DEAR ABBY: For the past 25 years, my husband, "Don," has had his hair cut by a woman I'll call "Barber-Ella." She's slim, attractive and full of energy. Don has mentioned that she often pats him on the leg and kind of flirts with him.
We have been married 35 years, and I've never had a reason to mistrust him. Our life hasn't been a bed of roses. We have a 30-year-old disabled daughter who lives with us. I have rheumatoid arthritis, which causes me pain and saps my energy. The medication has made me gain weight in my belly and face, and I feel unattractive.
Barber-Ella seems to have a lot of influence on Don. She persuades him to buy certain products, and once talked him out of a medical procedure "because it went wrong for a friend." Recently he told me she has been telling him dirty jokes and using four-letter words in the telling. Don says, "She likes to see how red my ears get." Although she is married, I'm not convinced that's all she's up to.
I feel this woman's behavior is inappropriate. Does this have more to do with my own insecurities than with her? Why does she do this? Should I ask him to change stylists? Should I call her and ask when she'll be adding lap dances to her services?
I don't want to put Don on the defensive or make it seem like I don't trust him. Please give me your opinion because I'm losing perspective. -- REALLY UPSET IN ST. PAUL, MINN.
DEAR UPSET: Gladly, and here it is: Your husband has been Barber-Ella's client for 25 years. She probably flirts with him because she thinks he likes it. (Her other male clients may also find it flattering.) As to the jokes, she may tell them because she heard them from other clients, thinks they're funny and is trying to entertain him. If any of this posed a threat to you, your husband would not tell you about it.
I'm a strong believer in patterns of behavior. Unless your spouse is getting more haircuts than he needs and his time is unaccounted for, I don't think you have anything to worry about.