my husband got in trouble at work after I told his coworker to stay away from him

A reader writes:

My husband works at a large dealership. He had an affair with a coworker for three years before we met and for about five months after we were together. He denied having the affair, but I found all of their emails, texts and so on. Needless to say, I can’t stand her.

He says that he has nothing more to do with her, but he sold her some Super Bowl squares and I threw a big fit and sent her an email telling her to stay away from my husband and I was not telling her again. She supposedly went to management, and supposedly they wrote him up and made him sign a letter saying that if I went to his work, called anyone, or emailed anyone at his work, he would be reprimanded. He brought home the letter with his and his manager’s names on it, but neither signed.

Can they do that to him or is it a way for my husband to keep me away from her?

Yes, they can do that. They have an interest in ensuring that their employees aren’t harassed at work or otherwise subjected to angry emails from employees’ spouses. They can definitely reprimand or even fire your husband if part of the package of employing him is that his wife is going to send angry messages to his coworkers.

And for what it’s worth, selling Super Bowl squares to a coworker is the kind of thing that is normal coworker behavior; it doesn’t indicate an affair. In fact, it would be more problematic to your husband’s workplace if he refused to let the coworker participate in a Super Bowl pool that others were allowed to participate in. He can’t treat her worse than other coworkers just because of the history; that would be unprofessional and something a smart employer wouldn’t allow.

And more importantly than any of this, the right person to address this kind of thing with is your husband, not his coworker. He’s the one whose behavior matters to your marriage.

{ 377 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Posting this up here so that people hopefully see it before leaving a comment:

    This comment section is starting to turn into a pile-on. I totally get that people have strong reactions to this letter and why (what the OP did was very wrong and there’s no indication that she realizes that or regrets it, and as someone else pointed out, being on the receiving end of the email she sent would be really disturbing), but I think it’s going past the point of useful and veering into unkind. So I want to ask that people rein that in a bit. Thank you.

  2. NickelandDime*

    It’s Wednesday. That’s all I can say about this. I’m just…dumbfounded. I’m really surprised they didn’t try to fire him behind this.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I’m not surprised they didn’t fire him, but if it happens again there will probably be larger repercussions.
      OP, do you really want to be like the ex of one of our in-house attorneys? Her photo is tacked to the lobby security desk so that the security staff will recognize her and call the police if she shows up. She came into the office once, asked around until someone pointed out a conference room where her ex was in a meeting, and barged in and started screaming at him. In front of our president! It was epic. And now she is known all throughout the building as “that crazy lady who stormed the office”. Seriously, you don’t want to be that person.

      1. NickelandDime*

        Whoa! That is embarrassing! Was this his ex wife or an ex girlfriend? As for the OP, I wonder how much of a hot seat he’s in – previously dating a coworker and now this. It just looks so bad. I think you’re right though – there better not be a next time with this.

        1. OhNo*

          I was wondering this, too. I realize that the OP’s behavior is no fault of her husband’s, but if someone I worked with had the same background (dating a coworker and then threats from a wife), I would be questioning his judgement a little bit. Unfair? Probably. But it still would not leave a favorable impression on me.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          She was his ex-wife and she was just awful. He left her because she was emotionally abusive and she sure proved his point.

    2. BRR*

      I was waiting for a real Wednesday post. And for what it’s worth I never understood why people seem angry at the other wo/man. I always feel like they should be angry at their significant other. I was once called something very awful on an online dating site by a guy because I had met up with his boyfriend. Still not sure to this day who his bf was. He wouldn’t tell me. But boy was he angry at me. Like it’s my fault your bf didn’t tell me he was in a relationship. A little judgement towards people who knowingly engage with someone who is monogamously partnered but even then I blame the partner. It’s on them to not do anything their significant other wouldn’t want.

      1. Nerd Girl*

        I don’t understand it either. I once had a couple of dates with a guy, but something about him didn’t sit right so I stopped seeing him. A few weeks later I got a call from him, from the police station. He was asking me to drive down and bail him out. Um…no? I was really angry and wrote him a terse email basically telling him to never contact me again. I got a response about 20 minutes after I hit send. From his long term, live in girlfriend. Apparently he had called several women asking for bail money and they were either calling him at home or emailing him and the poor woman was trying to put together a timeline of how long he’d been doing this. But the email she sent me was so hateful and basically blamed me for all of their woes. She had proof in emails and phone calls that her “great guy” was a serial cheater but I was the problem? Two dates, a couple of kisses, and one phone call was not the reason for the demise of that relationship.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I get a call every couple of weeks at 2 or 3 in the morning from the same woman warning me to stay away from her man. She just cannot grasp that she has the wrong number and I don’t know her stupid philandering man.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              I do not know why I haven’t done this yet! I always forget because she calls in the middle of the night.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              This sounds like a good plan. Or maybe I will start messing with her and pretend I really am with her dude.

              1. Carrie*

                It sounds like she has issues for sure but having witnessed and experienced a little bit of what being lied to, betrayed, abused emotionally and then raped, can do to a person…I think the humane thing for you to do would be to show her kindness, and then peacefully assert your boundaries and stated that she may not call you again. Perhaps explain that if she calls again you will need to report her to police or someone who can assess her mental capacity.

                Just typing this feels awful. I feel sorry for the woman phoning you. I also empathize with you. It’s a tough situation. I’m just saying, sensitivity and understanding can do a lot for someone who has nobody else showing them the same.

                1. JMW*

                  Your comment is wonderful for those of us reading the archives, so please don’t apologize for commenting a year after the fact. ;)

                  What you’re saying is very wise and makes a lot of sense. More compassion and less writing people off.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                I was mostly being facetious, but if she was particularly nasty and bothersome, I might put the phone and the air horn together under a pillow and give it a blast. That would probably be sufficient in all but the thinnest-walled apartments, unless your headboard and your neighbor’s are against the exact same wall.

                Actually, I wouldn’t do that. Hearing damage is no joke. But it’s fun to just imagine it, sans consequences.

                Lily, please do mess with her if she keeps it up! “Your man really wore me out, let me sleep, dammit!”

        2. Jane Elliot*

          Now I’m thinking of weird, sci-fi reasons this could have happened, like maybe he’s the guy in Momento. Did you ever check him for tattoos?

      2. Emily*

        Although I don’t condone the lying or cheating, I also don’t see this particular scenario as quite as damning. They dated for 3 years, he met someone new and either broke it off but continued seeing her on the d/l, or waited 5 months to tell her he’d met someone and break it off (can’t tell which from the letter).

        If he just waited 5 months to disclose, then she didn’t really do anything wrong – she got played just like OP. If he broke it off but then continued seeing her for 5 months, well…I can see the coworker viewing the situation more like, “We’ve been together for three years, I don’t know this new person and I’m sure they won’t last–I mean, look, he’s already cheating on her! He’ll realize soon enough that our relationship is the right one for him.” Again, I don’t condone the cheating, but I’m less likely to think the coworker has blood on her hands if she only continued a long-term relationship with the OP’s husband after they got together, rather than beginning one after they got together, or breaking up for a while and resuming their affair months later after it was clear the relationship with OP had legs.

      3. Ed*

        I would only be mad if my spouse told the other person it was over and then they kept pursuing them anyway. Otherwise, I would blame my spouse completely. I’m not in a relationship with the other person so they have no responsibility to me.

        Plus, it sounds like OP’s spouse was already in a relationship with the co-worker for three years and then cheated on her with OP anyway. So OP was the original ‘other woman’ in this story. Personally, I would have unloaded him and moved on at that five month mark when I discovered he was dating both of us.

        1. sunny-dee*

          My impression is that the coworker is married, hence why it is an affair. I could be misreading, though.

      4. Not telling*

        People do this because it’s easier to blame the outsider than to blame the person sleeping on the other side of your bed. It’s also easier to blame someone else than to look in the mirror and acknowledge that you have a problem in your relationship. Or that the relationship may be over.

        1. eee*

          also, you know all sorts of positive things about your partner. so while you have this bad information (cheating) you also have good information (good gift-giver, emotionally supportive, makes me laugh) to balance it out. With the other person, all you have is bad information (knowingly had sex with my partner), so all the information you have about them is negative, and if you can perceive them as all bad, then you can lie to yourself and think “it’s not my partner’s fault, it’s this person’s fault! so if I can just get this person to back off, then my partner will be perfect again!”

      5. Megan*

        Agreed. From the way this is laid out, it sounds like the OP is the interloper, anyways.

    1. Lizzy*

      This reminds of that story when a LW’s co-worker made a pass at her during a company outing, and the co-worker’s wife tried contacting the LW. I might be getting the details wrong, but it feels similar to that one, except from another perspective.

  3. TeapotCounsel*

    There may be more to the story than OP realizes. Part of me wonders if OP husband asked his manager to craft the letter so that OP would leave the matter alone.

    1. KerryOwl*

      I think that is what the OP is directly suggesting, actually. I think that is what she suspects, and why she wrote in. (I, however, agree with Alison.)

      1. Cordelia Naismith*

        I think so, too — otherwise, why make a point of mentioning that the letter she saw wasn’t signed?

        It doesn’t really matter either way, LW. You contacting your husband’s co-worker directly about this at work is really unprofessional and will reflect really poorly on your husband. He’s the one you need to be talking to about this, not her. If you don’t address this with him and get to the point where you feel you can trust him, it doesn’t really matter if he interacts with this particular woman or not; you’re never going to be sure he’s not having an affair.

        I think it sounds like marriage counseling might help, far more than sending angry emails to this woman would. I understand the impulse, but there is absolutely no upside for you. If she’s having an affair with your husband, a letter like this isn’t going to change her mind; she doesn’t care what you think. She already knows you don’t approve. If she isn’t having an affair, then this kind of email just makes you look irrational and jealous for no reason.

        1. LD*

          Maybe the signed copy is in the employee’s file and he was given a copy to take with.
          OP, in any case, leave it alone and deal directly with your significant other and don’t make threats. You will end up looking more like the unreasonable and even crazy person in this situation and that might even end up with a restraining order against you. It’s good you asked Alison so you can get a more reasoned and informed perspective instead of continuing to act based only on your hurt and angry feelings.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Maybe, but there’s no reason to suspect this. This is serious enough on its own merits that the employer was acting responsibly in taking action. I could not, as a responsible manager, allow one of my employees to be threatened by the wife of another employee and not take action.

      1. Michele*

        I remember a situation a couple years ago involving a love triangle where the jilted lover assaulted one of them off-site and was fired. He was considered too dangerous to have on company property.

    3. Not a rocket scientist*

      I can’t even imagine that happening. Like if I were going to cheat on my spouse, why on earth would I draft my boss into helping me? That would put my reputation, my professionalism, everything in jeopardy.

      I think the real story going on is that OP and OP’s husband might not have the healthiest of marriages or the best communication skills. If they can afford it, I highly recommend couples’ counseling.

      1. Sherm*

        I think the OP suspects that the letter is a fiction made up entirely by the husband. (Not likely, as I believe most of us would agree.)

      2. Ezri*

        That’s true. It’s more likely that the husband could have forged a letter with his boss’ name on it than the boss being in on it. Not that we have enough information to determine whether it’s legit or not.

        The fact is, OP, in this instance you have to decide whether you trust your husband or not. There’s really no way you can verify where the letter comes from, and no way you can police his behavior at work. At least not without becoming one of those wives security has a picture of (see above).

        Either you believe him about this woman – in which case you have nothing to worry about and no need to contact her again – or you don’t. If you really feel he’s cheating, that’s something you deal with from a relationship perspective, not a work one. And that also means dealing with your husband, not the woman involved. There are many guys out there who can resist flirtation and work with people they used to date without drama.

      3. Anonsie*

        What about that letter from not even five days ago about the company booking appointments for some VIP so he could ditch his wife and see his mistress? People be cray

        1. Not a rocket scientist*

          But that was the cheater’s employee, an administrator assistant or the like, not his boss. In either case I don’t think it’s okay or appropriate, but if you’re a high level exec that kind of shenanigans will be less harmful to your career prospects than if you’re a rank and file employee.

  4. Kyoki*

    If the OP has trust issues with her husband maybe she needs to reevaluate her marriage, not jump at the other [former] woman.

      1. DC Comics*

        It’s easy to say that, but I’m sure it’s much more difficult to live the situation. When you’ve built a life with someone who betrays you, it isn’t so easy to make the decision to throw it away. Maybe she has children with him. Probably she loves him.

        A quote from Dear Sugar, directed at a woman in this situation: “Is it possible that you’ve subconsciously redirected your anger to the safer party, since hating her doesn’t require you to dismantle your life, as hating him would?”

        Maybe she isn’t emotionally ready to dismantle her life. Foolish, yes, but many of us cannot deny that we’d struggle in this situation.

