*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Trusting your spouse to value your relationship enough so as not to go looking for someone else will need love and plenty of patience, but sometimes you try too hard to forgive, and it ends up making you doubt everything.
Is it ok for a spouse to keep seeing other women as long as they say nothing unusual is going on, even if they visit them at night? Should you go on trusting them or take such behavior as an indication they'd rather be with the other person and just stay with you out of habit?
My friend Alize has been married to her husband Nick for ten years. They don't have kids because Nick isn't prepared to be a parent yet, but Alize hopes that he might change his mind in the next few years.
"I understand him; we got married while very young. We were barely out of high school. It wasn't the right time to be parents. And college didn't leave any time for that. Once we graduated, we looked for better jobs and wanted to earn more, so kids were just something we kept postponing. But maybe we can get back on that; I know we would be so much more positive if we had one or two kids. He's against it for now, and I respect that, but for every birthday, I remind him about another year passing without babies," Alize said.
Nick is ok with watching his sister's kids from time to time, and Alize thought that might show him how wonderful it is to be a parent, but he doesn't see it the same way.
"We babysit for my sister because she's a single mom, and she needs all the help she can get. She couldn't work late if we didn't, and I know she can't afford to pay someone to come and look after her sons. Her situation just shows how careful you need to be and not start a family unless you're ready," Nick said.
He's also not pleased about his wife always mentioning babies, even more frequently lately.
"It's like with every year that passes, she gets more interested in the issue. I actually think about it less, and I'm hoping she will give up on it. I don't think I want to get up at night to look after a baby or constantly be tired and not able to go on trips whenever I want to. Parenting is not what I look forward to. She wouldn't like it either; it's just that she sees her friends with their kids and wants to be the same," Nick said.
Unfortunately, Alize has gotten more focused on the kids' issue lately and has also had several talks with Nick. He's started to avoid her and has been going out shopping or to different restaurants in Phoenix, Arizona, after work to prevent any further arguments.
During one of these evenings, Nick met Frances. She was eating by herself, so he asked her to move to his table and have dinner together.
"She said yes, and since that evening, we always met three times a week at the same restaurant. Frances was very open and friendly, and she listened to me. I told her about my marriage and the issues we have, and she encouraged me," Nick said.
They also exchanged phone numbers and texted each other every day. Whenever Nick can't meet her for dinner, he will call, and they usually talk for about an hour each time.
Alize noticed the unusual calls, even if Nick mostly made them while out on the porch or when she was taking a shower.
"At first, I thought it was a coworker, but then I learned it was a woman he'd met randomly while out shopping and eating. He assured me they didn't have a relationship, but I still felt he talked way too much to her for it to be something casual. And then the visits started," Alize said.
The first time it happened was when Frances felt sad about her best friend going away on a trip. She asked Nick to have tea with her at her place for one afternoon. And he didn't hesitate to do it.
"He said he was going to comfort her. And I told him it wasn't right. He didn't argue with me, just said he'd be back as soon as possible. He ended up staying four hours with her," Alize said.
They argued when he got back, and Nick didn't speak to his wife for two days after that. He was annoyed she didn't trust him and told her he wouldn't stop supporting his friend because she thought something else was happening.
"She had no reason to doubt me, and still she kept insisting I never go see Frances again. Or she offered to come with me. That's not acceptable. I'm not a kid to be supervised, and if I say I still care about my wife, I do, but her reactions make me question how she feels about me," Nick said.
Things haven't improved at all. Instead, Frances keeps calling Nick several times a day and also asks for him to come over at least three times every week. And the hours vary, with some meetings taking place late at night.
"He goes to see another woman whenever she asks, even at midnight. Nothing I say makes any difference, and he keeps arguing with me and asking me to trust him. I can't stand this for much longer. Trust isn't about letting your husband be alone with another woman for so long. If Nick doesn't stop this, I will consider divorce," Alize said.
Her husband thinks she's overreacting and is sure she'll be ok after a few months pass and realizes he's not going anywhere.
How do you think this situation should be handled? Is it ok for Nick to expect Alize to agree to his seeing Frances even late at night? Should he avoid visiting Frances and be more understanding to keep his wife's trust?
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