1. SLL

    Also I’d talk to my husband to keep the boundaries between friendly banter and flirtation. If something is going on that you or he would not approve of as a couple then he needs to walk away and talk to someone else. It shows respect to you and to the lady in question without being confrontational.

    • Jerry


      I’d be pretty ticked if my wife decided to “talk” to me about something like this. Maybe this boils down to a difference between men and women. But flirting is such a subjective thing that unless husband was acting very inappropriately, he’s done absolutely nothing wrong. That is, what appears as flirting to wife may not be that to drunk friend, husband, drunk friend’s husband (where is he when this is going on?), or anyone else.

      To even suggest husband has been the bad guy (and a “talk” would communicate that he was doing something untoward), would be obscenely offensive and rude to him! Last I checked, marriage does not give one spouse jurisdiction to correct the behavior of the other spouse.

      It would provoke a major fight (i.e., she’s sleeping on the couch) if my wife told me that I should walk away so that she can feel “respect[ed]”. (And how does waling away “show[ ] respect” to “the lady in question”? That’s just odd.) Either wife and husband (together) should leave the situation. Or wife needs to directly communicate to her friend (on the spot) that her behavior is making wife uncomfortable. But my wife tells husband to leave? Incredibly disrespectful to him. It is the functional equivalent husband telling wife to bring beer to him and his friends throughout the night when the big game is on: anyone who treats their spouse in such a manner should be ashamed.

      • Elizabeth

        Jerry, I think you’re overreacting or misunderstanding SLL’s suggestion. I think it boils down to “it takes two to tango.” I think this works in situations like that described above (with a drunk person who’s overdoing the flirting) but also in cases of conflict (where a drunk person is escalating an argument). Oftentimes the best way to keep the peace (especially, again, with an inebriated person who’s not in control) is to diffuse or walk away. I don’t think SLL was suggesting that the husband was flirting back or acting inappropriate, necessarily, just that in those situations it’s better to not feed into the behavior by responding in a way that keeps the conversation going. I don’t think this requires the husband to actually leave the room, though it could be a well-timed bathroom break, but it could be that he switches his conversation or attention to the husband “So, Jim, how ARE things going at work these days?” Presumably the husband in question is also uncomfortable with the tipsy friend getting a little too familiar.

        • Jerry

          Perhaps SLL misarticulated her suggestion — it is highly offensive as written. While “it takes two to tango,” it takes only one to flirt. Nothing suggests that husband is flirting back. If we’re all hanging out you can certainly bet I’m not going to leave out of some notion for “respect” for my wife and the other woman. Husband gets to exercise his own judgment on how to respond. Wife absolutely does not get to tell her husband how to behave. Ever.

          Elizabeth: This isn’t a situation where husband is “presumably . . . uncomfortable with the tipsy friend getting too familiar.” But even if it were, husband should know how to handle it. Maybe he decided to ignore it. Maybe he did decide to turn to “Jim” and change the subject. Whatever he did, wife should not act like husband did anything wrong (i.e., she should not try to “fix” her husband) as this would be the height of rudeness.

          But with SLL’s suggestion . . . well . . . let me set the scene.

          Andy, Betty, Claire, David, Harry, and Wanda were all hanging out at a cocktail party. On the way home . . .

          Harry: That was fun tonight, wasn’t it?
          Wanda: Actually, I really didn’t like it when Claire was hitting on you.
          Harry: What? When did she do that?
          Wanda: Well, the way she was talking and making eyes . . .
          Harry: I’m sorry, I just didn’t get that.
          Wanda: Well, I still didn’t like it.
          Harry: I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you.
          Wanda: Well, when she acts like that, I think it would be best if you left the conversation. It shows respect to me and to her.
          Harry: What?
          Wanda: Well, it would make me feel better.
          Harry: So when we’re hanging out with our friends, you want me to walk away and go hang out with other people in some set of circumstances that I can’t even recognize??!

          And that’s how the fight starts.

