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Trust But Verify

By Mink Stole | Posted 6/22/2005

After dating him for four years I just married a wonderful guy. Weíre both in our 30s, and itís a first marriage for both of us. We have a great relationship, weíre very close, and we mostly treat each other with love and respect. Butóthereís always a butóonce a week he likes to go out alone. We live in a small town, and for years heís been going to this one local bar. I wouldnít mind so much if he ever took me with him, but he has never invited me, and I get the strong impression that he wouldnít like it if I asked to go along. Sometimes heís out until after midnight, and I canít help but worry. I want to trust him, but I know there are women there, and Iím not crazy about him being around other women without me. I donít make a fuss about it, partly because I would hate him to leave the house angry, but also because he tells me how sweet and understanding I am. I know if he were to get up to anything he shouldnít I would find out about itóthis is a very small townóbut it makes me feel strange that he wonít ever take me with him. Should I insist? Should I just show up there one night when I know heís there?

No Honky-Tonk Angel

Marriage is based on trust, but itís a helluva lot easier to trust someone when you have a clear picture of where they are. Sure, guys like to get together with the guys; thatís what menís clubs, lodges, Elks and Oddfellows, and what have you are all about. But a bar is a different kind of place, and if any women are allowed in, you should be allowed in.

The time to discuss this, though, is not right before he leaves for the bar. Bring it up one morning at breakfast. Tell him you miss him when he goes out and youíd like to join him sometime. Donít get mad if he doesnít jump at the chance, donít accuse him of anything, and donít nag, just tell him. If he puts you off, tell him again a few days later. If he absolutely refuses to take you, you might have to stop being such a sweet, understanding little wifey-poo, and tell him if you donít get to go, he doesnít get to go. Chances are the place is nowhere you want to be, and heís probably just having some beer with his buddies like he says, but until you see it for yourself, youíre not going to be comfortable, so you gotta get in there. If you know the wives of any of his friends, talk to them; see if maybe they want to go, too. It may cause a fight, but since youíre already this unhappy about it, it might just be worth fighting about.

 

They say office romances are dangerous, and Iím living proof. Iím 28, never married, and sheís a recently divorced mother of two grade school-aged kids. It started casually enough, just coffee in the staff room, then lunches, then dinners. Then I met her kids and I fell in love. All in all, we went from co-workers to lovers in about three months. I knew her marriage had been crappy, to say the least, that her husband had been manipulative and even occasionally abusive, but she was so relaxed with me; she kept telling me what a relief it was to feel safe with a man. I thought I could make her happy. But yesterday she broke up with me. She gave me a letter saying sheís not ready for another serious relationship so soon, that she needs time to be independent, to figure herself out, and that sheís afraid of making another major life mistake. Then she said she hopes we can be friends, and that she doesnít want to hurt me. Well, itís a little late for that, because I am hurt and angry, and feel used. I thought I was good for her, that we were good together. What can I do?

Dear Johnned

Ah, poor DJ, you are the victim of truly sucky timing. Your ladylove just isnít ready. A failed marriage, especially when there are kids, leaves everyone concerned with a lot of baggage; this doesnít just disappear when a new lover shows up. Regardless of the purity of your conscious intentions, your love is not a free gift; it comes with more strings attached than the violin section of the London Symphony Orchestra. You want things from her in return: her time, her attention, her love. What sheís trying to tell you, in the nicest way she can, is that now she has to deal with her own needs and those of her kids, and that she hasnít got the extra energy to take care of yours. It doesnít mean she doesnít appreciate you, or that in different circumstances she wouldnít or couldnít have loved you. It just means sheís not ready. Sheís not heart-whole, sheís damaged, and she needs time to recuperate. Thatís not her fault and you canít blame her for it.

You canít help feeling hurt, but try not to be so angry. Far from deliberately using you, it probably felt wonderful to be with someone who was kind and good to her. The thing is, when you started to want more from her, it was too much. Itís not that you meant to overburden her either; itís just rotten bloody timing. Sadly, the only decent thing you can do is wish her well and let her go. It wonít be easy to treat her like just a friend, but if you can manage it, you may actually make a friend for life. If youíre just too damn angry to even pretend to be nice, though, do her and yourself a favor by staying as far away from her as you can.

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