A chronic illness prompts a proposal for an affair, a girlfriend who won’t quit smoking, and a friend who stole a work project.
This article originally appeared at GoLocalProv.com.
I’m a middle-aged woman who is married to a very handsome and charismatic man. We have no children and a normal, healthy marriage. But personally, I am not so healthy: three years ago I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. My illness is far from life threatening but it has still had a huge impact on our marriage—both our social life and our sex life. I am simply too tired all the time for either. My husband has not complained at all, but I just know he is suffering, too. Here’s my proposal, weird as it sounds: I think that he should have an affair, or at least some kind of social and sexual life. I truly love him and want him to be happy. It would actually be a relief to me if he found someone to spend a little bit of time with if doing so would not impact our relationship. I’m not writing this as a “poor me” but from a very practical standpoint. He often talks about female colleagues whom he likes. Do you think that this arrangement could possibly work? I want to stay married no matter what, but I also realize that my husband may need more than I can give him right now. I’m reluctant to propose it—or maybe not reluctant so much as I just don’t know where to begin. Or maybe it’s not even a good idea. What do you think?
Sick and Tired
Dear Sick and Tired,
“If doing so would not impact our relationship”–that’s a big if!
I admire the dispassionate and selfless manner in which you’re approaching this, but I think you’re underestimating how unpredictable this situation could quickly become. Say your husband does try to begin a sexual relationship with one of those female colleagues he likes. What does he say to her, exactly, to get this off the ground? Does he deceive her? Telling the truth isn’t exactly romantic. What happens if they fall in love? What happens if she gets pregnant?
Maybe this could work as a last resort—maybe—but have you tried everything else? It doesn’t sound like it. Have you talked to the physician who diagnosed your chronic fatigue about the impact it has had on your marriage? Have you spoken with other sufferers about their experiences and how they coped with this diagnosis? Have you even spoken to your husband about it? You say you “just know” he is suffering. I’m sure he is, but maybe he doesn’t want to have sex with anyone else. Maybe he just wants you.
I understand how debilitating your condition can be, but if you’re concerned about its impact on your marriage, start by having an honest conversation with the man you’re married to.
I met this girl that I’m crazy about. The only problem is that she smokes cigarettes. I didn’t know she smoked when we first met. Matter of fact we met at the gym and she is really fit. She eats healthily and works out five days a week (as do I) but loves to have a couple of cigarettes at the end of the day. Those few cigarettes bug me. I have tried to talk her out of smoking but she insists that it is no big deal and believes that everything in moderation is okay. When we first started dating I wasn’t too worried about it because I didn’t expect to fall in love with her. Well, guess what? We have been dating for about 10 months and I don’t want to give her up—but she is unwilling to give THEM up!!!!
Should I Quit?
Dear Should I Quit?,
I’m not sure if you mean quit the relationship or quit bugging your girlfriend, but you should definitely pick one. You imply you’ve fallen in love with her, but it appears you’ve fallen in love with a version of her that exists only in your head.
You’ve asked her to stop smoking. She has said she doesn’t want to. So it’s time for you to decide if you want to be with her as she is or if you want to move on. One or the other. Either course of action is reasonable. But continuing to pester her to change is not.
I’m in the middle of a work situation that is very confusing and upsetting. To make a long story short, I recently returned from a couple of weeks off to find that a major project I have been working on was reassigned to a co-worker who is also a good friend of mine. It has been completely taken over by her and I am no longer involved at any level. I had been working on this for almost a year and its successful completion would have been great for my future prospects within my company and my industry as a whole.
The morning I returned, my friend (the one now running my project) sheepishly came into my office and told me the news. She seemed embarrassed and very uncomfortable, but she said the owner of our company felt like she was a better “fit” for it and he wanted her to “take it and run with it.” This came as a shock because as far as I knew, he was very happy with my work, but I assured her I understood, it wasn’t her fault, and she couldn’t very well have declined to take it on. She claimed she proposed collaborating with me on it but was told that wouldn’t work.
I was hurt and a little rattled, but I understood. At least, until the next day, when the office busybody cornered me to tell me that my friend was behind the reassignment 100%—it was her idea, not our boss’s! She went to him with a list of things she would do if she were in charge of it, and next thing you know, she was!
Now I am in a quandary: I want to believe my friend because she has never been anything but supportive to me and once even went out of her way to make sure I got credit for something I did that could have gone unnoticed. Also, the woman who told me the “true” story is known for absolutely relishing stirring the pot and sitting back to watch the carnage. It’s basically a hobby with her. I would not put it past her to be making this all up just to cause a rift.
A job I liked has become miserable because I feel like I’m surrounded by people I no longer trust. I find I’m questioning everyone all the time, and I’m having second thoughts about my own judgment, too. I have no idea whom I should confront–do you?
Dear Job Insecurity,
I don’t think you should “confront” anybody. But there are a couple of conversations you should have.
Number one: you have to talk to your boss, sooner rather than later. Putting questions of friendship, pot stirring, etc., aside for a moment, your boss has stripped you of responsibility for an important project. Regardless of how it happened, it appears that he lacks confidence in you. Whether this is justified or not, the first thing you have to do is have a frank discussion with him about his reasons for feeling that way. If your performance is somehow lacking, he has a responsibility to let you know. But keep in mind that this is only about how you do your job; it’s not about getting to the bottom of who said what to whom. From your boss’ perspective, even if this was all your friend’s idea, that makes her a motivated employee, not a disloyal friend.
The second conversation should be with her. Let her know that you heard another version of what happened from the office troublemaker and see what she has to say. If she flatly denies it, I think you have to give her the benefit of the doubt. But even if your worst fears are true, this woman simply saw a chance to make herself look good and she grabbed it. Not what you’d expect from a friend, but definitely what you can expect from an opportunistic co-worker. I’m afraid it’s up to you to be so good at your job that no one can easily wrest it from you.
As for the busybody, the best thing you can do is refuse to give her the satisfaction of seeing the havoc she’s wreaking. This particular variety of bottom-feeder is found in almost every office. She is best ignored.
Photo credit: Flickr / My Huy Streetphotography