          • Lilli

            It seems even in your example that the wife is simply asking her husband to do something and that he escalates it into a fight. And really, is talking to this one particular person when she’s drunk (if it were all women then yes the wife would be a little ridiculous) really more important than making your wife feel respected? If the answer to that question is yes you have a whole other set of issues besides “Claire”.

          • Elizabeth

            Amen, Lilli.

            Wouldn’t a nicer answer be,
            Harry: “Wanda, I’m not sure I saw what you saw in the situation, so why don’t you explain your perspective to me?”
            (Wanda does)
            Harry: “Well, I don’t know that I’ll always pick up on it, but if I sense that Claire is being disrespectful to our relationship by hitting on me, I’ll definitely not allow it to continue.”

            No fight necessary.

          • Jerry

            I just disagree. Wife is telling, not asking, husband to do something where he can’t even understand what has gotten her so upset.

            Claire: The answer to your question is indeed “yes.” But I think that the difference is that wife needs to signal somehow that she’s upset and that she wants us both to move on and enjoy the party somewhere else. Wife cannot sit and smolder silently — not signaling that she is uncomfortable or otherwise upset — and then blame husband for not reading her mind. If that’s how you view a marital relationship, I would return that you may suffer from a whole set of issues that cannot be cured on this blog.

            The only way that one should “talk” to spouse is if the spouse somehow invited the flirting by flirting back. But then, again, there are a whole set of other problems in the relationship.

            Elizabeth: I would change the last piece of Harry’s dialogue to “Well, I didn’t pick up on that and I certainly do not encourage Claire or anyone else to flirt with me. You need to signal when you want us to move on.” But if Wanda puts Harry on the spot by telling him to leave in a situation that only she can define, well, that’s just not appropriate.

      • Lilli

        Why is open communication with your significant other rude? If you approach the subject with tact it shouldn’t start a fight. I was in a similar situation once although the woman in question was neither a friend of mine nor a drunk when she was hitting on my long-time boyfriend. I trust him completely, but her behavior still made me uncomfortable (not to mention others around us – several friends asked me why I didn’t confront her about her behavior) so I asked him to stop inviting us to the same social events (and she certainly was not allowed back in our house again). He respected that I despised her and I respected that he liked her and keeping us separate worked well. After she successfully broke up another couple in our circle of friends he realized I had been right about her and he’s broken ties with her. It’s the respect and communication that is key.

        I’m also the girlfriend that bakes nachos and hot wings for the big game and keeps the beers coming for everyone – so maybe that’s why he’s willing to respect my feelings on those situations? 😛

        • Jerry

          Lilli: This is not open and honest communication. This is wife trying to “fix” husband by instructing (or attempting to instruct) his, not their walking away when she uncomfortable about how someone else is acting. Taking the example in your second paragraph — it is one thing to volunteer to bake the nachos. But if your boyfriend instructed you to be a serving wench whenever one of his buddies was out of beer — that’s not ok.

          • Laura

            Jerry, there is nothing wrong with accepting correction or advice regarding ignorance of a certain sort of behavior from a loved one. If behavior is wrong and gone unnoticed, I find it kind for a spouse to bring it to attention. Your defensiveness and unwillingness to synthesize both sides of the story (a wife’s insecurity and a man’s ignorance) is alarming and demonstrates a lack of sensitivity to the etiquette of diffusing arguments. The woman would clearly need reassurance from a strong and secure man that she has nothing to worry about. Lashing out at her because he has been proven wrong or has been corrected sounds counter-active and frankly rude.

          • Jerry

            I strongly disagree both with your articulation of the rules of etiquette and your opinion of my ability to read a fact pattern. As an initial matter, the rules of etiquette are quite clear that one spouse does not have jurisdiction to correct the other. More importantly, however, the husband has done nothing wrong: he’s not flirting here — another person is. Husband can surely offer reassurance without going to the extreme of being asked to leave a group setting (without his wife) because wife doesn’t want him there. For wife to suggest that he (and not the two of them together) leave is not appropriate.

            I certainly see the other side of the argument. But I see it as wrong — just like I understand certain political philosophies that are just plain wrong. If the wife “clearly needs reassurance” about the relationship, perhaps there are bigger problems in the marriage. I would recommend counseling.