    1. Payroll Lady*

      +1 most of the “affair” happened prior to him even meeting his wife. If the wife feels this strongly, then she definitely should re-evaluate her relationship/marriage. Based on the letter, the wife was actually the “other” woman for 5 months…

      1. Carly*

        Yes! It sounds like the husband simply dated multiple people (including the coworker) until he was ready to settle down and be committed to his now-wife. This isn’t exactly an “affair.” Unless the coworker was married at the time, and it was an affair on her part…

        1. Karyn*

          But even then, we don’t know what kind of arrangement the other woman has with her spouse. My best friend and her husband have an open marriage. Not that it matters, because this entire situation is banana sandwich.

      2. Anonathon*

        I was confused about that too! It more sounds like the relationships wasn’t exclusive at the beginning. Maybe the husband wasn’t clear on that fact, and that’s not cool. But it doesn’t sound like this other woman busted into a pre-established relationship.

        1. Ezri*

          That reminds me of the Scott Pilgrim plot “I dated Knives and then Ramona. But maybe I didn’t tell Knives right away…”

      3. Similar Situation*

        I was thinking exactly this! He was already with the other woman when he met his wife. Sure, he lied about it, but I wonder why OP stayed with him after discovering the deceit. I’ll never understand people who take their anger out on the “other” woman/man. You partner is the one who violated your trust, not the person they had an affair with.

        1. Similar Situation*

          Oops! This name is left from a post I made yesterday. I am NOT in a similar situation to this.

      4. Ann without an e*

        Best point ever……..

        Based on your point that makes her calling his relationship with woman A an affair rather odd, or irrationally jealous.

        “Relationships that start out with the betrayal of another typically don’t last and typically end horribly, there is an order to things for a reason, most problems occur when order is not observed” That statement made so much of the world make sense to me.

        1. Audrey*

          The late Sir James Goldsmith, on marrying his mistress, Lady Annabel Birley, declared, “When you marry your mistress, you create a job vacancy.”

      5. BRR*

        I wonder if husband was with coworker, told LW that he broke it off and started dating LW but didn’t actually break it off with coworker.

    2. M-C*

      “I found all of their emails, texts and so on” sounds way over the edge. Presumably some of these could have been company emails? Maybe even texts on company phones? The OP is lucky the company hasn’t pressed charges against both of them for violation of privacy, hacking etc. The husband may be a cheater, but the OP should also address the stalking in her own behavior. Please, get a divorce and don’t inflict your misbehavior on anyone else. It sounds like things have gone way too far for marriage counseling, but I’d strongly advise personal counseling. And addressing these issues with the lawyer while you’re planning the divorce..

      1. OhNo*

        That line pinged my radar, too. OP, please seriously consider your actions and seek some kind of therapy – it sounds like it would be very beneficial, both for you personally and for your relationship with your husband.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        I love the lack of responsibility, sure she just happened to “find” them; not like she spent hours hacking into his phone and email or anything…

        1. A Reader*

          I doubt there was any hacking at all. Most likely she just took his phone while he was in the shower and found the previous woman’s name in the text messages. In a similar move, most people have their email on their phones now too.

          If there is no personal lock on the phone, it’s super easy to find this information with no more than 5 minutes of searching. Not condoning the practice or saying she is right in any way, shape or form, but just saying it’s pretty easy to find the information. (hint hint)

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I just find it amazing that so many people do not have passwords on their mobile devices. If nothing else, I hope that if a thief sees me unlocking my phone or tablet, they might look for an easier target. (I also have Prey anti-theft software on all of my mobile devices.)

            I have heard boundary-violators like the OP say that people who use locks have something to hide, so let me add that my wife and daughters’ fingerprints also work on my phone’s biometric lock. Because I trust them NOT to look unless I ask them or it’s an emergency.

            1. themmases*

              My partner and I both lock some or all of our devices (I use AppLock to lock just sensitive stuff, like my email and banking). However, we both know how to get into each other’s phones. I also trust him not to go into my email and I would feel super uncomfortable going into his even in an emergency. Mostly I want him to be able to answer it if I’m driving or access everything in an emergency. I would expect lots of partners to do the same thing.

              Maybe the OP’s husband does lock his phone, but made the really common choice of giving his wife the password. If his contact with the coworker was as innocent as selling her Super Bowl squares, that seems pretty reasonable.

            2. TheLazyB*

              I used to have a lock on my phone, but then I thought ‘what’s the point in having ICE numbers in my phone if paramedics couldn’t access them?’. I think that’s far more likely (in my circumstances) than my phone being stolen.

              1. Natalie*

                FYI, if you have an iPhone – they added this new cool thing called Medical ID, which can be accessed from the lockscreen without knowing the password. You can designate people that are already in your contacts as emergency contacts and label them with a relationship.

                1. Moo*

                  Thank you!! Sincerely . I unlocked my phone a year ago for the same reason and am glad to know that there is an alternative. Hopefully it’s pretty obvious to paramedics to figure out.

                  The things you learn on AAM….

              2. Talvi*

                I’ve set my lock screen to include a short message with ICE numbers. (And my own contact info, in case it’s a matter of me having lost my phone.) It also solves the side problem of having the caller ID for my mother pop up as “ICE” instead of her name whenever she calls or texts me, too!

              3. The Cosmic Avenger*

                My lock screen shows a Google Voice phone number that goes to both my wife and myself, so whether I lose the phone or I’m disabled and someone finds it, as long as they call that number we’ll be good.

              4. Camellia*

                I have a Samsung and even when the screen is locked there is an ICE link on the screen. Just touch it to dial my emergency contact. This makes so much sense I thought all phones would have that, but I guess not.

              5. Emily*

                Most phones have a way to call ICE numbers without unlocking the phone, but unfortunately they’re often not intuitive. On my Samsung Galaxy, if you hit the Emergency Call button on the lock screen, it takes you to a dialer screen. Below the keypad are three buttons – the center is the Call button, the right is the Backspace button, and the left is a silhouette/bust with a lightbulb/siren looking thing next to it. If you click the silhouette/bust/siren picture, it displays contacts in the phone marked as ICE and allows them to be dialed from the emergency call screen without unlocking the phone.

                I think it’s a great tragedy that this feature isn’t made more obvious because it would help so many people.

                1. Natalie*

                  iOS is the same way – you have to hit the “emergency call” button to access their Medical ID (which can include prescriptions or allergies as well as emergency contacts).

            3. Zillah*

              It’s super common to have your partner’s password, though – my partner and I certainly use each other’s phones a lot (calls, setting alarms for the next morning, responding to texts in the car… etc). Personally, I’d be a little weirded out at not being able to access his phone – it would feel like he was trying to hide something, just because it’s so far removed from how we’ve always functioned.

        2. nona*

          Hey, maybe some of this stuff was just on his computer screen when he stepped away from it, or sitting on the counter.

          Not to defend anybody in the letter here – just saying I’ve come across things that way.

      3. Leah*

        I’m wondering what “and so on” means. Did she listen to his voicemail? Try to snoop around his documents, search his pockets for love notes, search his work computer? WTF Wednesday indeed.

      4. ios*

        Not sure I really agree with telling the OP to divorce. This isn’t what she’s asking for advice about and it really isn’t anyone’s place

      5. Lamb*

        There’s no reason to assume they were using company e-mail, or that they even have company phones (working at a dealership? You’re in the showroom- desk phone- or out with a customer- taking a call could loose you the sale. If I ran a dealership I’d have a blanket policy discouraging cell phones- keep them on silent, don’t use them where customers can see or hear you). Did she snoop to proove the “affair”? It sounds like yes. But hacking? There’s not enough to take that as a given.

  5. Michele*

    Marriage counselling is needed immediately. There are obviously unresolved issues regarding the affair that need to be addressed. This has nothing to do the the husband’s employer, and everything to do with the marriage being unstable.

    1. Celeste*

      +1000. You need help, OP. I hope you get it. There is more on the line here than your husband’s job. Even if you don’t stay married to him, you need better skills for the future.

    2. MK*

      What affair? The OP’s husband dated someone else for three years before he even met her and then he either cheated on his girlfriend with the OP or just dated both of them for 5 months.

      Frankly, I am baffled by the timing. How long ago was this? Did the OP only recently found out that her husband was envolved with a coworker before her? Did the SB square trigger the whole drama?

      1. Michele*

        I suspect LW is using the word affair in a more old fashioned sense to indicate a romantic relationship between two married people, not the more modern synonym for adultry.

        I also suspect that she is unrealistic enough to think that their first date was the beginning of a committed relationship and not simply a first date.

        1. Michele*

          Two unmarried people. Normally I don’t write corrections, but that “un” completely changed the meaning.

    3. BRR*

      Exactly. A small part of this is a work issue and related to this blog’s content. The bigger thing is a marital issue which is beyond the scope of this blog (although I would read a dating advice blog by Alison but only if everything is still with chocolate teapots).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I used to write a dating advice blog! I wish it were still online. It was magnificent. (My friend and I answered readers’ letters and also wrote about our weird nights out.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I just read through some and am cracking up. We were very, very sure of ourselves.

            Here’s our page on online dating:

            Rules Before You Get Started

            * You are allowed to engage in online dating online if and only if you see it as simply one more mutual screening process. You are not allowed to engage in online dating if you view such participation as in any way the product of desperation or a source of shame or embarrassment. Just as there are desperate people and happy, confident people in bars, there are both types online as well. Be the latter type, please.

            * Recognize that wanting to meet someone because of their online profile or photo is just as superficial as wanting to meet them because they look attractive standing at the bar. Just because you have some extra information because of what they wrote in their profile doesn’t mean that you actually know them; don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve found someone “perfect” for you based on their ad or a few exchanged emails. That leads us to…

            The Cardinal Rule of Online Dating

            * You are not permitted to invest substantial time or emotion in someone who you have never met in person. You are not permitted to get excited about someone you’ve never met in person. No matter how much you think you know the person and no matter how compatible you are on paper, you only know bits and pieces, and your mind is filling in the blanks on its own, probably inaccurately. We’re not even talking about physical appearance; people can have mannerisms, energy, or other ways of being that you can’t pick up on via the phone or computer. (If you are mentally arguing with us right now, you have lost touch with reality and must ban yourself from online access for the next 48 hours.)

            The Cardinal Rule means that you are not permitted to email for weeks or develop a phone relationship; you should meet as soon as possible to ascertain whether or not there is chemistry.

            Rules for Your Ad/Online Profile

            * If you’re going to create an ad for yourself, put some goddamn thought into it. People reading it should be able to get a sense of who you are and what you are looking for. Under no circumstances should you use generic phrases or concepts, such as your love for movies or dining out. Who the hell doesn’t like movies or eating? Your ad should give enough of a sense of who you are that your friends could recognize you. If you can’t get enough of a grasp on who you are to communicate it in an ad, spend some quality time with yourself before looking for a mate.

            * You are expressly prohibited from using clichés like “work hard, play hard,” as they will make anyone worth hanging out with want to vomit.

            * Your ad may not in any way imply that you think online dating is an embarrassing or humbling experience; that’s an instant insult to the people you’re trying to attract, who are obviously engaging in online dating themselves.

            * Spell check. Proofread. Even if you don’t know the difference, hopefully the people you want to attract do.

            * You are only permitted to mention what kind of car you drive if you’re making fun of it because it’s a piece of shit.

            Rules for Photos

            * Bite the bullet and include a damn photo–one where your face is visible, please. This is not time for self-righteous bullshit pretending appearance doesn’t matter.

            * Only do the thinker pose in your photo if you have actually modeled for Rodin.

            * If you’re tempted to use a group photo without the use of cropping, don’t. Your friends will not appreciate being included in your mating call.

            * If the best picture you have is one that shows you obviously romantically involved with someone else, take more pictures.

            * Don’t use a picture that showcases your use of any type of weapon.

            * If you use a picture that doesn’t actually show what you look like, it doesn’t count and may be grounds for disqualification.

            Rules for Responding to Ads

            * We can’t believe this needs to said, but if you’re responding to someone’s ad, the whole point is to give them a REASON to write back to you. It is not sufficient to simply say hi and ask for an email back. The person you’re writing to–especially if they’re female–may be receiving dozens of replies and your message needs to give them some idea of who the hell you are and why they should care.

            * If you wouldn’t be willing to walk up to a stranger in a bar and say it (and think you have at least an 85 percent chance of pulling it off), then you are not permitted to say it via e-mail. For example, if you aren’t able to go up to a stranger and say “wanna fuck?” and pull it off successfully (hint: no one is able to), then don’t do it over email.

            * Long-winded responses that are obviously form letters are also a no-no. If you can’t take the time to write something personal, then don’t write at all. Mass emailing for a hook-up is icky.

            * Sending photos of genitalia (yours or anyone else’s) or messages that should be filed as erotica is prohibited.

            * If you are contacting someone repeatedly (i.e., more than once) and they don’t respond, there’s a reason. STOP.

