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How would you feel if you suspected a male friend wasn't telling his DW about the time you spend together?

(54 Posts)
Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 09:35:09

I've know this man about 15 years, we were colleagues initially, but haven't been for a long time. We still work in the same city and meet for a drink after work maybe 5-6 times a year. A very occasional text in between, maybe a joke or something about the football, but nothing else.

That said, I do count him as a good close friend. When we are out together we generally spend the first hour talking about work/children, then move on to football and once the beer is properly flowing will set about putting the world to rights. There's not much I couldn't talk to him about and we always have a good laugh. We are both football fans and TBH I don't know many people I can share this interest with - DH not interested and neither are my female friends. He has two DSs 7 years older than my 2 and he coached his DS1's football team from when they were 5-18, so he has become my go to for advice on raising boys. He's always treated me with complete respect and I have no reason to suspect the friendship is anything but platonic on either side.

However, something he said when we were arranging our next night out made me think he's not intending to tell his wife who he'll be with. I think because he likes a quiet life and it's easier not to than because there's anything to hide, but even so....I always tell DH exactly where I'm going and who with and if he's awake when I get in, will relate much of our drunken conversation - although I suspect he doesn't listen shock There was one other occasion when I suspected this, but when I challenged him, he just said "she doesn't ask" the evening progressed and I didn't think about it any more.

I've never met his DW, not deliberately, I don't think, we live in opposite directions 40 miles out of the city and have never socialised other than after work. He doesn't talk about her much, but when he does, he has occasionally had a gripe about how her (freelance) work took too much time away from DC, especially when she was making no money and he was working all hours to support them, but he was also incredibly proud when she sold her first work.

So, anyway, what would you think and what, if anything, would you do? I am uncomfortable with it, but he is an important friend to me. I don't think issuing an ultimatum would help, he'd react badly to being pushed into a corner over anything. I also wouldn't expect to be able to tell any of my other friends how they should deal with issues in their marriages

LordFlasheart Wed 21-Nov-12 13:19:18

I'd ask him why he didnt tell her. But its really up to him.

I have lots of male and female friends that I see without DP. I wouldnt worry too much about their relationships unless I was being asked for advice!

Dont think you are being at all out of order for 'having a male friend' and I'd leave him to deal with his wife.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 13:53:13

Oh dear, prh47bridge hasn't been back....

Thank you all for your time, it has helped me think things through. I'm not going to force the issue, but I will tell him one more time that I think he should be more open with her.

I think I may also start calling/texting him now and again when he's likely to be at home, rather than during the working day. It won't be very often, we only really speak to arrange nights out anyway, but might that make our contact more "normal"/ less secretive, or not my place to take matters into my own hands like that?

MooncupGoddess Wed 21-Nov-12 13:57:11

Obviously you have done absolutely nothing wrong here, but I can see why you feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. I once realised that an ex-boyfriend I had stayed in touch with hadn't told his new girlfriend that we still regularly spoke (platonically!) and it made me feel quite uncomfortable.

Could you suggest a social event for all four of you? It's odd that you've never met the wife; were you not invited to the wedding?

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 13:58:34

He was married long before we met, Mooncup, I think they're on about year 24

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Wed 21-Nov-12 14:00:15

FFS! Don't start stirring, OP! There is nothing wrong here, so why are you looking for trouble? It's absolutely fine to compartmentalize friendships, much healthier than this tendency of couples doing everything together and expecting each other to meet every single one of their needs.

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 14:01:57

Oh, OK Solid, but if I only phone him at work, aren't I complicit? I've never thought of it like that, but have begun to wonder during this thread

MooncupGoddess Wed 21-Nov-12 14:05:42

Oh sorry, should have thought of that! Totally agree SGB that compartmentalising friendships is fine, the OP meeting her friend every couple of months is fine... but I think most people would feel surprised and hurt if they discovered that their other half had been meeting a friend 5-6 times a year for 15 years without them knowing anything about it?

Durab Wed 21-Nov-12 14:17:58

Actually, Mooncup, I wouldn't expect to be invited to that kind of event. If, for example, his older son (who I have met a handful of times at sports events) was getting married I would be very surprised to get an invite. But now, I'm really over thinking and must go and do something else. Thank you all again.

prh47bridge Wed 21-Nov-12 14:21:11

Given that people are asking, there is no connection between my choice and why my first marriage collapsed.

Once our children were born my first wife increasingly rejected any form of affection. I was not allowed to hold her hand or put my arm around her in public and increasingly not in private either. Eventually, after 18 years of marriage, she informed me that I would never be allowed to touch or kiss her again as it made her feel physically sick. I tried to change her mind but she was adamant. I confess I did have an affair after around 6 months of no physical contact. It was not with one of my female friends. The affair did not last. My wife was willing to carry on our marriage even though she was aware of the affair (which, in all honesty, I hadn't made much attempt to hide) but I was not. The divorce came through a week before what would have been our 20th anniversary.

