This is part of a collaborative post that I am partnering with my good friend Dear Mister Man to bring to you. It is a his view/her view answer to a question that he received. Although we have teamed up on this, we did not discuss with each other what our answers to the question would be. The question that Mr. Man received via email is this:
I'm not one to email people for advice, but I read some of your stuff and maybe you can help. I'm a stay at home dad and I've worked all my life until this year. My wife is a manager at Wal-mart. My problem is with the guy "friends" she has at work. She always tells me about guys hitting on her or saying dirty stuff when no one is around. She knows it upsets me to no end.I'm not a violent man, but people messing with her makes me want to do some damage. Recently she asked me if it was ok for her to go hang out with her friends from work (all females except for one guy who she knows I have a problem with). This guy texts her sometimes and even texted her at one in the morning. I picked up her phone and texted him back to let him know that if he didn't want any problems, he needed to cease and desist. She got MAD at me for doing that even though it was 1:00 am, she was sleeping, and the phone woke the baby up. She always says she likes to hang out with guys more than girls, but she admits she talks to guys about things she cant talk to me about. She gets mad if I so much as speak to another girl, but she chatters the night away with this guy. What advice would you give someone like me? My idea is wait for him in the parking lot and make an example out of him, but I know it would get her into trouble.
Sincerely,Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired
Dear Sick and Tired,
The first thing that I want to say is that I have no problem with men and women maintaining friendships. For that matter, neither does Mr. Weasel.
I have many friendships with men and women alike and I can say that I often prefer to 'hang out with the guys' for the lack of drama, gossip and less intrusive nature of the male species. Not to mention that I would rather stick a red hot poker in my eye rather than have a conversation about Jimmy Choo's. Therefore, I tend to pick both my female and male 'hangout quality' friends very carefully.
However, this has to be a two way street. Mr. Weasel has to be able to choose his friends also. The beauty of his friends and my friends is that they become 'our friends'. Anyone who has enough significance in my life to have earned the title of friend is someone I want to share my family with and share with my family.
If I had a friendship that made Mr. Weasel uncomfortable for any reason I would back off and keep that person at arms length and Mr. Weasel would do the same if I were the one uneasy. A marriage should always take priority over a friendship.
I know that there are always two sides to every story and I am only hearing one of them. I do not portend to be an expert and the only thing I know about you is that one paragraph that you wrote, but what I have surmised from it is this:
- You and your wife are not on the same page regarding opposite gender friendships and it's not a two way street.
- You are more upset by your wife's cavalier attitude toward your feelings on the matter than you are that these incidents are happening.
- Your wife is not offended by the comments and may even be welcoming of them.
- You feel a need not only to protect your wife, but also to 'spray your territory', so to speak, to ward off other males.
- You and your wife have a communication breakdown.
- There is not a mutual respect in your relationship.
- I'm guessing that you also are having a struggle being a SAHD and feeling less of a man and more threatened by other men around your wife because of it (although you need not feel that way, but societal pressures will do that).
Therefore, my suggestion is this. You and your wife should seek counseling. In a marriage you should be partners and best friends even though you have other friendships. You should have mutual trust and respect for each other and open communication no matter which end of the household your running.
You are right to be disturbed by one o'clock text messages from a man whom you are not comfortable with. I would be too. Your wife being more concerned with the feelings of the person on the other end end of the phone or her own embarrassment more so than your comfort level or piece of mind is yet another red flag that your marriage needs some serious work and repair.
I wish you the best of luck.
and here is Mr. Man's response:
Dear Sick and Tired,
I do believe that it is perfectly fine for men and women to be friends, but there are limits. The dirty talk and the late night texts and calls are totally out of line. As you mentioned, your wife would go nuts if you had a woman sending you text messages in the middle of the night. So let's go point by point:
"She always tells me about guys hitting on her or saying dirty stuff when nobody is around."- My question to her would be how she is responding to these comments. Most women I know would not allow such behavior from men unless they were trying to encourage that behavior for whatever reason. As the manager, these men are disrespecting her, you, your marriage, and her profession. She is only hurting herself professionally because the guys that are doing this obviously don't respect her position as the boss. By her allowing such talk, she is condoning the disrespect of your marriage.
"Recently she asked me if it was ok for her to go hang out with her friends from work all females except for one guy who she knows I hate."- As I mentioned previously, I believe it is fine for a man and woman to be friends, but with distinct limits. She has to ask herself whether it is acceptable for her female friends to cross the line and disrespect your marriage. I don't think she would allow this. If she does, she needs to take a look at your commitment to each other and decide whether it is something that she can live up to. As far as hanging out with the guy that you dislike, she needs to put that to a screeching halt. Friends of hers should be friends of yours. If she continues to hang out with someone who she knows makes you uncomfortable, then she is placing that friendship ahead of your marriage.
"He texts her sometimes once at 1a.m. I picked up her phone and texted him back and told him that if he likes his teeth, not to do it again. She got MAD at me for doing that even though it was 1 a.m., she was sleeping, and the phone woke the baby up."-I am taking a guess here, but I'll bet she wasn't mad at him for disrespecting your family by texting her at 1a.m., was she? I don't know all of the facts, admittedly, but I would ask her why she values this friendship over your marriage.
"She gets mad if I so much as speak to another girl, but she chatters the night away with this guy."-If I were in your shoes, I'd ask her why she expects you to live by one set of rules while you live by another. There is an obvious double -standard here and you've got to find out why.
"She admits she talks to guys about things she can’t talk to me about."-Man, this is the real problem and possibly the root of the issue. It is important to ask ourselves at times if we are meeting all of our spouses' needs. Emotionally and physically. Why does she believe that she has to talk to others about things that she can't talk to you (her best friend and life-partner) about? This is probably the most important question to ask. If she gives you an honest answer, you can't get angry or upset. You have to listen and then do your part to meet that need for her.
In my opinion, there is a lack of respect that exists in your marriage. I don't know if it is because you are no longer working. I also don't know if, as a mother of a young child, she is feeling trapped and is trying to live as though she is single. There is not enough information available to me to make that call. Whatever it is, I think you should be the one to open the lines of communication. Again, it is important that you listen without anger and be prepared for her to say some things that may hurt you or that you don't like. If this happens and you lash out, she won't open up to you again.
No marriage is perfect, but love and respect has to be the foundation for any marriage to last. I also believe that God needs to be at the center of any marriage if it is going to be successful. I understand your frustration and your desire to lash out at the other guy, but it is your wife's responsibility to put this "friendship" to rest. If she is unwilling to do so, then you need to determine if there is more to what's going on than a "friendship".
When a person fails to get their needs met in a relationship, they almost always seek to get those needs met elsewhere.
I hope this was helpful.
Now don't forget to go visit Dad-Blogs for Fatherhood Friday.