New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. Read some of the most popular Dear Wendy posts here. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), do a search in the search bar, or submit a question for advice at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
After a day on the lake recently, we were on the porch enjoying cigars and several glasses of wine. At about 11:00 PM, I called it a night. From a sound sleep I was awakened by the other wife screaming, “I caught you both.” The wife caught my wife and her husband in an embrace. She called it a liplock. Later she said she was not sure about the liplock. My wife explained that everyone was extremely intoxicated and she went to give the other husband a hug good night (not unusual for us) and he went in for a kiss. She said she turned her head and it was on the cheek, but the other wife saw this. The women got into a huge name-calling argument. The other husband apologized several times, said he was embarrassed, etc. The women were another story. We left early the next morning.
While I am not happy, I know what alcohol can do. My wife insists this was a one-time occurrence and she did nothing wrong. I am not sure how I feel about this. Should I be mad? I know what alcohol can do. I feel I can forgive the husband, but my wife says she can never get over what the other wife said.
What should I do? It is a very fun relationship, especially at this stage in our lives. — I Know What Alcohol Can Do
It may be a very fun relationship between you and the other husband, and maybe even between you and your wife and the other husband, but I get the feeling it’s not all fun and games in the other couple’s relationship and that this drunken transgression wasn’t the first time the other wife felt hurt by perceived slights and/or betrayals from her husband. Intoxicated or not, attempting to kiss your close friend’s wife on the mouth while your own wife is nearby is inappropriate at best, and suggests a lack of self-control one can’t help but think has been exhibited more than once in this marriage. And the other wife’s immediate outrage rather than confusion or benefit of the doubt only furthers that suspicion. Something is up between them, and whatever role your wife may or may not play in that disruption of their union is unwelcome (to say the least) by the other wife. Chances are, she has suspected inappropriate feelings or behavior between them and that the “liplock” she thinks she saw was a confirmation of her worst fears.
I would put all plans for future get-togethers with this couple on hold for the time being. Maybe all that’s needed is some space and some alcohol detox. Or maybe the wounds are deeper than you know and a friendship between the the couples won’t be possible for a long while, if ever again. That doesn’t mean you and the other husband can’t continue being pals, especially if you don’t feel particularly upset by what happened and your trust hasn’t been shaken. I would reach out to him and let him know that, while your wife is upset by things that were said, all is fine on your end and you don’t hold any hard feelings toward him. Maybe, instead of a future foursome, you two husbands can enjoy a weekend trip together. Even if the wives can’t forgive and forget and get along, if you men are fine with each other, there’s no reason why YOUR friendship can’t continue. (And if things are, as I suspect, not great in his marriage, he could probably use a good friend to help provide some distraction).
Oh, and this should go without saying, but, if you all do hang out again, keep the booze intake to a minimum. After all, “you know what alcohol can do.” And sometimes it ain’t pretty.
Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
Lyra September 29, 2014, 9:10 am
Based on the reaction of the other wife I’m guessing there are some trust issues at play here. Obviously she doesn’t trust her husband OR your wife. This was a pretty major reaction to something that sounds seemingly innocent. I don’t think you or your wife are at fault here and it’s more on the other couple to iron out their own issues. I mean, I hug other guys besides my boyfriend and it’s totally innocent. I will usually hug both of his brothers (and his dad for that matter) when we leave a family gathering and it’s not a big deal whatsoever.
I agree that you should let things be for now and put plans with this other couple on hold. Give them space and time to figure things out on their own.
RedroverRedrover September 29, 2014, 9:16 am
I find it strange that both the LW and his wife are fine with the other husband trying to kiss LW’s wife. But, I guess if that’s how you roll. Agree with Wendy, there’s no point in the four of you trying to hang out. The other wife feels betrayed by LW’s wife and her own husband. Typically the person being cheated on will place the blame on the other woman (or other man), rather than admit that their own spouse is a cheater. So I don’t see much chance of reconciliation. Either the other wife will keep blaming LW’s wife, or eventually she’ll come around and blame her husband, in which case their marriage might be over.
You’ll have to hang out with your buddy alone from now on. He messed up the dynamic of the group, and I don’t think there’s a way to get it back.
Kate B. September 29, 2014, 10:25 am
It sounds like the LW’s wife was surprised he went for her mouth as well, and she mitigated it by turning her cheek to him.
Addie Pray September 29, 2014, 10:33 am
I would bet the LW’s wife is not fine with it but just is embarrassed for the guy and it’s awkward and doesn’t want to turn into a huge deal (but I also bet she’s not in a hurry to go on another trip with the 4-some.) That’s probably how I’d feel about it.