I should not have had the affair and I am ashamed of my behaviour at that time. What I have said about the state of my marriage should not be seen as any form of justification. For what it is worth, I believe my first marriage would have ended about that time with or without the affair as I simply could not have continued with a marriage that wasn't even a friendship any more, let alone a relationship. I accept that I may be deluding myself.

I am now very happily married (not to the woman with whom I had the affair). I did not meet my current wife until a year or two after my first marriage ended. We have been in a relationship for 10 years and married for 5. My new wife is very comfortable with the fact I have some female friends. She is aware of them and has met most of them. I would not dream of deliberately hiding a friendship (or anything else) from her.

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 14:42:38

I think there's some confusion amongst some posters about the difference between compartmentalisation and lying/secrecy. Lying to or keeping secrets from a partner is wrong - having healthy, openly conducted but separate friendships is not.

I think your plan was good OP. I would concentrate on how you feel about this and on what you think is the right thing to do. A good test is to put yourself in this woman's shoes. She might have been just like you and would have been fine about her husband's friendship with you. But she's been denied an opinion, hasn't she? I'm sure you'd hate it if you weren't even allowed a voice if your husband had a similar secret friendship - and others were assuming that he'd lied and kept the secret because you were disinterested, irrationally jealous or would have given him too much grief.

No-one knows what his wife's reaction would have been.

She hasn't been given the chance to have one.

We only know that he has kept this friendship secret.

Hopeisthethingwithfeathers Wed 21-Nov-12 14:45:53

prh47bridge I am so glad that has all worked out for you. I don't think anyone would say you behaved badly. The prospect of living without physical affection for the rest of your life must have been very bleak and not many people would choose that path.

OP I should stay well clear of interfering in your friend's marriage - nobody other than the two of them knows how they bump along together and you are not doing anything wrong.

prh47bridge Wed 21-Nov-12 14:52:45

Only reason I haven't been back earlier is that I have to do some work during the day - I can't spend it all on Mumsnet! smile

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Wed 21-Nov-12 18:06:58

Look, women, in particular, are encouraged to obsess about monogamy and act as the monogamy police. The main point of this is to stop them getting any ideas about changing the world or living independent of men. If women believe that the most important thing in the world is to catch a man and stop him having sex with other women, then they will devote their lives to a man rather than themselves, their children, art, politics, sport, travel... Etc.
You are not responsible for how your friend conducts his domestic life. Nor is it your business how his DW might feel about your friendship - you don't know her, and for all you know she might be shagging her entire neighbourhood watch committee while her H is having a friendly gossip with you. Not all women are bothered about policing their H's interactions with other people, and not everyone gives a toss about monogamy anyway.

If you enjoy spending time with this bloke, carry on. If you are getting bored with it, do something else. But don't start blowing it up into some big heteromonogamist drama, because all this will achieve is to make several people cross and unhappy, to no purpose whatsoever.

alreadytaken Wed 21-Nov-12 19:02:49

I referred to my male friend's wife as the jealous type - I met her, she was. That wasn't the main reason the marriage ended in divorce but it certainly didn't help.

I wouldn't feel it necessary to go along with any possible deceit by, for example, only phoning someone at work but I don't ask my female friends if they've told their husbands when we meet so there is no reason to ask a male friend.

Charbon Wed 21-Nov-12 19:59:59

Way to miss the point SGB....and quite hilarious that women's collusion in men lying to other women, is being spun here as a Feminist response.

This isn't about interfering in someone's marriage. If a man wants to lie to and keep secrets from his wife, that's his own look-out. That doesn't mean that the OP has to approve of it or collude with it. This is about how the OP wants to live her life and conduct her friendships - her decisions and not his.

If the OP decides to say she's not comfortable with being party to secrets and lies to another woman, that's her decision and there's nothing 'heteromonogamist' or 'mundane' about it (yawn). It's called being a decent person and treating others how you'd want to be treated, in my view.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Wed 21-Nov-12 22:39:44

The thing is with treating other people how you want to be treated is other people are not necessarily like you and may not have the same worldview as you do.

Charbon Thu 22-Nov-12 00:40:51

Agreed, but the 'world view' we are discussing here is that as a general rule, no-one wants to be lied to or deceived for 15 years about what has always been a partner's innocent friendship. I don't think that 'world view' is especially off-the-wall or peculiar to a minority of people. And it's not a huge leap to imagine that someone who's been married for 24 years might feel that way.

