Dear Annie: A few weeks ago, I discovered that my husband had sent a mildly flirtatious e-mail to a female acquaintance. When I confronted him, he admitted he found her good-looking, but claimed he wasn’t looking to start anything. He said he just wants to feel attractive again.
The problem is, this happened once before. I forgave him because I had had a few slip-ups myself (before we were married) and felt he deserved some leeway. He swears he has no desire to cheat, but he wants to exercise the right to flirt now and then. He can’t promise it won’t happen again.
We have a good sex life and toyed with the idea of counseling. We live in a small town that does not offer free counseling services, and people would notice if we went to a therapist. Are there online counseling services? What can I do to stop this from happening again? We truly love each other. – Confused
Dear Confused: It depends on how much you trust him. If he is flirting without taking it any further and you are willing to put up with that, leave it alone. If you fear it will lead to an affair or fixation on a particular woman, it needs to stop, and counseling can help both of you work on that. Yes, you can do it online. Local counselors may offer online services (call and find out), or you can find someone through the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (aamft.org).
Dear Annie: I don’t think your answer went far enough for “Desperate for Help in Massachusetts,” whose otherwise wonderful wife refuses sex and is also a therapist who refuses counseling. For either spouse to deny a physical relationship is a form of abuse. He should seek counseling on his own to determine the next step. This man deserves some answers. – Been There
Dear Been There: You are absolutely right that counseling can help him, but we don’t know that it will provide the answers his wife is unwilling to give.
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