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Betrayed Spouse 101

A Word About Strip Clubs

I have always been one of those open-minded wives that looks at strip clubs as a "boys will be boys" kind of "fun" thing. If my husband went to one with a group from work once a year or so, or during bachelor parties, I laughed at his immaturity and told him not to spend our life savings as he went out the door. No biggee to me.

Then he met a buddy at work who was married, with young kids at home. The guy liked to go out for a beer 2-3 nights a week at a local sports bar, and my husband would go with him. Again, no biggee - we had no kids at the time and I worked a lot of nights at the time. Then he mentioned that the "one" bar frequently became "bar hopping" at MANY bars throughout the course of the night, sometimes down into the city and over an hour away. This bothered me, not knowing where he was - but really, what could I say? He's a big boy and if he wants to bar-hop and he's not driving drunk or staying out till the sun comes up, I guess its OK, right?

Then one night I found the token with the name of a local strip club on it - it fell out of his pocket when he peeled his pants off. I questioned him and it turns out that not only did they bar hop, they usually went to one of several strip clubs as well. Funny, he kind of forgot to mention that...again, it bothered me...but I was always so open-minded and I even used to make fun of those 'priggish' wives that freaked out when their husbands went to bachelor I said "Well, I guess its OK. You're not getting lap dances, are you? I really do feel that a lap dance is crossing the line..." He reassured me that no, they never got lap dances. Lap dances are expensive, and besides, who needs a sweaty, unwashed stripper that close to you, anyway? Yuck! Nope, no lap dances, honey. I promise.

Then his buddy gets drunk at a picnic a few months later and I hear him bragging about the great lap dances he and my husband have had at a particular strip club. I waste no time. I corner my husband and say "John says you guys get lap dances all the time. Is that true?" He replies, no, not all the time. Just some of the time. Its no big deal - the bouncers don't even let us touch the girls. Why are you so upset? So I back down, reminding him again that I wish he wouldn't do that - I think its over the line. I didn't realize you can't touch them - but still - I wish you wouldn't do it. Its a lot of money and we really need to be conserving money right now to buy our new house. He nods, he smiles, he reassures me like I'm a kid whining about getting a shot at the doctor's office. "It's no big deal, honey," he says. "Really, its not. You know I love you."

Fast forward two years later to me, holding my pregnant belly, reading that damning email between him and his Other Woman (a coworker, not a stripper) that made it clear to me that my husband has some serious character issues and little or no RESPECT for me. I don't know why it surprised me so badly - I look back now and realize I never made it clear that respect was something that was NON-NEGOTIABLE. He did what he wanted, and me, I was the open-minded wife who never pushed or gave ultimatums or challenged him outright on much of it. Oh no, we had a great, communicating, easygoing that screwed me when all was said and done.

So here's my 2 cents, for what its worth. I don't think strip clubs in and of themselves are inherently evil - but finding your husband at one as a regular is a BIG red flag - particularly if you've communicated to him that you aren't comfortable with that scenario. The occasional (and I mean occasional as in RARE) bachelor party or male bonding road trip to a strip club is probably not that big a deal - if you're a person who can be comfortable with a "boy's night out" like that (I am, but not everyone is, and its up to you to communicate to your husband what does and doesn't make you uncomfortable). I do firmly believe that regular attendance at strip clubs is a definite sign of trouble. Strip clubs are not a reflection on you as a wife - if he's spending a lot of time there, it has nothing to do with drooling over good looking chicks gyrating suggestively, rather it has EVERYTHING to do with respecting YOU and being considerate about what YOU determine to be "over the line".

I should have pushed, I should have made it clear what the boundaries are. My husband took that leeway and ran with it, and when he was faced with the temptation of a flirtatious coworker who was more than happy to wrap her legs around a married man, he knew he could probably get away with it because he had the world's most understanding, trusting wife.