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.
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.