Raccoon eyes September 29, 2014, 9:53 am
LW, you ask what you can do here, presumably to get everything back to the previous status quo, and I dont know that there is anything you CAN do for that to happen. I know this isnt what you want to hear, but it doesnt sound like your buddy’s wife is going to just “get over” this. I mean, that is cool that you are willing to overlook his trying to make out with your wife with his wife nearby, but really? Unless everyone is willing to turn the other cheek and pretend that this incident never happened, there is always going to be weirdness between your foursome. Even if that happened, buddy’s wife sounds like no matter what, she is going to be a harboring this animosity and it will rear its ugly head randomly (and quite possibly in the form of snide passive-aggressive comments). But maybe Im reading into it…. Bottom line though, you need to open the lines of communication with your buddy. If anything, that sounds like the only avenue available to smooth this over.
Addie Pray September 29, 2014, 10:24 am
I definitely agree that something is up with the other couple. Someone mentioned above that they were shocked the LW’s wife is ok with this, but meh. I am sure it was very awkward for her and she just wants to forget it without being too dramatic about it. It’s more concerning for his sake, I’d say. I’m shocked though that he admitted it. I probably would have said “oh whoops, I went in for a kiss on the check but you turned your head.” (I’m also a bad liar, though.)
My other deep thought is – isn’t it funny to see the same stuff creep up – the same worries, the same concerns, insecurities, etc. – for people in their 50s? Sometimes I have this feeling that everyone older that’s lived through things must have it all figured out by now, but you kind of realize people are struggling (in some degree) at all ages.
Kate B. September 29, 2014, 10:32 am
I’ll say this about alcohol: it doesn’t make you do things. It lowers your inhibitions so that things you wouldn’t do or say sober can come out. But those things are in there to begin with. So, it sounds like there is a definite issue between your friend and his wife, and it also sounds like your friends has the hots for your wife. I can’t really tell if your wife is part of this, probably not. Just a feeling. But I think you should definitely avoid this couple for a while and let them work out their own issues.
Kateg B. September 29, 2014, 10:33 am
*friend* singular has the hots for your wife. I hate mornings.
ktfran September 29, 2014, 10:56 am
Addie Pray September 29, 2014, 11:00 am
I dunno, I think alcohol has different effects on people. In extreme cases, I think alcohol can have a crazy effect on people where they really are a different person and do things they wouldn’t do. … Those people should probably not drink.
Kate B. September 29, 2014, 11:15 am
That may be your experience, Addie, but mine has been exactly what I said above. I get that some people can have a bad reaction to it,because of medication or allergy, but I have found that people really show you who they are, in 3D Technicolor, when they’re drunk. Which is why I would give this couple a wide berth for now.
Addie Pray September 29, 2014, 11:19 am
No, that (where alcohol has a crazy effect on people) hasn’t been my experience. But I know some people like that. For me, alcohol makes me either really tired or really lovey, or both. And sometimes it makes me a little violent – I like to give big hard hugs. I’m just saying, I think it’s possible for some people to be extremely affected; it’s not always the case that that alcohol makes people’s true colors show.
ktfran September 29, 2014, 11:39 am
It completely heightens whatever mood I’m in before I start drinking. If I’m tired before, I’m ready to pass out after a couple. Not literally, but I’ll have a hard time keeping my eyes open. If I’m happy, I get silly and have a blast. If I’m sad, I might start crying for no reason. If I’m in a bad mood, watch out. It’s the only time I might turn into a mean girl.
Lucy September 29, 2014, 7:06 pm
This is a gross generalization that is simply incorrect for a great many people. It may apply to you, but it’s way over the line to say it applies to everyone.
Elin September 29, 2014, 11:02 am
I’ve kinda been in the LW’s wife’s position and it’s not great, and I don’t think this was a one time or random incident. My ex and I used to hang out with his bff and his girlfriend a lot and the four of us were very close. The friend flirted with me but because it was in front of the others and we were all pretty playful, nobody thought anything of it. Then he started to take it too far. We’d always hug goodbye, but he started to touch my butt or my neck in a very sexual way when we said goodbye. I never said anything because I wanted to keep the peace, didn’t want his girlfriend to hate me and didn’t want my boyfriend to be mad, etc. I figured if I just ignored it he’d stop eventually. He didn’t stop and he ended up kissing me once when we were in the other room together. The guy’s girlfriend had always been suspicious of him and it turns out she had a right to be. I wasn’t the only person he was acting this way with on the side.
In the LW’s case here, I think the same things were going on. I think the other husband is not happy in his relationship or is getting some sort of thrill from flirting with the LW’s wife. I think it’s probably been going on for a while and nothing physically happened so the LW’s wife just didn’t say anything. But the other wife knew all along, usually those intuitions are correct. She probably though she’d catch them doing something and she was right.
