Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.
I have to speculate that he is doing more than simply befriending women. If it was simply trying to seek out opportunities to be friendly and helpful, he would be putting equal effort into befriending men or elderly people. Is his pursuit of opportunities to be helpful free of any gender preference?
I think you and I both know that the explanation your husband is giving you for seeking out platonic friends (on Craigslist I presume and other sites (?)) is a transparent rationalization. Of COURSE he is seeking an emotional affair or more, with these women. he is simply trying to whitewash over his actions. There is no such thing as harmless flirting when you actively seek out opportunities to interact with other women and flirt.
I hate to say this but if your husband is doing this sort of thing and it is only somewhat past year 1 of your marriage, it could well be that you two do not actually share the same, core values about marriage and monogamy. Let me toss out the idea that your husband's version of monogamy goes something like this: "I expect my wife to be monogamous and not ever cheat; and I will promise to do likewise, except if I get the urge, I can quietly act 'as if' I am a single guy, through my alter ego. I am entitled to do this; and if caught, I'll make it my wife's 'problem' by accusing her of making something out of nothing, of invading my privacy, etc." I would speculate that he held this core belief regarding a monogamy double-standard going into your marriage. His honest, deepest belief is in a quasi-polygamous relationship with a woman. I will advance this idea based again, on the fairly shocking fact that he is doing this only a year or so into your marriage.
I wonder what would happen if you told your husband you have given thought to his suggestion about harmless flirting and that "ignorance is bliss". So you have decided that you would like to reserve one night per week to go to some clubs to meet up with some guy friends for a few drinks and dancing; it is all harmless fun of course---just platonic friends having a good time. What do you think?
I think people put the principle of a fully monogamous marriage at risk (if this is what they truly value), if each partner spends a lot of time pursuing "friendship" relationships with members of the opposite sex. This is because such friendships can very easily evolve into sexual relationships. What is a rational approach to this is when couples agree to have such friends jointly i.e., you would be included in all meetings or conversations with a mutual, female friend---but no one-on-one meetings. If your husband was TRULY interested in ONLY having an intellectually meaningful friendship, he would have no objection to including you in the relationship. I suspect he would object to including you, however.
So the difficult issue you face is that you did in fact, marry a guy who has different core values than you do regarding monogamy. I would be wiling to bet money that in a year or two or three, you will discover he has cheated on you. This is because behind his rationalizations about wanting 'intellectual" or 'platonic" friends, he is pursuing women rather than men, to satisfy this desire, and this almost certainly implies sexual interest in the women as well. The hard part for you to consider is that his core beliefs more squarely align with a quasi-polygamous marriage, than a fully monogamous marriage. That's it. You have to decide if this is o.k. with you. What will you do if, knowing this value system, you discover he has been or will eventually have an emotional or sexual affair?
You may want to ask him to get into marital therapy even if your insurance won't cover it. The insurance may cover treatment for something like depression for one of you---and this is normally used as a mechanism to receive couples therapy. You may be able to ask your parents or his, if they can help fund some marital therapy sessions or you may have to take out a short term loan to pay for it. But this isn't a problem you can resolve on your own. Your husband simply holds fundamentally different values than you do regarding marriage. You can keep the marriage together if you are willing to put up with more emotional affairs, and probably sexual ones, down the road. Your husband won't admit that this is where his behavior will lead him, but he is fooling himself and being dishonest with you about it. Again, his values are that being married means that it is o.k. for the guy to have semi-polygamous relationships and his wife must accept this if she wants to stay married to him. You've not been married that long so he held these core values prior to getting married and simply didn't tell you about what his true beliefs and values are. The only other rational explanation for the behavior is that he has discovered, 2 years into this marriage, that he may not want to stay married to you long term and is quietly "looking'" for an alternative relationship; and once he tries out enough emotional or sexual affairs, he will eventually decide whether to stay or leave the marriage. The unfair and selfish part of this of course, is that he may expect you to sit around, remain monogamous, while he figures out whether he wants to be married to you long term, or whether something better might come along during the coming months or years. But he is wanting to hang onto the marriage until he finds out. Again, this is royally unfair to you, if this is what is happening.
Another unspoken value he may hold is that he is doing you a favor staying married to you and has a right to have these exciting 'new' flirtatious emotional affiars on the side. He married a woman who was single and had two kids and he may figure that you need this relationship more than he does and thus, you'll put up with his marital values, such as they are. So he may hold the rather arrogant belief that he 'rescued' you from being a lonely, single parent, believing that other men would likely shy away from you since you already had kids; so you'll likely put up with this behavior, rather than leave.
What do you think?