My husband and his ex-colleague: Is he having an affair with her?

Jealousy, insecurity and doubt, more than just being negative feelings that take away most of our energy, in truth are mechanisms for defence and self-preservation. These become way more significant when it comes to romantic relationships and between spouses. After all, without jealousy and insecurity plaguing your mind, you can never ensure preservation of your relationship, its current stability and the certainty that it promises. But then, most of us are unable to pinpoint when these feelings may turn absolutely irrational and may start consuming us to no end. It is then that a process of rationalisation is required to not only assess these emotions, but also to prevent yourself from getting wasted and exhausted.

Whose feelings are these?

Check for influence. Check if the voice in your head that is coercing you to think the way you are thinking is actually yours or not! Most times, all these voices that keep plaguing us with jealousy and insecurity are either projections of our own past experiences, or are point of views and beliefs of other people around us. These may be relatives, neighbours, friends, colleagues or even parents. Check how many of these disturbing thoughts are truly yours to begin with.

How real are your insecurities?

This is not to confuse anyone or plant a seed of doubt in one’s head, but it’s always good to cross check: if these are automatic thoughts? Do they appear out of context and don’t leave you? Do you find yourself thinking about your husband’s friendship with the ex-colleague 24×7 and also end up imagining things which aren’t grounded in reality, or probably are just assumptions that you cannot prove no matter what information you may extract? If that is the case, then you need to stop investing in an assumptive reality that has no real backing.

The four-point dialogue

You may keep reeling in your own insecurities and not tell your husband about your feelings: either for the fear of being judged or because of your own shame around that area of conversation. You needn’t conclude that any such conversation would potentially end in a fight.
But what you can do is, start with a positive statement about your husband: tell him how much you appreciate him and what is it that binds you to him. Remind him of his own goodness. Then, state the events: what has happened in the last few months. How things have changed in the past few days. In stating the events, you don’t have to blame him saying ‘because of you so and so happened’, but just state whatever changed. Then, tell him how you ‘feel’ about these changes: sad/mad/bad/glad. And then, tell him what it is that you would like to do. What is your choice regarding this situation? In doing so, you aren’t blaming your husband, but making ‘yourself’ clear about how you feel and what is it that you’d like to do.

Check for internal voids

More than your husband’s friendship with the ex-colleague that has the ability to disturb you, check if there are internal voids in your own life. Check if that void is getting reflected as fear in the space between your husband and you. Sometimes, it isn’t about the world outside us, but more about the world within us. Your external environment is a reflection of your internal environment.

Sometimes, it isn’t about the world outside us, but more about the world within us. Your external environment is a reflection of your internal environment.

So it becomes imperative to figure out what it is in you that is being triggered by this situation or by this friendship.

What if it’s true?

Well, it may not be a figment of your imagination at all. It may not be something that requires winding and long psychoanalysis. It may just be as simple as the pungent air in the room. If you have enough evidence to support your anxieties, that a potential affair may be brewing between the two, instead of sweeping it under the carpet and reeling in self-denial, go ahead and confront it before it’s too late. Remember that in doing so, you are not demeaning yourself or bringing shame. But by not doing so, you are signing up for a lifelong audition for the victim role. So yes, confrontation, as I said, doesn’t need to end in volcanic eruptions every time. It can be clear and crisp too.

Seek therapy!

It doesn’t matter whether your husband is really having an affair with the ex-colleague or not, or if the friendship is a potential threat to your marriage. If your thought patterns do not change, if you are unable to shift your automatic thoughts and insecurities, if you are unable to put your anxieties and jealousy to rest, and if there is a true threat of an affair, even then, if you are unable to confront and ask, then it may be a good idea to seek help. Not only to sort your thoughts, but also to learn how to convey them to your partner in both the cases. Therapy is a co-creative process. So discussing your feelings with a professional will certainly provide you with a lot of clarity.

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