Q&A with J: “Get Your Filthy Little Mitts Off My Husband”

Let’s tackle a tough one today: What do you do about that woman who won’t stop touching your husband? Especially if he’s had a history with her…

My husband has had some past transgressions (sex with other women while he and I were dating) and viewing porn online, attending strip clubs, and flirting, inappropriate touching, and dancing  with other women. He has admitted all to me and we have worked through much of it.

My question is how do I “deal” with the ONE  girl that he drunkenly touched/danced with when we still see her. She is an extended in-law and we see her on weekends and holidays. She insists on hugging my husband, which he squirms away from and I hate. He has been good at NOT hugging her by being velcroed to my side when we see her… I want to be Jesus-like, but I also want to tell her to get her filthy little mitts off my husband.  Which my husband won’t do…he won’t confront her, but he has totally broken off any relationship/meeting with her.

Ugh. You know that girl — the one who doesn’t seem to respect that when a guy is married, he’s not be pawed under any circumstances. Sometimes she’s an adulteress pure and simple, and other times she’s simply a flirtatious attention-seeker. Either way, we definitely want her to keep her “filty little mitts” to herself.

Q&A with J: "Get Your Filthy Little Mitts Off My Husband"

I think you have a few possible confrontations.

Confront your husband. Yes, it sounds like he’s trying to avoid interactions with her, but it’s not working. And he can’t be “velcroed” to your side 24/7. If you’re not around and this woman approaches him, how much more demonstrative might she be?

As uncomfortable as it sounds, your husband is the best person to speak up and let her know that behavior is inappropriate and unwelcome. It doesn’t have to be a moment of conflict. It could range anything from, “You know, I’m not really a hugger. I save that for my wife” to “It makes me and my wife very uncomfortable when you touch and flirt with me, so I’m going to have to shut that down. I want to be friendly, but I have to protect my marriage the best way I know how.”

Ask if he’s willing to give this a go, and let him know you’re not simply shoving it on his plate but you’re there to discuss options, let him practice with you, be there by his side . . . whatever he needs. He may be unwilling because he doesn’t know how.  Also stress that you would really appreciate him making this effort and you believe in his ability to handle it well. Essentially, be his strong supporter.

Confront the woman yourself. Option number two is to say something to her yourself. The reason I lean toward him being the confronter is this runs the risk of her dismissing your requests by chocking it up to the overly jealous or controlling wife. But it might be possible to get your point across successfully and, at the least, make her question whether it’s worth it to be affectionate with your husband.

Now I know deep down you want to smack her — and lots of wives here get that — but you have a higher calling to be a Christian throughout and keep to the higher, less traveled road. Approach her privately, not making a scene or giving her an opportunity to make one, and tell her that your marriage has been through some struggles but it’s growing and thriving now. Explain one of your goals for improving your relationship is to limit physical affection with others, and you’d appreciate her respecting that choice. Be specific about what would be okay with you — communicating you’re not trying to create a war between your family and her — so she has a positive view of what’s acceptable.

Here’s an example: “My husband and I have worked very hard on our marriage this past year, and we’ve agreed to limit physical contact with others because it brings up some past issues we’re moving beyond. I know you’re just being friendly, but could you help us out by not hugging my husband? I want us to stay friends and keep talking, and I’m glad to interact at these family events, so maybe a handshake or an arm pat would be enough. I’d really appreciate it.”

Will she respond to this? It’s worth a shot. Some people don’t know how they come across until you politely explain what their actions are conveying or the effect they’re having. But remain calm, straightforward, and loving. Yep, loving. (Remember those “love your enemies” verses? See Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36.)

Confront your fears. One reason these moments unnerve us so much is they tap into a niggling doubt in the corner of our minds. We’re rightfully possessive about our husband, because he belongs to us and should remain that in way — in every way. But some hottie-tottie slaps on a seductive smile and strokes her long-fingernailed hand up his arm, and we start to wonder what he’s thinking. Does he like that? Does it trigger memories? Does he find her appealing? Does it mean anything?