  2. Lilli

    I agree with the advice for the first (or maybe even second) time the friend does this, but if it becomes a regular thing every time she drinks it may be time for a more serious chat.

  3. Vanna Keiler

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with both EPI and Jerry’s point of view on this one. Unfortunately, the issue is not what the husband is doing/not doing: it is what this so-called “friend” does when she gets drunk. I think the issue here is boundaries and respect, and to flirt with another friend’s husband in front of the wife (or not in front) is plain disrespectful. I believe that inebriated or not, your friend knows who she is talking to, and I would question the friendship if this were not resolved by the inebriated friend immediately apologizing. However, since it has happened more than once, this friendship may have an expiration date.

    • Jean

      Vanna, you are indeed wrong, it sounds like Jerry is angry or has an issue with the assertiveness of a female or a wife. I don’t know him, but if my mate had a response like his, I would think that my mate had a deep seated problem and needed to seek advice or counseling without the wife in attendance..

  4. Kat

    Wow, Jerry, you sound like a very angry person!

    When there is mutual respect between two people in a loving and committed relationship, conversations of this sort should not be causing fights. Having a “talk” with the husband does not suggest that he’s been the bad guy. But if he gets defensive, perhaps he actually is guilty of inappropriate behavior. Of course, the “talk” cannot start in a confrontational manner.

    Personally, I think that such a situation should be handled on the spot. Instead of “confronting” either party, however, interjecting a little humor might be an option.
    If I saw a friend (or even a stranger) being a bit too flirtatious with my husband, I’d walk over to them, put my arms around him and smilingly say to her, “Are you flirting with my husband?” or “Can I steal my husband for a moment?” Even the gesture of embracing him might be enough.
    If I’d choose to steal my husband and he’d question my actions, I’d explain to him, “I thought my friend was getting out of line. Hope you don’t mind?”

    • Jerry

      Kat: As you will see if you read my other comments on this blog, I am an assertive person. And I am passionate. And I act offended in offensive situations, like if my wife decided to “talk” to me and tell me to walk away so she can feel respected.

      You’re spot on with your third paragraph and if you said “I thought my friend was getting out of line. Hope you don’t mind?” that would be ok. But to suggest, as SLL did, that wife should talk to her husband and instruct him that he needs to walk away? She’s his wife, not his kindergarten teacher.

  5. canyouread

    “If something is going on that you or he would not approve of as a couple then he needs to walk away and talk to someone else.”

    It seems to me this comment was not about telling the husband how to behave, but seeing how you both feel as a couple and creating an action plan. The crazy ensuing tirades were totally unnecessary. Learn to read, people!

    • Jerry

      You understand what the disjunctive is, right? “If something is going on that you or he would not approve of as a couple . . . ” means “if something is going on that you . . . would not approve of” AND “if something is going on that he . . . would not approve of.” Or, for the English speaking world, wife is asserting a right to tell husband how to behave.

      However, for reasons discussed, wife should not be telling husband to leave a conversation; she should trust husband can handle things in his own and effective way. This is not about a so-called action plan as there’s no need (in this situation) for wife’s unwanted input. If husband can’t handle himself in public, why did wife marry him in the first place?

      canyouread: please consider taking some of your own advice. It’s not husband’s fault that someone flirted with him and wife felt uncomfortable.

      • Jean

        Jerry, you sound like a man who cannot accept that women can speak or talk to their husbands. I hope you are not one of those husbands who expects the wife to cook, give sex, and be quiet.
        I don’t mean to be sarcastic or rude, but it seems that there is something else going on with you.
        How would you feel if your wife was flirting with another man right in front of your eyes? Put yourself in your wife’s shoes……imagine how she felt, when you allowed the flirting to continue.

  6. aj

    it sounds like you shouldn’t be married if you have such hate for wives and their needs. you should always show compassion for her and not put other women above her even if you think she’s ‘wrong’. you should treat her like the sacred person she is- the person you made a sacred bond with- not like your nagging mother. learn how to treat women, your attitude and negativity sounds like you treat them like trash.

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