Flirting is Normal

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Visitor's Question:
My wife and I are happily married, we have been married 9 months. We are both in the military. Recently she was deployed to Kuwait for a year. We have talked on the phone every day and email each other constantly. There is nothing wrong with our relationship and we trust each other fully. We like to say we are soulmates.

Anyway, when she called me the other day, she mentioned that while in line at the mess-hall, she was talking to a "cute" Marine who was standing in front of her. She said that after a while she noticed she was flirting, and she excused herself from line and went back to her room, all the while saying "I love James, I love James".

She told it to me jokingly, and I laughed along, but later on it started to bother me. Why would she flirt with another guy? Is the sexual urge so strong that it could override normal feelings? Why would she have to repeat to herself over and over that "she loves me", as if she needs to be reminded? We are very open with each other and encourage each other to be so, but I really didn't want to hear this.

I sent her a nice email asking her a few things about the incident (it was not accusatory or anything) and she became quite angry, saying I didn't trust her. I have since dropped it, but do I have grounds to worry? Why would a happily married woman flirt with another guy? Do otherwise happy women flirt with guys as a norm? Is there a need for a woman to flirt to see a reaction, to see if they are still sexy?

The way she said it was as if she didn't know what she was doing. Do I rate so low in her heart that a "cute" marine overrides me? Is it because of the separation and her need to feel loved? I always thought flirting was the process of communicating to another person that he or she is interested, mostly for relationship reasons like sex or a boyfriend or life partner. No?

Please help, as my mind is a jumble or emotions right now.

PS. I have no intention of ever leaving her, I am mostly just trying to find the answer to the question: Why would a happily married woman unintentionally flirt with another guy?

Our Suggestion:
It sounds like you haven't been in Europe before :) Flirting is a normal part of life! Flirting is about one person letting another person know they are a fun human being. Friends flirt all the time. People in offices flirt. People in organizations flirt. Flirting isn't stalking. It's a fun exchange of two people saying "You're a neat human." Married people flirt, single people flirt, old people flirt, young people flirt. An 18 year old guy who flirts with his 82 year old grandmother isn't thinking about dating her, he's just happy to make her happy.

Marriage is not about two people putting on blinders and saying "everybody else is ugly and hideous. Only this one person can I ever find appealing." In fact if you do feel that way, it means something is wrong - that you are only staying with your partner because you feel you have no other choice. The best relationships are where two people actively choose to stay with each other even thought they *know* there were and are many other options.

People grow and change over the years. They like to feel appreciated by others, that they are worthy to the world at large and not just to one person. It's very healthy for people to have many friends, male AND female, who appreciate and support them.

It sounds like she was afraid of the thought of finding someone else appealing. And that she was worried that you'd be upset. Which as it turns out was a valid worry. So much so that she tried to drive the thought of him out of her mind, as if the very thought of someone else being interesting was a bad one.

Long distance relationships don't work well with supression, because there are enough other strains on them to deal with. You need to accept that local friends and flirtations are a normal part of life. Your relationship with each other should always be the MOST special part and the one that is most worked on. But you'll probably find that if you try to exclude all other relationships in order to "save" the main one, that it won't work out well. The other relationships you both have should help make you rounded individuals who strive to be the very best you can be.

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