The LW here should take a good look at his relationship with his friend. I can’t agree with the LW’s decision to stay friends with this guy (or Wendy’s casual acceptance of it). He clearly doesn’t respect his friendship, his friend’s marriage, or his own marriage, and why be friends with someone like that? Additionally, though the wife didn’t do anything wrong I think the LW should have an honest talk with her about what was really happening. My boyfriend was mad at me for keeping his friend’s actions a secret. Though I didn’t do anything, I did nothing to stop it either. Hiding it looks bad. And remaining friends is like saying “you kissed my wife but it’s okay” which is ridiculous.
Ika September 29, 2014, 11:55 am
Were you an LW once? That anecote about your BFs friend sounds really similar.
RedroverRedrover September 29, 2014, 11:59 am
That’s what I was trying to get at above, but you’ve said it much better. I can’t imagine staying friends with someone who tried to make out with my spouse. I’d talk to my spouse and find out if there was anything more, like you mentioned. There probably were other times where he went over the line in terms of touching or things he said. And if so, that would be totally unacceptable to me. I wouldn’t keep him as a friend.
joanna September 29, 2014, 12:14 pm
Alcohol is a mood amplifier. Whatever mood you happen to be in when you’re drunk tends to be multiplied by 1000. I know it is for me. When I’m the slightest bit disappointed, I end up crying in the corner. When I feel endangered by something, I get super paranoid. If I’m the slightest bit mad, I end up throwing a huge ranty tantrum. When I’m feeling loved and safe, I tend to express too much affection (ie kissingeveryone). I think everybody just had too much to drink and it was a huge misunderstanding.
FireStar September 29, 2014, 12:45 pm
I have had one of my oldest friend’s husband may a play when I went to visit them for the week. She was away on business the first two nights unexpectedly but I thought no big deal – we’ve known each other for forever. Then the first night he was having Margaritas and was giving me a tour of the house and tried to trap me in the bathroom. I brushed it off like he was joking… but he wasn’t. I felt so bad – because the transgression wasn’t enough to tell my friend without the fallout not falling on me – no one is walking away from a marriage and kids over a failed pass – but how do you not say anything? It sucked. My boyfriend at the time told me I was the perfect person to hit on since I wouldn’t do anything to hurt my friend and would be less likely to tell than someone who didn’t have the history with her. I just ended up telling her as a joke. It was the best I could do to at least be honest but mitigate the fallout.
In this case the transgression isn’t big enough – so the fall out will fall on the LW wife. The wife of the friend is going to stay married and just dislike the LW’s wife for all eternity…or she will leave her husband. There really isn’t going to be a happy in between when she says – oh I know my husband is a philandering idiot and it wasn’t your fault – but I’m keeping him anyway. So yeah – it’s going to be just the boys from now on.
TaraMonster September 29, 2014, 1:42 pm
You don’t have to answer this as I’m just being nosy, but how did you make a joke out of that? How did that go over?
ktfran September 29, 2014, 1:54 pm
I want to know too.
HmC September 29, 2014, 4:20 pm
Ha that is actually pretty funny. If you said it in front of him that would theoretically be pretty fucking scary for him, so that’s something.
Astronomer September 29, 2014, 1:40 pm
Ugh, this makes me sad. I don’t think it matters at all what’s going on between the other couple. The bottom line is that you can’t (and shouldn’t) make your wife hang out with people that make her uncomfortable. Period.
waterbug September 29, 2014, 4:49 pm
Maybe time could heal this but I think the ship has sailed. It wasn’t a strong female foundation to start with and this surely added some more cracks. Hang out with your buddy alone and let your wife off the hook for 16 hour long round trip drives to see people she isn’t super close to and spending valuable vacation time with them. Maybe someday you can hang out together again, bur for now, just hang out with your buddy.
Though as others said, not sure I’d keep a friend who tried to kiss my partner.
Lucy September 29, 2014, 7:13 pm
The thing I’d be most interested in knowing is if the LW’s wife has in the past gotten a weird/flirty/cheaty vibe off the other husband. Maybe she has, but since he never stepped over the line, she dismissed it or thought she was imagining things. But if she has, I’d say there are bigger issues at play with this guy than one night of too much booze, and it would be best to keep your distance from him.
But, if the LW’s wife sincerely believes this was a one-off incident, well, I don’t find that too hard to believe. Some people are sloppy, loved-up drunks, and alcohol decreases inhibitions (and, for the other wife’s part, increases rage).
bittergaymark September 29, 2014, 8:16 pm
Ugh, too many people painting the wife of the LW as some tragic victim. Frankly? This whole relationship seems decidedly and oddly sexually charged. Look — sadly — not a one of my friend’s husbands or boyfriends have never tried to mack on me. But then… I’ve also never given them a goodnight hug, either.
Think about it.