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Is my husband playing house?

He spends more time helping out a widow than he does at home.

You deserve more, says our elder.

Dear EWC:

When the pandemic lockdown started my husband’s limousine business was shut down. One of his customers told him about a woman from his home country whose husband had passed away six months earlier. She had a large home and needed help with home and yard maintenance. The customer couldn’t help much because he was busy working from home; he suggested that my husband could earn some money helping her. My husband is from the same country as her and she needs someone to translate because she speaks little English.

Her husband left her a huge waterfront home, many expensive cars (he was a collector), a cottage, and millions in the bank. She also has a 14 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. Now the home and yard maintenance has gotten out of hand. My husband spends more time at their house than at his own house. He takes them to restaurants, to the beach, to the park and any place they wish to go. I don’t know if he is paid for this or how much he is paid. He is not in desperate need of money. When he comes home, it is only to sleep. His explanation for spending so much time with them is that the little boy has become very attached to him, even calling him “Daddy.”I don’t think this is good for the child.

The situation is not good for me either. I am almost 67, disabled with RA and I suffer from depression and anxiety. Most of the time I am alone. I have no friends or relatives. We never had any friends as a couple because my husband doesn’t like or trust people. He thinks that most people are “users.” So, I don’t even have someone I can call. Do I have reason to be alarmed or am I just being selfish? I told my husband that no woman would put up with this, particularly a woman from his background. Is there anything I can do? Please advise.

Folk replies:

You deserve to be your husband’s first priority. It’s fine that he wants to help out a widow from his own country who doesn’t speak much English, but you are his wife, and you need his help and his companionship too. If he is spending more time with the widow and her children than he is spending with you and is only coming home to sleep, he is not being fair to you. But this does not necessarily mean that you have cause for alarm. Your husband hasn’t abandoned you, after all. He has been very forthcoming about where he is and who he is with. Your husband may very well be spending so much time with the widow and her family simply because it makes him feel good to do so. In other words, he could simply like the attention and appreciation he gets for being there for them. It probably delights him that the little boy calls him “daddy.” And there wouldn’t be anything wrong with it, if you didn’t require his help at home too.

That said, it seems to me you’re in something of a bind. Your husband probably feels that he is simply being neighborly, helping out a vulnerable widow and her family in their time of need. If you ask him to stop, he might accuse you of being selfish and/or jealous. You’re not, of course; any wife in your position would feel exactly the same way that you do. You would love a quarter of the attention this woman is getting, so one suggestion is to ask your husband why he’s not helping you more. Does he feel less appreciated or less respected at home which is causing him to make this woman a priority? If you haven’t already done so, try to find out his opinion on the situation you are in.

Also ask your husband how he plans to encourage this woman to stand on her own two feet. Does she need grief counseling, a solicitor and/or financial advice? If so, he should refer her to professionals. Your husband, after all, can’t argue with his friend getting the professional help she needs, and it sounds to me like she can well afford it. He can’t continue to be the only person she leans on forever, so if he really wants to help her, suggest that the best way for him to do this is to help her become less dependent on him.

One final thought: You might be happier and healthier if you stopped relying on your husband to provide all of your social life. Brush up on your conversational skills. Get involved in some local activities that interest you so you are less dependent on your husband’s availability. Just because your husband thinks people are “users” and doesn’t want to have couple friends doesn’t mean that you can’t have women friends of your own. After all, if he were still operating his limo service, he would be away working much of the time, and you would still be on your own. You need to make some friends of your own that you can talk to and call on for help if you need to.

I hope this helps. I am always here if you’d like to talk more about this. Please try to write back to let me know how you are doing. I will be thinking of you.

Category: Other
Letter #: 462704

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