            * You are not allowed to address someone with any sort of pet name until you (a) know them intimately and (b) know it is okay with them. Being called sugar, honey, sexy, etc. isn’t always cool in the first place. Being called that by a total stranger is even creepier.

            * If you’re making your friends partake in your online experiment with you (and you should be)–or if they’re pulling you along in theirs–make sure you talk about who you’re corresponding with, meeting, etc., because chances are high that there’ll be some overlap. You don’t want to discover that the guy you’re pining for via email is the same guy your friend met and made out with last weekend.

            Rules for Meeting

            * See the above Cardinal Rule. Don’t get sucked into spending tons of time emailing or talking on the phone with someone you’ve never met. Exchange enough emails to get a basic sense of the person, and then if you want to learn more, have one phone conversation to see if things click that way. If they do, set up a meeting STAT. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble.

            * As with all first dates, when it’s wrapping up, if you’re interested in seeing the person again, say so. If you have no desire to see the person again, say “It was nice meeting you,” followed by goodbye. Try your hardest to avoid having the words “I’ll give you a call” come out of your mouth if you don’t mean them.

            * If the person says they’d like to see you again and you know you’re not interested, it is permissible to say something non-committal like “that would be nice.” Obviously, avoid making concrete plans. If they then solicit your company at a later date, you can tell them you enjoyed meeting them but didn’t feel a spark.

            * After you’ve met in person, proceed as if you had met in any other way. But as in any social situation, keep in mind that the people you meet are not necessarily looking for the same thing you are. As in real life, people online may be looking for a casual hook-up, a serious relationship, new friends, and who the fuck knows what else. So we end where we began: Don’t make assumptions, and you’ll be just fine.

              1. Chinook*

                Is it wrong that I see your on-line dating advice and think that 90% of it also shows up in your job-hunting advice?

                1. Michele*

                  There are a lot of similarities between job hunting and dating.

                  That was hilarious, by the way, especially the part about cliches like “work hard, play hard.”

              2. John*

                The bad language is the best part! You were clearly put out by people who are going about online dating the right way. You sure have mellowed.

              3. Cruciatus*

                Although…if you take a picture of yourself with a weapon, I know immediately I don’t want to date you–and that is supremely helpful. Things I could see that would immediately disqualify someone: weapons, posing with cars, cigarette hanging out of mouth. If that’s who you are–great! I’m sure there’s someone who would love that. But we just saved ourselves a whole bunch of time otherwise.

                1. A Dispatcher*

                  I definitely agree on the part about horrible photos (and cringe-worthy profile dialogue) being a bonus because it allows you to self-select out! lol

                  However, when it comes to the weapons thing, there is a small exception I can think of to this, and it’s for avid hunting enthusiasts. I mean I certainly don’t want to see dead animals on your profile, but I know a lot of men who are very big hunters and that photo alone would convey a lot about their personality without it being as big of an issue to me as someone trying to look bad-ass with a handgun, you know?

                  Also, Alison – I love the advice. I would totally follow your dating blog. And it makes so much sense that you had one as you so often (very correctly) compare interviews to the dating process.

              4. M-C*

                Please, this isn’t kindergarten, there’s nothing wrong with your language.
                I disagree about a small detail though: if they have a weapon, I prefer to see a pic with it, so I may avoid them easily :-).

              1. Goldie*

                Yes, please do, Alison! That’s very well written and reflects my own online dating experience perfectly!

                1. Audiophile*

                  I think (no, I’m sure) it reflects many peoples online dating experiences. Including using pet names before you know them (this is creepy EVERY TIME) and posing with weapons or game (can we include that please??) AND I’d like to add, if you’re meeting for the first time, don’t bring your high friend.

            1. fposte*

              This is so brilliant, and retains its essential truth.

              By the way, do people know about the NSFW but truly very lovely critique my dick pic tumblr? This warm-hearted and thoughtful New Zealand woman is doing her bit to improve dick pics by advising people on how to make them attractive and inviting. It really can be quite a nice art form.

              1. Claire (Scotland)*

                YES! That is such a weirdly sweet thing. At least if there must be dick pics they should be appealing and well lit dick pics!

                1. fposte*

                  I’m so glad it’s not just me cheering her on. And she’s got such a wonderful, supportive, slightly teacherly “you have a good dick pic in you, I know it” vibe.

              2. Ethyl*

                I LOVE HER BLOG. I know she did a piece at The Toast about her experiences, but I can’t seem to find it. Anyway she is terrific and her blog is terrific and it’s one of the “funny” things I read before bed to help relax. She’s so sweet and caring about it even when she’s saying “this is not a very good pic.”

            2. Jared ProcReg*

              This is great! Every girl I see on online dating says the exact same thing. Cliches tell me zero about them. Seriously, they’re plagiarizing each other.

            3. SerfinUSA*

              Love this!
              And also love that I am not, and hope to never again be, attempting to ‘meet’ anyone online.

            4. Natalie*

              You might be surprised at how very, very relevant all of this still is. When I used to hang out on reddit we repeated versions of this advice ad infinitum (especially the cardinal rule).

              (I always wanted to make the ur-OK Cupid profile, using the cliched responses that 75-90% of every profile used for the prompt questions. Example: one of the prompts was “the most private thing I’m willing to admit” and a gajillion people thought “that I’m on OKCupid I guess lol no seriously I’m an open book” was the height of cleverness.)

            5. vox de causa*

              This is gold. And it would have probably saved a friend of mine from a marriage that ended badly.

            6. Sitting Duck*

              This is GOLD Allison. I would LOVE to read more of this – I’ve been navigating online dating on and off for years now (with no success) and so much of this hits home.

              I particularly like the beginning, about not getting attached to someone who you’ve never met, I’m so guilty of that, and I’ve been let down so many times (typically by people who set up a time to meet, and then disappear off the face of the earth…..its happened more times than I can count!) I need to try harder not to get attached before even meeting these people.

              I hope you decide to share this with us all (if you have time). Thank for sharing this much!

            7. BRR*

              I’m so happy I triggered this even it derailed the comment thread. It was a rough day and this certainly made up for it.

            8. Perpetua*

              I don’t even have that much experience with online dating (yet?), but I do have an OKCupid profile, and your advice is wonderful and feels so true, as usual, and I’m all in favour of a revival or throwbacks, please! :)

            9. kt (lowercase)*

              I know I’m 4 months late but I feel compelled to say PLEASE RESURRECT THIS.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Holy crap, I would love to read that!

          I used to keep a dating blog. It started when I lived in Northern VA and online dating was new– I had some really, really strange dates. Then I moved to NYC and they got less strange, more asshole-ish.

  6. Katie the Fed*

    OP – you need to take this seriously. I have seen careers ended over this kind of thing. Just because something looks like a good response on TV or in a book doesn’t mean it works well in real life. You need to get yourself together, now, and knock off the histrionics. He could very easily lose his job over this, and then you’ll have that to deal with as well. Not to mention if she feels threatened enough she might try to seek protection from you.

    The best thing you can do right now is focus on your marriage and whatever you need to do to make that work. This woman didn’t do anything to you – if she was with him before he was in a committed relationship with you, that’s not an affair, that’s dating. Leave her alone – your issues are with him and him alone.

    1. Michele*

      I missed that, but it wasn’t even really an affair. They were together before they met. Then, it sounds like he ended things when he got serious with the woman he married. That is just life. I feel bad for the coworker having to worry about her ex’s crazy wife freaking out over trivial work interactions.

      1. Meredith*

        But the OP goes on to say that her husband’s relationship with the other woman continued 5 months after OP and her husband were together. So yes, there was some sort of affair, but it was definitely the husband’s responsibility to end things with the other woman and he didn’t. This clearly caused a breach in trust that has never healed, and the OP is now responding inappropriately to the other woman rather than turning her focus to her damaged relationship with her husband. Couples counseling is needed, immediately.

        1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

          I don’t think the 5 months’ overlap is even necessarily a “breach of trust” or an “affair” of any kind – if anything, it sounds more like a lack of communication about exclusivity early in a new relationship. Five months isn’t a terribly long time, and I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with seeing more than one person at a time if you haven’t reached an understanding about exclusivity yet. I mean clearly, they weren’t communicating openly or clearly about it or LW wouldn’t be describing things the way she is, but I don’t think it’s fair to call whatever happened an “affair” (unless, by “affair,” LW meant the woman was monogamously-coupled at the time she was taking up with LW’s now husband).

          1. Oryx*

            “if anything, it sounds more like a lack of communication about exclusivity early in a new relationship.”

            Yes. This.

          2. Ann without an e*

            Well, lets look at this from his co-workers perspective.
            1. ex-girlfriend is not married
   into monogamy
            3.assumes long term exclusivity would lead to marriage.
            This poor woman found out her long term boyfriend and co-worker was cheating on her, then he marries the other woman and she still has to work with him and be professional. As if that is not bad enough, now the crazy woman he left her for is threatening her…….

            1. M-C*

              Quite right Ann, if there was an affair at all it was WITH THE OP. And I feel very sorry for the poor coworker. Hopefully she’s concentrating on being well rid of the guy in this story..
              Mind you, we all know what happens when you take up with a cheater, so there is some grounds for OP to be suspicious, but it’s nothing she won’t have deserved.

        2. JustMe*

          Meredith, dating someone for 5 months and dating someone else at the same time is normal these days. Unless you are in a committed relationship at that point, I don’t see how that can be perceived as having an affair. He most likely wanted to become officially exclusive with his now wife at that time, and broke up with the other girl. Pretty normal to me.

          1. Ellie H.*

            To be fair, while there is nothing inherently wrong with dating multiple people at one time if everyone involved is aware of and ok with the situation, it’s possible and from context perhaps likely that the LW believed herself in an exclusive relationship and that her husband explicitly gave this impression. In that case an “affair” would be a reasonable way to understand an extra-relationship liaison (regardless of which relationship started first, it’s natural that the LW would perceive it that way).

            1. MK*

              I am not sure it’s all that natural for a person to regard their partner of 5 months not breaking up with their own partner of 3 years as an affair. That’s classic “He told me he was single and I now find myself the other woman” scenario, not infidelity.

        3. Carrington Barr*

          “So yes, there was some sort of affair…”

          Yes, there was — he cheated on the ex with Wifey for 5 months.

          1. Anonnymouse*

            Can you imagine the letter from the ex’s POV?

            “I work at a large dealership, and I dated a coworker (“Ex”) for three years before I found out he was having an affair with another woman for 5 months behind my back. We ended things (relatively amicably, given the circumstances) and have continued to work together well when we are scheduled together.

            Well, he ended up marrying the other woman (“New Wife”). Normally, not such a problem, exes get married all the time, and if she were a reasonable person, I would have no reason to be writing in to you today…

            Alison, New Wife is not a reasonable person! She’s so far beyond reasonable I don’t know what to do. She completely hates me, despite the fact that SHE was the other woman in MY relationship! I can deal with eye rolls at holiday parties and scowls when she picks him up from work, but now she’s harassing me. Ex was running the Superbowl Squares at the dealership, and I bought in. New Wife flipped out, and sent me a nasty e-mail threatening me to stay away from her man or else.

            I brought it to HR and they reprimanded him, sending him home with a cease and desist letter that could get him fired if she shows up here or contacts me again, but I’m wondering what else, if anything, they can do? Should I have contacted the police? I don’t want to get him in trouble or fired, but I don’t feel safe at work anymore! Help!”

          2. Karowen*

            Honestly, I read it as he was previously married and his sleeping with the co-worker let to the first marriage ending…Because I couldn’t figure out how in FSM’s name it was an affair otherwise.

        4. Not a rocket scientist*

          Actually, since the husband knew the other woman for years before he met OP, that would make the OP the “other” woman who he “had an affair” with, after he had been in a (maybe committed or exclusive? we don’t know) relationship with his coworker.

        5. Katie the Fed*

          You know, even if he slept with her on his desk at work, the point remains – the OP/wife CANNOT be threatening her. This is between her and her husband alone.

          1. OhNo*

            Bingo. We can talk ourselves in circles over the possibilities forever, but the final word on the matter is always going to be that the OP cannot act this way. It will only end badly for all involved.

    2. JustMe*

      Yeah, I saw that and thought how odd that she calls it an affair. Maybe there’s more to the story here and the coworker/ex hasn’t been the only one.

    3. The IT Manager*

      I do wonder if it is an “affair” because she (the other woman) is married since I noticed right off the bat an affair is not the proper term for the relationship your husband had with someone before you met / married. But there’s some other skewed point of view in this message that’s make me question this possibility.

  7. SRMJ*

    I was going to be like ‘why did you marry/stay married to him if you found out he was cheating/cheated on you,’ but then I read the rest of the letter and it seems like the OP may be as unhealthy as he is, so….never mind.

      1. Zillah*

        Ehhh – I’d consider myself cheated on even if my partner didn’t reveal an already-existing relationship to me when we started dating, too.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Exactly – I mentioned that above as well. A friend of mine was in this situation and (even though she wasn’t involved with the guy at all) she had to get a restraining order and the guy ended up fired because his wife had gone so far off the deep end. This is not a good situation at all.

