I have a female friend who I've known since we were kids. My wife has always been uneasy over this friendship but generally tolerated it. That is, until recently when she discovered that this friend and I had a one-night stand a couple of years ago while my wife and I were dating. (Emphasis mine.) Since she discovered this, she's been badgering me to stop seeing my friend. I can honestly say this happened only once and it will never, ever happen again. We have no romantic feelings for each other. Who's in the right here?Am I way off here, or is this question not really at all a subset of the my-partner's-too-jealous-for-me-to-have-friends-of-the-opposite-sex questions advice columnists get by the bucket-full? Questions where the answer is obviously to remind all that the world is made up of two sexes, at least; that even the not-so-social will be networking with men and women alike; and that unmerited jealousy is the gateway to all kinds of still-creepier behaviors?
Nor is this even in the open-relationship, "monogamish" realm. This is not something where, after a couple decades and the loss of lust of one spouse, the other ventured elsewhere with less than full disclosure. This is not something of ultimately no consequence being revealed long after the fact, long since the relevant third party has ceased to be anyone's friend/neighbor/nanny/co-worker. It's most definitely not about a spouse who's jealous of something utterly ridiculous, like solo activities, movie stars, the occasional head-turn when Brad or Angelina walks by, or the fact that prior to meeting each other, there were - and unless the couple got together at 16, there were - other people?
This is about a couple that's been married for about five minutes - we know this because they were dating "a couple of years ago." And the dating-vs.-married distinction... makes sense in some 1950s universe where people "court" many prospectives at a time, and only engagement (or only marriage) implies exclusivity. And I know that Prudie tends to advocate for a return to that world, for an end to serial-monogamy, cohabitation, pseudo-marriage, etc. But in the world that does exist, in a milieu a man writing into a Slate advice columnist might come from, when this man was "dating" his now-wife, if there's a presumption of monogamy in their marriage, there was one then as well. Maybe not in the first week or so, but in all likelihood nearly all their "dating" days were committed enough that involvement with others would have been considered cheating. (If there were some kind of premarital free pass, how would anyone ever get a sense of whether or not a potential spouse is likely to cheat or, more to the point, is enthusiastic enough not to have to? Isn't that kind of the point of beginning monogamy before any rings are exchanged?)
In other words, this guy cheated on his now-wife with another woman, and that same woman is someone he now wants the wife to be OK with him hanging out with. This isn't even about whether it's fair to have friends of the opposite sex who are also exes, murkier territory where the only possible answer is, if a couple's fine with it, it's fine, but if advice-columnists are being summoned, presumably one is and one isn't and thus the problem.
We're also meant to believe that the wife's unease about this particular female friend exists somehow independently of her having maybe picked up on the fact that something was there between this woman and her husband, because technically she only just learned this. That she's just a jealous person who can't tolerate her husband hanging onto a childhood friend, simply because that childhood friend (so innocent a time, childhood!) is female.
I think Prudie got this one all wrong. As I read it, the letter-writer was asking for Prudie's permission to label his wife jealous and irrational, to divorce her, and to take up with someone else, quite possibly (but not definitely) the girl-next-door.