Jealousy or Privacy Issues

Renee from Stamford, Ct

Q: I’m a 29 year old woman and my fiance is 39 years old, or at least he was my fiance up until yesterday. We live together and my problem is that I am extremely jealous and abusive to my fiance. He is genuinely a good person who has been wonderful to me, But because of emotionally destructive relationships I’ve had in the past, I am not able to deal with him for who he is. I’m always looking for signs that he’s doing something wrong. I do this so that I can protect myself before things get out of control. But the truth is he hasn’t done anything, but I still find things to fight about. Now he has reached a point where he does not eat at home. He goes out alone now, and he won’t speak to me. What can I do to rectify the relationship.

A: Renee. You can get into some EMDR therapy. Go to the web site and see if you can find a certified EMDR therapist in your area. This type of therapy is really great for reducing the type of fear that drives your jealousy and suspiciousness. I’ve personally had a lot of success in using EMDR to help people decrease old fears that interfere with their marriages. The therapy works because it actually stimulates a part of your brain to shift one type of painful memory (eidetic memory) into a more comfortable type of memory (semantic memory). The result is a great reduction in anxiety which is exactly what you want. Make sure you get an EMDR therapist that is actually certified by EMDRIA. Then you know for sure you have a good one because the training is vigorous. I can vouch for that because I went through it and am certified myself. Good luck.- Bryce Kaye

Debra from Springlake, NC

Q: I want to know what it is when you feel insecurity in your marriage. I have a BIG insecurity problem. Either when my husband and I go out, he’s looking at other women, and we get in to it. When we’re at home watching tv, he looks at women as if they’re there, and we get in to it again, and I don’t know why this is happening. He’s the same way when we go out and it’s causing a big problem for us. Can you explain to me what this is and how to deal with this? Thanks

A: I’m sorry Debra. I can’t get into someone else’s head. Perhaps your insecurity problem is a lack of emotional intimacy and closeness between the two of you. Perhaps if you and he shared your most private feelings and thoughts with each other, then external appearances wouldn’t be so important to either of you. Just a thought. – Bryce Kaye

Tom from Cedar Park, Tx

Q: My wife and I have been married for 11 years with an 8 year old boy and a 3 year old daughter. It has come out that my wife had a couple of beers one night and stated over the phone to a family friend that she was in love with him but would not do anything to hurt me or his wife because she respected us both. She felt bad about the feeling she was having. She said that she liked the way he always compliments the way she does things. She said she looked forward to the “public” few minutes she sees him on certain days. The friend responded by saying “we are just friends and that he would not tell his wife what had transpired. She admitted the whole episode to me but only after the family friend told his wife what had been said. All of this transpired over the course of 12 hours. My wife has never done anything like this before (that I know of). My wife is very jealous of this friend’s wife who is wealthy, doesn’t work and can buy anything she wants (we are middle income 60,000/year) This friends wife basically rubs it into my wife’s face and sends her into a depression. I suspect that the reason for whole thing was to get back at his wife by trying to get her husband to like her because she had suspected that he did. Evidently she was wrong and the whole blew up in her face. My wife stated that jealously was possibly the reason for her saying those things but also said that she did have feeling for him. Even though nothing happened between the two of them, I still feel hurt, betrayed, not good enough and confused. My wife says that she loves me and only me and admits that she really screwed up. I love her very much but this whole thing is grinding at me. What are your suggestions?

A: Tom. Your wife may be too confused to give you a good read about what actually happened. Don’t forget that alcohol not only disinhibits, it also distorts. I personally have been told by another’s intoxicated girlfriend that she loved me. I didn’t put much stock in it. Besides, “in-love” feelings can flame on and flame out quickly when we’re getting attention and compliments from the opposite sex. The important thing is that your wife acknowledges that she “screwed up.” You can ask her how she could have handled it differently, even accepting that she might have been attracted to this man on some level. Most people feel attractions to others over the course of a marriage. The important thing is how they manage it. The first thing I do whenever I feel “in-love” type of feelings flame on with the opposite sex is to talk to my wife about them. I present it as a type of crush that we both know will quickly pass – and it does. What remains is a stronger trust and deeper respect between the two of us.- Bryce Kaye

Lynn from Bouctouche, New-Brunswick, Canada

Q: My husband and I have been together now for twelve years. Our relationship is 90% great. However, he always stares at other women all the time. I tell him how much it hurts me and he wants to change but doesn’t know how to. Please help us because that 10% is making me so sick, I don’t even want to go out because there will always be a beauty out there. I am a very petite women and do take good care of myself and jealousy is not the reason. I feel embarrassed around people because he’s so obvious. Thank you.