Admit what you’re feeling and then tackle it, head-on. If you believe your fears are justified, that he is responding to another woman, you have more work to do in your marriage. You may need time with your pastor or a marriage counselor or a mentor to work through issues and gain reassurance in your relationship. If you believe your fears are simply remnants of old emotions, address them with truths that combat erroneous thoughts. That is, remind yourself repeatedly that your marriage is strong and your husband chose and loves you. Or your fears could be somewhere in between, meaning you and hubby should sit down and talk about what’s going on in your head and heart and in his head and heart and recommit that you’re in this for the long, and beautiful, haul.

Confront your intimacy. Getting busy with hubby is no guarantee he won’t look at or touch other women. But being happy in your sexual intimacy with your spouse is extra reason not to let your eyes or mind stray elsewhere.

I’ve often quoted Proverbs 5:18-19: “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” But that verse is smack-dab in the middle of a whole chapter warning against adultery and it’s followed by “Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?” Why indeed! As Paul Newman famously said about staying faithful in his long marriage to Joanne Woodward: “Why go out for a hamburger when you have a steak at home?”

The upshot? Be steak to your hubby. Be sure you give him the attention, love, and affection he needs, and it will be a protective barrier against him responding positively to another women’s affection.

19 thoughts on “Q&A with J: “Get Your Filthy Little Mitts Off My Husband”

  1. M

    I never imagined this could be a legitimate issue but my best friend’s SIL made moves on her husband. Not overt but much too touchy than what she should be. It had been bothering my friend for awhile when one day she had the nerve to actually sit on his lap. My friend and her husband had a frank open conversation with his brother and his wife and said this was not appropriate and would not be happening anymore. The other woman has been in the family much longer than my friend and has made everything super hard on her by telling the family untruths about her or arranging family gatherings behind her back (telling the family they were communicating about it or that my friend wouldn’t be able to come when she hadn’t even told her about them). It’s been really hard. My friend and her husband have moved very far away from the family which helps the physical stuff not be an issue but means the SIL is continuing to have the upper hand in the family dynamics. I hope your reader will continue to fight for her marriage and her husband! It’s a crazy world out there and there are so many women who would ruin what we have with our husbands. Obviously I’m not absolving the husband of any responsibility but it smacks to me of waving a bottle of liquor in a recovering alcoholics face, it’s terribly unfair.

  2. Kimberly

    I think this is wonderful article about a situation that comes up all too often. I would, from personal experience, make one suggestion however. If you or your husband confront the woman I would NOT make ANY mention of difficulties in your marriage. Hopefully this woman is just innocently flirting, but if her intentions are otherwise you just gave her the green light to try to destroy your marriage. Do NOT share your marital struggles. It is none of her business. Boundaries are boundaries no matter what the past or current state of your marriage.

  3. Lynn

    This was interesting to read, because my husband and I started watching the old 1939 version of ‘The Women’, with Norma Shearer as the good wife and Joan Crawford as the woman trying to steal her husband. It’s a wonderful romp, but also very telling. The wife listens to her mother telling her to just ignore the situation, and to her ‘friends’ telling her to confront the other woman. Her heart tells her that she wants a whole and honest marriage, and her own self-respect.

    I’m lucky because my husband is by nature a sexually virtuous man. He talks once a week to his old college girlfriend, and e-mails his old high school girlfriend. His college girlfriend asked me if I minded, and I said that if I couldn’t trust him to talk on the phone to her, I shouldn’t have married him.

    I always tell my husband that I don’t leave any men on base – by which I mean, he doesn’t have anything left for any other woman. But it’s just a running joke, because he really is a very good man. I am truly blessed.

