- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

Please tell me what to do; I could use some advice. Some married friends of ours hooked up and began an affair after a family barbecue my husband and I hosted. We are so embarrassed.

Everyone who attended is married and good friends of ours - or at least we thought they were friends. There were about 20 couples at our home, and we knew everyone was having a good time. Our purpose was just to host a great event and allow people who may be new to the area to meet each other, although some of the couples had met before during their military travel.

How can friends do something like this, not just to us, but most of all to their respective spouses? We feel so stupid because we never saw it coming. My husband and I feel we are to blame because this couple met at our house and began an affair shortly after. Were they making eyes at each other, did they slip each other their phone numbers behind our back or were they playing footsies in our hot tub?

How did we find out? Well, my husband took me to the zoo, and we stopped at a nice restaurant in the District and saw the two of them hugged up, walking down the street. We were just floored.

We are good friends with both of their spouses, too. Who else saw them, perhaps people who know their spouses? It’s a small world and it’s even a smaller military.

Who fesses up in this situation? Do we tell their spouses? Is this our fault? I’m just so hurt by this I don’t think I will ever host a function for couples again.

Ms. Vicki thank you for listening and letting me go on and on about this.

- Cookout and Hook Up

Dear Cookout,

It’s not your fault that two married people hooked up at a barbecue you hosted. You said it earlier - it’s a small military - so they could have met earlier, unbeknownst to you.

I know you feel as if you are to blame, and it somehow puts you and your husband in the middle. You think it’s your situation to handle because to your knowledge they became acquainted at your home.

I don’t see it like that. These are adults who are aware of their actions, and it’s not your role to make sure everyone stays faithful to his or her spouse. You were only the host, and they are adults.

I can understand your frustration and disappointment. I would feel the same, but I don’t think you should mention any of this to their spouses. I just wouldn’t. I know many people will disagree with me.

What I would do is confront them and ask some questions, such as “Did you two hook up as a result of the cookout I hosted?” This way you are putting the attention on the two of them. You also could tell them you were disappointed when you saw the two of them “hugged up,” as you say. Here’s the kicker: Be prepared for them to say, “It’s none of your business” or “Keep your mouth closed.”

Lastly, don’t stop entertaining. There is no way you will be able to issue a set of rules before a gathering that says to married people, “No hooking up with people you meet in my home.”

More people are hooking up and cheating than you think. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s happening more and more. Continue to take care of yourself and your family, and keep in touch.

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I’m not like most spouses who run their homes like a well-organized company. Some of these women have their pantry organized; color-coded schedules with chore duty, homework time and bedtime; and a weekly menu down to a T. This is so not me, Ms. Vicki. I feel like my husband should be glad to have me as his wife. It’s like this: Out of all the men I could have married, I chose him.

These military wives don’t know how to work it, and I do. I don’t have time to do anything but take care of my son, whom I send to day care for the interaction with other children. I keep my hair, nails and feet done, I shop, and I hang out at the gym so I can look good for my husband. Why should I do anything else? I take my job pleasuring him very seriously, because I know what I won’t do sexually, some other woman will. That, however, is the extent of my commitment. I don’t cook and clean. I let my husband do it.

My job is to look good and enjoy being married. This makes my husband look good. When I’m on his arm for one of his unit functions, heads turn. My husband knows it’s his job to work every day and come home and do all of the housework, cook and take care of our son. In return, I take care of him in other ways because he does such a good job.

So why am I writing you? Well, I need help advertising the classes I will start giving in August on how to work your marriage like I do. An associate told me she heard I have my husband on a leash like a dog. I know these women are jealous because they have let themselves go and don’t care about how they look. That’s on them, not me, but they don’t have a right to talk about me and my husband. The only way I can help them - and you, Ms. Vicki - is for you to come to my classes.

- Working It

Dear Working It,

You are too funny. You have left me laughing and speechless - it’s not often I can say that. Why am I not flattered that you have invited me to your classes? Oh, I forgot: You need my advertisement. Let me be the first one to say, “No, thanks.” I’d rather continue my matriculation at an accredited university.

You speak of your husband in a very patronizing and disrespectful manner. My husband paid me the highest compliment when he asked me to marry him. However, I never thought he owed me anything.

I’m sure you and I come from different mind-sets because of our experiences. I got my first job at 15, working during the summer as a housekeeper for a major hotel. I needed that job because my mother was single and couldn’t afford to clothe all of us. My father had died when the six of us were young. It would be my first year of high school and my pay went to help not only me, but my younger siblings, too.

I looked in the mirror later that summer and decided I wouldn’t make it as a supermodel. I knew college was my only option. I’m not saying this makes me better than you, but I am saying you will get your reality check at some point. I’m also saying your husband deserves better. He is an adult, however, and is responsible for his actions. If he is willing to work all day and night in exchange for a good-looking wife and sex, that’s his choice.

On the other hand, let me give you something to think about. You should know what women do and what wives do; women get married, but wives make a home. Listen, Working It, life happens. Get over yourself and grow up.

• Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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