The Wife

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

For years my husband has flirted with another woman. It started in
complete fun when we met socially (both friends of the same friend).
It was clear he and she had a lot in common: both from Philadelphia,
Penn grads, funny, smart, sexy, and great people who care a lot about
others. He and I have been together for twenty years, and to others it
may seem like a tumultuous relationship. We have survived
bankruptcy, house remodels, miscarriages, and job losses. We fight
and we make up. It is intense, but also very honest and loving. We
have been in counseling and always agreed we want to stay together.
She has been a good friend to both of us, helping with job shifts and
giving us free legal advice. But the flirting has finally gotten to me. I
know nothing will ever happen, because she is a happily married
lesbian, and he has never come close to cheating on me. Our sex life is
great and has helped us through the hard times. But after years of
double entendres, winks, and jokes no one else in the room seems to
get, I want to shift how they play together. Am I just being a jealous
wife or is it okay to say something? To whom, when, and how?

The Wife

Dear Wife:

You say it simply and as often as it takes. You say it when people are
drinking wine, and when they are drinking coffee. You say it when the
three of you are alone, and in front of other friends. You say it
seriously and you say it joking. No matter when, where, and how you
say it, you make clear that there’s they need to cross back over the
line. You can and should also say that to your husband in private,
explaining that it is both hurtful and embarrassing.

There’s a difference between teasing, playfulness, and outright flirting,
Your line may have to do with language or touching, but be prepared
to give some playful examples. You can say their “show” is too blatant,
even boring. Challenge them to be subtler rather than continue as
things are. What will be important is your clarity, and the fact that you
are simple, clear, and consistent, as opposed to shaming, nagging,
and hurt. That’s not to say it’s not okay to be hurt. But you’re more
likely to make your point and get your way if you engage them in new
behaviors rather than fighting off the old ones. You’re unlikely to turn
them into quiet prudes, so set your line closer to where you are likely
to succeed.