If your husband flirts with other women, his actions and motivations could determine your response. If his flirting includes sexy pictures of himself and racy texts, 79 percent of people polled between March 8 to 10, 2013 by YouGov, as cited on the Huffington Post article, "What Is Cheating?" classify it as cheating and agree there is a problem. Laughing and sharing playful banter with her is likely more innocent and worth ignoring. Chat about boundaries if his behavior is upsetting.
Why He Flirts
One factor to consider when determining your reaction to his flirting is his motivation. If he flirts with all the gals, irrespective of age, looks and sexual attraction, you can pass it off as something he does to boost his ego, gauge a reaction or just because it’s fun, according to Dr. David Henningsen, who has researched flirting motivation. A “Psychology Today” article by dating communications researcher Sean M. Horan, Ph.D. reveals the other motivations as attempting to move into a romantic relationship with the person he is flirting with, seeking sex or seeking a favor, such as a better review at work or getting her to take on a task he needs help with. With inappropriate flirting motivations, you will want to discuss rules regarding appropriate behavior if he wants to remain married.
When considering flirting behaviors, you probably have an idea about which behaviors cross the line and which do not. According to Jane Greer, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist and author of “What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship,” you should be clear about what is appropriate and innocent and what crosses the line to infidelity. Behaviors such as secretly texting, calling, emailing or meeting her would definitely require you to insist that he stop, primarily because he keeps it secret. Open flirting with non-sexual banter and laughter, non-sexual touching and facial gestures are probably innocent and not worth creating drama.
If you have questions about his flirting activities or feel uncomfortable about what you see, sit down and discuss it privately when you are both calm and not cramped for time. Let him know what behaviors you have issues with and why, and then let him respond to your feelings. Keep your messages informative and in an “I” message format, such as “When you flirt with her, I feel a little jealous because I want you to flirt with me that way” or “I feel left out because it seems that most of your interaction is with her instead of including me.” Don’t accuse him of cheating or inappropriate behavior unless it crosses the boundaries you have both agreed to.
Negotiating a Solution
Once you discuss flirting, you can determine guidelines for appropriate behavior. Choose reasonable guidelines you can both live with. If you find that you are hypersensitive and insecure, then work on that, and seek out a counselor if you cannot resolve it alone. Remind him that flirting with you, including flirting with sexual overtones, is a perfectly acceptable way to add spice and romance to your marriage.
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.