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Girlfriend Is Insecure or Jealous of Ex-Wife

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My girlfriend and I have been together a number of years and experience regular conflict over my ex-wife, whom she says I defend. Example: My ex-wife will attend my niece’s (age 10) birthday party. My girlfriend feels that my family disrespects her by inviting my ex-wife, nevermind the fact my ex-wife was her own relationship with my niece and my sister. My ‘defense’ is that I can’t tell my sister who she can or cannot invite to my niece’s party, nor should I even be trying to drive a wedge there. Another example is I recently taught my son (age 16) how to change a headlight in his mother’s (ex-wife) car. This was a problem because, in my girlfriend’s mind, this is evidence of some connection that still exists between myself and my sons’ mother. My girlfriend might reach back to a time years ago when I spent 15 minutes to repair the boiler in my own house, where I was letting my ex-wife live until she moved (this was right after the divorce). Nevermind it was a software issue, I installed the boiler myself when it was brand new, and I don’t trust a common repairman to take care of the heating system that I personally designed and installed. What was I supposed to do, let my two sons freeze in the house until their mother got it fixed? When all in (the drive and actual repair) took 30 minutes? Lastly, I’m living in that house now. My ex-wife and I bought the house together but it was more of my dream house than hers and she gave it up in the divorce. It’s paid for. But because my ex-wife lived here YEARS ago, my girlfriend more or less refuses to spend time here. If we’re spending the night together it’s a 99% chance it’s at her house. This also changes our intimacy. I keep my two sons for half the month by doing two weeks on, two weeks off. Unless I go to my girlfriend’s house, I could go the full two weeks not seeing her. This is a full two weeks with no sex, as well. And it’s not like we’re knocking lamps off the nightstand every night we’re together. After 4+ years and have a daughter together (now aged 2) my girlfriend has finally decided to move in, but we can’t make any ‘big investments’ like painting (insert sarcastic laugh) and we absolutely MUST be buying a new home soon. Mind you, for the size of our family (4 kids plus the two of us) we can’t find a large enough home in a good enough area for less than $400k.

PS…I have an $800k insurance policy where I decided to divide the money by the number of children. That’s $200k to each of my biological children plus $200k to who is effectively my stepdaughter. But because all the children are minors, I had their mothers as the beneficiaries to streamline the payment of insurance benefits and avoid probate court. That means my girlfriend and ex-wife were both due to receive $400k, was. This was unacceptable. She demanded I list my mother (who my GF has called ‘the enemy’) and have my mother dole out the money, nevermind the tax consequences. I’m not giving my mother that job, and it runs the risk of MY insurance money going to my mother’s beneficiaries (my siblings) if she dies before disposing of my insurance proceeds. It boiled down to her absolutely demanding my ex-wife come off the insurance, fine, but I’m not going to put my sons through probate court any advantage my daughters. So EVERYBODY is going through probate court, meaning my girlfriend came off the policy too. Now my policy lists the children directly. And now she’s upset that she’s off the policy because she believes I am ‘punishing’ her with the mindset of ‘how dare she question my ex-wife being in the policy’ and that she simply thought there’d be a policy out there with her name on it (which there was). (From the USA)

Girlfriend Is Insecure or Jealous of Ex-Wife

Answered by on -


It is such a shame that you have to endure your girlfriend’s immature behavior. She knew you were formerly married and this, by definition, means you’ll have to have contact with your ex-wife. The controlling, self-serving efforts emerging from her insecurity do not bode well for your relationship to flourish going forward.

The wise couple relationship therapist John Gottman said there were Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling. When your girlfriend Criticizes and has contempt for your behavior you are compelled to be defensive about your actions. When she “…refuses to spend time…” in the house it is a version of stonewalling—as is not painting and investing in it. She is setting up an absolute that creates nothing but havoc in spite of all the rationale. Her inability to let go of all of this and her engagement in the criticism, contempt and stonewalling mean that the relationship will become more and more difficult if her responses cannot mature.

Her trying to manipulate and control you in these ways will ultimately continue to drive a wedge between the two of you. I highly recommend you find a couple’s counselor. The find help tab at the top of the page will help you locate someone in your area, as will this organization. This is important not to just try and get some peace of mind for the two of you, but for your daughter.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Girlfriend Is Insecure or Jealous of Ex-Wife

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2020). Girlfriend Is Insecure or Jealous of Ex-Wife. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2020 (Originally: 10 May 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.