A: Lynn, if your husband truly has a compulsive behavior that he can’t control, then he will need more focused help than what my simple feedback can provide. Compulsive behaviors require methodical ongoing external structure such as therapy, self-help groups, etc. However, I wonder whether or not your husband is being truly honest with you. He may be merely blowing you off. Ideally, you both could be discrete about looking at the opposite sex and could also share with each other when you notice a truly beautiful physique. Most people have these feelings. However, not many relationships reach that degree of emotional security wherein each party can merely be amused at the other’s person’s diverted sexual interests. The most healthy and trusting relationships can tolerate it. – Bryce Kaye

Jeff from Springfield, Mo

Q: My wife and I have been together now for 13 years. We got married at 18. So you can imagine the up’s and downs that has caused. I am uncomfortable about my wife’s friendship with a coworker that I think is interested in being more than just her friend. We have been down this road once before. It almost cost us our marriage then. Now I feel as though it is starting again. But every time I bring it up she just jumps on me that I don’t trust her. Just like she did the last time it happened. But even she admits I was right that time. I think it is starting again, but once again I am getting told that I am creating a problem were there is none. I think that she likes the attention and doesn’t see that it affects our marriage when she starts valuing his opinions over mine. I try to be open-minded but it has been my experience that if two people are attracted to each other, sooner or later they will do something that they shouldn’t. She has told me that if they both were single, she would date him. I say that proves that they have some sort of feelings for each other that could eventually be harmful to our marriage. Whether they act on those feelings or not it hurts us, and ME! I really do not know how to handle this. I am sick of fighting over it and having my feelings on the subject just dismissed as I am being a jealous jerk. what should I do?

A: Jeff: I would suggest that it really depends upon whether or not she has really mismanaged her sexual feelings in the past. If she hasn’t, then you really don’t have any grounds to intrude. If she does have a history of inappropriate sexual behavior, or some other outright betrayal of the relationship such as lying, then you may need to respectfully confront but not control. Even if she has proven herself to be unreliable, you options are essentially to warn or to walk, not intrude. She has that right. By the way – you don’t trust her. That’s not such a big sin as it sounds. Trust is not global. In some ways you trust her, in some ways you don’t. In some ways you trust yourself, in some ways you don’t. Let’s be realistic. Even the most exceptional relationships have some distrust because all people have limitations. Trust is really only expectation. – Bryce Kaye

Lee from New Bedford, Ma

Q: My new husband gets very upset with my dog. My dog always wants to be near me and this upsets my husband. If he sits near me or sleeps near me there is always a fight. I am a animal lover and that is the way I am. Please help me with this problem.

A: Lee, please see my response to you both in the next frame: – Bryce Kaye

Richard from New Bedford, Ma

Q: My wife sleeps with her dog, and I do not like this but it seems she loves her dog more. I can’t even set with her.  The dog is at her side all the time. I need some of my wife’s time too. When we are having sex the dog has to be there. I love my wife very much. Help me out if you can. Thank you. Richard.

A: Lee & Richard, I gather than I am somewhat cast into the role of mediator in the canine wars. You both have work to do. Richard, you are not going to get Lee to divorce her dog. Lee, you are not going to have Richard accept your dog in all situations. Both of you need to sit down and methodically define the boundaries between your time for emotional connection as a couple versus times when you will only be affiliating side by side. They’re not the same. When you have sex, both of you need to feel safe and focused on the other. If one partner is distracted by the dog, then there’s a violation of privacy. If you’re doing your own thing around each other (e.g. one reads, the other watches TV), then there’s no call to intrude on the relationship between master and dog. Both of you have valid needs. I suggest you map out what to expect in terms of when you will be intimately focused (no dog) and when you will be present but not intimately focused (no grouching about the dog). It would be best to get it down in writing. One suggestion: you might agree to exclude the dog for a period of time when you’re going to bed. You might then bring in the dog when you finally turn out the lights. – Bryce Kaye

