Do you have trust in your marriage?
by Betsy Sansby, MS, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
This past weekend my husband and I went to a football game with friends. Afterwards, the guys wanted to go to a bar for drinks. I was fine with that since he hardly ever goes out with his friends. I left the stadium, picked up my daughter from the babysitter, and got home at 10:30 pm. My husband stumbled in at 4 AM. The next day he mentioned in passing that he had danced with another woman at two different bars. I immediately felt a knot in my throat.
Betsy, I feel so betrayed and hurt. I don't know whether to believe him when he says that it was totally innocent and it didn't go any further than dancing. I love him with all of my heart and I want to be able to trust him. But I can't stop thinking about what happened. It's driving me crazy. He's never done anything like this before, and it was a complete shock to me. Do you have any advice on how I can get over this, or what I should say to him? Should I just ignore it or is it a warning sign for things to come?
Thank you so much,
First I want to respond as a woman, a wife, and a mother. Then I’ll respond as a therapist. If my husband went out drinking with his buddies and told me the next day that he’d been dancing with one woman at two different bars, I too would have a hard time ignoring it. In fact, my first reaction to reading your question was, “Why are a bunch of married men with wives and young children at home out bar-hopping in the first place? And if they were really just going out for a few drinks, then how is it that my husband ended up on more than one dance floor with the same woman? And oh, by the way, was she young or old? Attractive or grotesque? Sober or intoxicated? If your husband is like most men, I can guess his answers.
But wait, couldn’t the whole thing have been harmless? I mean, isn’t it possible that your husband and his buddies were just having a good time? Sure, it’s possible. And isn’t it a good thing that your husband told you about it? Absolutely . . . unless of course he only told you because he was afraid that one of his buddies might leak the story to his wife who might in turn tell you.
But the truth is, no matter what was going on for your husband and his buddies this time, I can tell you that from my experience as a marriage counselor, going out to bars and dancing with other women is a dangerous practice for any married man to get into. Any setting where alcohol is served and “club drugs” are available is particularly risky because these substances affect a person’s judgment and lower sexual inhibitions. Promises made while sober have a tendency to get a little fuzzy around the edges once people start drinking and dancing together.
In fact, most of the couples I see who are dealing with infidelity hooked up with the other woman (or other man) on a business trip, or during an after work function. Often, this occurred at a party, in a hotel room, or at a bar. More often than not, alcohol was involved.
But it’s not just couples who party separately who are at risk of drifting apart. So are couples who work different shifts or are apart a lot because one or the other travels for work. And so are couples with young children because, most of the time, by the time the kids are back from soccer and have been fed, bathed, and read to, their parents can barely keep their eyes open, much less have a meaningful adult interaction. Couples these days have to work very hard to carve out even a little bit of time each day to stay connected to each other.
So in answer to your questions, do I think you should “get over it,” or ignore your husband’s behavior? No, I don’t. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about any aspect of your relationship, you should definitely make time to talk to your husband about it. And if he has any trouble understanding why you’re feeling jealous or concerned, just ask him how he’d feel if he saw you dancing at a bar with another man. I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t feel just a wee bit jealous himself.
Betsy Sansby is a licensed marriage & family therapist, and published author whose private practice is in Minnetonka, Minnesota. She is the coauthor of seven books, and the creator of ingenious communication tools for couples and families called, including: The STOP Strategy, The Art of Conversation, and The OuchKit: A First-Aid Kit for Your Relationship. She also has her own relationship advice column called, "Ask Betsy." To download free tools, submit a question to her column, or contact Betsy for an on-line consultation, go to: www.theouchkit.com . Or send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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