Husband Calling and Texting Mutual Female Friend Daily

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Reader’s Question

I have been married for 14 years last month. My husband and I have had a mutual friend for almost 3 years. She has more in common with him and mostly talks to him. He tells me weekly updates on her love life, being pregnant, etc. I was fine with this and would lend my husband to help her move, etc. She has two kids and a lot of problems. Recently she moved back to our block and I could not help but notice that she behaved differently. She was not the happy go lucky girl shouting across the street. I felt as if she avoided me. More recently I was pregnant and could not help this feeling of something not being right. I told him that I felt something was not right and told him and even cried to him. He assured me that he would never cheat on me.

So I checked his phone records for the first time in 14 years — and found that he has been calling her every day, 7 days a week. Morning, mid morning, afternoon, evening and even at night. It is him calling her and usually only 1 minute long which indicates possibly a no answer. Usually about 3-5 calls a day state 1 minute and then she would return the call daily and the calls would range daily from 3 min, 5 min, 10 or 19 minutes max. Like I said they have more in common — he is in the fire academy and she is basically going through the same program after him and I understood she may have needed his help. He states that is what is going on but when I confronted her (I thought she was doing the calling, but I later found out it was him) she states he was helping her find a job. That is not what he said and the records I pulled showed every day for 2 months!!!

I am of course waiting for more phone records to see just how long. He said he would not call her anymore and that they were just friends. Why would he call her so much a day and not speak with her but continue to call and text her every day 5-8 times? It just does not make sense and I want to trust him but just don’t know what to do. Once again he called every day; how can he just stop? Or how can I believe he will?

We have 4 wonderful children ages 1-11 and I just miscarried last week and am very confused and won’t be made a fool of!

Psychologist’s Reply

From your description, it sounds like the mutual friend is changing her relationship with your marriage. As you describe, she has recently moved, is looking for a job, has trouble with her children, and even being pregnant (I think I read that right). A common reaction to this high level of stress is to become “needy” — seeking extensive support, encouragement, attention, and contact. Your husband is the target of her neediness and she’s aware that she’s behaving inappropriately — that’s why she avoids you. She may have also developed what I call an “emotional affair” with your husband — a relationship that contains verbal and social intimacy but not always sexual intimacy.

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Your husband may be flattered by the attention and may feel he is providing much-needed support to her. While the calls and text messages are being exchanged on a daily basis, nothing is mentioned about him spending actual time (hours, afternoons, etc.) with her. While he may view the situation as helping her in a variety of ways, she may view their relationship as an emotional affair. In a totally different view, you may view the situation as her taking advantage of your husband and your marriage — and that’s true. Your husband may feel nothing is inappropriate as we see in his willingness to discuss her adventures and love life (as she reports it to him). What do we do in such situations?

  • Have a heart-to-heart talk with your husband. Describe how their relationship makes you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, despite his promises.
  • Discuss how you originally participated in the relationship with the mutual friend, encouraging him to help her move, yet are now being excluded and even made to feel avoided by her behavior.
  • Think about the idea that couples must have a team approach to every situation — including mutual friends. That approach worked at first but I suspect the stress and neediness of the mutual friend has changed the three-person relationship.
  • Place the mutual friend on a needy-recognition schedule. She clearly may need support and as a couple you can be of help…but you’ll need to move the helping schedule back to your control — not hers. Place her on a schedule of one call per day. On some days, you call her and ask how she’s doing. If you invite her to an activity, invite her to accompany both of you. Of course, you can also choose as a couple to detach from her and end the relationship.
  • Remind your husband to represent your life activities as a family and a marriage. In a work environment, we can keep most social predators at a distance by frequently mentioning our spouse in casual conversation (in a good way I might add!).

A word of personal caution here… You mentioned that you just miscarried last week. A miscarriage can be emotionally devastating…so much so that the couple seeks distractions rather than dealing with the loss. Husbands often feel helpless in these difficult situations so he may avoid discussing the experience with you. You may be focusing on the mutual friend — venting anger, resentment, and having catastrophic thoughts — as a distraction from your feelings of loss and grief. You know psychologists have theories about everything so I had to bring this up. Don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling/treatment if symptoms of depression surface.

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