  8. The IT Manager*

    LW you are in the wrong. I applaud the business for doing what they can to keep a crazy person (that’s you BTW) from harassing their employee. Since they don’t employ you, they have to warn/punish the person that they do employ to try to control your behavior.

    You’re the crazy person in this scenario because if you have concerns about your husband’s fidelity you need to deal with him. Don’t lay the blame on the woman for your husband cheating (if he cheated). Don’t buy into the idea that he would be faithful to you except for this seductress. False. Cheaters gonna cheat.

    Also threatening someone to keep away from the person who approached them to sell super bowl squares is irrational. If you wanted to yell at someone about this, again, the person you should yell at is your husband.

    You need to accept the reality that as long as your husband woks there, he will see and may have to interact with his co-worker. If you can’t handle that reality make your husband quite his job before your crazy gets him fired. (BTW that’s scarcasim. A much better idea is to work on trusting your husband or if you can’t trust him, divorce him.)

    1. Dan*

      See my post below, I can’t even figure out if there was cheating either. Apparently, by the OP’s own admission, the coworker and husband knew each other before the OP even met her husband. That’s fair game on his part, and I won’t even qualify that with “IMHO.”

    2. Anon-167*

      I agree with the sentiment, but hate the use of the phrase “crazy person” in this context.

      Also – “Cheaters gonna cheat” is exactly right. If he wants to cheat on you, he’ll find someone to cheat on you with, even if it’s not the coworker. The decision on whether or not to cheat is his to make, and the blame should rest with him first and foremost.

    3. Ezri*

      I feel like we’re piling on the LW in a really unnecessary way – throwing around ‘crazy person’ and talking about how wrong she is. It’s important that OP understands the severity of the situation, but she had the presence of mind to write in for help. We’ve established that it wasn’t cool, and accusing her of insanity won’t make the point sink in.

      The fact is, we don’t know the full details of the situation and the circumstances of the relationship. Sure, OP did some inappropriate things, we all agree on that. But doing inappropriate things when under emotional stress isn’t unheard of, and we don’t know all that’s going on in OP’s marriage and personal life. Hopefully she takes in the good advice here and is able to move on in a more positive manner, but that certainly won’t happen if we jump all over her.

      Maybe we can ease off a bit?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think the kicker here is that the LW writes as if her own behavior is totally normal. “I threw a big fit and sent her an email…” is not an emotionally mature or, dare I say, rational response to an emotionally charged situation. She shows absolutely no remorse, nor does she feel the least bit bad about what she did. That takes it way beyond “inappropriate things when under emotional stress”.

        Most of us have done crazy things in emotionally charged situations, but most of us feel some kind of responsibility once the adrenaline has subsided. If this is how the OP behaves while she’s under stress, then she needs to examine her emotional health– telling her she is in the wrong and/or she ought to seek some counseling is not, in my opinion, out of line. I also want to point out that very few people are calling her “psycho”– they’re pointing out that this is how she will be seen at her husband’s office, and I don’t think that’s too far off the mark.

      2. Laurel Gray*

        Not trying to defend the piling on but the OP’s ultimate question was “Can they do that to him or is it a way for my husband to keep me away from her?” Her letter seemed more interested in confirming the right/wrong of the disciplinary action toward her husband than her actions that led to it. I think many of us commenting wish she had the presence of mind to write into this blog before sending the email. I think doing so, with more background info, may have provided some very useful advice in how to navigate the situation and also cope in the meantime. But like I said in other comments, we are missing some of the context so it is hard to say much beyond acknowledging the OP being out of line sending the email.

  9. Dan*

    “He had an affair with a coworker for three years before we met ”

    Wait, what? Is *she* married? Was your husband married before he met you? Because if you didn’t know each other, how could he have an affair?

    Is this time period (the three years and five months) continuous? Because if you didn’t know him, it’s ok for him to have a relationship with her until you two decide you’re exclusive.

    1. Celeste*

      Correct! If they were in a relationship when he met you, he wasn’t having an affair. It’s unfortunate that there was overlap, but he does seem to have chosen you. Although that can change if you cause him to get fired.

    2. LBK*

      The only thing I can think of is that workplace relationships aren’t allowed, so it was an “affair” in the sense that they had to keep it a secret from management.

      1. Emily*

        That was what I thought, or just that LW didn’t want to validate their time together by calling it a relationship so she chose a trashier word for it.

  10. PumpkinLatte*

    My goodness. You threw a big fit and sent her an angry email? I would have gone to management too if I received an angry email from a coworker’s wife. You asked if this is a way for your husband to keep you away from her – I hope you’re not planning on going to the dealership. Just don’t.

    I think you’re asking the wrong question here. There’s a problem with your marriage and it’s not this woman. You should be more concerned with the state of your marriage than whether or not your husband talks to his ex who is also a coworker. Couple’s counseling and individual counseling has worked wonders for a lot of my married friends and for myself. Please consider that for you and your husband. If your husband won’t go with you to couple’s counseling, that doesn’t mean you can’t seek out a counselor for yourself.

  11. Onlinecb*

    I particularly like the last paragraph and I hope the OP can stand back and look at that objectively. It’s hard to see, and hard to accept, but the co-worker did not betray the husband’s vows, the husband betrayed his vows and his wife. He is an adult making adult choices and has full responsibilty for that.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      He didn’t betray anything! He was with this woman before he met his wife and then for a short time after he met her (probably until they were exclusive) and why am I even getting into the details of this relationship?!

      1. Laurel Gray*

        Thank you Katie! Unless the OP comes and gives more context to show otherwise, there was no affair here. This was about a man dating a coworker and then meeting the OP and dating them both for a while until he ended things with the coworker to become serious with the OP – nothing unusual about this in the dating world.

    2. Lizzy*

      +1. I am glad Alison addressed that (hence why I read this site daily). I am trying to refrain from saying too much because I find this scenario too frustrating: the onus of this problem being put on the “other woman”, while the spouse is being treated as if he cannot be held accountable for his own actions.

      1. BalticFog*

        I am perplexed as to why the husband needs to be accountable for his actions. The action of selling the woman Superbowl boxes? Sounds like there was no affair to begin with. And actually yes, it sounds like he is paying the price of being married to a very unstable person.

        1. NJ Anon*

          There are definitely some trust issues going on. Not sure if it is deserved or not. Perhaps LW is the jealous type? But as others have said, she needs to work on her relationship with her husband. The ex-ex has nothing to do with it.

        2. Myrin*

          I think by “his actions”, Lizzy meant potential cheating on the husband’s part, not the superbowl stuff.

        3. Lizzy*

          Let me clarify: the LW is treating her husband as if he cannot be accountable for his own actions and is at the mercy of his coworker. While there seems to be no affair with the coworker (that we know of), he did choose to have two of his personal relationships overlap, which clearly has caused trust issues in his current marriage. However, the problem is the LW is choosing to resort to “blame the other woman” syndrome (even though the coworker is technically not the other woman), instead working to resolve her trust issues with her husband.

      2. Karyn*

        Yep. I’ve had it happen where a guy has been married/in a relationship and two-timing both of us – it’s easy for someone to hide it, at least at first. But it’s not MY job to keep YOUR husband/boyfriend faithful.

  12. BethRA*

    Your husband had an affair with a woman that continued after your relationship with him started, and he lied to you about it, but you’re mad at HER? Hmm.

    There’s some good advice about counseling here, I’d take it.

  13. TotesMaGoats*

    OP. First, you owe your husband an apology. You have seriously jeopardized things for him at work because of your suspicions. I would even go so far as to say, even if he was cheating, you did the wrong thing. You also owe his coworker an apology but it’s one that you shouldn’t give. Stay away from her. Stay away from his job. You need to mind your own business and it sounds like you’ve got plenty of it.

    Your issues reside first with you and then within your marriage, not outside of them.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Good comment. I don’t know the work environment of a dealership but I know in many office environments large and small, the woman would have already told other coworkers about what the OP did and things would have gotten pretty awkward for the husband at work.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I wouldn’t even bet on that because you should never bet on a sure thing. You know this has fed the rumor mill.

  14. Oryx*

    Actually, OP, I don’t know what you can’t stand this woman. She was with your husband for three years prior to your coming into his life and then YOU started dating him which I think would make YOU the other woman in this situation. And, as Alison pointed out, selling Super Bowl squares is hardly on par with sleeping with her again and your emailing her was completely uncalled for. He works with her, he can’t *not* interact with her at all.

    I say this just to perhaps encourage you to take a step back and look at this from a different perspective. If your husband doesn’t feel comfortable telling you about this sort of thing, perhaps it’s because of your … rather strong, antagonistic reaction to something that wasn’t a big deal and I can completely understand why management felt the need to take such a drastic response.

    1. nona*

      Possible Other Woman perspective:

      You date a coworker for three years and five months. In the last five months of your relationship, he’s seeing somebody else. You and your coworker break up. Your coworker has some relationship problem with his current SO, leading to the current SO threatening you over Super Bowl stuff. How does that look?

    2. Van Wilder*

      That sentence struck me too. “Needless to say…” It was actually very necessary to say because I wouldn’t have assumed anyone to have an irrational hatred this woman. (Not that I haven’t dealt with jealousy too, I get it, but it’s misplaced anger, as others have detailed here.)

  15. Not So NewReader*

    Oh, dear. OP, you can’t force people to be faithful to you. It is a choice. And everyday they have to make the choice all over again. But check it out, so do you. Everyday you have to make the choice to be faithful to your hubby.

    I would not want someone around who does not want me around. It’s too painful, too difficult and it’s a very low quality of life. “Let me go so I can find someone who is serious like me” is what I say to that.

    I hope you and he work on this together. I wonder what his take is. I wonder if he now has difficulty trusting you not to blow up, especially after he told you the truth voluntarily. You both may need some place safe to talk this out.

    Please consider the shoe on the other foot. If your ex’s SO sent you an email like that, how would you want your boss to respond if you complained?

  16. Snarkus Aurelius*

    You need marriage counseling. Now. You also need you realize you cannot control other people, and you REALLY cannot control your husband’s coworkers.

    If you don’t understand why your behavior was wrong, then you need more help than AAM can give you.

    A friend if mine did something eerily similar. She didn’t like her bf’s coworkers texting him at all hours. He didn’t do anything about it because he didn’t want to confront them. One night, she took matters into her own hands and left a nasty VM, telling that guy to never contact her bf outside business hours. Bf dumped her the next day. No idea if he got in trouble at work but I wouldn’t be surprised because she yelled.

    Let this be a lesson. Intervening in a grown adult’s interactions at work is inappropriate and unacceptable. The reputation you’ll get (and probably already have) isn’t worth it.

    1. Dan*

      I don’t know that she needs marriage counseling… she needs counseling on her own to get to the bottom of what the issues really are.

      I’m serious, and not talking tongue in cheek. She describes a relationship that existed before they met, and continued for a short period after they met, during a period where they presumably weren’t exclusive. Yet, she describes that as “an affair.” No, that’s not something you work out at marriage counseling, that’s something you work out in your own head first.

        1. Chinook*

          “But eventually they will both need to go to work out some of the communication issues here.”

          But there may be no communication issues. OP’s husband sold Super Bowl squares to an ex that he was dating before he met her. OP wasn’t happy about it and wouldn’t take husband’s word that nothing else is going on. Honestly, I feel bad for the husband (unless he actually is having an affair) as the OP doesn’t seem to believe him.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I beg to differ. The husband may be telling his wife that nothing is going on and she clearly is not listening to him. That is a HUGE communication issue, and I’m sure he’s feeling pretty frustrated with it.

  17. Laurel Gray*

    OP, I think you have some unrealistic expectations of both your husband and this woman. You are expecting him to continue working in an environment with her and have no contact which in this particular setting seems unrealistic. You are also expecting this woman to avoid your husband because of your existence and feelings about her previously relationship with her husband. Under no circumstances is it fair for you to reach out to her at her place of employment regarding your husband. Your issues are with your husband and quite honestly, yourself. To echo other comments, it may be wise for you to seek marriage counseling at this point. However, I would also suggest one on one counseling. I think this situation has presented some challenges for you that may be worth dealing with on your own with a therapist.

  18. Macedon*

    I’m going to take a moment and imagine Alison receiving these kind of e-mails in her inbox, reading them, blinking blankly, then sipping her coffee in silent wonder. It’s just that kind of letter.

    LW, your marriage has come to a point where you are seeking out the assessment of an online stranger who is foreign to your explicit circumstances in order to determine whether you can trust your husband with not having falsified a work document to keep you away from his suspected mistress. Just think about that for a moment, then ask yourself whether you feel you can ever truly trust your husband again, and what the implications of that answer hold for the both of you and for the development of your marriage.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Wow. I am impressed with how you put that together, Macedon. And it’s true, anytime we need other people to reassure us that our relationship is okay, the relationship is not okay. But not for the reasons we are asking directly about.