Christine from Los Angeles, Ca

Q: I have been married for 6 years, and involved with my husband for almost 9. We have a 7 Year old son and another very close to being born. I love my husband very much and would never want a divorce. Lately I have found him to be distant. About a year ago he had come in contact with a women who broke up with him to be with one of his friends, They ended up being married. We began to go out occasionally with the couple and when they bought a house we moved into the complex they had lived in. The ex spent a lot of time visiting friends in our complex. Then she left her husband a few times. She had stayed with other friends off and on then asked my husband if she could move in with us. I told my husband I was very uncomfortable with this and she did not move in. About 3 wks later my husband called me at work to ask if she could move in. She had left her husband again. I wanted to talk about it when I got home by then she had already thanked me for letting her move in. I felt stuck. She lived with us for about 2 months till I got pregnant. She still would call and e-mail my husband regularly. Then every Friday my husband would go out and she would be there. Needless to say I’m not very happy with this. I don’t say very much. I have tried to be a “cool” wife and not let it bother me. It is very hard for me to stay home with my son, pregnant, while my husband is out on the town w/his ex. Sometimes he doesn’t come home till 2:00. He says he is there to see others & she just happens to be there too, but every Friday. This girl also wants to be chummy with me. She wants me to call her when I go to the hospital. My husband says she really likes me and wants to be my friend. I say I know exactly what she is up to. Also He spends a lot of time online. Sometimes he does not come to bed until 3:00. Yesterday I found 3 e-mail addresses under the mouse pad. All belonging to girls. I can not check his e-mail without a password nor would I want to invade his privacy. I’m afraid to ask him anything because I don’t know if I want to find out the truth. I know my looks have paled in the last few months and I don’t look like I did when I met him but that was when I was 19. I hate confrontations but don’t want this to turn into a problem where he thinks he can walk all over me. I know he needs timeout and I would love to go out and party every now and then but I have priorities with my family. This ex leaves her kids with her husband. She gets to be fun and thin and I get to be tied down and fat. I feel bad because my husband has sacrificed a lot of his 20’s being tied down with me, but so have I. Please help.

A: Dear Christine, I’m afraid you sound terribly underpowered in your relationship. You would do well to join a women’s consciousness raising support group if you can find one in your area. If not, try finding a CODA group (for “Codependents Anonymous”). I know you like to avoid conflict but you needed to have asserted yourself with firm boundaries long ago. It doesn’t really sound as if you’re emotionally ready to currently risk much confrontation so you’re time would be better spent getting the emotional support you will need when you finally do so. Good Luck – Bryce Kaye

Lee Anne from Anchorage, Alaska

Q: I am 40, have an 8 month old son, and have been in a marital relationship with a wonderful, caring, loving, attentive man (father of my child) for the last 3 years. We have had many hurdles to overcome, and are currently engaged. We are good partners, good parents, responsible and peace loving. We rarely fight, and our disagreements are peaceable. He is a healthy recovering alcoholic (5 yrs sober). Here are the issues: 1. He loves all women, and loves to be their hero. He calls other women “his girl, honey, love” etc. 2. He feels that he has the right to take single women out to fancy dinners, movies, biking, etc that he has previously had a relationship (some sexual some not) with. Because he is faithful, and he does as much for me, he says I should not have any issues with this. (presently, he is taking his ex 20 yr old secretary to an expensive dinner in Seattle for her 20th birthday while on a business trip, alone) He says it is inappropriate to do these things with married women. 3. He professes that he has trouble getting his ex wife out from “under his skin”. Says he loves me, but misses her. Had lunch with her the other day alone. We had discussed it and agreed it might help him to overcome some issues. He told her that she was welcome to call and be with him at any time. 4. He has lied to me in the past about his contacts with his ex wife and other women who have disrespected me. He says that this is in order to preserve peace and avoid confrontation. 5. I have issues with trust in general and in specific with him. I have been checking his email, and believe that he has another mail service or hides things from me, even though he denies it. 6. If I am home, he doesn’t spend time online, but whenever I am gone, or leave the house, its one of the first things he does. I do not wish to end this relationship, as no one has ever been so kind and loving to me. Yet, I find myself in torment over these issues, and find myself shutting down and not believing a word he says. I keep telling myself that all his kindnesses have little to do with me being special, but it is just because he is kind. I recognize that if I cannot put an end to these issues, I will shut him out for good. I have tried to make compromises in my heart to allow him these privileges, yet I feel so violated. Even if he is sexually faithful, I can’t help feeling as if he is allowing someone else from time to time to “take my place” Please help.

A: Lee Anne, you paint a picture of a man who has poor boundaries and is exercising poor boundaries around your relationship. He may or may not be having affairs. Even if not, you describe lying and deceptive behavior. This does not necessarily mean that a person has to be malicious. But it does mean that they may have difficulty with their own separateness and may be compulsively dependent on others. The thing that bothers me the most is your description of his lying. I would suggest that both of you seek professional help. It might be a good idea to try to find a recovering counselor who has had a substance abuse background of his own. A counselor with a strong 12 step background would be someone that your husband can hear and respect, especially when it comes to 4th step issues of character. – Bryce Kaye