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How do I deal with this marriage issue? My wife's boss has

How do I deal with...
How do I deal with this marriage issue? My wife's boss has been getting somewhat flirtatious with her, and she played along without (in her words) suspecting anything, so she didn't do anything about it until a recent event prompted her to tell me. I am suspecting my wife has histrionic tendencies, bipolar or both, and I am looking for clues on how to deal effectively with our crisis, so I can get closure and not let it affect me. I will provide full details.
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Answered in 35 minutes by:
10/13/2017
Juliet Cooper
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 51
Experience: Psychologist in private practice
Verified
Hi this is Dr. Juliet, a licensed Psychologist and I am happy to help you out with this situation regarding yiubwife and her boss. Please provide me with a few more details so I can better support you.
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Hi Dr. Juliet. So my wife's boss's wife was eavesdropping on a phone conversation between my wife and her husband, then called her up accusing her of having an affair with him. Apparently, my wife's boss offered to dry her hair up as she was leaving the shower (the reason why she missed his first call). She answered with something along the lines "I wouldn't say no to that". The guy is twice her age. She said this "special attention" from her boss has been going on for a few months, but nothing happened or was going to happen.My wife says she never saw any sexual intentions on his part either. That the "advance" he had made on her was a first, but now she blames herself for playing along and not seeing how dangerous it was. It's worth noting that she didn't spill the "full truth" until the boss' wife threatened to make this public and come talk to me in person about it. My wife proceeded to tell me about other instances like the the time when he started talking to her about his problems w/ his wife during a meeting and how he loved her and all, but he wished she was more like her (my wife) in certain respects, and how she went "This is not good Sir". His answer was along the lines of "come on, we're not doing anything wrong, just talking".I also remember how she received a call from him while one time, and I noticed how she lowered her cell's volume. I didn't say anything at the time, but she had noticed I was suspicious. For some reason, I decided to let it slip. I brought it up with her after the incident and she replied that given how close the working relationship with her boss has gotten lately, she was afraid I would misinterpret something he would say on the phone. She said she knew I wouldn't be OK w/ the attention but she indulged as she always saw him as a fatherly figure that would never cross the line.Prior to this and throughout the time we were together, I had called her out several times on her unusual need for attention, like checking out and sometimes making eye contact with guys while I am with her. Something she has been denying, or at best saying that it was out of curiosity. We all do that once in a while, but I always found it was compulsive with her, and she had a hard time controlling it. There's also this couple of times where in the middle of a conversation she would touch the hand of a guy acquaintance while talking to them. I see that as inappropriate attention seeking behavior.I asked her if she had at all felt this thing with her boss was getting a bit too far, she said that she knew it wasn't OK, that it was rare, but that it filled a void in her life because of all the perceived instability in the couple. She says her work and consequently her boss' attention provided her with a security she lacked in our relationship. She also said she was planning on gradually starting to set her limits, especially lately as we got closer together.She is a charming, bubbly person, very friendly and well appreciated by most people we know. She is also a bit clingy, demanding constant attention from me and wanting to do everything together. Me wanting some space is sometimes interpreted by her as a rejection. She always complains how I am not in the relationship for her but simply keeping it together for our child, but I believe I give her all the attention she deserves, and it's me who doesn't get enough of it. With her in fact it's either all or nothing. In her highs (i.e. when she thinks she is getting enough of me or while traveling) she can be very loving, but she switches to being cold and negative as soon as I start getting some (healthy) space. At times, I feel her affection is a bit superficial.When we have heated arguments or she feels cornered in these arguments, she sometimes has these spouts of anger where she loses it and starts hitting her face hysterically. Suicide is something she has brought up a few times last year. Over the past few days she has had quite a few episodes where she would start shaking without being able to control her arm or leg movement, or start laughing hysterically, or sometimes get stuck on a word/sentence and repeat it several times in a high pitched tone without being able to stop until I take a hold of her, hug her really tight and comfort her. She is a mess and I am doing what I can to support her despite being hurt.Sometimes I feel I tolerated way too much from her and I should call it quits. It's not like we never talked about her issues, but I always blamed her for not taking them seriously enough. What does that say about me? I wonder if I am also clinging to this relationship and have issues of my own to resolve? I can be a perfectionist and treat everything problem in my life as a challenge to be solved, but maybe I have made her problem mine for way too long and it's high time I let go.Is this HPD/BPD? Are her problems easy to solve? or should I keep my distances and go for a separation and look out for my best interest.
Thanks for all the details. I will have time later to respond
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Ok looking forward to it.
I hear there is a lot going on and you are struggling with some tough questions.
The situation with her boss seems to be one issue but it also sounds like it reflects other struggles you are having with your wife ie. need for attention and admiration etc.