      1. LBK*

        Well, wait. I don’t think that’s totally fair – often if you have your own issues you’re dealing with, it can be really hard to get a reliable read on your reality. Sometimes you need an objective outsider to gauge the situation for you. However, I do think that person should be a therapist whose ultimate goal is to help you with those issues, not just a random person to assess a one-off scenario for you.

        1. Zillah*

          Yeah, I don’t think it’s totally fair, either. When people are struggling with their own mental health issues, sometimes it can be hard to gauge reality and a little reassurance is helpful. I’ve definitely struggled with that in the past.

          The OP let her feelings seep out in an inappropriate way and didn’t handle them well. Let’s leave it at that, not make broad statements about everyone’s mental state.

          1. Emily*

            True. And if fidelity has been an issue in their marriage, gaslighting may be a tactic the husband employs to cover his tracks, making LW question her own perception of reality.

    2. nani1978*

      Truly excellent summary, Macedon.

      Some phrasing in OP’s letter has made me wonder about the timeline, but I can’t even finish reading the comments because I feel too many people are choosing Team Ross (“we were on a BREAK!”) or Team Rachel, and losing sight of the real problem. There is a complete communication breakdown in this marriage that has spilled over into the husband’s professional life (a problem at his job would, in itself, affect both OP and her spouse).

      I’m not married, so I am not volunteering advice in this regard, but I have noticed that in the most extreme letters, a writer knows what s/he wants to hear and is looking for validation that the decision already made internally is really the best course. I don’t think OP got that here, but I think Alison was quite sensitive in her honest response. And Macedon’s comment sums up – look at what you are asking for and think about the answer received. This marriage knot might be frayed, but counseling (alone or as a couple) would be beneficial to the OP and husband putting themselves back together as individuals, whether or not they stay and grow together.

  19. Amber Rose*

    You can’t stand her?! How about the man who chose to cheat on you? It takes two to tango. If you feel that your husband is so untrustworthy, that issue is yours and his. It has nothing to do with the coworker.

    You two need marriage counselling, and I would suggest you would benefit from individual counselling on your own as well. You misplace your anger, and your unreasonable reactions have consequences that you don’t seem to be considering.

    1. Anna*

      But it doesn’t sound like he actually did cheat on his wife. The relationship with the coworker came first and overlapped the relationship with his now wife.

  20. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I actually think the OP needs individual counseling, NOT marriage counseling. There’s absolutely no evidence that OP’s husband is in any way contributing to or part of the “problem” here, and OP’s controlling behavior and distorted sense of reality are much more likely to be successfully dealt with in individual, rather than marriage, counseling. OP, get help. This is not an okay way to behave, no matter what’s happened between you and your husband or your husband and his coworker.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      I mentioned one on one counseling in my post above too. There is just something about her letter that makes me think she needs to speak to someone about these issues without her husband present. While we can easily address the issue of contacting her husband’s coworker being a huge DON’T, there are other issues at play and we are missing important context.

    2. Not a rocket scientist*

      The only reason I suggested marriage counseling was so the husband can get his side of the story out there. I’ve known way too many people who convincingly distort the nature of their marital problems in one-on-one counseling. A really really good therapist will see through that, but there’s a lot of therapists who won’t.

      1. Observer*

        In this context, I think any competent counselor will see it. The simple fact that she threatened someone is something that should raise a huge red flag, even if her husband is a total jerk who is having affairs left, right and center.

        1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

          This is exactly my thinking – OP’s behavior is so far outside the realm of “acceptable response to possible cheating” that I’d expect any halfway decent counselor to catch it immediately.

  21. CaliCali*

    The only way this comment makes sense is if there was a gap — i.e.
    He was with the other woman
    They broke up and he was single
    He met the OP and started dating her
    At some point in their relationship/marriage, he resumed the relationship with the other woman for five months

    That being said, the other woman is clearly not the problem here. It’s more on your husband breaching your trust, and now your overreach as a result of that breach.

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, that was my take on it – I’m actually surprised by how many people here are assuming the 5 months overlapped with the beginning of the OP’s relationship with her husband and weren’t in the middle of it. I read this as the husband encountering some issues in the midst of the relationship (not surprising!), falling back on an ex for comfort/familiarity and that eventually turning into an affair. That’s a pretty common scenario.

  22. Joey*

    Be objective for a minute and it’s pretty easy to see who looks like the fool here. And it’s not the ex who bought some office Super Bowl squares.

    I can guarantee you the words crazy and/or psycho are now associated with any reference to you.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      And given the history of the three people involved and the OP’s feelings toward the coworker, I get the feeling the husband did not come home and volunteer the information about the Super Bowl square. If it created the reaction that it did from the OP, I think she found out about it through “other” means.

      1. KerryOwl*

        To be fair to the OP, she was probably just looking at the Superb Owl sheet and noticed the Other Woman’s name on there.

  23. BalticFog*

    Nothing new to add here, surprised that the OP is put together enough to compose a letter to Ask a Manager.
    I am very curious as to how the OP found out that the husband sold the coworker the superbowl boxes. I doubt he’d tell her since she loses control at the mention of this coworker. It sound like the OP is into going through people’s personal things, emails, phones, etc.
    Finally, “Can they do that to him or is it a way for my husband to keep me away from her?” is insane. Get help, OP. Or join a reality show.

    1. Another Ellie*

      My vote is for the reality show!

      I could imagine a scenario where the husband brought home something with all the co-worker’s who bought squares names on it, not thinking that the wife would object to normal contact with his ex in the context of something much of the office participated in. Rather than the LW snooping, she just happened to see it, and then she went off the rails and contacted his coworker.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I know you’re joking, but I feel like reality shows actually are part of the problem – people think this behavior is normal. It’s not.

      1. LBK*

        I think it’s because people only see the hot clips and don’t continue to watch the shows, which usually result in the couples getting divorced. I’m pretty sure the divorce rate amongst Real Housewives couples is something like 90%.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        “The AaM Files,” where each week we see a different crazy workplace scenario played out. Alison can provide clever/to-the-point narration.

        1. nona*

          Fposte can talk people through getting rid of their shamanism supplies like the therapists on “Hoarders” talk people through cleaning.

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            Yes! Or I was also thinking something where each installment was a fictionalized version of some scenario. With Alison as the voice of “Charlie” and a group of er, “angels” (say fposte, hildi, NotSoNewReader…) going out to help.

  24. Ann O'Nemity*

    There’s two sides to this: the work side and the marriage side. Here’s my advice for both.

    (1) Wife/OP should stay away from husband’s work and his coworkers. His company can absolutely fire him if the OP is contacting his coworkers or causing any workplace drama.
    (2) Husband should stay away from ex/coworker as much as his job allows. As coworkers, there’s going to be interaction but whenever possible the husband needs to keep his distance for his wife’s sanity.
    (3) Husband should look for new job. After betraying his wife’s trust, he needs to be doing everything he can to rebuild that trust and staying in close contact with the ex by working for the same company makes that hard.

    1. Anon for this*

      (2) If I were in husband’s shoes I would seriously consider divorce. I want my home life to be tranquil and mutually trusting. I don’t want to deal with accusations of cheating everytime I cross paths with a member of half the species! What next? Total segregation of the sexes? No!

      1. A Reader*

        That would be a huge step back for so many reasons. Not to mention completely and totally unrealistic. Unless we send women back to Venus and men to Mars? :-p But even then, interactions between sexes are needed if for nothing else but to continue existance of the human species.

        As a husband to this woman, I would at least try to work with her to repair the relationship, but that’s me and I don’t know all the details of the relationship. If it really is a toxic environment, or he’s more of a play boy, there is little hope this relationship will last.

    2. A Reader*

      Even if he does change jobs, that’s not going to rebuild the trust the OP has in him. From the way the letter reads, she needs help to see things more rationally. Perhaps she wrote this letter to AAM when she was very angry/emotionally charged and that’s why she sounds, as others have put it “crazy”, but it’s still an indicator of being off balance in this situation.

      Regardless of her husbands actions, for the rest of their married lives she will never fully trust him unless she seeks help. He can try to help her along those lines by switching jobs, but there are women in nearly every single job in the world. Will she be completely reassured he’s not cheating on her? Maybe. Maybe it just takes a short amount of time at the new job before she’s suspicious of another woman again though.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I didn’t mean to imply that changing jobs is going to be the silver bullet solution for rebuilding the OP’s marriage. But it may be easier to rebuild trust if the husband isn’t interacting with his ex on a regular basis. After his history of lying about her, the ex has probably become a trigger for the OP’s insecurity. And being mistrusting of her husband’s continued interactions with his ex doesn’t mean that the OP is going to automatically be suspicious of every woman he encounters.

        1. some1*

          I see where you’re going, but if they want to interact with each other they will no matter where they work — they will just get better at hiding it.

    3. Observer*

      You are making a few assumptions that really have no basis.

      One is that he actually did something to betray her trust. Given what the OP describes, it’s hard to say that this is necessarily the case. Sure, she really, REALLY doesn’t trust him. But, what caused that?

      The other is that he is “in close contact” with the other woman, which is a legitimate source of conflict. However, we don’t know that they are in close contact – the way these things work, she could well have been one of dozens of other people who bought squares. Hardly working late evenings together. And, it doesn’t take a lot of “trust” to recognize that his boss almost certainly DID come down on him for the issue.

      Lastly, you assume that anything he does is going to get her to trust him. That might be true, but given her over-reaction, it’s hard to say that it’s likely.

  25. soitgoes*

    This is an icky situation; relationship overlap happens all the time, and we all like to act like it’s an abomination even though we’ve all had periods of dating multiple people without having promised exclusivity to any of them. Set out plainly, the OP’s timeline casts HER as the other woman. Her husband dated the coworker for three years (exclusively or not), and then he started dating the OP (for five whole months!) while he and the coworker were still together. Calling the prior relationship an “affair” is a misuse of the word, though it’s odd if he were keeping that relationship a secret or lying to his now-wife about continuing to date the coworker. So yes, I understand why the OP is paranoid. Her husband cheated with her, so she’ll always worry that he’ll cheat on her.

    1. Kat M*

      How common is this? Maybe I live under a rock, but my husband and I have only ever been exclusive from the get go (in our pasts and with each other). I was not aware that this was a thing except on TV.

      However-if he were dating the coworker for three years and they were exclusive (plus, it was the last five months of the relationship-not the first few weeks or so), clearly, it does deserve to be an abomination and not just “overlap.” A) It’s a serious trust issue and B) risk of diseases.

      1. soitgoes*

        Lots of people drift in relationships that aren’t great but aren’t bad enough to end, and then they leave as soon as they meet someone else. That’s called “relationship poaching” and there’s a whole body of psychological and relationship studies on it. I’ve actually never really heard of full-on overlap happening at the end of a full-year relationship unless the husband and the co-worker were always an on-and-off “any port in a storm” thing. That’s actually the most likely scenario, since apparently they’re able to work together without problems, and the coworker presumably had her own roster of men on-call at the time as well. Because if he was fully dating her and he played the casual dating game with her and his now-wife for five months….good lordy, that’s lousy. Like unqualified, you’re-a-bad-person lousy.

        But to answer your initial question, basic overlap does happen, but usually it’s known that one of the relationships is casual. If not, it only goes on for a week or two before the old relationship ends. Five months is atrocious.

      2. Goldie*

        I’ve done a good deal of online dating, which often involves dating multiple people. However, it’s usually a pretty quick stage, i.e. you don’t normally date someone for a whole five months while dating others too – it takes a lot less than that for people to decide that they either want to be exclusive, or do not want to continue dating each other. And I’ve never heard that stage of dating being referred to as “when we were together”. I always heard the terms “being together” used in context of being exclusive.

        I need some clarification too, the 3 years/5 months thing is super puzzling to me. Only two options coming to my mind are, either, 1) they dated for three years, then he started seeing OP for five months on the side, while still staying in the relationship with the coworker, then finally broke it off with the coworker and went on to marry the OP; or 2) they dated for three years, ended it before OP came into the picture, then when OP and future husband were already dating, husband got back together with coworker and saw her on the side for five months.

      3. Chinook*

        I think relationship overlap is going to happen even if you are exclusive relationship, even if it is just a week. I was dating a guy when I met DH. BF was away on business for a week and future DH asked me out before he left to go on business for a few months (gotta love army life). So, technically, there was overlap where BF couldn’t know about future-DH because I wasn’t going to leave him a voicemail telling him it was over and I wouldn’t hav eknown if BF was worth dumping without going out with future-DH (plus I was unemployed and “free food.”)

        But, then again, I did joke with BF that he was just a fling and I would drop him like a hot potato if the right guy came along, so he knew we weren’t serious.

