Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I am battling a jealousy situation with my husband and need some advice. His company went remote during COVID and returned to work in 2021. Almost immediately after going back, he started working more closely with a female co-worker — I’ll call her Beth.
Beth is beautiful, ambitious and funny. I’ll admit, as a stay-at-home mom, I felt threatened as soon as it became clear they were growing close because she and I are so different. After all, people always worry that their spouse will wonder what someone opposite them is like.
To be clear, there is no evidence of any impropriety. My husband and Beth don’t hang out outside of work. They do text a lot, but it’s usually about work, as far as I know. But they do have coffee at the office together more days than not, and they go out to lunch sometimes, and I find myself worrying about his friendship with her.
I’ve brought it up and he was very offended, he said their friendship is completely platonic and he felt like I wasn’t trusting him. I understand how he feels but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m jealous and upset. What can I do?
Let’s back up to the part where you said you worry your husband will stray because he will desire your opposite. This fear may be a starting point for understanding why you’re battling jealousy. Once committed, do people in relationships experience curiosity about other potential partners? Sure, sometimes. Do they actually cheat? Again, sometimes. But it’s not true that every person in a relationship is secretly wondering what they’re missing and seeking out the contrary version of their significant other.
Your husband chose you. He continues to choose you every day that you are married. Any one of us encounters many potential romantic or sexual partners on a daily basis, and to feel most threatened by those most unlike you suggests perhaps your insecurities are less about Beth and more about worrying you are somehow lacking or not bringing enough to your marriage.
That thinking is defeatist, and will only make you more worried and skeptical. So stop focusing on Beth. Focus on yourself, your husband, your marriage, and the energy you bring to it. It doesn’t sound like your husband has given you any reason to doubt him, and the relationship you’re describing between him and Beth sounds professionally platonic and also quite normal in today’s workplace.
What can you do? Relax. Breathe. Accept that this is a transition and you all need to keep moving forward. Look at the situation from 30,000 feet. And, like Wanda recommends, focus on your life, husband and family situation instead of outside noise. Which, from my 30,000-foot view, seems pretty solid.
I mean, if your husband had something to hide, wouldn’t he be trying to hide it? Instead, he’s telling you about his workday and the people in it. Probably because you are his real best friend and confidant, and he likely misses and thinks of you, too.
While working from home during the lockdown sometimes ground us down into a dystopian mashup of “Office Space” and “Groundhog Day,” it was most awesome. Especially having our workdays lightened by being around those we love: family, pets, plants, ESPN afternoon personalities.
I’m guessing that he misses the positives of working from home and having you around as much as you miss him being there. But you have to accept that if he is the breadwinner, he’s got to go where the big bakers tell him to make the bread. And that often involves being in places around other people. Just like it did before he worked from home.
So there’s your pair of pep talks. Move on. Channel that jealousy into positivity. And maximize the time you do have together.