Trust and jealousy

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hi I have been married to my husband for 18 years they have not all been good but we have always had a mutual respect and caring for each other.Last year my husband found an old girlfriend on facebook and started communicating with her by phone and email. About a month had passed and he wanted to meet her but he felt that he should tell me so he did but he left out the part about her being an old girlfriend. he wanted me to go out with just the two of them. I wasn’t happy about it but after a couple of days I was ready to agree to it. then I talked to my sister inlaw and she told me about their past relationship and how this woman spent a year trying to break him and his first wife up and that I should not let this woman into our life.

I asked my husband if she was ever his girlfriend and he said no for two weeks I tried to get him to tell me that he had a past relationship with her and he finally did. I told him I couldn’t understand how this old relationship could be a good idea on any level we fought for a couple of months about it but got passed it. I made him promise me no more old girlfriends.

Just about a year later i noticed that he had another old girlfriend on his facebook account I let it go a couple of weeks to see if he would tell me he didn’t. So I confronted him his first reaction was anger that I knew she was his old girlfriend and how did I find out who was I talking to. I told him I didn’t need to talk to anybody to know that she was an ex because he had kept a picture that she gave him hanging on our bedroom wall for 10 years until I got rid of it. He then stated that he had not been talking to her outside of facebook but that there was another woman he had been talking to but she was just an old friend. I asked him if he had done anything to hide this relationship like delete her phone calls or emails he said no so I went to check and he had deleted all his communications with her he then went and changed his email, facebook and purchased a disposable phone so that I can not check up on him. Until last year I had never checked his email or phone records. we actually shared an email account for many years.

Now comes to me. I have lost all trust in him. Now I am in a jealous rage I don’t know how to stop myself or if I should just leave I am constantly questioning everything he does and he hates it. He thinks I should just trust him he doesn’t think he did anything wrong because he has “kept his pants on”. He has never wanted us to have friends together and now all of a sudden he wants to have all of his childhood friends around which I would be fine with I have wanted us to have friends for years I just don’t think he is choosing people for us to be friends with just him.
please help.

A: It’s not unusual for people in mid- to late life to rerun the “what ifs” of their youth. Many people start reconnecting with people who knew them when they were young. Part of it is simple curiosity. Partly it is an effort to feel young again by revisiting our youth. Part of it is sometimes competitive. Usually it is harmless. Sometimes it leads to reconnecting with people who remember us when . . . and who can again become important friends.

What is unusual and worrisome about your husband’s behavior is that he is hiding his activity and seems to be confining his searches to old girlfriends. You stated that your marriage hasn’t always been good. At 50+, your husband may be feeling that if he is to have the option to make a change, it’s now or never.

You are right to be concerned. You are going to get nowhere by being “wildly jealous” and accusatory. You are not going to help the situation by turning into a sleuth. Your efforts only make the other women look even better to him.

If your marriage is to make it through this crisis, you two need to finally confront the issues that have made things less than good and see whether you can reclaim and rekindle the love and respect you have had.

I suggest you take the high road and apologize for your own out-of-control behavior. Tell your husband that you love him and want your marriage to continue, that you feel threatened by his interest in other women, and that you don’t want to abandon a lifetime together that has been mostly good. Make an appointment with a couples therapist. Ask your husband to go with you. Even if he won’t go, go yourself. A therapist may help you identify ways to more effectively work on your marriage so that your husband will eventually want to join in the project.

I’m sure this is a scary time for you. Please limit contact with anyone who badmouths your husband or who sees all men as impossible. You need people around you who understand what you see in your husband and who give you love and support as you try to turn things around.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Trust and jealousy. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/09/27/trust-and-jealousy/