New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. 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), or submit a question for advice.
Last night, our other neighbors were having a get-together and I went next door to see what all the noise was. While I was in the bridle trail behind my house, I could see my husband and Ramona standing next to each other. Ramona handed my husband a glass of wine and then proceeded to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. I was caught off-guard and walked back to our yard and happened to glance over and I saw her kiss him again through the slats in the fence. I understand that people can become incredibly affectionate while intoxicated, but to a neighbor? It’s not like our families are the closest and we’ve only spoken to them a handful of times. In the morning, my husband said that Ramona’s husband came over and told him to “give it to her nice and slow.” Obviously, he sees what’s going with his wife, too. Either that or he is threatened by any male.
Ramona wears lingerie sleepers and oversized t-shirts without shorts and the collars ripped out while in the presence of my husband. She bends over a lot to, I assume, show off her cleavage/ and or behind since they are typically pointed in his direction. She also brushes his arm or touches it and is constantly hugging and cheek-kissing him.
One night she came over and criticized my housekeeping skills and then brought up _50 Shades of Grey_. She went into detail about some of the sex scenes in the book and suggested I read it to get some ideas in the bedroom. My husband was there and to my knowledge, neither one of us has ever said anything about our relationship to her.
I’ve talked to my husband about all this and although he isn’t necessarily unwilling to tell her to stop, he isn’t confrontational and he tries to be polite, which I don’t fault him for as there is nothing worse than having bad blood with neighbors and starting a feud. Consequently, Ramona continues to freely wander into our garage to “hang out and chit chat” with my husband (he is a night owl and tinkers on things), repeatedly going back to her house to fetch more wine when the bottle empties.
Is there any way that I can tactfully approach this neighbor about her behavior that is really stepping over the line and really upsets me? — Suspicious Neighbor
You know, there probably ISN’T a tactful way to approach a neighbor about hitting on your husband. Anything you say is going to be offensive. I mean, WHAT could you possibly say that wouldn’t offend her? “Hey, could you please wear pants and stop bending over in front of my husband?” is probably a little too forward. So is: “Will you please stop kissing my husband?”
Actually, wait, I like that one. Yeah, why not bake some cookies, bring them over to her house and say, “Listen, we don’t know each other that well and I’m sure you’re just trying to be friendly, but it makes me uncomfortable when you hug and kiss my husband. Those are gestures we usually reserve for family and old friends.” What can she say to that? She’ll be offended, and hopefully embarrassed (if she has any shame at all), but it’s not like you were going to be her best friend anyway. And you can’t argue someone’s discomfort. She can’t very well say, “No, it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable!” Just frame your discussion around your feelings, which you have ownership of, rather than her intentions, which you don’t have ownership of, and then there’s nothing to argue.
But here’s the thing: she’s not the biggest problem. Your husband is. He’s not respecting you. He brushes off your concerns as if they don’t matter. He’s more interested in appeasing this neighbor women he’s just met than putting you at ease. He’d rather be “polite” to her than risk, what, hurting her feelings by pulling away from her kisses or telling her it’s too late to have company in his garage or turning down her offer for another glass of wine?
Here’s what I think: there’s more going on between them than you see or are willing to accept. I don’t buy that a woman you’ve only talked to a few times would advise you to read “50 Shades of Grey” to spice up things in your bedroom if she honestly didn’t have any clue what was going on in your bedroom. What do you think she and your husband talk about in that garage over multiple bottles of wine until the wee hours of the morning? I’m guessing not the most recent PTA meeting.
Furthermore, why is it that you’ve only talked to Ramona a handful of times but your husband seems to be super chummy with her? Why is he hanging out with her at night instead of you? Why, when you spy on them at a party from the Bridle path near your house, did you not go join them and put your arm around him? If I saw my husband cozying up to a woman who routinely ran around with no pants on and kissed him on the cheek constantly and drank wine with him in his garage until the wee hours of the morning, I wouldn’t just turn around and head home. I’d step in and remind them both who he’s married to.
You say you’ve already talked to your husband, but I don’t think you’ve talked enough. Something’s up with him and my guess is that whatever might be going on between him and Ramona probably starts with whatever is up between the two of you. Maybe he feels like he isn’t getting enough attention from you. Men are pretty simple. They like affection, attention, and eye candy. If they aren’t getting that from their partners, then someone who is offering it up for free all the time is going to be appealing to them.
I’m not saying your husband is cheating on you or that he’s even interested in Ramona. But, reading between the lines of your letter, I do think it’s possible he might be feeling neglected and probably enjoys getting whatever attention he can from the neighbor with no class. Regardless, a more serious conversation with him is overdue. This is more than just telling him that Ramona’s behavior upsets you. It’s time to let him know that HIS behavior upsets you. Are you really OK with him letting some woman hang out in his garage late at night? Are you OK with him being chummy with a woman who doesn’t wear pants? I mean, if she wants to run around half-naked, that’s on her. If your husband allows her to kiss him and touch him and drink with him and hang out in his garage all night, that’s on HIM.
He’s the one who’s married to you. Ramona really doesn’t owe you squat. Your husband? He owes you a lot more respect that what he’s been giving you. And it may be that you owe him a little more attention and affection than you’ve been doling out. Think of this as an opportunity to re-evaluate the state of your marriage and discuss how you can make each other a little happier and more satisfied. A strong union should be able to withstand even the most flirty (and pants-less) of neighbors.
You can follow me on Facebook here an Twitter here.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].