"I'm Worried He's Going to Cheat on Me"
Her Turn, continued
"At 22 I met Matt at a local bagel shop, where I worked to pay for graduate school in nursing. He was a 21-year-old construction worker who stopped there every day. When I ran into him at a local bar one night, we ended up talking for hours. Our conversation flowed easily, and we had a lot in common: We'd grown up in neighboring towns, enjoyed boating, and were die-hard Yankees fans. At the end of the night Matt asked me if I'd like to have dinner, but before I could say yes, he scribbled his phone number on a napkin and said to call if I wanted to see him again. I phoned the next day and accepted his invitation.
"After a few weeks, I knew I wanted to marry him. He was kind, hardworking, and supportive -- all the qualities I sought in a husband. And indeed our newlywed years were conflict-free. I loved my job as an ER nurse and was soon promoted to supervisor. At 30 Matt grew restless in construction and began moonlighting for a landscaping company. It turned out he had a knack for horticulture and design, along with the strength and technical skills to install patios, pools, and retaining walls. With my encouragement he started a landscape-design firm specializing in projects for luxury housing developments. It has grown more successful each year.
"After I became pregnant with Evan, I noticed that Matt was attracting more than his usual share of suggestive stares. Everywhere we went women undressed him with their eyes, while I seethed in silence. It tapped into my insecurity because I was carrying around 40 pounds of pregnancy weight. Feeling unattractive and jealous, I'd lash out at Matt the minute we got home.
"Sadly, this pattern has pretty much continued ever since. We're locked in an ongoing battle about my suspicions, with screaming matches followed by days of mutual silent treatment. We haven't been out alone in ages, and our sex life is sporadic. I'm rarely in the mood because I'm either angry or wiped out from chasing after our sons, working part-time, running the house, and doing the books for Matt's company.
"At times my suspicions have driven me to outrageous actions. When I was six months pregnant with Josh I was too exhausted to attend our friends' annual Christmas party, so Matt took his sister. I knew that the hostess's gorgeous, flirtatious friend Karen would be there -- she'd put the moves on Matt at previous gatherings -- and when he wasn't back at midnight, I called the hostess, who said he'd left two hours earlier. In a fit of fury I jumped in the car and was headed for the neighborhood bar where I imagined he was with Karen when Matt's car pulled up next to mine at a stoplight. I leapt out, pounded on his window and accused him of cheating, humiliating myself in front of my sister-in-law, who was sitting in the front seat! They'd left the party to get a drink by themselves. Matt apologized for losing track of time but was outraged by my behavior.
"Recently I got suspicious because Matt was leaving at 5 a.m. to go to the gym, which doesn't open until 5:30. When I called his cell phone, his voice mail picked up. This went on for several weeks until I finally confronted him. He said he drinks coffee and reads the paper on the beach while waiting for the gym to open. 'I don't carry my cell phone, because nobody sane calls at that hour,' he yelled. 'If I were having an affair, it wouldn't be at 5 in the morning!'
"Since that incident Matt and I have avoided each other. The tension is unbearable, and we've started bickering about other stuff, such as his workaholism. He even takes business calls during dinner. I get stuck with cleanup and childcare at night while he works. Meanwhile, he's upset that I've taken on additional shifts at the hospital. Since we don't need the income, he thinks I shouldn't work at all. But I love my job, and the ER is understaffed. When my boss asks if I can take an extra shift, my first instinct is to say yes.
"Last week, after I got upset when a sexy saleswoman flirted with Matt, he told me he was fed up. 'This is your problem,' he said, 'and if you don't fix it, I'm leaving.'"