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My landlord won’t stop flirting with my husband – but he likes the house too much to say anything

Ask Em 29/05 My landlord won?t stop flirting with my husband - but he likes the house too much to say anything
This week Em Clarkson is dealing with an overly familiar landlord… (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Metro’s agony aunt Em Clarkson is here to solve all your problems.

This week she’s handing down sage guidance on maintaining friendships after having a baby, relationship mixed-signals and finding a partner in your 40s.

Read on for this week’s reader conundrums and Em’s advice.

Dear Em, my husband and I have been married for 50 years. There was infidelity in our second year of marriage but I forgave him and he has been committed to our marriage ever since. However, I am constantly aware of women coming on to him. Our landlady is about our age, maybe a few years younger, and is married. The problem is that she hugs my husband when I’m not around, and flirts with him openly.

When she picked up the rent early this month, she sat down at the edge of the seat of one chair, turned facing my husband, with her back to me. I noticed her messing around with the collar of her dress but thought she was just fidgeting. However, when she got up to leave, I saw that she’d unbuttoned a few buttons and her cleavage and part of her bra was quite noticeable.

My husband says he’s disgusted by her but the problem is that he won’t call her out on any of it because we really love our home here and he thinks she’ll kick us out. He doesn’t want me to make trouble so I’m supposed to keep my mouth shut?! I know that I’m hypervigilant because of his affair all those years ago, and he avoids being around any women unless I’m there, because of my insecurities. Am I being overly nervous about our landlady blatantly flirting with my husband? It’s eating me up not telling her about our marital boundaries even if her marriage has no boundaries.

I think you did a really good job of identifying the problem within your question. And it’s not your husband, it’s your landlady. While he did give you cause for doubt at the beginning of your marriage, it sounds that over the last four decades he has proven his loyalty to you. And while I’m not of the ‘forgive and forget’ school of thought particularly, I am a big believer in leaving the past in the past and moving on.

Emily Clarkson in a blue dress, with red earrings.
Metro’s agony aunt Em is here to solve your problems (Picture: Natasha Pszenicki)

I say it every week, but resentment is a poison, and for our own good, we need to learn to put it down – which means separating your husband’s historical misdemeanours from the issue at hand.

It sounds to me that your intuition about your landlady is spot on, and she is flirting with your husband. I feel the need to stress that that doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to have an affair with him: she may be entirely happy within her own marriage, this might just be who she is and how she functions; she may crave attention, she may have her own insecurities, she may not even be fully aware of what she’s doing (I’m not convinced by that, but stranger things have happened).

Whatever it is, I want you to see that this has nothing to do with you, or even your husband, and everything to do with her. The most important thing I think you can do is keep an open line of communication about the situation within your own relationship; that is something you can control. If your husband is right and calling her out on this risks your living situation, at least you’re able to ensure that you and your husband are on the same page, which, really, means you have nothing to worry about.

Give your husband some credit, it sounds like he learned from his mistake, and he wouldn’t be willing to throw away all that you have for this woman. It might just be a case of putting up with her, safe in the knowledge both you and your husband are aligned in your interpretations. If it is too much though, and you can’t get past it or find a way to be comfortable, then between you and your husband you need to find a way of communicating it with your landlady. And then local estate agents, if it all goes tits up. Good luck.

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Dear Em, my partner struggles massively with anxiety and depression and over time it seems to be getting worse. We were talking about it the other day and he told me that since we have been together his mental health is the worst it has ever been. He assures me that it has nothing to do with me and that he is happy in our relationship.

We have a beautiful daughter together and are getting married but I can’t help but feel like I have added to his problems. He has told me how he wasn’t happy in his previous relationships but how can his mental health be better with them? I love him and want to be there for him but how can I believe that I am not the cause of his mental health struggles if he was seemingly happier in these other awful relationships?

The hardest thing I ever had to learn was that you can’t make other people happy. Of all the things I ever tackled in therapy it was this, and it took the longest to go in. I couldn’t understand it: surely, if I could do all the things that I knew my partner liked, if I could behave in a way that I knew pleased them, if I could just get it all right, then they would be happy, right? Wrong.

Other people’s fundamental happiness is not conditional to external factors, and it’s definitely not dependent on the actions of other people. On the surface, yes there are clear rights and wrongs and actions and consequences, but ultimately it’s how a person reacts to a situation or a behaviour. It’s their thoughts that govern how they feel.

As hard as it is to accept, your partner is responsible for his own emotions. And while you can do your utmost to support him, you have to know that ultimately there IS only so much you can do. I understand why you’ve taken his comments personally, and the connection you’ve drawn between his last relationship and this one, but mental health is complicated.

There’s no rhyme or reason to depression: it’s hard to understand how those who seemingly ‘have it all’ could be sad, but it doesn’t discriminate. And so I don’t want you jumping to conclusions and taking leaps.



Want to ask Em Clarkson a question?

Em Clarkson is here to solve all your problems.

Well, sort of.

As Metro’s agony aunt the influencer, author and content creator (busy much?) is primed and ready to be a sympathetic ear, an oracle of wisdom or, quite simply, a stand-in for that girl in the nightclub bathroom you share your thoughts and dreams with while waiting in line.

While she stresses she’s no alternative for therapy, Em is keen to talk through any quandary.

With over 300,000 followers on Instagram and a reputation as one of the more honest influencers out there, Em is often asked for advice in her DMs. Now, she wants to do the same in Metro, as our columnist.

No topic is off limits. So if you’ve a question for her agony aunt series, email askem@metro.co.uk.

Trust your partner when he tells you how he feels, and trust him to act in his own best interests. If he could, if it were that easy, he’d be okay for you, and for your daughter. But it isn’t that easy, and he’s got to get through this in whatever way he can. Ultimately, all you can do, is keep being who you are: the woman that he loves and the partner that he’s chosen.

It’s not easy helping someone through a mental health dip, and I think you could do with a little bit of support yourself. It might be worth reaching out to a therapist, just to ensure that you’re as strong as you can be right now: for yourself, your daughter, and your partner. Good luck x.



Need support?

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

If you’re a young person, or concerned about a young person, you can also contact PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide UK. Their HOPELINK digital support platform is open 24/7, or you can call 0800 068 4141, text 07860039967 or email: pat@papyrus-uk.org between the hours of 9am and midnight.

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