Work Colleagues and Secrets


Hi, I am married with two kids. I’ve been married for 7 years. After some suspicion, I found out that my husband was having long chats with a female colleague. He hid this from me for about 5 months. He said they only talked about her problems and talked for hours to pass the time at work. Later I found out that he even used to call her from home to see how her dates went. After confronting him he promised to not do it again. In June he hit his mobile and accidentally called me. I heard him talking to the same woman. This time she had given him her son’s mobile so she can call him on it. I now cannot get over that he has gone back on his word. Do I have something to fear? Do you think he will do it again? Was I wrong in believing that this was innocent for the second time?

Dear writer,

Living in uncertainty for any amount of time within a relationship can take its toll on you. It is no way to live.

So let’s get to grips with it and try to look at this situation from a different angle. You felt suspicious that your husband’s attention was going elsewhere and found that he grew close to a work colleague. You must have felt something missing within your relationship to have tuned into this.

It is natural for partners to form friendships with others – one person cannot be everything to an other person – but within boundaries of what is respectful and loyal to the other partner. These lines are drawn by the expectations you have agreed on with each other. These differ between different couples so I would not compare, as the dynamics between partners in other relationships/marriages and individual characters are not the same. Have you spoken about this with your husband and been clear about it? Is your husband the open, friendly type or is him striking a close friendship with an other women unusual and out of character?

Secrets are never a good idea. They give rise to insecurity, trust is broken when caught out and tiny issues or situations that started out as tiny cracks can become canyons of monstrous proportions when left unchecked. It’s quite likely to make anyone think there’s a dead rat to be found. And indeed there may be, but before jumping to conclusions…

It can simply be a matter of him defending a genuine friendship and trying not to make waves – even though dishonesty, lying and sneaking around are a big no-no and they do shed light on a character’s unsavoury traits. However, it is more fruitful to understand the reasons behind them and decide what can be done.

Sometimes secrets are a way of claiming back some independence when it feels like it has been lost.

Has your husband been feeling caught up in the family-man routine – which, granted, he is – but it would be helpful to know what he’s been missing and how that can change. Was he feeling neglected in some area of your relationship as lovers? Is he, perhaps, living vicariously through his work colleague’s love-life if he feels a lack of excitement in his own? Is it attention-grabbing behaviour – did he want you to find out? And yes, I know what you’re thinking, you already have kids to raise you need an adult for a husband not one with child-like behaviour – so he may have to work on communicating with you in a more mature and considerate manner!

The power of outside influences will automatically fade out when focussing on enriching your relationship while firmly abiding by what’s acceptable and what’s not for you. Of course, both of you have to be willing to work at it. You may want to consider couples’ counselling if this remains an issue.