Wife bothered by husband's secretary texting on personal time

(Ammentorp/Fotolia)

(Ammentorp/Fotolia)

Amy Dickinson, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:17 PM ET

DEAR AMY: My husband's secretary sends text messages to him. Initially it was an occasional text relating to business. Over the past year or so these text messages have become more frequent and more personal. Though seemingly harmless, these messages irk me.

For example, when my husband "Dan" was home sick with the flu she texted, "Are you feeling better?" to which he responded a polite, "Yes, thank you."

Then she started texting photos of her kids, or a cute dog, and other photos, which he has deleted to keep me from getting angry.

Last night -- Friday at 9 o'clock -- she texted a picture of herself with a friend who used to work at the same office. No message -- just the picture.

This really ticked me off. Dan no longer responds to these messages (at my request, to keep things professional/businesslike).

She is an aggressive and rather attractive divorced woman in her 40s. I feel very annoyed that she would be thinking about my Medicare-aged husband after work hours.

I expressed my dismay about this and my husband said, "Yes, she's weird, but don't you trust me?" That just pushed me to be even more irritated.

Dan and I need to know if you have any advice on how to make this stop. This woman obviously knows no boundaries and doesn't respect our privacy or our marriage and family. -- Irked

DEAR IRKED: It should be relatively easy for your husband to get his secretary to stop texting him in this unprofessional way. All he has to do is to say (or text) to her, "Don't send personal texts to me, please. I find it unprofessional and also disruptive to my home life."

"Dan" doesn't seem to want to do this. It might be time for you to tell him that no, you don't trust him.

DEAR AMY: I work in an office where passive communication is the norm. I am frequently given information thirdhand (sometimes fourthhand), which leads to confusion, discrepancy and, in some instances, hurt feelings.

Many things I'm expected to know I could only have found out through eavesdropping. I was raised to believe that eavesdropping is rude. Therefore, I tune it out, but I find I am not receiving information that others expect me to have because I won't listen to other people's business.

It seems that my attempts to encourage people to be more direct have had the opposite effect: People don't want to approach me because I'm not playing the passive-aggressive game. So they have someone tell someone to leave an ambiguous note in my inbox.

It seems ironic to me that my employers frequently say things like, "Let's be a team" when they are unwilling or unable to speak directly. Do you have advice for how I can change my behaviour or know what I could say that might encourage people to be a bit more forthright? -- Straight-shooter

DEAR SHOOTER: One thing you could do differently would be to look for a different job -- one where your direct style would be an asset.

If you are unwilling (or unable) to do this, then you are going to have to hunker down and operate as others do in your workplace -- even if you don't like it (and I agree with you that this style is not ideal). According to you, this ambiguous style originates at the top, so correcting it isn't realistically feasible.

Nothing (work related) you hear in the next cubicle should be off limits to you if it enhances your ability to do your job well, so take off your noise-cancelling headphones, forget what your folks taught you about eavesdropping and dive in to the passive pool. Just make sure you verify any fourthhand information before acting on it.

DEAR AMY: I worked as a legal secretary for many years. The letter from "Flummoxed" about the lawyer posting abusive comments about her secretary on Facebook made me see red. I know lawyers don't always have the best reputation, but in many years working in the legal field I was never treated with anything but dignity. -- Proud

DEAR PROUD: I have received scores of responses from lawyers denouncing this person's behaviour.


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