It would be very strange if we assumed in our actions that some people liked their partners telling lies by omission or keeping secrets from them, so it was okay if we sanctioned that behaviour, even if we wouldn't feel that way ourselves.

The 'world view' that lots of people (including you, me, the OP and numerous posters on this thread) have no difficulty whatsoever with their partners having friendships is a different matter entirely. That's not at issue - it's that this woman's views are completely unknown because she isn't being given a chance to express them.

hopespringy Thu 22-Nov-12 00:49:09

What would make me feel very uncomfortable is if I felt I had no choice but to be complicit in my friend's secret. Just trying this for size: would I feel uncomfortable if my friend was another woman who kept our friendship secret from her husband? No I wouldn't. Just a thought.

I have two male friends and they are so dear to me that I would be very jealous to keep our friendship and, yes, up to a point I would vaguely go along with being vaguely complicit to keep our friendship. I hate to admit that. I don't want a woman to get all pointy-eyed at me and put pressure on my friendship. I guess I'm not being entirely straight up but these men are like brothers to me. I have a non-existent relationship with my real brother, who has made it clear he is not interested to know me in any, even vague, depth (which hurts). My male friends are very much at arm's length on one level - I hold our friendship lightly - but underneath I care for them very much: I love them. I want them to be happy and would bow out in a second if our friendship compromised their marriage in any real sense.

I have met my male friends' wives: one I don't like at all but I wouldn't dream of making that known to my friend and I am totally supportive of their relationship eg rejoicing when they rejoice (individually or together). I definitely wouldn't listen to any griping about her - if he tried to do that I would immediately shut it down - I'm simply not interested to go there (potentially dangerous territory and all) and I am naturally prejudiced to see things from a woman's/wife's pov anyway, so he'd be wasting his time. The other wife I do like but neither of us seems to be that interested to be friends. If she showed an interest then I would reciprocate [as long as she doesn't take my friend/her husband away from me...]

I have used the word 'vague' quite a few times and maybe these friendships have to be kept vague to be safe - from without and within.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Thu 22-Nov-12 00:55:16

No, it's about the heteromonogamist worldview that men and women can't possibly be friends without there being a sexual component, that a heteromonogamist relationship is the most important kind of relationship there is and all others have to be sacrificed in its favour, and that heteromonogamous couples have to know and share every aspect of each other's lives.... Versus a worldview of: why get your undies in a bundle when no harm is being done and your drinking buddy's homelife is none of your business?

dreamingbohemian Thu 22-Nov-12 01:01:10

OP, I have been in your situation, more or less. One of my best friends tells his wife very little of our interactions (which are now mostly over email, as we don't live in the same city anymore -- but we used to hang out regularly in person). I haven't pried too much but it seems she took a dislike to me when we met and therefore expected him to drop me as a friend, which is all kinds of wrong as we were close friends for years before he met her.

I personally don't feel that bad about being complicit in deceiving someone who is only being deceived because she's being unreasonable. Would I do this for a casual friendship? Probably not, but this man is like a brother to me.

I can't imagine being in this kind of marriage myself -- DH and I are totally open with each other -- but well that's his business. I admit I am totally selfish in my approach to all this, but I don't have that many best friends.

If I were you, I would just not worry about it. It's his life.

Charbon Thu 22-Nov-12 01:04:38

You know hope most women don't go all 'pointy-eyed' about their partners having female friends - and neither do most men. I don't think this is about jealousy or possessiveness - or even friendship at all.

A problem only arises when people start keeping secrets and telling lies to a partner. That's when even the most laid-back, level-headed and secure person might baulk at what's happening and even start to feel suspicious. I don't think it's fair to depict women or men who don't like being lied to, as unreasonable or strange.

Charbon Thu 22-Nov-12 01:07:29

No, it's about the heteromonogamist worldview that men and women can't possibly be friends without there being a sexual component

No-one on this thread - and no-one I know has that world view. These prejudices and projections of yours, may exist only in your head SGB.

hopespringy Thu 22-Nov-12 01:13:26

You know hope most women don't go all 'pointy-eyed' about their partners having female friends

that's not my experience, unfortunately.

Charbon Thu 22-Nov-12 01:23:01

Do you really mean 'most women' you know Hope or just a few women of your acquaintance?

Do the majority of your female friends, colleagues and family members disapprove of their male partners having women friends?

I don't doubt your experience if you say that's the case. It's just that I don't recognise this depiction of women being a seething mass of jealousy and suspicion about innocent and non-threatening friendships. I'd have very few women friends if that was the case!

hopespringy Thu 22-Nov-12 01:26:54

erm yes, yes, yes and erm yes. Sadly.

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