Dear Abby: I am a marriage counselor writing in response to the March 22 letter from the man who objected to his wife having dinner with a mutual (male) friend while the writer was on a business trip. I found his signature, "Feeling Cheated On in Illinois," excessive, perhaps even a signal he has an "ownership" attitude toward his spouse, which is associated with controlling behavior. In the absence of any reason to distrust her, why is he so upset?
My husband of 20 years was going to Japan for a week to visit our foster daughter. I was unable to go, so one of my female friends went with him instead. My husband is attractive, and no doubt has had many opportunities to cheat. I realize many spouses are unfaithful, but you don't keep them faithful by keeping them on a short leash. All that does is make a potential cheater sneakier.
Because spouses who cheat sometimes claim their lovers- in-waiting are "just friends" doesn't mean men and women can't be "just friends." "Illinois" is insecure at best, controlling at worst. I think he should have a one-time appointment with a therapist and discuss his expectations of his wife. —BARBARA
Dear Barbara: I heard from readers who have firsthand experience in this subject. And many of them agreed with you. Read on:
Dear Abby: I'm an at-home wife of a husband who travels frequently. He has logged more than 3 million frequent flyer miles in the last 20 years. I'll bet the "Illinois" man dines out often with female colleagues. It's a fact of business life these days. And I'll bet a lot of the women are married, too. So, really, what's the difference?
He needs to look inward at his own actions and ability to trust. While travel may be part of his job, why must his wife be denied adult companionship when he's away? A man and woman eating out together doesn't automatically equal "date." I do it often when my husband travels. I pay my own way and meet my friend(s) at the restaurant. It's a "get- together" and the only way I can stay sane. —BEEN THERE AND WILL CONTINUE
Dear Abby: I'm a married woman with single and married male friends. I go out for lunches and dinners with all of them. Some live out of state and we e-mail often. I also have outings with female pals, some of whom are lesbians. "Illinois" needs to figure out why he doesn't trust his wife and his good friend. My husband socializes without me as well. He even goes to lunch sometimes with an old girlfriend. Either you trust your partner or you don't. —SECURE AND HAPPY IN CALIFORNIA