I suspect my husband is having an affair at work

I have had some nagging suspicions about my husband cheating for a while, but I think I may have been trying really hard to avoid the "writing on the wall."

My husband owns a business. He is well liked and respected by all our friends and his employees. We have three children (22-17yo), who adore him.

He treats me well, we have a comfortable relationship, although he did seem to withdraw quite a bit a few years ago, which I attributed to his preoccupation with starting the company and the stress that went with it.

There’s also been a decrease in his desire for sex, although every night in bed he gives me a back rub/tickle until we fall asleep.

Well, in September I brought in the mail to find a survey from a hotel that’s about one hour away from here. It was addressed to him and was requesting he answer some questions regarding his stay on a Saturday in August. I know for a fact he was home the night it stated, but he had been "at his office" for a while that day.

When I asked him about it, he stared at me for a long time before saying he didn’t know what it was about and it must be a mistake. A day or two later, when I told him I was having a hard time believing a hotel survey for a stay that "no one" had taken had just incidentally arrived here, he said that he hadn’t wanted to tell me but an employee of his, "Bill" had been unfaithful to his wife.

When "Bill" had called ahead to reserve a room, he had used my husband’s name and the company issued credit card, but then he had actually paid cash for the room. I asked to see the company credit card statement, and the hotel charge was not there. I have known "Bill" for years, although not his wife, and asked my husband if he would have "Bill" call me so I could confirm the story.

He said he would if I really needed to hear it straight from "Bill". But I didn’t press the issue and he let it drop quickly.

So... two days ago another piece of mail arrived from the same hotel chain just advertising some specials. I just left it in the mail pile on the counter, and just waited for him to go thru the mail. He was thumbing thru all the mail and when he got to that piece, he immediately put it to the side without saying anything, but his eyes darted sideways to see if I was watching him.

I pretended not to notice anything.

He finished going thru the mail and tore up a lot of junk mail and threw it in the trash while I was making dinner. When he walked away, I went to the garbage and that piece of mail wasn’t there! After dinner I asked him if he had seen the hotel piece of mail, and he said he had thrown it out. I told him I had gone thru the mail he’d thrown out and it wasn’t there and I’d be happy to go thru it again with him.

He said that since I’d made such a big deal out of the last piece of mail that had come from the hotel, he’d stuck it in his briefcase to take a look at it later.

Now... first of all, if his story about "Bill" had been true, there wouldn’t have been a reason to sneak it into his briefcase, he probably would’ve made a joke and said that he ought to give the mail to "Bill" for the upcoming specials.

Am I right about that or losing my mind?

Also, should I call his bluff and tell him I’d like to talk to "Bill," or maybe just call "Bill" myself? "Bill" is a faithful employee and I have no doubt that he would lie to help my husband. My husband pays faithful employees well.

Next question... if I talk to "Bill" and he confirms my husband’s story, I’m wondering if I should say anything about contacting "Bill’s" wife. If "Bill" is lying to protect my husband, I’m sure at that point he’d tell my husband to handle his own mess.

Or should I not even talk to "Bill," but mention to my husband that "Bill’s" wife ought to be informed about "Bill’s" unfaithfulness? Or is that the wrong tactic all together?

The only woman I’ve ever wondered if my husband could be involved with is his secretary. She is younger than my husband and I, and married with small children. I haven’t ever met her, but my children have when they’ve gone in to do odd jobs around the office.

I know she used to work at the same company as my husband did years ago. He left to start his own company and when it became big enough for him to need a secretary, she came to work for him. She now drives an hour each way to work.

I’ve worked, but I’ve stayed home most of our life together to be with our children. Whenever I’ve suggested working at the company, he is totally against it with his argument being that I could make more money somewhere else than what he could pay me, and that he doesn’t want his wife working in the front office.

Now I’m wondering if those are the true reasons. With the downward turn in the economy, he has been pressuring me to go back to work, but I feel that I’ve lost much of my nursing skills.

Because of his business, I don’t have access to his credit card statement, cell phone, etc. He makes lots of sales calls, so his mileage doesn’t tell me anything.

Any advice you can offer me will be so appreciated. I love my husband very much and I’m so frightened by the thought of a future without him.


Your question raises a lot of interesting issues.

Trust is critical in a romantic relationship. Because trust is so important in a close relationship, most people never question whether their spouse has been unfaithful. In fact, most people tend to believe a spouse regardless of what the truth is (see love is blind).

Completely trusting a spouse works well, most of the time, until an accidental discovery comes to light (see how deception actually gets discovered).

Once suspicion has been raised, however, the dynamics of a relationship completely change. Everything you once trusted is now open for reexamination. And suddenly you find yourself questioning your husband’s every move (i.e., not throwing away the hotel brochure).

And going from a state of certainty to a state of uncertainty about your marriage, can do real damage to a relationship (see living with suspicion).

With that said, we hope that the following information does not add to your anxiety. If your husband is telling the truth, you might also want to consider why “Bill” would feel comfortable telling your husband he was having an affair? People usually only disclose such information to people who are understanding and supportive (see empathy and truth telling). Does your husband support or cover for people who cheat on their wives?

Along the same line, office affairs are becoming more common. It is not unusual for people who work together to spend more time with each other than they do their spouses. Being highly involved with another person in the workplace can often lead to romantic feelings (see workplace affairs).

So, what are your best options now that suspicion has been raised?

Our best advice is not to involve “Bill.” When you involve third parties in these types of situations it rarely plays out as people expect (see contacting the other person). In the worst case scenario, you’ll only be more confused about what the truth might be and you’ll have more people involved and upset (not to mention the possible legal issues involved—a sexual harassment claim against your husband). If your husband is cheating, repairing your relationship will be more difficult to do if you involve more people and make the problem more complex. If you can keep this between you and your husband, that is in your best interest.

Our best advice is to talk to your husband about how you feel. Try to focus on your feelings rather than make accusations (e.g., "I’m feeling scared, afraid, concerned" versus "I think you are cheating"). By talking to your husband you are at least giving him a chance to hear how you feel, which can only help in the long run (see talk about problems).

If you still feel suspicious after talking to your husband, you might want to consider talking to a counselor about how to proceed. If your husband is having an affair and hiding it from you, you might have to hire a private investigator to get to the truth (see infidelity investigation).

But, if you have a counselor to talk to as you go through this process, you are more likely to handle things in a way which make it possible to save your relationship (see surviving infidelity).

Hope this helps.

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