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How to React to a Husband's Flirting With Another Woman

by Freddie Silver

You're at a fun party enjoying yourself with many good friends when you suddenly notice your husband flirting with an attractive woman. If his behavior devastates you and you allow your emotions to control you, the rest of your evening will be ruined. Furthermore, your interactions with your husband are bound to be unpleasant. However, if you can control your feelings and put things into perspective, you'll control your reaction, salvage the remainder of the evening and continue to have a good time.

Reflect upon your own behavior. If you were ignoring your husband or flirting with other men, it's possible his behavior was a response to yours. Perhaps his flirting fills a need your husband has to be reassured he's still attractive. Keep the romance alive in your marriage by finding ways to flirt with him yourself.

Try to assess your husband's role in the incident objectively. Determine whether he was flirting or if the woman was controlling the situation and doing the flirting, while he sat and smiled.

Analyze the seriousness of the flirting. If it was brief and consisted only of smiles and laughter, your husband might not be so guilty. While you can expect to feel jealous in certain situations, jealous can sometimes be rooted in personal insecurity. Ask yourself, or your friends, if it's possible that your feelings of jealousy are more about you than your husband's behavior. If, however, the flirting was overt, lasted much of the evening and included physical touching, your jealousy is justified and you should deal with it.

Temper your response with what you know about your husband. If he's been faithful to you for years, is great with the kids, considerate, generous and attentive toward you, it might be easier to forgive the flirting. If, however, he falls short in these areas, you may need to interpret the flirting differently. You might be justified feeling a sense of betrayal if a strong foundation of trust is missing in your relationship.

Choose a time when you can speak calmly and let your husband know how hurt you feel. Explain why his flirting causes you pain. Making "I" statements that explain your emotions helps you make your point. Statements that start with "you" are more confrontational and might result in your husband becoming defensive rather than remorseful.

Consider giving your husband an ultimatum if the behavior continues after you've discussed the matter and he promised not to do it again. Tell him you are not willing to subject yourself to an embarrassing and stressful situation and that you'll leave the event immediately and alone if you catch him flirting in the future. Be prepared to follow through if necessary.

Tip

  • Discovering your husband engaged in online flirting can be just as distressing as witnessing it in person. Consider having a frank discussion with your husband regarding his online behavior.

Warning

  • Repeated flirting can result in a deep sense of betrayal. Marital counseling can help you deal with your feelings and help your husband uncover his reasons for repeating the behavior.

About the Author

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.

Photo Credits

  • Chris Clinton/Digital Vision/Getty Images