunity came up, one of his factors in taking the job was whether or not his assistant would be ok - he literally was factoring her into his decision, even though she still would have had a job. They work much closer now, and I continually hear how he has to make sure she is "happy" It is hard to tell who is the employer and who is the employee. He had her work on several "personal" items, and when I would ask her about those items, several times she would email him and cc me "your wife asked for this I don't know what to do" Several months ago I told him I didn't feel like I was the most important woman in his life anymore. We talked about it, but nothing changed. The new job allows him to work from home, which I have asked if he would do one or two days a month - his concern was that his assistant wouldn't feel needed if he worked from home!
Recently there was a business event we went to. I spent the night trying to be the corporate wife networking. I will admit beyond saying hello, I did not socialize with her at all - I simply couldn't do it. She went to him (her boss!) after the event and mentioned that I hadn't socialized with her. He feels that I hurt her feelings. I offered to apologize, but he doesn't want me to.
He didn't tell me this until I dragged it out of him when I finally blew up about their relationship. He says he has done nothing wrong. He wants she and I to be friends but I have said no - we have nothing in common besides him. He says he doesn't have many friends and he does care about her, but cares about me more. I feel like she is his bff and I am competing with her for his attention, affection and conversation. I felt like I had been fighting for him for many months. I am having a hard time getting past this - I have asked for some boundaries - that I am not a topic of conversation between them, she handles no personal items, and that he tells me about functions they attend outside of work. He has said he will get rid of her if it continues to be a problem, but in the next breath defends her to me - telling me he knows how she "feels."
How do I get past this? They will be working together closely, and my mind is killing me thinking of all the things that could be happening. What was he missing in our relationship that he needed his emotional needs met through her? Am I overreacting? I haven't read his texts or facebook so I don't know if there is any contact after work.
Wow...this is a tough one. Some of the stuff, I can see where she's coming from. For example, the personal things he had her working on and that she emailed him saying she didn't know what to do. I have worked as someone's assistant in the past. And the thing is, for you they are personal items; for me they are my job. And most companies have policies regarding confidentiality and giving out information to nonemployees. While you saw what she was doing as offensive and rude, I think she may have seen it as attempting to ensure she didn't violate company policy. She emailed him to cover her butt and ensure that if he later got upset because she told you something he didn't want her to know, she'd have proof that he told her to do it. Do you see what I'm saying?
And while I don't know that she should have factored that prominently into his decision to take the promotion, I can see that if she is a really good assistant, he would have wanted to take her with him as he moved up. Often, an assistant gets very good at working closely with the boss - almost in the same way a husband and wife work together. A husband and wife often reach a point where they can finish each other's sentences, sense a mood without words, things like that - an assistant can do the same thing in terms of running an office, and if she was that good, naturally he'd want to keep that rather than start all over training or learning/getting to know a new assistant.
But, at the same time, he shouldn't be so constantly worried about making sure she's happy. He shouldn't be *that* concerned with how she feels. He should definitely be putting you ahead of her.
It's really hard to say whether or not he's having an emotional affair with her. As I said, sometimes with a good assistant, there can be a sense of intimacy that is misleading.
I think, if I were in your position, I'd have to look at it as whether it's an emotional affair or not, it bothers me and therefore he should listen to me and want to alleviate my concerns.
You are obviously very uncomfortable with how close they are and I think you sense that even if they're not having an emotional affair, it could turn into one quickly. That type of emotional connection to someone you work with while you are married is inappropriate in my mind. I would demand that she be gone. He can replace her and she can find another job. After all, you are his wife and you should be irreplaceable to him.
On the negative side, by pushing him he might decide to start an emotional affair but if this is the case do you want a man that dedicates so little to your relationship while dedicating so much to another?
I think the boundaries you have asked for are reasonable.
I don't think it's necessary to socialize with her, but at the same time your should remember the saying "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
if you feel she is a threat, don't stand off. At company functions, introduce yourself and tell her how much you and your husband appreciates her efforts. If you call him at the office and she gets the call, chat for a second or two in a friendly manner and when you leave a message with her say "tell him I love him and to call me when he has a chance."
This relationship between your husband and this assistant seems beyond innapropriate.
If he was working for me as his boss, and I even got a wind of this kind of behavior, their professional relationship would be immediately seperated and he himself would be most likely on a professional probation for becoming too personal with a subordinate.
I understand I draw a hard line on these issues, but that is from seeing what happens time and time again, that men will be men and women will be women, even in these supposedly proffesional positions.
The chemistry between any man and woman has the potential to develop very easily and often very insidiously, and without them even knowing it the relationship can cross the line to become innappropriate.
I know I am beating this bush time and time again, but these so called friendships between a man and woman are just playing with fire.
The litmus test, when a spouse expresses concern, then the relationship should be putting the brakes on immediately, because it is always most obvious to the ones outside to see these signs first.
Defensiveness, secrecy, a possessive or protective attitude, accusing the spouse of being too paranoid or too controlling, all these things are the red flags, and the good man or woman in the relationship needs to pay attention to these flags when they occur, and deal with the situation hard and firm, DO NOT BACK DOWN!
This is the seeds to the emotional affair leading to a physical affair, and my hope for your sake is that it has not already got to this point.
My advise, lay out your thoughts and feelings in the language your man will understand, point by point and matter of fact. Explain the risk not only to his marriage to you, but to his career at this company, for be SURE that if there is an inappropriate relationship at work that it will be often noticed and gossipped by others, and this is not beneficial to the man's career (despite any negative stereotypes you may be beliving about men in business, lack of discretion is practically the unforgivable sin and a career killer).
Set your request as matter of fact, that you are not satisfied with your husbands conduct, that you view his relationship with this assistant lady as beyond professional and interfering with your marriage, and potentially damaging career wise, and you expect that your husband to behave with the utmost integrity and priority setting, dealing with this putting your needs before some asssitant lady needs, and dealing with his own career objectively and professionally.
I know this is difficult, but draw a hard line on this now before the damage is worse!
Hey, I'm a few down from your post ("my wife has a male best friend"). I know exactly the anguish you feel & the feeling that the person you feel is #1 with you is putting you in the #2 position!! Somebody else posted the line "keep your freinds close but your enemies closer", if you read my story you'll see this is the route I took. I am involved with the "other guy" and am maintaining a force in that "world". I've been married to my partner for 28 years & I'll be damned if some jerk will come between us. It's not as easy as telling your partner to make a choice - that's not fair either. But just as this "emotional friend" my wife has could be an opportunistic creep, as a professional who has had several "opportunities" with assistants/secretaries that I never acted on - stay in the picture even if it makes your skin crawl!! Do make your boundaries clear to your partner & that this makes you very uncomfortable - but make sure she knows you're there! If all the other elements are strong in your life - intimacy, sex & personal involvement - doing stuff together are there, trust him. If the intimacy fades, I would get concerned. Good luck & all the best!