Carolyn Hax: Husband having emotional affair

November 18, 2013 

Dear Carolyn: My husband of more than nine years has become “friends” with a female employee. He has texted this girl sometimes 50-100 times in a day, 200-300 times a week and 1,500 or more texts in a month. I have seen some of the texts. They talk about everything from music to movies to her boyfriend problems.

Of course, he maintains they are still “just friends.” I have asked him multiple times to develop a more professional relationship with her. Finally, he got fed up with me asking, I guess, and did quit texting. However, I found out that he started chatting with her on Facebook, telling her it was “safer.” I know he deletes some of their conversations that he doesn’t want me to see because he has admitted to that. He says I am overreacting and need to see a counselor over my jealousy and “daddy issues” (my dad cheated on my mom).

I say he needs to stop this “relationship” before it ends our marriage by becoming something he says it’s not — or by my becoming fed up with asking him to stop. Who’s right here?

OVERREACTING?

This pretty much defines an emotional affair. His intimacy is with her now, and his role for you is of obstacle to that intimacy. Add to that, he’s being openly dismissive of your concerns by connecting them to your dad’s behavior, which is not only a red herring, it’s mean.

You do need to make clear that this isn’t about whether physical cheating has or hasn’t happened or will happen. It’s about what he fully admits is happening: His time with you is spent talking to her.

I type all this out knowing the chances are slim to none that he’ll look inward, fall to his knees with remorse over his self-indulgence and recommit himself to your marriage. But the part where you state your feelings clearly is important.

Then you say yes, you would like to see a counselor, with him.

Wait — I’m getting ahead of myself. The first step is actually to talk to a lawyer. You want to document, to the extent the law allows, these husband-employee exchanges, and to make sure your finances and property are ready for a storm.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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