      4. M-C*

        Kat, I’ve never been on TV :-). But I’d be surprised if anyone decided to be exclusive in any relationship with me without consulting/informing me about it up front. It’s a negotiable item, not a given. Although I’ll grant you it could come pretty quickly sometimes, but that’s another topic.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Her husband cheated with her, so she’ll always worry that he’ll cheat on her.”

      This is probably the root cause right here. No escaping that one.

    3. Zillah*

      relationship overlap happens all the time, and we all like to act like it’s an abomination even though we’ve all had periods of dating multiple people without having promised exclusivity to any of them.

      Eh – I disagree. It’s certainly not uncommon to be in that situation, which is why I made it clear to my current partner that I wanted exclusivity after we’d had a few dates, but I also don’t think it’s a universal thing that happens for most people.

  26. sittingduck*

    I hate when people get upset at the ‘other woman’ or the ‘other man’ in a cheating situation. (Not that this even sounds like it is a legit cheating situation, given the husband was with the woman before meeting OP).

    If someone is cheating it is THEIR choice to do so. It is not the ‘other’ person’s fault that someone decided to cheat. Stop being mad at the wrong person, stop blaming the wrong person. If your husband can’t keep his hands off, than you should re-evaluate if you want to be with him, but your issue is with your husband, not this other woman.

    1. soitgoes*

      You know, I don’t think it’s a matter of “fault” here. Yes, the one in the committed relationship bears the blame. But if you knowingly get involved with someone who’s not single, you’re not a good person. It is very, very easy to stay out of situations that risk ruining other people’s lives. Even if that married person’s going to cheat anyway, be a better person and make sure he’s not cheating with you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, good people make bad choices. It happens, a lot.
          We have to go by what people have learned from their poor choices and how they have changed the course of their lives in light of their learning.

      1. Spiky Plant*

        Eh, as others have pointed out throughout the thread, you don’t necessarily know the relationship status of the other person, even if they tell you. There are definitely married people out there who are allowed to “cheat” as long as the spouse doesn’t find out, others who “cheat” and tell their spouses all about it and they get a mutual kick, people in straight-up open relationships… Ultimately, you have to decide what’s right for you/what you are comfortable with. But I think saying that all people who mess around with married people are bad people is casting an unnecessary and, in some cases, harmful dispersion.

      2. bridget*

        Yeah. I have a friend/acquaintance who is an “other woman,” and although I feel like the guy’s wife should be (if she knew about it) first and foremost upset with him and betrayed by him, I can’t condone my friend’s behavior in continuing with the relationship (and over time, it’s sort of eroded our relationship – I just don’t want to hear about her love life, because it makes me uncomfortable). She’s not “betraying” the wife, because she doesn’t have any direct relationship with the wife that involves trust, but it’s still pretty damn uncool. She should not date someone she knows to be monogamously attached.

        If the wife found out and angrily contacted/threatened her, I would still maintain that what my friend did was Not Okay. I would just *also* be of the opinion that the wife’s reaction was inappropriate and misdirected, and thus also Not Okay.

        1. observer*

          I agree. If the “other woman / man” knows what’s up,they they are NOT a “good person”. But, that’s not the issue here. I could see some contexts where saying something to the “other” might be appropriate but threats and demands? And, certanly the main blame needs to be apportioned on the “paired” person.

      3. Chinook*

        “Yes, the one in the committed relationship bears the blame. But if you knowingly get involved with someone who’s not single, you’re not a good person. It is very, very easy to stay out of situations that risk ruining other people’s lives.”

        I have to agree with this (though we can quibble over bad person vs. bad choices. And I am not talking about voluntarily open relationships here). The “other person” who knowingly enters this type of relationship knowingly is taking away something from someone else (whether it be cheater’s time, affection or anything else) and is doing so without any long term consequences (or so it feels like to the cheatee). Basically, they get all the fun at the expense of someone else’s pain.

        The cheater will suffer in the long term – whether it be divorce, a broken relationship and/or loss of trust. We all acknowledge that the cheatee loses the most and gains nothing. The other person, though, runs the same risks they would if they had dated someone single. I think this is what makes so many cheatees so angry – the other person is directly benefitting from their pain with no consequences.

  27. OriginalEmma*

    He had an affair with a coworker for three years before we met and for about five months after we were together.

    If he was with her for 3 years before you met, then it wasn’t an affair, it was dating.

          1. Nerd Girl*

            I realized this. My intent was to point out that the co-workers spouse should be the one with the affair and not the OP – especially given the fact that the “affair” took place for years before she was even in the picture. My apologies if I gave you a different impression.

          2. some1*

            Honestly, I think the LW’s reaction so over the top that she could very well be misrepresenting or exaggerating by using the term affair to make it sound as illicit as possible.

            1. Elfie*

              I just took ‘affair’ to mean that the husband and the co-worker were dating. I didn’t read affair as married people cheating. I think there’s been an awful lot of dissection about that particular word, and since we don’t have the relevant context, it feels a bit unwarranted.

  28. SerfinUSA*

    I was in a situation where I “stalked” my 2nd husband’s ‘activities’. My hunches were right, and all his ‘poor me’ nonsense was just that. Did I go after the other people involved? Nope. I took steps to end it. If someone pings your radar that hard, to the point where you feel the need to dig deeper, either they are up to something and you need to deal with it, or they aren’t but something is making you feel that way, and you need to deal with it. Cannonballing into the drama pool is not a constructive way of dealing with it.

    1. Zillah*

      +100. Love this way of putting it. Sometimes, your spider sense tingles for a reason, but if that’s the case, there are other ways to deal with it.

      1. Natalie*

        And honestly, having been exactly there – spidey-sense tingling for a reason, little bit of snooping confirmed it – I wasn’t happier knowing. It didn’t change anything and I didn’t feel like I could mention it so I just had to live with the information to no benefit.

  29. Marina*

    Next week’s letter: “She supposedly went to the police and supposedly got a restraining order against me. An officer brought it to my house but I didn’t sign it. Can she do that or is this just my husband trying to keep me away from her?”

  30. Chriama*

    OP, I’m not going to talk about the issues going on in your marriage except to say that, whatever the coworker might be doing or whatever her intentions towards your husband, the only person you can hold responsible is your husband. She isn’t married to you — he is. If anyone is treating you badly, it’s the guy who stood up in front of your joined family and friends and promised to commit himself to you for life. I get that it can be frustrating and the urge to lash out is strong when you feel powerless, but if your husband is unfaithful it’s because he chooses to be. If it hadn’t been with this coworker it would be with someone else.

    Anyway, let’s focus on the specific question that you asked: “Can they do that to him?”
    Please consider the circumstances dispassionately.
    You sent an angry email to someone’s coworker. Do you think a good employer would ignore that? Have you ever been in (or known anyone in) a relationship with someone very possessive? Can you imagine a coworker’s significant other coming into your workplace and demanding to know where the coworker was? Have you ever had a friend who broke up with someone and that person kept contacting you and trying to send messages to their ex through you? If you’ve never been caught in the middle of something like that, can you at least imagine what it would feel like? A good employer will follow up on this to the point of firing your husband if he can’t make you stay away because this affects everyone in the office, not just the one coworker. Once you’ve crossed a boundary like this, they have no way of knowing if your next step will be showing up at the workplace making a scene or even with a weapon.

    I would say that this employer is actually being kind to your husband by giving him a warning instead of firing him outright. They have a responsibility to keep their employees safe, and if one employee poses a threat, the safest course of action would be to get rid of him.

    Now do you understand why this is a big deal to your husband’s company and not just a private matter between you, your husband and his coworker?

  31. Observer*

    So many issues in this post. I think that the poster who said you need individual counseling is totally on the money. Marriage counseling too, in all likelihood, but certainly individual counseling.

    * You threatened your husband’s co-worker. In what universe is that considered a reasonable and acceptable reaction to something?

    * You threatened someone (the co-worker) over something that a different person (your husband) did. Since when do you get to try to hold people accountable for the things other people do?

    * You threw a fit and threatened someone over a normal, fairly typical office activity. Incredible over-reaction.

    * You question whether someone might try to involve her employer when she is being threatened on the job. Did you really expect someone to just take your threats without trying to defend herself?

    * You question – explicitly – whether your husband’s employer can discipline him over your threats, and jump from there to accusing your husband of lying. While a lot of people have unreasonable and unrealistic ideas about what an employer does, jumping from there to accusing someone of lying is an incredible and really paranoid sounding stretch. Even if there was a law forbidding it, do you really think his employer might not have tried to do something they are technically not allowed to do – to protect an employee, no less?!

    Others have pointed out the issues around your framing of the relationship with the co-worker, and it’s something worth thinking about, as well.

    The bottom line is that your behavior is well out of line with expectations for reasonable and reasonably adjusted people. You need to deal with that, preferably with a licensed health professional.

    After that, or alongside that you need to deal with your marriage issues- also preferably with a licensed professional. But, for that to have any chance of being useful you need to recognize a couple of things. Firstly, the ONLY people who are part of this are you and your husband. You don’t get to discuss, regulate or in any other way involve any other person, no matter who it is and what the history is. Secondly you are going to have to accept that, whatever you husband may have done, YOU are at least as much of the problem as he is.

    I realize that you cannot be very happy right now. The thing is that unless you deal with your demons, that’s not likely to change. I wish you the best of luck with that!

  32. Xarcady*

    “She *supposedly* went to management, and *supposedly* they wrote him up and made him sign a letter saying that if I went to his work, called anyone, or emailed anyone at his work, he would be reprimanded. He brought home the letter with his and his manager’s names on it, but *neither signed*. ”

    Yeah, I’m getting the sense that the OP does not believe that management crafted the letter her husband showed her.

    The OP is concerned about Super Bowl squares? Doesn’t trust that her husband is showing her an actual letter from his boss?

    This is not about the co-worker at the dealership. This is about trusting one’s spouse, which the OP clearly does not.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Also, normally such letters would be signed by both parties and go in his file – and he’d get a copy of the letter. I’ve never seen a copy “for your info” of any employment action (positive or negative) signed, except when someone photocopies it after signing because that’s easier.

  33. nona*

    “he sold her some Super Bowl squares and I threw a big fit and sent her an email”

    I… okay.

    OP, please do not take out whatever is happening in your marriage within a workplace, yours or your husband’s.

  34. nicolefromqueens*

    I know I’m not in the situation or even seeing it, but it sounds like a repeat of what I went though on the other side (unbeknownst to me, I was once the side chick — he still contacts me, we have mutual friends, but I can count on an occasional threatening message from the “fiancee”.)

    The fact that neither the husband or manager signed the letter raises a huge red flag. To me it sounds like it was completely fabricated by the husband.

    OP, your husband cheated on you, nobody else did. The last thing you need is to have her tarnish your name or have you arrested over a cheater.

    /bitter, been-cheated-on, unbeknownst side chick.

    1. nicolefromqueens*

      ugh, that was supposed to be a reply to another comment upthread.

      and that was supposed to read FORMER unbeknownst side chick.

    2. observer*

      The fact that neither the husband or manager signed the letter raises a huge red flag. To me it sounds like it was completely fabricated by the husband.
      Well, as others pointed out, we don’t know that neither signed it – the original with signatures would be in his file, easily available if something else happened. And, it’s quite possible that no one wanted to go copy it after it was signed, so he was given a spare printout as a reference point. This is, in fact, so typical that I’m surprised that you see it as a red flag.

      However, I do agree with you. If cheating happened, the person who needs to be called out is the husband. Threatening someone does no one any good. And, OP, you can’t even blame the “other woman” for tarnishing your name if you do that – or having you arrested, if you keep it up.

  35. Please stop bashing the OP!*

    It seems like this has devolved into a bit of OP bashing…to be clear, it appears that the OP’s behavior was ill-advised, immature, unprofessional, and targeted at the wrong person. But until there is further evidence that she has taken things farther than writing an email, that’s hardly a diagnosis for a psychotic disorder (as some have implied). Sometimes people who are in emotional distress do very un-rational, uncharacteristic things. I agree that the issues that need to be addressed are between OP and the husband, but phrases like “just get a divorce” and etc. are not really helpful to anyone, and speculation about the nature of the relationship between the husband and the other female employee is not helpful either, since we don’t have all of the background information. I would prefer to give the OP the benefit of the doubt that she’s in a difficult situation that she needs to resolve and handle in a more constructive way moving forward, and begin to deal with the trust issues in her marriage without involving third parties. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the letter writers here are real people, not just entertaining stories, and we should comment with the same respect that we would show the person if we were speaking with them face to face.

    1. LBK*

      I think you’re actually reading things into some of the comments that aren’t there. I haven’t seen anyone suggest that the OP has a psychotic disorder or that they should get divorced. Most people are suggesting counseling of some sort, which doesn’t mean a) that you have a serious mental disorder, or b) that the relationship is doomed and should end.