  4. Melanie

    This is a great topic. I am constantly amazed at the lack of boundaries other women, and men, show toward married people. So many stories. Both my husband and I have had situations where we needed to distance ourselves from people. Some more inappropriate than others. Marriage is becoming less and less sacred in this culture. Thankful for a hubby I can trust. Communication has been the key for us on this topic.

  5. wally wood

    There is something called “blinders-sex” ……………for married women, it is how you treated him until the honeymoon. It keeps husbands from noticing other women, let alone missing out on even minutes with his wife, to be with anyone else.

    1. marriedheat

      EXCELLENT POINT! I had to look it up. HAHA!

      For anyone else as clueless as me, here’s a good definition:

      There’s sex. Then there’s blinders sex, the kind of sex that gives you blinders, keeps your eyes forward and intentions straight when you’re out in the world. Let’s face it. Men are going to look. They’re like squirrels. They get distracted by shiny things. But there’s a difference between noticing and wanting. Blinders sex gets men to say, “Yeah, she may be pretty but I would never trade in what I have for anything else.”

      Blinders sex isn’t just good sex. It’s a unique connection with someone that makes you fantasize about them in the shower, call in sick so you can lie in bed all day making love and eating Oreos. It produces glue that cannot happen with anyone else.

  6. Sarah

    Great article, as usual, J! I do agree with Kimberly about not mentioning struggles to the “intruder”. You never know someone’s motivations and if they truly are out for your spouse, letting them know there are problems to exploit is just giving them a way in

    That being said, before hubby and I were married (we had been together 3+ years), there was a girl who was starting to put the moves on him. It was innocent at first, but slowly became touching his shoulder when she laughed, or completely blocking me from getting near him when we were all in a crowd (like if I left to go to the bathroom or something). I spoke to him about it and he told me it made him terribly uncomfortable so I approached her. We were all friends so I felt I could talk to her about it. I asked her why she was doing all this and she tried to blame it on him being a nice guy coming across as flirting. I very calmly told her that he was indeed NOT flirting with her and told her that if she ever tried anything like that again, she would regret it. It never happened again. A few years later, she actually apologized for her actions towards him, telling me she was going through a rough time in her life and was doing drugs. She has since gotten married herself and has a wonderful marriage. I actually run into her quite frequently

  7. E

    Wow. Thank you so much for answering this J! I love your answers! Love them!
    Thank you for opening up your blog for readers to ask tough questions like this.
    Yes, this was my question. MUCH appreciated!

    1. J Post author

      My pleasure. My heart goes out to you. And yeah, I kinda wanted to smack that woman for you. Kinda. 😉

  8. Stephanie

    I have to say I’ve been VERY blessed to have a husband who’s as guarded as I am around the opposite sex. We’ve only ever had one incident of another woman attempting to “friendly up” to him, in the midst of which he walked away, found me, explained what’d taken place and we both proceeded to pull her aside and confront her together in a firm but non-threatening manner. I seriously thank God every single day for giving me a man I can trust without doubt, hesitation or question. It’s a true blessing knowing I don’t have to worry about him even glancing at another woman whether it be on TV or in passing on the street. In today’s society one can never be too careful, especially with something as important and sacred as your marriage. The enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to pull us each apart and defile what God intended for His glory.

  9. marriedheat

    The most interesting thing about your options is you didn’t include, “This doesn’t happen because my hubby doesn’t allow it.”

    To me, a man, once I married, I took the Nancy Reagan approach. I believe Mrs. Reagan was the most successful First Lady when it came to success with children. My children were in elementary during and after the Reagan presidency. My oldest, now pushing 30, will always answer “NO!” to the question, “Do you want drugs?” Nancy Reagan pounded the line, “Just say no to Drugs!” into my kids’ (and every adult of the generation) heads.

    My job as my wife’s husband is to shut down any flirting that gets physical. I say physical as my wife married me because I’m a flirt. I still flirt but only with words, and nothing EVER sexual. I open a lot of doors with my personality and my wife has actually told me not to stop because it’s the trait that drew her to me in the first place.