My first thought is your wife needs to get professional help. I can’t say whether she has HPD or BPD, but it is clear that she is struggling with intense feelings and even decompensating when she is emotionally overwhelmed and this is concerning. This must be a lot for you to manage. You mention she has talked about suicide and this should not be ignored. She should have a consultation with a psychaitrist to evaluate whether medication can be helpful as well she should be speaking to someone about how to manage her emotions and feelings of neediness.
The situation with her boss is inappropriate regardless of whether there has been any intimacy. My guess is she is seduced by the attention and feelings of importance. I understand how this is upsetting for you.
What you feel is “healthy space” your wife feels as a type of rejection (as you mentioned). This is not so uncommon for couples to have different needs for connecting, the problem is that your need for personal space triggers anxiety in your wife. This is an area that you can definitely speak about and try to help her to understand that you enjoy a certain amount of time for yourself and it is more about what you need and less about her. If you can depersonalize this she might be more willing to respect your space.
It sounds like you feel that your request for space is reasonable but you might also try to see it from her point of view and figure out ways to compromise.
I understand you are asking some difficult questions about your role in the relationship nd about your future. I think it is reasonable and brave to try to understand what you get out of the relationship and wondering about your desire to take on a challenge. Sometimes people have a need to try to fix things and other people. There is a fine line between being supportive and there for someone you care about and trying to fix their life. I can’t say exactly where you fall on that continuum, but it might be worth thinking about.
In terms of whether your wife’s problems are easy to solve depends on her motivation and desire to change. If she sees these challenges as interfering with her life she will be more motivated to change, if she sees the challenges as separate from her ( minimizing or blaming others)than it will be more difficult.
I don’t have a sense of how invested you are in the marriage. I fully understand that you feel frustrated and probably disappointed, but it’s less clear if you feel in love with your wife. You mention you have a child, is your child effected by some of the challenges you have spoken about? Let me know your thoughts on what I have written.
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thanks Dr. Juliet. Your answer validates the fact that there are concerning issues, and that I am overwhelmed by it all. It's a lot for me to manage indeed. I guess what I am after is guidance as to how I should be dealing with the whole thing to come to a resolution which would give me peace eventually. At times I feel like hugging her and telling her how much I love her, and other times, I don't want anything to do with her. Guess I am at a point where I'd like to know what I can do to have a sense of whether it is worth it for me to carry on or not. Because I am totally confused.She is being treated by a psychiatrist, and I believe she is in good hands now.As for our child, I don't think he has been affected because I believe we have done a good job hiding our issues from him, and we still go on with our lives as though nothing happened.I believe there was no intimacy, but the level of inappropriateness combined with her attention/admiration seeking issues has me really skeptical about the future. My trust in her has been compromised. I ask myself: how much longer do I have to wait for things to be OK? She is asking for forgiveness, is willing to do the work and says she will make it worthwhile, but that has been the story of our life so far: I take the upper hand of the relationship, call her out on things to fix, she does some of the work, then the moment I lower my guards and leave things on "autopilot" something else comes up. This whole attention thing has been a recurring issue in our 10+ years together, and although she had made progress, it still comes up once in a while, but mostly I am the one who learned to just let it be. With this new incident though, it's back on the surface and how! I feel she always needs to be straightened up, which is exhausting. This is what lead me to think she might have (infantile?) HPD tendencies. When I read about people with symptoms like hers and how much work it is to be with them in a relationship I ask myself if it's worth it. And even when I try and blame myself for not being committed enough to her taste, I still believe it doesn't justify seeking attention, protection or whatever she was lacking elsewhere, despite not having any bad intentions. I strongly believe two spouses in a committed relationship have an obligation to respect the other spouse even in their absence, and this incident has shaken that.
I understand your confusion and need to figure out how to proceed. This is obviously an important decision and in order to think it through you should seek out a therapist. I understand you have been giving this a lot of thought but it is a decision that will be best made over some time with the guidance of someone that you feel comfortable speaking with.
I can comment on a few things I am hearing from your words....there is a sense from you that things will not change enough for you to be comfortable and satisfied in this relationship. It seems clear that the status quo is not something you can accept and I hear you sounding quite discouraged about the future. In addition to feeling somewhat hopeless about change in the future, you are now dealing with a betrayal regarding the situation with your wife’s boss. You will have to think about how and whether the two of you can deal with this situation.
Also, when I read through what you have written about the way you interact with your wife it sounds like you are parenting her. Your descriptions sound very parental and this is not the dynamic you want with a spouse, ie.you have to take the upper hand, call her out etc.
I understand and respect that you are questioning your own role in the relationship and trying figure out what is reasonable, but it sounds like your instincts are telling you that
Your wife’s expectations are coming from an unhealthy place and your need for individual space is reasonable. Hope this is helpful.
Juliet Cooper
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 51
Experience: Psychologist in private practice
Verified
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thanks so much Dr. Juliet. This is quite helpful.
I am so pleased you found my response helpful. Please feel free to reach out to me in the future and best wishes.
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