Flirting outside of a marriage can be healthy if it doesn’t cross the specific boundaries you and your husband have set, says Therese Borchard, author of “The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit.” But if it crosses the comfort zone, it could be emotional cheating. It is possible to save a marriage with your flirtatious husband by being up-front about your feelings.
Determine Your Boundaries
Decide what makes you uncomfortable. Is it fine for him to compliment or touch other women? Does the way he looks at other women bother you? If you are never comfortable when he looks at another woman or gives her a compliment, you may be too touchy. Maybe it is OK once in a while, as long as he lavishes most of his attention on you, or maybe you are concerned about one woman in particular. Determining your boundaries will help you feel confident in confronting him.
Approach your husband and explain how his flirting hurts you, says Karen Karbo, author of the book “How to Hepburn: Lessons on Living from Kate the Great.” Don’t argue with him, advises Karbo, but “simply tell him that his actions bother you and ask him to stop. Say that it makes you uncomfortable to watch him lavish so much attention on another woman.” If he tells you that you are overreacting, stay firm. It doesn’t matter why you don’t like his flirting. If you don’t like it for whatever reason, it means that he’s crossing a boundary in your marriage.
Address Other Concerns
Your husband may be flirting to make you jealous, to get your attention, and/or because he feels that you put him down and he wants others to build him up, says Borchard. But flirting is a manipulative and unhealthy way to address those deeper marital concerns. Talk to your husband about why he flirts and what you can both do to make your marriage stronger instead of weakening your bond with emotional betrayals.
It can help to have an objective third party, such as a counselor or therapist, participate in these discussions. Flirting can be considered emotional cheating, and overcoming bad feelings can take significant time and effort. If you talk to your husband and get nowhere, get help from a trusted professional.