I received a viewer question from Fox 26's "Mind, body, soul with Mary Jo" last week. The question is a familiar one that many couples struggle with.
Dear Mary Jo, I married my husband young and have been married almost 4 years. We have had many ups and downs. I have just noticed he flirts a lot with other girls. I ask him why and he has no answer. What should I do? I am hurt and confused. Thank you, Diane.
Dear Diane, flirting is a way to interact and get attention. I have never known anyone who doesn't flirt in some way, even when they are married. People everywhere dress, talk, laugh, play, and engage, all in an effort to get the attention they need. Babies flirt by flashing a smile or giving direct eye contact. However, when couples get married, sexual flirting is not advised. Sexual flirting is different than the normal, playful flirting the majority of people engage in. My guess is that the sexual flirting in which your husband is participating is the one that has you most upset.
When a marriage has ups and downs, it is common for one or both parties to begin feeling unstable. Securing another potential partner is a form of self survival for some. It sounds like your husband is not getting the amount or type of attention he needs to feel secure. When a partner answers a direct question with, "I don’t know," it means they really don't know (don't read into it). They may not have given it thought or reflected upon it. He may feel the feelings but not be able to identify the source. If he feels unloved, rather than sitting down and talking to you, he opts for flirting with someone new. What he is most likely seeking is the attention from a woman to feel desired and special. 8 Steps To Strengthen Your Marriage After An Affair
There is so much in your letter I don't know, so I am going to try and help you in a broad sense. If you confront him directly and tell him that his behavior makes you feel sad and unloved, it may be enough for him to discontinue using flirting as a way to get attention. However, you will have better success and help the marriage more if you take a look at what you are doing to communicate your love and respect for him. You can begin this by asking yourself questions such as these:
How do I satisfy my need for attention? For example, to meet your need, are you reaching out to other men, working longer hours for warm fuzzies, spending more time and emotional intimacy with friends, eating more, drinking more, smoking more, or letting yourself go?
How are you communicating your love and attention to your spouse? Are most of your interactions with him critical, blaming, yelling, cold, rejecting, or loveless?
Does my partner feel rejected by my avoiding intimacy or sex with him? If you don't know you better ask him.
Next: When you notice flirting in a marriage, it's a warning sign...
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