[Two Pronged] My wife wants me to stop being friends with my ex-boyfriend
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
I have been married for three years now. I met my wife, Bee, 4 years ago when I was introduced to her by my ex lover, who we can call Jobert. Jobert is very kind and generous and comfortable with my being lovers with anyone of my choosing since we already had closure regarding our love affair.
I chose to be with and have a relationship with my wife. Some people might not find her beautiful, but she is beautiful to me. We have a baby boy who is 18 months old. He is the light of both our lives.
I have just one problem with her. She has changed since we got married. It is a small matter, but I find it very difficult.
She is very defensive about my bisexuality, even if she accepts it. She knew from the start that I was bisexual. But it’s as if she doesn't want to be reminded of it. I do not understand why she doesn’t want anyone else to know about it. I understand her not wanting her family or her barkada to know. But I hoped her family could be told because we see them often and I think her brother, who is gay, could be an ally when I need one.
The problem is my former friends. She asked me not to see them anymore, especially my ex lover who introduced us to each other. He considered her a friend and she did too, when we were first introduced.
It is ok with me if she no longer wants to be friends with him. I do not want to stop being his friend. We have been friends since we were in high school. What do you think I should do?
Thank you for your email.
Let’s start where you say that you have just one small problem with Bee: her acceptance of your bisexuality, subject to drawing a veil over it and never mentioning it.
Not everyone would be happy marrying a bisexual. If a bisexual has a strong preference for the opposite sex, that is one thing. But if the bisexual actually has a preference for the same sex, then the marriage could be fraught with difficulties.
Of course, ultimately, it all depends on the two people involved. Different outcomes can be expected when for example the couple are strictly exclusive, or the partners agree to a degree of openness, or disagree on such openness.
Now you say Bee is accepting of your bisexuality but everything else you tell us suggests that she is, in fact, in denial. She doesn’t want it ever mentioned, she wants to shun your old friends and she even wants to cut ties with Jobert, with whom she was friends before meeting you. It is as if she believes that mere association with these emblematic figures from your past will reignite your bisexual fires.
Bee has chosen a difficult path. Whereas a woman who does not have complete confidence in a heterosexual man sees other women as potential threat, one with an interest in a bisexual man sees almost all others as threats, which is a huge burden to bear.
It is clear that there are potentially a number of important issues which you and Bee face in your marriage but you have not chosen to address those here. Instead, your question is about maintaining your friendship with Jobert in the face of Bee’s opposition.
An obvious solution is to discuss the matter properly with Bee, establish exactly why she wants you to let go of this longstanding relationship and reach a compromise. If that isn’t possible for whatever reason, then that leaves you potentially with a stark choice: your wife or your friend.
However your discussions go, they should tell you a lot about the state of your marriage and give you both a platform on which to build a better future, whatever form that might take.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. I agree with Mr Baer about Bee not accepting your bisexuality. This is not a small matter at all. Your bisexuality is an important part of who you are, just as anybody’s sexual orientation is an important part of who they are.
It's no wonder you find it difficult to abide by her “prohibitions,” and that is as it should be.
In fact, I would like to speak personally (and not-ahem-professionally, which is the way I hope I come across most of the time) regarding this matter. I hope you find her demand so difficult you decide it is a deal breaker.
A deal breaker : A deal breaker is ‘the catch’ that a particular individual cannot overlook and ultimately outweighs any redeeming quality the individual may possess.
Urban dictionary shares a cute example of a —albeit IMHO, not best and, in fact, need not even have been— deal breaker, which is a conversation between 2 detectives from the TV show CASTLE:
Esposito: "What happen, did the relationship suck?"
Ryan: "Dealbreaker. She wanted to have sex in a Coffin"
Obviously, this is something anyone can live with in a manner of speaking,…especially when the coffin isn’t closed.
However, what Bee expects of you is not. Or, at least, not something you can do easily and still be able to live a happy, comfortable, productive life. How dare she? How bloody dare she?
Had she not known of your bisexuality and your friendship with Jobert, she could, perhaps, be forgiven her naïveté. However, she did know and, unless she made your giving up your friends a condition for your marriage that you agreed to, she has no right to ask you to give this up now (or ever).
But even as I write the above, I know I am mistaken. She has no right to ask you to give this up, NOT because people should not change over the course of a marriage — in fact, I sure as hell hope they do.
But to ask you to give you a friendship that sustains and gives you such joy is selfish, unrealistic and small minded.
Mr Baer is right: Talk to her, and see if you can find a way for both of you to be true to yourselves.
However, if that is impossible, I suggest staying together happily and safely would also be impossible, not only for you, but also for your baby boy of 18 months.
Babies have a more nuanced understanding of emotion than scientists had previously thought. In fact, by 18 months of age, babies have a fairly sophisticated understanding of human emotion.
Dearest Albert, I wish you success in your future dialogues/conversations with Bee.
But more than that, I wish you courage and discernment, to know when to give in and when to “fight the good fight and stay the course.”
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately, the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.