      Benefit of the doubt or not, the ultimate question here is work-related – can her husband get in trouble for this? – and the answer is 100% yes. I think that’s why people are having such strong reactions – since we’re obviously all here because we care a lot about work and work issues, we’re also bunch that generally has a lot of pride about our work reputations. Thus, we would flip the eff out if someone we were dating did something like this because it could serious jeopardize our careers, hence harshness towards the OP.

      I’m with you that a pile-on isn’t necessary, but also consider the crowd this question is being pitched towards and the context of this blog.

      1. Please stop bashing the OP!*

        There were a couple of comments up the thread suggesting that the OP should get a divorce and that her behavior was psychotic or stalker-like. I’m not saying that was the theme of the entire thread, and I agree that the behavior jeopardizes the husband’s work reputation, but Alison already addressed that in her answer…I just started thinking about what it feel like if I was the OP reading the comments, and a lot of them would strike me as more hurtful than helpful, and not in keeping with AAM’s rules of good commenting conduct. That’s all.

        1. LBK*

          I agree with Katie’s comment below, though, that the tone of the letter shows zero understanding that this was over the line, so that’s also why it’s getting such strong reaction. I don’t know what a more helpful answer is than “You are way, way wrong here” because that’s the only correct answer.

        2. LBK*

          And FWIW – I’m trying to remain as non-judgmental as I possibly can with my comments, but it’s hard to give any response to a situation like this that’s not inherently loaded with judgment. You can’t give an answer to this question that doesn’t make the OP the bad guy.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            I kind of agree with this comment. I know piling on is frowned upon and I really try my best not to but the actions of the OP were so out of line in this scenario that it is hard not to judge. One thing this blog does do is give advice to help remedy a situation, no matter how far up Sh*t’s Creek an OP may be. While there is shock and sarcasm and judgment in these comments (I’m guilty), I do not think the OP should be treated with kid gloves either. What she did was very wrong and unprofessional and possibly damaging to her husband’s career. I know these comments may be hard to digest. I think the OP needs to reflect on her issues, actions and where she is directing her anger and energy.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Agreed. I think sometimes we are “too nice”. Not everyone, to be sure, but I think it’s a natural tendency to make excuses for people so we can see them in the best possible light. Sometimes, however, that is the opposite of helpful. The proverbial, “Snap out of it!”, albeit stated more constructively, is important sometimes.

              This OP’s complete lack of understanding that her actions were out of line are a far bigger problem for her than this “other woman”.

        3. observer*

          I agree with what the others have said. I’d just like to emphasize something here – sending a threatening email is more than just “ill-advised, immature, unprofessional”. It is SERIOUSLY over the line of inappropriate behavior, and the OP seems totally oblivious to this.

          Here is what the OP says she wrote to the “Other woman”: to stay away from my husband and I was not telling her again

          That’s a threat. Please don’t minimize this.

          1. M-C*

            True, observer. Also, the OP’s question is in great part whether she can trust that the husband being in real trouble at work is possible/likely. On a practical level, it seems urgent for all of us to convince her it is, as the most likely next step would be a restraining order.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I don’t know if I’m reading the comments the same way. First, nobody has implied OP has a psychotic disorder (but I generally agree that I don’t like the word “crazy”). I think more importantly – the OP didn’t seem to think there was anything irrational or uncharacteristic about this response, which is why you’re seeing this level of bluntness. And if you’ve been on the receiving end of an email like this I promise it wouldn’t seem that innocuous – this would be absolutely terrifying to receive.

      The OP is not in a good place emotionally right now, and she’s making really bad decisions that are going to have big consequences if she doesn’t knock them off right away.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yeah, it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable to see the word “crazy” thrown around so much in this thread. Plus, I could see an OP ignoring otherwise good advice if we devolve too far into name calling and shaming.

    3. nona*

      Nobody said anything about psychosis.

      I’d handle this face-to-face about the same way I have here, with general confusion.

      1. LBK*

        IIRC from the comments on the recent letter about this, they’re not illegal in most states as long as the organizer doesn’t make any money off of it.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Eh, like half of the states outlaw social gambling, as do a number of additional cities. (I happen to live in one of those cities. A lot of people complain about the law and talk about going to poker home games in the boonies.) Some companies ban it and some seem to encourage it – regardless of state laws. Additionally, most states outlaw gambling if the “house” or bookie takes a cut, or if players are on unequal footing.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      Bit like Grand National slips, I think.

      Second letter recently about Super Bowl squares. They could start their own category soon.

    2. hildi*

      So like a pool? I still don’t even understand the other lingo you guys used!!! lol. But clearly I know nothing about sports, so that could be it. Also wonder if it’s a regional term. I’ve just never heard anyone use that term around here, but I hear people talk about a Super Bowl pool. Probably the same thing.

      1. LBK*

        To be specific: you create a grid with 0-9 along each side and then people can buy a square on the grid depending on what you think the ones digits of the score will be at the end of each quarter. So for example, if you buy the square at the intersection of 4 and 5 and at the end of the first half, the score is 14-5, you would win a certain amount of money. Usually you get a small payout for each quarter and then a bigger payout for the final score. The money for the pool comes from “buying” the squares (usually $1-5 per square that you want to “own”).

        I don’t know why this happens to be a game that’s specifically played during the Super Bowl and not other sporting events, but it’s really common in my office and others around here.

          1. De Minimis*

            We did that once in middle school! One of the coaches organized it. I remember my buddy won 10 bucks.

          1. LBK*

            FWIW I totally forgot about the part where you buy each number by specific team (ie buying 4-5 is different from 5-4), so yours is more accurate :)

        1. Natalie*

          I always assumed the Super Bowl was popular because it’s the only super popular US sport that doesn’t do tournament style. If you want to bet on the NBA, MLB, or NHL playoffs as a group you have to do a bracket which is a pain.

      2. Natalie*

        Yeah, it’s a pool. The squares part is a particular style of pool using a grid that’s more random, IIRC.

      3. KerryOwl*

        A Super Bowl Block Pool is this: it’s a grid of 100 squares (10×10). You pay a certain amount per “block” (or “square”) and then you write your name in a square (or however many you’ve purchased). After the entire grid is full of names, numbers are drawn out of a hat and placed along the x axis and the y axis — one for the Seahawks, and one for the Patriots. So now each block has two values assigned to it — a number for the Seahawks, and a number for the Patriots.

        You win a prize if the score at the end of a quarter (not counting the tens column) is the same as your combination of numbers. Let’s say you have the block that has 0 for the Seahawks, and 0 for the Patriots. At the end of the first quarter, you won a certain amount of money, because the score at the end of the first quarter was 0-0. The lucky person with 4-4 won twice this year, because the score was 14-14 at halftime, and 14-24 at the end of the third quarter. (Some higher-money pools have more complicated prizes, awarded every time the score changes instead of at the end of each quarter, etc. But that’s the basic setup.)

        The relevant details in this situation (to my mind) are that a) it can sometimes be a pain to fill up all 100 squares, but you HAVE to in order to make it work — so Husband may have tried to avoid asking Other Woman to join in, but he might have been desperate to fill in the last few squares. And b), since everyone’s name is written on the sheet — and if you play, you’ll have the sheet handy during the game — it is very feasible that the Wife saw the Other Woman’s name on the sheet without being nosy and/or sneaky.

        There you go!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have absolutely no idea, but once a year I put my initials in some boxes and give someone $20. I once got $200 this way.

    4. Pomy tailed wonder*

      I feel like an idiot. I thought it had something to do with a bake sale. Thanks for clarifying.

  36. TT*

    I had to make popcorn after I read this. I wish I were more mature and could take this in and offer some substantive advice, but the trusty regulars have already done that. Now I just want to chant “Jerry! Jerry!” and run away laughing. This is just…too much.

    I’m wondering if the OP has a job or if she is unemployed. I’d like to think that most people with their own job wouldn’t be so cavalier about someone else’s job – especially if that job contributes to the family’s bottom line.

  37. Leah*

    What good has EVER come by contacting the “other” woman or man? They know what they’re doing, and obviously don’t care. Unethical, sure. But they’re not the ones betraying you.

    1. Aisling*

      Why would it matter if they contact the “other” person? That’s not who your issue is with. Your issue should be with the person you are in the relationship with. I’ll never understand why people blame the other person. They aren’t the ones you had/have a relationship with.

    2. Laurel Gray*

      In some cases the other woman has NO IDEA what she is doing. There are people out here who are very deceptive when it comes to their relationship status for their own selfish agendas. It is very easy to get involved with someone based off the “I am single/un-involved/unmarried” lie.

      1. M-C*

        +1 I can testify that even an apparently smart person can be totally -clueless- about whether any cheating is going on. All you need is a good liar in the middle. But I’d also caution that bursting in upon the scene with accusations at work would not necessarily make even a clueless person back off..

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Well, if they even KNOW the person is married or in a relationship. I’ve passed the tissue box to plenty of friends whose asshole exes lied about their relationship status.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        +1. It wasn’t until a friend’s love triangle that I realized some cars have tiny compartments where a man can take off and store his wedding band :/

  38. Aisling*

    OP, don’t be THAT woman: the one who assumes her husband would never have strayed if it weren’t for that wanton woman using her wiles on him. This has NOTHING to do with that woman and everything to do with your husband. He is the one who needs to work on his relationship skills, and forbidding him to have anything to do with that woman doesn’t stop him from apparently blaming the next woman for leading him on.

    Your marriage is yours to deal with, but it’s for you two to deal with. After what you did, it now looks like you two are back in high school, and he will not be looked upon favorably at work after this.

  39. Malissa*

    I’m reminded of an old saying, “If you argue with a fool, they will bring you down to their level. Then nobody can tell the difference.”
    OP–Quit arguing with fools. Rise above and create the world in which you want to live. Can’t trust the husband? Counseling or divorce. Can’t help being the fool? Get your own therapist/good friend/somebody that you can run ideas by so you don’t look like a fool.

  40. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hey, y’all. This comment section is starting to turn into a pile-on. I totally get that people have strong reactions to this letter and why (what the OP did was very wrong and there’s no indication that she realizes that or regrets it, and as someone else pointed out, being on the receiving end of the email she sent would be really disturbing), but I think it’s going past the point of useful and veering into unkind. So I want to ask that people rein that in a bit. Thank you.

  41. Marzipan*

    OP, the thing is, even if the letter were a way for your husband to keep you away from his coworker, then that doesn’t automatically signify something going on between them; it’s just as likely to be because he’s concerned with his professional reputation and because, well, you really do need to keep away from her.

    What I’d really like you to think about, though, is that your letter is basically a statement about how you don’t believe the things your husband tells you. Maybe that has a foundation in his behaviour, and you’re picking up on concerns you may not be consciously aware of. Or maybe it has a foundation in how you’re feeling, and your anxieties are causing you to question his actions and read things into them. Maybe he’s trying to conceal innocent situations because he fears your reaction. Maybe all those things, or something else entirely. I’m afraid it’s really unlikely that we’ll be able to tell you which if those things is happening from our internet vantage points.

    At the moment, you are reacting in quite dramatic ways to very minor interactions between your husband and his coworker. I would really encourage you to find a different outlet for those feelings, because emailing her (or contacting her in other ways) is inappropriate and very unlikely to help. I’m not criticising you for having those feelings – they are yours, and they are real. It may be that a trusted friend could help; or it may be that a professional such as a counsellor could be of assistance.

    In the meantime, be nice to yourself. Do things you enjoy, spend time with people who make you feel happy and confident. I hope that you are able to work through this situation soon, and are able to fell less anxious about your husband, however you achieve that – but contacting his coworker is definitely not the answer, however tempting it may feel.

  42. anonintheuk*

    I used to work with someone whose wife was convinced he was having an affair with one of his colleagues.
    Oddly enough, she used to try and talk to me about it and I would tell her that she needed to talk to him. She and I knew each other slightly from elsewhere and she had accurately gathered that I would not touch her husband from a great distance with a pair of sterilised barbecue tongs.

  43. some1*

    All my old boyfriends that unfoundedly accused me of cheating or wanting to were the guys who were cheating on me. Just saying.

  44. Jerry Vandesic*

    I’d like to see Alison address this from the POV of the female coworker. What would you say to the following: “I was dating a guy I worked with a few years ago. He started dating someone else, and eventually we broke up. They got married, and I moved on. But I recently received an email from this guy’s wife, accusing me of messing around with her husband when all I did was buy a couple super bowl squares from him in the office pool. I like the guy, and don’t really want to make life hard on him, but the email concerned me. Should I escalate this to the owner?”

  45. Iro*

    I’m not completely understanding this situation to be honest. Did the OP send an email to her husband’s co-worker AT WORK or could she have sent it to a personal email?

    I wonder because she mentioned that she “has the emails” from when they were together. I don’t find this to be as innappropriate if it was sent to a personal account (although the fact that it was in regards to a work situation might still have management get involved).

