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Carolyn Hax: Husband is awfully invested in colleague’s love life

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)
3 min

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My husband has become good friends with a co-worker, “Evelyn.” She is about 10 years younger and is in a relationship, albeit somewhat unhappily. My husband has become her dumping ground for her relationship frustrations and is trying to help her game out how to score a marriage proposal. I have commented on how flawed that whole thing is, but I guess it’s not really my business.

I happened to see a few messages between them recently. (Nothing nefarious; my husband accidentally sent them to me.) I noticed that he has shared a few details about me with her, including a medication I’m taking. That IS my business. Not only do I feel as if a marriage warrants more privacy, but I also haven’t consented to having my personal life be part of their daily conversation fodder.

I told my husband I don’t want him talking about our relationship with her, and he says that, as friends, they should be able to share what’s going on in their lives. Apropos of nothing, he also commented that, because he is trying to help her get engaged, I should not be worried that he’s on the verge of cheating on me.

I still think this is an emotional affair. Am I right, or am I being controlling?

— Married

Married: I think I’m concussed from the forehead slap I just gave myself.

He is “trying to help her get engaged,” blah, blah, blah. Dude. You are every adolescent who eagerly and tenderly listened to a “friend” — a.k.a. all-consuming middle school crush — complain about her boyfriend.

And you, Married, now have the unenviable job of saying to him: “I am not jealous, threatened or possessive. I am not trying to control you. I am merely seeing the big fat mess down the road here — the one where you cross a line with someone you work with and it goes ‘boom’ — and lovingly asking you to cut the [stuff] while you still can. Especially with my private freaking medical information.” The sharing of which is indefensible, and he is defending.

If needed: “To be clear, I’m fine. We all get crushes. What I am asking is for you to stop deceiving yourself on this one.”

Good luck. Head-from-backside extractions are generally successful if caught early.

Re: Married: I’m a little uncomfortable with the assumption that he’s into this girl. My male friends have often talked to me about their relationship problems, because I am a safe person who helps them to see their wife’s/girlfriend’s perspective. Partners are either trustworthy or they aren’t. I’d have an honest and vulnerable conversation about the insecurity this relationship creates for you, paired with a request that your personal privacy is respected.

— Uncomfortable

Uncomfortable: I agree with your experience 100 percent — just not that it applies here. When I got to their scheming to “score a marriage proposal,” my eyeballs rolled so fiercely they fell out and I had to put them back in.

Re: Emotional affair: When my partner was developing a crush, I kindly asked (in a calm moment, as Carolyn always advises) how it would feel if the situation were turned around and I were having frequent, long conversations that didn’t include my partner, telling them my partner’s personal information, getting very involved with the other’s romantic comings and goings. My partner said they’d hate it. And whatever had been developing ended, because they stopped feeding it.

— Anonymous