The Rehab Nurse Seduced My Ill Husband — What Recourse Do I Have?

Reader’s Question

My husband had quadruple heart bypass surgery in February 2008. In May 2008, he went into cardiac rehab at the local hospital. An RN began sharing her personal marital problems with my husband, then began coming to our home on a daily basis, and calling my husband several times a day — even calling him (I found out later) to come pick her up from a bar at 2 am because she was too intoxicated to drive. Meanwhile, I had one foot of my colon removed, a rectocele repair, a cystocele repair, and my bladder tacted back. The nurse still continued to come to our home and call my husband every day.

Honestly at the time I trusted her, because she had portrayed herself as a friend to me. However, I never got chummy with her and was somewhat confused. Three weeks after I got out of the hospital from having my surgeries, my husband left me for this nurse, and they began co-habitating in our community at a local motel. I went to the CEO of the hospital as soon as I saw my husband coming out of the motel with this nurse. I was all but dismissed by the CEO, who simply told me to get an attorney. I had loads of witnesses.

I don’t understand. I thought this kind of thing was unethical and unacceptable. I asked the woman several times to please leave my husband alone before we became further alienated. She said she could not. My husband has not been the same since his surgery. It seems to have affected his short term memory, and for awhile he was having hallucinations. It was during that time that his affair with the nurse began. She told me that it was normal for an open heart patient to sometimes have these side effects. If she knew that, how could she take advantage of my husband during that time? My husband is 63, the nurse is 42, and I am 51. I don’t know what to do from here. My husband and I are separated now: no chance for reconciliation because the nurse won’t leave him alone. What recourse do I have?

Psychologist’s Reply

You must immediately recognize that you are up against an intelligent social predator — not an ethical Registered Nurse. Your description of her gradually increasing involvement in the life of your husband is called “grooming” — an intentional process of gradually getting closer and closer to an intended target, lowering their guard and gaining their confidence, becoming a valued part of their life, until such time as an opportunity is available to obtain their unethical or even criminal goal. She has likely targeted your husband for money — or at least hopes of money. As a 42-year-old career woman who still lives at the bars at 2:00 am, she’s going to be difficult. What recourse do you have?

  • Most important at this time is to protect yourself in all areas — especially financially. All predators have goals and in this common (yes, fairly common) situation, her goal is often to obtain money, property, power of attorney, etc. while your husband remains either infatuated or confused. See an attorney immediately and secure your assets in the marriage.
  • While she’s likely a social predator, she’s not very good at it. She’s revealing her goals and intentions long before she can actually obtain anything. With you and your husband being separated in the marriage, she is actually a disconnected third party and while she may have influence over your husband, she has no legal rights. You might be feeling helpless in this situation — but in truth you are in almost total control of what happens next. With your attorney, you have multiple legal options, and she can only wait to see what happens, hoping she will get something out of the situation.
  • Again with your attorney, you may have legal recourse from an ethical standpoint. While the hospital CEO may be very dismissive, your attorney may have other courses of action. The behavior of the nurse was unethical, as she was operating outside the requirements of her job description, she was illegally representing the hospital services during her “grooming” phase with your family, she was creating a “dual relationship” with your husband which is unethical in most professions, and she was violating the ethics of the nursing profession and her license. You may have many avenues of action involving both the hospital and her professional license.
  • There is another sad aspect to this situation. As a fairly incompetent social predator, the other woman clearly is hoping for a quick gain in this scheme as evidenced by cohabitating in a motel. This may tell us that if she is not successful very soon, she may depart and detach quickly to find another target. In short, your husband may be “dumped” in this romance very abruptly — left in a miserable psychological state. You may need psychological support when deciding what to do next when this happens.
  • You are likely to be emotionally overwhelmed at this point, not just by the situation with your husband, but by several surgeries, his cardiac history, and the other severe stressors of the past few years. Read the articles on depression on this website, as depression is very likely present. If so, consider mental health treatment and/or the use of an antidepressant. Remember that depression makes us feel helpless, even when we have control of a situation.

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My advice: “dig in” and hold the line, don’t make any rash moves, secure your assets, contact an attorney, explore options for counteractions, and stay emotionally healthy. Your husband is likely confused, and the predator is waiting for your next move, hoping it’s something reactive and harsh like an immediate divorce. An immediate divorce would allow her to quickly move in (physically, legally, and financially), secure legal authority, grab some assets, and take over your husband’s life. As time passes in this type of situation, you will have more options than the other woman. Also as time passes, and the newness of their romantic fling wears off, they will begin to irritate each other.

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