    So, husbands, DO NOT MAKE YOUR WIFE CONFRONT YOU, THE OTHER WOMAN, HER FEARS, OR HER INTIMACY! Do it yourself and don’t put yourself in the position of giving your wife something extra to worry about.

    1. J Post author

      Since I was talking the wife, I did not give instructions to the HUSBAND on handling this. But yeah, if he were the questioner, I’d tell him to shut that down…yesterday.

    2. libl

      Just be aware that women are often drawn to charming words just as much if not more so than sexual advances. I have a friend, life-long bachelor, who could charm Shakespeare’s shrew into the bedroom with words and charm alone.

      There’s a difference between being a polite gentleman and acting the rogue.

  10. anonymous

    What do you do when it is your husband’s brother constantly trying to hug you, touch you, etc? My husband tries to keep me right by his side, has talked to the brother, never leaves me alone. I thought my husband and I were being discreet about keeping it from my boys, but they caught on and won’t leave my side when this uncle is around. My husband is amazing and such a protector, but I feel bad because he no longer talks to his brother because of me and it has caused issues with his family. He has almost no contact with any of them…because of me.

    1. J Post author

      It is NOT because of you. It’s your brother-in-law. Do what you need to do to prioritize your marriage, and don’t worry about him getting his feelings hurt or your husband losing contact with him. It’s his family, and if he wants to approach it more, he can.

      Tell your husband how much you appreciate him choosing to honor you. Good for him.

    2. marriedheat

      Were he my brother, his time on earth would be limited to frequent stays in the hospital.

      I shouldn’t condone violence but … I have two brothers that would only get away with inappropriate behavior with my wife once. A second time isn’t going to be a friendly conversation. Just sayin.

    3. Janna McGregor

      You have no responsibility in your brother in laws actions. If it has been addressed and he continues to be inappropriate than you both have made the best decision for each other AND your marriage. Not easy either way, but shame on your brother in law. Your husband is also modeling for his children appropriate behavior for their spouse.

  11. CP

    Great article! However I like to add my two cents, it may tick a few women off, but that’s too bad. It’s all about everyone having his or her own opinion. I was with a man that use to flirt constantly, touch women on their arms, shoulders, whisper in their ears, he had an affair or two, he cheated on his first wife, could never work around any women or be around women within 20ft of him without having some sort of weirdo sexual thought or thinking it’s ok to just do harmless flirting, touching, hugging. You know what HE WAS A NARCISSIST. A MALIGNANT NARCISSIST. It took me a long time to take my BLINDERS off and quit being a doormat to the behavior. It’s always easy to want to blame the other woman or women. I use to get so p***ed off at all these other women and then one day a good friend of mine said ” You know what?” “There is always a problem every time your husband is around someone of the opposite sex?” “Did you ever stop to notice that?” “Did you ever stop to notice it may be your husband starting all the BS?” Not saying this is the way it is in all situations, but in mine it was. He would always start the flirting or filling these young single gals heads with a bunch of BS or married women or widowed women. He liked the ATTENTION. Then he would act like he found Jesus or was an INNOCENT little altar boy when he got home or when we were out in public. What a farce and complete façade. Needless to say past behaviors usually predict future ones. My ex was a liar a womanizer and a continuous flirt and I’m glad to finally say I’ve met a real man that doesn’t even cross 1 boundary when he is around other women. EVER. That’s how it should be. These grown men know the difference between right and wrong and they need to grow a set and start nipping things in the rear right away and use the NO word or don’t start flirting in the first dang place. They want any excuses to be PIGS. Thank you. Sorry for venting. One more thing my ex wanted any excuse to try to get attention or sex or admiration. Again he was a MALIGNANT NARCISSIST. Amazingly enough like my good friend stated there was always a problem whenever he was around, but yet he never took his fair share of responsibility in any of it. What a joke some of these guys are.

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