Seeing red….flags, that is.

My husband.  I know him like the back of my hand. I trust him like no other, and am completely and fully invested in what we share.  I feel a safety and security with him like I’ve never felt before, and I am so incredibly lucky to have such a warm, sensitive, honest and caring spouse.  We’ve been married for 10 years, and it has been the best ten years of my life.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I am so lucky.

In 2010 my husband started a new career path. I fully supported his dream, and wanted to do whatever possible to see it succeed.  I knew that it would involve some late nights, longer hours at work, less time at home, and would require me to shoulder most of the childcare burden.  This was his dream, and I was fully on board, willing to do my share to help him succeed.   This was important to him, so it was important to me – to us.  I would do whatever it takes.

I knew about her, he’d mentioned her before.  They used to work together the year prior, so she wasn’t ‘new’.  When they had both moved on from that job,  she came to work in his new office in order to help him get his business off the ground.  She was, as he described, exceptionally resourceful, and her help was crucial to this business getting off the ground, or so he said.  I believed it. I had no reason to suspect a thing.

I had the opportunity to meet her on a couple of occasions.  To be honest, she was nothing special.  I probably wouldn’t have picked her out of a crowd days later – there was nothing memorable about her.  She’s blonde, athletic and thin.  She wasn’t pretty in the classic sense of the word – she was plain.  What my husband described as “bubbly” in her personality, I actually saw as ‘immature’.  She seemed nice enough, but I detected an awkward vibe from her.   I took her for ‘aloof’, but also thought that perhaps she is awkward about my feelings of their opposite-sex work relationship.  I wanted to make her comfortable, and I wanted her to like me.  I made an effort to be exceptionally nice, and to exude a relaxed vibe so that she’d know she can relax too.

On first learning that he was going to be working closely with her, my initial response was a feeling of insecurity.  No one wants to know that their husband is working closely with a single woman every day, just the two of them in a closed office.  However many red flags that I SHOULD have seen, my trust in my husband was so great that it corrected all of my concerns.  It doesn’t matter what SHE does or says, I thought, it is HIM who is the stopgap here, and he wouldn’t ever do anything like that.  We are safe.

A few weeks after meeting her for the first time, red flags started popping up.

I should mention, before I continue, that my husband and I have always had an open-phone policy.  He can look at my phone, and I can look at his.  We can check each other’s emails, calls, text messages etc.  We don’t do this to check up on each other, but rather BECAUSE there is nothing to hide.  If he wants to send an email from my computer, he can.  If he wants to pick up my phone and happens to see my emails, there is no problem.  Like I said, we have nothing to hide, so the issue of phone privacy was never an issue with us.

One weekend, while spending some time with our children, a text message came through for my husband while he was driving.  As I usually do, I picked up his phone and read him the text message, so he’d know what had come though.  This wasn’t out of the ordinary, and in some cases, when I’d done this in the past, he’d dictated a reply for me to send when he was driving and unable to do so.  On this particular day, a text came through from her.  She used a pet name in her text message, and the reason for her text was a casual one.  It had nothing to do with work – just checking in and seeing how his weekend is.  I felt it – that moment when you just get a feeling something isn’t right. I questioned him about the appropriateness of her contacting him on his personal time, and using a pet name.  He brushed it off, and told me she has some boundary issues.  We both acknowledged that it was awkward and should be addressed.  He said he would talk to her on Monday about ceasing that behaviour.

“She likes to think of us as friends, not as a boss and employee.  She works harder for me when she thinks we are friends.  I’d rather let her think we are friends if it means a better bottom line for me at the end of the day”

Looking at that statement now, I was naive – an idiot.  At the time though, with the information that I had, it just seemed like this person had inappropriately ascribed my husband ‘friendship status’ when he didn’t feel the same way.  He was willing to let her think they were friends if it meant his business would reap the rewards.  He’d mentioned that the texts and emails were too personal, and that they needed to stop.  Apparently she’d been a little offended, but promised to try harder to draw a more appropriate boundary.

The text messages continued from time to time, and each time I asked about it, I was reassured that he’d talk to her – he’d handle it. I believed him.  I trusted him.

When he started coming home and telling me his knowledge of personal things in her life, I knew it was too much.  I didn’t think there was anything going on, but I knew this woman couldn’t be trusted.  There was something about her, something rebellious in her nature that wouldn’t honour his requests to keep their email, text, and office conversations strictly business.  He knew details about her current relationship and the struggles they were facing.  She’d confided in him the frequency of their sex life, his annoying habits and the fights they were in.  She was thinking of breaking it off, and had confided this to my husband at work.  I knew she had to go.

I asked my husband to fire her, pleaded with him.  He listened with sensitivity to my worries, and reassured me that it was OK.  He understood my concerns, but expressed a great deal of anxiety with letting her go.  “No one else can help me run this business”.  “No one knows the ins and outs of this enterprise like she does”. “If I fire her, I am committing business suicide, and this whole thing is going to fail”.  I didn’t want it to fail.  I didn’t want his dream to die.  Maybe I was making too much of it.

When I learned that he’d shared with her some personal details of mine, I knew that was enough.  I screamed, I yelled and I told him she had to be fired Monday.  He agreed, and said that he would be letting her go.  I felt relief, but it was also tempered with a lot of guilt because it may mean the end of his business dream…but what was more important, his dream or our marriage?

He never fired her.  That Monday I learned that the ‘firing’ needed to be delayed.  There were some critical issues at work that needed attention, and this wasn’t the right time.  He agreed it needed to be done, but asked me to trust him to do it at the right time, so that we could both get what we wanted – him, his business, and me, her out of our lives.

The weird text messages stopped, the emails and contact on his personal time seemed to disappear.  All in all, things had settled down, and without the constant intrusions, I no longer worried as much.  I started to relax about it, stopped asking about it, and felt more secure.  Yes, she still worked there, but from what I could see, she was now just an ’employee’.  They hired another person at the office to help manage the growing tasks of an expanding and now prosperous business, and knowing that there was no longer one-on-one time spent in the office with someone who had no respect for boundaries made me feel better.

Things were back to normal.  Except he was sleeping with her.


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