It’s no secret that a decent percentage of affairs happen at the work place or at a person’s job. After all, most of us spend as much time at our desks or at our jobs than we do at home with our spouse. And, in today’s economy under the pressure to perform well and to get a long with others, people can become very close with and attached to their coworkers. It’s not at all uncommon to hear people describe their coworkers “like family” even though they’re anything but related.
This can become a real problem when your husband has an affair (emotional or physical) with one of those coworkers and then has so much time and status invested in his job (where that same woman works) that he doesn’t want to leave or quit the job once the affair is discovered.
I recently heard from a wife who could not understand why (and was furious that) her husband would not leave his job after he had an affair with a coworker. She said, in part: “I knew something was up with my husband and his colleague when I saw them together at an office party. I confronted him when we got home, he confessed everything, and begged my forgiveness. Part of me does want to save my marriage and move past this. And he’s shown that he’s willing to work with me to rebuild with the exception of one thing. He won’t leave his job. Although he says he understands that I’m uncomfortable with him continuing to work with a woman that he cheated on me with, he insists that leaving his job would devastate us financially and would force him to turn his back on a career that he’s worked his whole life to achieve. I told him that I don’t care about the money and would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of our lives if it meant getting this woman away from us. I simply can’t stand the thought of him laying his eyes on her every day or eating lunch with her or even interacting with her in a business setting. It just turns my stomach to even think about it. I’ve considered giving him an ultimatum or leaving him until he quits his job, but then I worry that these things are the same as giving up. What are my options because at this point I’m fresh out of ideas.”
Understanding A Husband’s Refusal To Quit His Job After An Affair: Before I go any further, I want to stress that in no way am I defending or even sympathizing with husbands who have affairs. I’ve dealt with an affair in my own marriage, so I would never defend this behavior. However, I also occasionally dialog with men on this topic and I think it’s important that you at least partially understand their thought process.
Wives often believe that their husbands won’t leave his job after the affair because he wants to secretly keep seeing the other woman or can’t bear to be apart from her. I can’t say that this is never the case, because it sometimes is. But, there are many other valid reasons for him to be reluctant to leave his job.
One well known contributing factor to a man having an affair is low self esteem. Often, a man who cheats or has an affair is greatly struggling with this issue. It’s important to understand that a man’s self esteem can be greatly tied into his job or into his professional accomplishments. So, asking him to walk away from the same job that is often tied intimately with his own identity may seem like quite a lot to ask at the time.
Many men will become upset that you don’t trust them enough to allow them to keep their job, but this is only part of the story. Many are embarrassed at their behavior and fear further embarrassment for having to alter their lives and their career paths due to the whims and the wishes of someone else. This can be seen as behavior that is not very masculine (although it really should not matter what anyone else thinks.)
Finally, many men are being honest when they tell you that they are worried about the financial implications of quitting their job. In today’s economy, being unemployed (even if you chose this path yourself) is an extremely scary and risky place to be. It’s not always easy (or even possible) to find a comparable job with a comparable salary. Many men in this situation will tell you that they have already lost so much because of the affair so that they don’t want to lose one important constant in their lives right now. They don’t want to add financial problems on top the considerable problems that they already have.
Finding Some Compromise Until Your Husband Can Quit Or Adjust His Job: Sometimes, when it’s clear that he’s unwilling to leave his job for right now and it’s also clear that this is exactly what you need from him, it’s advisable to look for compromises so that both people feel like they’re at least getting part of their needs met and are being heard, at least until a resolution is reached.
Because it’s important that you know that your husband’s contact with the other woman is stopped completely (or at least drastically cut back,) your husband might ask for a transfer, request a new partner, or adjust his duties. He might encourage you to have lunch with him every day so that you don’t have to worry about them being together outside of work hours. He might call you frequently to check in so that you know that you’re still on his mind. And, the two of you might work together to set a deadline for him to find another job while you both actively pursue resumes to other companies.
It’s important to feel as though you are working together to find a resolution and that, although you may not have the exact resolution that you want at the time that you want it, at least you are willing to meet each other half way so that you both feel validated.
In order to begin to heal from affair, both people have to feel as if their spouse is willing to work with them to give them what they want and need. The wife needed to know that her husband took her feelings and concerns seriously enough to make some adjustments and to take some action, while the husband needed to know that his wife wasn’t determined to see that he lost everything because he had an affair.