I find myself reading relationship-oriented forums and message boards. It’s a good way for me to reply to dudes in need … and also a good way to generate traffic to my website and possible book sales (just being honest).
One thing you see when you frequent these forums are definite trends in the overall groupthink. The tide shifts and changes depending on what the people on discussion forums think is right and wrong on that particular given day. One day it may be “Open relationships are cool” or “Dad bods are awesome”. Right now, I see a trend amongst men online that can be summarized as: “Your wife had an affair? Go after the other man!”
It goes something like this:
Man finds out wife is cheating or is on the verge of cheating. The internet tells him that he needs to do a better job of getting between his wife and the other man. Readers will reply and go on and on about “Players” and how these men are a danger to the welfare of the wife and their relationship. These evil men PREY upon these women and get them at their most vulnerable. They go after married women because they are easier targets.
Many of these people will recommend that the man get physical and confront the other man/predator/player before it is too late.
Can we PLEASE stop with this mildly sexist trope of “Poor defenseless woman being a victimized by evil predator men”? It’s getting old. Not only is it annoying, it’s wrong. You won’t win your woman back with this mindset. She’s already gone by this point.
This is just another manifestation of the “Not MY wife!“ phenomenon. “It can’t possibly be my wife’s fault… it’s that EVIL MAN!”
By projecting his anger onto the other man, the husband is holding on to what little hope he has left for the relationship. As long as it means upholding the lie of “My wife is a victim”, the man will even put himself in real physical danger to “defend” her.
Meanwhile, his wife, high up on the pedestal her husband put her on, is looking on with disgust as she sends text messages to her next “predator”.
“OMG… he’s so stupid. You should see this. He’s actually fighting right now. He looks like a troll. What an idiot. I’m horny. Want to meet during my lunch break tomorrow?”
How many men will our hero husband have to beat up (or take beatings from) before he says “You know… maybe it IS my wife, after all”?
The Wolves Are Always Circling
You can’t possibly fight off and protect your wife from the countless men out there who are ready and willing to have sex with her. You just can’t. Even if your wife is 100 lbs overweight and not much to look at, there is an army of men waiting to take her to bed. Yes, men are desperate. Go create an average fake woman account on an online dating website and you’ll see what I mean.
The other man became the “other man” because your wife let down her boundaries and allowed him into her personal/sexual space. That’s it. Regardless of his own action, she also decided to cross the line.
Boundaries are everything when it comes to mental health and the health of your monogamous relationship. You are presented on a regular basis with things that would harm you and your marriage, but you look the other way or outright say NO without even giving it a second thought.
Here’s the kicker: Sometimes your wife will unable or seemingly unwilling to put up her own boundaries. Why? Simple. She may feel the allure of crossing over the boundary line. It’s exciting. It’s fun. She may recognize this and ask you, sometimes in a very direct way, to put up the expected boundary for her.
There was a perfect example of this on the Talk About Marriage forum. A man went into detail about his wife’s platonic friendship with a “nerdy” guy from work. He didn’t like their frequent texting and hanging out, but he didn’t want to come across as some kind of weakling and say “YOU MUST STAY AWAY FROM THIS MAN!” So… he did nothing and kept a close eye on the situation.
Then, his wife predictably did what a lot of women on the verge of crossing the line do. She asked him to put the boundaries up for her.
“As they became closer friends at work, she asked what I thought about her making him her friend (as she lacks friends)”.
This was his opportunity to let her know what he thought. Instead, his response was “I told her that’s fine”.
Ugh. She obviously felt something was a little “wrong” about her relationship with the guy from work… otherwise she wouldn’t have brought it up. Much like she doesn’t bring up the 100 other banal things she does every day at work. But this guy… this is different. He’s at the top of her mind. This is fun, and it shouldn’t be. She needs some help. She needs some direction. She needs hubby to play the bad guy and do the dirty work for her.
What would I have done? I would say something like:
“I don’t have any close female friends. I think it’s just asking for trouble, to be honest. Not sure why you feel the need to have a close male friend, especially a close male friend at work. You’re really asking for trouble in that situation. You’re fully aware that he wants you, sexually, right? Of course you do. You’re not stupid. He’s a man. But, you still remain close friends with him. Do you do so because of the attention? Does he do things for you? Do you really think that’s a good thing?
You’re married. I suggest you act like a married woman. If not, you will find yourself single again. That’s not a threat. Just telling you how it is. I’m not joking with you. I have no need for a wife that hangs out with hungry men so she can get attention. There are lots of women out there who have gangs of men followers who they chat with all the time… I don’t want any of them for a wife.”
This probably wouldn’t go over well. You may be called controlling. Weak. Silly. Jealous. Abusive. That’s fine.
Recognize what these responses from her are: The last ditch effort to keep the dopamine hits she experiences with her new emotional partner… and a big test. She wants to see what you’re made of. Do you stick to your guns? Are you REALLY serious about dumping her over something like this? Would you dare follow through?
Will you stand up to her?
You’ll get the wheels spinning. This may or may not result in a better marriage for you… but one thing it will do is earn her respect. You are showing her a clear boundary and bluntly telling her what the price is for not respecting it. You’re not asking her to do anything you wouldn’t do. You don’t have close female friends, nor do you want one.
Do you know how many men stand up to their wife and enforce boundaries? VERY VERY few. Most do what the guy on the forum did: “That’s fine.” Translation: “Please don’t think I’m a mean guy. Please don’t think of me in a negative light. I see the other man is making you happy… so please, be happy!” Men just love to hide behind the facade of being “understanding” and “thoughtful” in order to win good husband points. In reality, they are just avoiding conflict and putting themselves further into the “shitty husband” category.
Hey, if you are truly cool and trust your wife 100% with the guy from work… then that’s great. More power to you. I wish I had your level of trust and naivety. But, if you’re like most men (like the ones that post on these forums), you reach out for help because something juuuuuust doesn’t feel right. That’s your gut talking. That’s many generations of genetic code embedded in your brain telling you “Warning: Your marital investment is in danger.” Listen to it. Don’t listen to the blame-shifting and gas-lighting behavior from others telling you that you are crazy, controlling or even abusive.
Putting up boundaries is healthy.
Think about the situation in very simple terms: Your wife wants to hang out with other men? Ok… why? What does she have to gain by having another close one-on-one friend that is a man? Why not just keep him at workplace aquaitance/coworker status?
What if the roles were reversed? Think she would care? Of course she would. She’s not stupid. Women can be the most visciously jealous partners. Why? They know how quickly you can slip and go over the line. It happens every single day to many couples all over the world. None of us are immune to it.