QUESTION: Hi - I have just found out about your blog and I think it's so cool that women can get a man's view honestly and insightfully, so kudos to you both.
My question is this - I am in my mid thirties, married but we have problems and though we still share a home - primarily because of the kids - we talk very little - no drama at all, more like a quiet death. I feel both of us are unsure and maybe scared to actually DO anything about it hence we continue to drift along. Serperate bedrooms, no sex, no affection. It may sound crazy to some but for now we are stuck in it. Also our culture (we are not American) tends to frown on divorce so..
Anyway, I started a new job recently and there is a guy there who I got friendly with - incidentally we are from similar cultures. So we would chat occasionally and he was always willing to listen and give advice as he has been working in the organisation for a while, once or twice he helped smooth over a minor issue I had with another senior colleague. But - he generally always acts professionally. I mean I do not expect him to proposition me in the office but I have been pretty used to guys making it clear they were interested (before I married) so it's been a bit of a letdown. Then one day after a staff meeting he asks me to accompany him to pick up files in another department, from there we got talking for maybe 40 minutes at the carpark (we had dropped off the files and he kept saying "wait up for me" so I did. We had a great time just laughing and talking and I was friendly enough. Then nothing. Back to Mr Professional and cool thereafter.
So weeks go by and I'm kinda cool as well. Then another day we got talking and at some point I jokingly said "gosh you're kinda hard to read, I've been working here for months and I thought especially as we are from the same place that we would be great pals by now, but we're not!" Now I said this in a laughing way. He then came back with "No I'm really nice and more fun out of the office, I tell you what lets go catch a movie next week". So I said ok. And he was like "you really mean it" I said sure. Well he texted a couple of times to confirm the movie and eventually we did meet up to watch it. Boring movie. Anyway after the movie I had thought we could go get dinner/drinks and actually get to know each other better but he said he had a headache so we cut it short and went our serperate ways. No follow up calls or anything. At work he is basically the same though I told him I was moving to a new department. I had a small crisis during my last week and texted him to ask advice. He replied with "so ask". I rang talked about it he was supportive then we started chatting about other stuff. He then said we should go out again for dinner or dancing soon and I should tell him when I was ready. I said cool. In summary, I never heard from him again. I have left that department.
Now a couple of extra stuff - at some stage early on he did ask if I was married - I said yes but there were issues but I did not feel I could share them with people I did not know well. We did not talk about it again. I had hoped it would come up the night we went out so I could clarify things a bit but he had a headache. Another thing is - I firmly subscribe to the teaching that a man has to pursue the woman - it's part cultural, part my upbringing..I feel I made it pretty clear through subtle signals - and going to see a movie! that I was interested. So I guess if he did not follow through he was not into me. Maybe the marriage thing scared him off - but at least he could have found out a bit more...Oh well, what do you both think? My marriage situation sounds odd to some but there are people in similar situations - they lead more or less serperate lives, it suits them, they may see other people discreetly but for various reasons do not actually formally separate. Of course - if either partner falls for another person it may change things. I never lied to this guy but did indicate that things were not as they seemed.
GARLAND: Thanks for your question!
I can respect folks for trying to live up to their cultural expectations, but I can't help but feel that any man and woman who are legally married yet only pose as married for the sake of the kids are somehow doing more harm than good. Kids are extremely smart and they know mom and dad don't really love each other, and they'll probably develop a skewed interpretation of what a happy marriage should be. Would you want one of your kids to be stuck in your unhappy situation in 15 or 20 years? Or would you tell them to be happy and worry not about who in your community will be offended?
I bring that point up, not to be the judgemental jerk that I can be but to offer a slightly different view on your choice to have a roommate that looks like your husband. Again, I can respect culture and tradition, but you only get one life to live, and you spending the rest of your life unhappy and lonely so some folks that know your mom and dad can be pleased might not be best for you.
But back to the guy at your job... he's probably not going to try to get much closer to you. Maybe HE wants a girlfriend that IS NOT MARRIED. Maybe he wants someone who's heart he can have without committing adultery. Maybe he wants to be able to date and go ANYWHERE he wants with a woman without having to worry about who sees them, and most of all he probably wants to date a woman without the fear of her angry husband murdering him to defend "his home". I could go on and on. Sadly, while you are probably a fine woman and a great companion for some lucky guy, as long as you are married you can never be another man's EVERYTHING.
And there is a worse side to this because if anyone that knows you are married and sees you talking, flirting or being close to another man - regardless of your culture - the word will spread like wildfire and it will be only a matter of time before your husband finds out. Then HE will be justified in pursuing the divorce from his "loose" wife, and then you will carry a tarnished reputation for yourself and your kids in the eyes of all of these people who's opinions you hold so dear.
My advice is to think carefully about what will make you happy in life and what you are willing to sacrifice for that happiness.
CHUCK: I concur. I admire you and your husband trying to maintain a veneer of domesticity for your children. However, my feeling about cultural traditions is this: They should not be adhered to past the point of common sense. I think your loveless marriage, that has you looking at the workplace for affection and companionship, has largely passed that point.
Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for. And I believe it's quite possible that your kids see that you and their father are going through the motions. Barely. So while you think you may be doing them a favor, for the reasons Garland stated and others, you may be depriving them of a view of what a truly loving relationship is like. To say nothing of what you're depriving yourself of.
While I think it is good you were able to connect with someone who was, on some level, able to show you what you're missing, you should not feel upset or wronged that he has not consistently pursued you. YOU ARE MARRIED. He may be attracted to you, but is not going after you. And it could be for any number of reasons. Moral reservations. Fear of a Pissed-off Hubby. Reluctance at becoming the subject of water cooler gossip at work. But you have no right to expect anything of him as long as your home situation is what it is.
I'm going to tell you to do what I always do: Talk to your husband. Maybe he's going through what you are, and is attracted to someone but cannot go further because of your marriage. But the primary difference between you could be simple. Men can live in limbo for years, staying in situations where there is no life advancement for fear of the unfamiliar, or having to shell out some money. Women are different in that respect. Most women feel the need to move on at some point. Maybe now is the time.