    I also didn’t read it to be as threatening as others. As someone who recieved “Stay away from my Husband!” type messages on my personal accounts from a jealous wife angry that a mutual friend re-posted pictures from highschool prom, I take their angry comments of “Or else!” with a grain of salt.

    Then again in my situation I wasn’t working with said ex-boyfriend.

    I dunno. I think if a co-worker’s wife emailed my personal account with something like “I’ve already told you and will not tell you again! Stay away from my husband!” I would first bring it up with guy before escalating to management (like Alison suggested in the previous post).

    “Hey Wakeen, I got an angry email from your wife on Tuesday because she is mad I bought some super bowl squares from you. I get that we have some history but I want to make it clear that these emails to my personal account need to stop and that if I continue to recieve them regarding our normal office interactions I will have to escalate it to management.”

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The key is, this “other woman” (and I don’t believe she really is, but let’s just go with that) works with the husband. The OP is a presence in her daily life, even if only tangentially. The OP knows where she works, what she looks like, probably her schedule. That’s cause enough for concern, and I think the “other woman” was absolutely correct in going to management. Bottom line, spouses should stay out of their partners’ offices and office relationships. Happy hour is cool, but that’s about it.

      1. some1*

        Exactly. I don’t care if this message went to the woman’s work email, personal email, or was sent by FedEx, she had every right to escalate it to management or HR without running it by the husband first. Any manager or HR would want to be kept in the loop about this in case the LW decided to show up and make trouble – and this a dealership, which I assume means a car dealership that’s open to everyone, not a secure office where you need to be let in. And how was the woman supposed to be sure the email wasn’t sent with the husband’s blessing? Some people get off on being fought over.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          +1. In my opinion it’d have felt odd to talk to the husband first about the email. For something like this I’d talk to management immediately.

        2. Iro*

          That’s interesting, because you didn’t provide this sort of descent to Alison’s letter about the kissing co-worker’s wife.

          I’m curious why you think the previous one merited talking to the co-worker, but this one should immediately be escalated to management?

          1. some1*

            I searched for that letter and did a Control-F on the page, and didn’t find one response of mine that advised the LW to take it up with her coworker at all or take it up with him first if she wanted to bring the issue to management.

            Since you want to search six months of archives in order to refute my opinion, would you mind pointing out the comment where I expressed that opinion, as I am not seeing it?

  46. Katie the Fed*

    Alison, as I was driving home I had an idea for a post, along the lines of the “Is it Legal” classic:

    “Should I contact my spouse’s coworker or boss?”

    Unless your spouse is physically unable to talk to their coworker or boss – NO.

      1. ella*

        Maybe a list post of things to which the answer will always be no?

        “Should I contact my family member’s coworker about _____?”
        “Should I follow up on my resume/interview/job offer status more than three times?”
        “Can I put a hex on my coworkers?”

  47. Katie the Fed*

    OP, by the way, if you’re still reading – I truly hope things work out for you. You’re obviously in a very bad place right now, and regardless of whether or not he’s given you reason to be so distrustful, it can’t be easy to be feeling like you do right now. I hope you find some peace and resolution.

  48. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Do you all remember the woman who went back to work in nursing and decided the schedule wasn’t good for her family so her husband emailed her supervisor? This strikes me as similar– not in the basics of the story, of course, but in the over-stepping of boundaries. I said it in a comment above but I want to reiterate it: in most circumstances, partners and spouses have no business interfering in their partners’/spouses workplaces. My boyfriend has met my co-workers and attended get-togethers, but I can’t imagine him ever emailing them or contacting them directly unless I was unable to speak or type. I would be shocked and angry if, say, my boss’s wife decided to speak to me or email me about something work-related– and if she did, I would go straight to the CEO.

    1. some1*

      I thought of that letter, as well, because of the similarities you mentioned. In both cases it really doesn’t matter whether the messenger was right – that the nurse needed to resign for the good of her family or that the ex-girlfriend needs to back up off the LW’s husband – it wasn’t their right or responsibility to convey the message in either situation.

  49. Vivek Patel*

    I having a question that How can you control yourself when your husband went to work because they already in an affair and may be your husband is trying to hide it from you.

  50. Lily(otherLily)*

    I know you didn’t ask for advice on your marriage, but – as you’re asking if your husband faked a letter from management, there isn’t much trust in your marriage. Maybe he did things in the past that lead to this broken trust. Maybe not. Either way, I would think if I wanted to stay with someone that I didn’t trust at all.

  51. remarkable*

    OP, first I’d like to say do not be angry with the other woman. She can only go as far as your husband let her. Second, imo your husband is trying to fool you. Had he got written up, their would be some type of document not an unsigned letter. He has put you on an island because you can’t verify this but you do have one option. Apologize to his boss for your actions.

    1. Observer*

      Had he got written up, their would be some type of document not an unsigned letter.

      Disciplinary and warning write ups are not sent home or given TO the employee. They are shown to the employee, and sometimes the employee is asked for a signature, and then they are placed into the employee’s file. More often than not, the person who gets the write up walks away with nothing physical. In this case, someone probably had an extra copy of the warning, so that he should show it to his wife, but it would be highly unlikely that it would be copied after he signed, as that would add some inconvenience to the manager or his assistant (if he has one), which no one probably is interested in, and it wouldn’t occur to anyone that it might be important.

      but you do have one option. Apologize to his boss for your actions.
      No. I get where you are coming from, but the best thing the OP can do is to work on herself and her marriage and NOT contact ANYONE at work, even to apologize. Perhaps, if she has a legitimate reason to be in contact with the boss for other reasons, she could apologize. But at this point, there is nothing she can say to make herself look good. Just lay low and don’t make any more waves.

      1. Dweali*

        At the jobs I’ve had (hospital and corporate restaurant) if I was given a write up or warning I’ve always received a copy of it…I didn’t realize that was outside of the norms for businesses.

        1. Observer*

          A copy with the signature really is uncommon. An unsigned copy so that you can remember what was written is not standard, but in my experience, not uncommon.

  52. AnotherHRPro*

    OP, you should NEVER – I repeat, NEVER EVER – take your personal problems with your spouse into their workplace. Your spouse can very likely end up without a job. No employer is going to risk the safety of one employee over the spouse of another employee. It would be irresponsible for them to do so.

    Even if you are not in the wrong for being upset with this woman, it is not your place to confront her. If your husband has an issue with his co-worker that is up to him address.

  53. Jules*

    Hopefully this is not off topic and I am not piling but some HR do get involved with/lets spouses get involved with their spouse’s business. The reason for that is they have plenty of men (not trying to be mean or stereotype, just saying what I’ve been told) who doesn’t want to deal with HR and let’s their spouse deal with the paperwork. Some don’t even check their paystub, only their wife would know any disrepency. Now having said that, I am not surprised that a letter like this was made and your husband got a talking to. Technically, this wouldn’t be something a company would get invovled with but I am assuming that the car dealership is a small company and not a corporation type. Mom and pops always run by their own rule. Regardless signed or not, you just created drama at your husband’s workplace. A working person’s most important treasure is his/her reputation. Plus, talking to my HR friends who work’s in smaller orgs, they are expected to take care of any dirty laundry. I am assuming that your husband might have said something along the line of, “My wife will never believe that you’d say something like this to me.” and they or his boss thought, ok, we’ll write a letter. I don’t think his supervisor has the right to sign this kind of letter hence why he didn’t sign it.
    It is pure speculation on my part. My HR buddies has amazing (WTF Wednesday style) stories to share so your scenarion is not exeactly out of the ordinary. I am just saying, if you are looking for a reason to keep on going or to start more arguements over this, don’t. You are wrecking your husband’s livelihood and it would impact your life. While the job market is improving, trust me when I say, I bet the story has gone out there and they don’t reflect your husband in a positive light.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t imagine them taking a paycheck issue up with the spouse. They should deal with the employee on that one. The wife/husband who is handling the paperwork would need to tell him about it and then he would be the one to bring it up to HR or payroll. HR should not concern itself with what goes on at home. That’s not their problem.

      You’re 100% right about the OP backing off before she ruins her husband’s professional reputation. Word does tend to get around.

      1. Jules*

        Maybe this is more in the neck of my woods in Michigan. Even one of the older VPs had their wife dealing with the paycheck. I believe he said, ‘Haven’t seen a paystub in 20 years. I get an allowance and my wife does everything.’ I think the most famous “OMG WTF cases” would be, ‘Can’t do open enrollment cause it’s hunting season and I am in the middle of no where’ and actually causing their family not to have medical coverage. My spouse HR told him as a new hire that “Ask your wife to call if me if she has any questions.” I kinda give the sideway look a little but I guess it’s norm here? I am new to Michigan myself so I can’t really tell.

  54. Lluviata*

    OP, I am wishing you strength and wisdom for your situation. Many people have addressed your focus on “the other woman” instead of the person who you really need to talk to, your HUSBAND. I’m not going to repeat things, so I’ll just say I agree with them.
    I think you have some tough times coming, so please take care of yourself. Go out with friends, make time to enjoy your hobbies, and do things that make you feel good about *you*. Support yourself, strengthen yourself, and make sure you remember you are more than just someone’s wife.

    You need to take a serious look at your actions here. What you have done (sending a threatening email, throwing a fit, hating the “other woman”) didn’t make sense and will not help you get what you want. You need to grow, at the very least in the area of judgement, and that is hard. Counseling will help. Taking care of your needs will help. But ultimately, you’ll have to put in the work to get yourself right and fix your relationship with your husband. Good luck.

  55. Kaz*

    The following words pretty much sum up the marriage: “He had an affair with a coworker for three years before we met and for about five months after we were together.”

    In short, the problem is between you and your husband, not the lady at work.

    In detail: So he was seeing her while seeing you. It seems to me like your husband has no problems with having affairs and yet you still married him. You know what you signed up for and now you are complaining. The fact that your husband may or may not be cheating is not the issue. You got together in an “affair”. What did you expect? Unless you’re willing to be in an open marriage, you will probably continue to have trust issues with your husband.

    1. HappySnail*

      I think that’s a bit harsh. I didn’t read anywhere in the letter that the writer found out prior to getting married nor did it state that she found out after getting married. The letter is simply silent on the matter. Jumping to wild conclusions such as what you’ve done doesn’t exactly serve to improve the situation or provide the OP a suggestion on how to address the core issue.

  56. HappySnail*

    I feel for you, OP. You’re definitely in a position where the trust in your marriage has been marred by his denial of the affair. But while I understand the frustration, I think you already know that the response you sent wasn’t the best way to deal with the underlying situation – which is your husband’s behaviour. I really encourage you to speak to him, calmly, of course and without accusation (I know, it will be difficult but it will be well worth it). You’re married together – this is the “for worse” part. Think of it this way, if this elephant in the room isn’t cleared out, will the marriage improve over time or get worse? I wish the best for you and I hope things work out in the end!

  57. moodygirl86*

    You’ve had some good advice, OP. And I do sympathise – I’ve been in similar position myself, both as the girlfriend and the “other woman”. In the latter case, I genuinely didn’t know that the guy I had was with someone. She was away at university in a different city, so he was able to more easily hide us from each other. We were together for over a year before I found out. That was bad enough, but then I was getting judgment from other people, who thought that even me not being aware wasn’t an excuse. What was I supposed to be, some kind of mind reader??? And where was the hate for the guy who’d been lying to us both?

    Then the next man I went out with was my legitimate boyfriend, but I ended the relationship after he cheated on me. He claimed it was “just” a one night stand, it wouldn’t happen again, blah blah blah – but that wasn’t good enough. If he can do it once, he can do it again. But none of my anger was for the woman he slept with. It was cold, controlled and all for him.

    My point being, if there are problems in your marriage, they’ll be there and need to be dealt with regardless. You need to face up to that first and foremost. All the best.

  58. The Right Foot*

    I would bet my life savings many of these self-righteous commenters have equally faulty marriages with just as much pent-up rage. This is far sadder than it is entertaining. To those people saying, “blame your partner”; I assume you are blameless cheaters yourselves. You kind of remind me of the people who say, “There’s nothing wrong with herpes, herpes is just another form of cold sore”. One of those statements that is tantamount to saying “By a show of hands, who else has genital herpes besides me?” In my opinion, anyone who knowingly engages in an affair is sorely lacking integrity and personal accountability. The idea that just one party is to blame would only be perpetuated by those lacking such positive traits. I’m proud to say I’ve chosen not to cheat as a boyfriend and potential home-wrecker(when I was single), because I knew I would have a guilty conscience the rest of my life and could get people killed as a result. I’m glad this scenario only involved a thinly veiled threat.

  59. Dawn88*

    Late to add this, but my take was…if his Ex GF has already spoken to Management about her concern about being threatened by his (jealous) Wife, she may get a restraining order against the Wife next, since she’s not going to tolerate being threatened…and who would?

    “…is it a way for my husband to keep me away from her?”
    I would strongly suggest you keep away from her yourself, before you find yourself a Defendant.

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