Cook up a way to make peace with chef husband's new fame
Q: Husband is local celebrity chef, who quickly gained notoriety during our first four years of marriage. This created some conflict with "foodie groupies," and my husband's inability to lay down boundaries when they hug, kiss, or hit on him at local events.
I am accused of being jealous and insecure when I mention that it makes me uncomfortable. Duh.
Husband has now received a job offer with even more notoriety and recognition on a national level. I will have to appear with him at social events that I despise.
How does one act at such events, especially when women elbow me out of the way to get to my husband?
A: This isn't about how to act at events. (Duh.)
This is about your resentment, and finding a place to put it.
And that, in turn, is about how you can reconcile your husband's delight in his fame with your utter contempt for it. It can be a short answer, really: If you can't be happy for him, and dismiss groupies as a minor annoyance, then his fame will come between you.
I realize that makes it sound as if you're the only one with responsibilities here, which of course is never true in a marriage.
But your husband has made his position clear: He likes the attention. He likes these events. He likes life as a rising star. Admittedly, it sounds as if his way of telling you was petulant and defensive; "J, this is the ride of a lifetime, and I want you to enjoy it with me" would have gone over a lot better than "You're just jealous and insecure."
Nevertheless, his position delineates your options. It says the boundary question is asked and answered; he's not setting them. It says you might as well get used to these events and, if you attend, getting elbowed occasionally. It says that, no, this isn't the marriage you thought you signed up for — but it's the marriage you've got.
If your husband can't show any sympathy for your discomfort, then maybe it isn't much of a marriage. But I don't think you can demand something you aren't willing to give — and your letter has zero sympathetic words for his good fortune. There isn't an "I'm really proud of him" or "He's living his dreams" or even just "I know I should be happy for him." Maybe your choice of words wasn't quite this deliberate, but even "notoriety" comes with a negative pitch.
It bears repeating that your husband will need to do his part to hear and heed you — a significant variable. But you have the more pressing need to make peace with fame as the third party to your marriage — so you need to speak up.
Instead of focusing on events and strange women, seek your husband's help with the bigger issues — namely, why does his career threaten you so, and where do you fit in?
Collaborating on a solution will boost your confidence in that solution. Now, you aren't confident, and without confidence, skipping these events becomes punitive, going demurely becomes doormatty, and cleaving to Mr. Fame demotes you to groupie in chief.
With confidence, though, any one of these approaches becomes viable — a joint statement on how you've both adapted to fame.