Dear Wayne and Wanda,
First of all, I love your advice. Most of the time it's given with a sense of humor, it is the first thing I read on Friday mornings. And now I need some love advice.
My husband of almost 30 years is still my heart throb and I enjoy being with him. He has a warm personality, a quick wit and people love being around him. Whenever I am with his coworkers, they fall over themselves telling me what a great guy he is to work with. So naturally he gets a lot of social invitations. And as a manager for a major airline he used to work away from home a lot and did lots of socializing with his coworkers from other stations. His job changed in the last year and now he is home more.
Today he was headed out to a big 60th birthday party -- good food, great company, nice Saturday evening. But he didn't want me to go. He said they'd be talking about work. (Is this a coworker with benefits?) This is not the first time that he has met coworkers at bars and restaurants while I am home watching from the sidelines. I am confused. I too am fun to be with, quick witted and people always love to be around me. I am at a loss.
So, should he be sleeping on the couch, or should I admit that I haven't been paying attention and head for the marriage counselor? Any quick-witted advice?
-- Sideline Wife
Wayne says: Hey, I'm all about a healthy work/life balance, and even a happy little life/work balance. For some people, their working world is a pleasant escape from the daily grind of home life. Work provides a different circle of friendships, routines and stimulation that are change-ups to the usual day to day with the family. And sometimes that team needs to blow off steam together after a great or rough day at the office. That's fine as long as the balance is always slanted toward the home team.
But your man has made a major balance blunder -- he can't keep his No. 1 fan on the sidelines during the big game! You have every right to be confused, offended and upset.
Maybe he's overcompensating for all the travel and social commitments he used to get in his old gig. Maybe he's taking his charming and quick-witted partner for granted after all these years. But maybe there's more. It isn't time to call a counselor yet, but it's definitely time to have a talk with the big guy. Ask him why his wife wouldn't be welcome.
What do you think Wanda? You know all about working hard and playing hard all while being the life of the party!
Wanda says: Silent auctions, lavish luncheons, benefit breakfasts, wild wine tastings, charity golf tournaments, glittery galas -- Anchorage is packed full of for-a-good-cause frivolity, especially for those uppity ups working away in our corporate sector. These events serve a few purposes. First, yeah, there's the whole charity angle. Second, as Wayne said, it's a chance for casual chat with coworkers over canapés and cocktails. Finally, these events are extensions of the work day, a hotbed of networking -- hand shaking, business card swapping, and deal making.
So before you assume your husband is using this as a chance to cozy up with a too-close coworker (at such a public event? Highly unlikely!), consider the alternative: Surrounded by colleagues and potential clients and partners, he's sparing you what he assumes is certain boredom.
Talk to him. Tell him you love meeting his colleagues and furthermore, you don't require babysitting. In other words, you can hold your own at the home-base company table if work requires him to work the room.
Wayne raises another potential alternative: Your husband may miss his solo travel time and is using after-hours work events as a chance to carve out Man Time. If that's the case, surely you can reach a compromise. The key is expressing that you want to be at his side, not because you don't trust him, but because at the end of the day, there's nowhere you'd rather be. Good luck!
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.