Poisonous Jealousy

3 Apr

Letterbalm Jealous WifeDear LetterBalm: My wife and I have been married for five years. We’re both in our late 30s. She has many good qualities – she’s intelligent and funny and we share the same values in areas that are important to each of us. Having said this, I must also say that her jealousy is corroding all aspects of our marriage, and I can’t take it anymore. She’s suspicious of my female co-workers, my sisters-in-law, her friends. She makes unwarranted accusations (I’ve never even looked at another woman) and she grills me on every aspect of my life – from texts and phone calls to waitresses, retail clerks and who I meet while out on errands. She alternates between sulking and snits. All my reassurances don’t help. I’m seriously considering a trial separation, but I haven’t told her yet. Where do I go from here?

–In the Grip of a Green-Eyed Monster

You’ve got several problems here, at least one of which you may not know about. Your wife’s overreaction may be rooted in deep insecurities, perhaps in the way her father treated her mother or in a significant betrayal in her own life. Have you asked her? Are you attentive to the fact that her emotions are very real to her? (She may hate her jealousy but can’t control it.) Have you considered couples counseling? Are you in therapy yourself? Ms. L.B. is not unsympathetic; rampant jealousy is a poison that will eventually rot your marriage, if it hasn’t already. You may want to explore other avenues before you announce you want to separate. Sit with your wife in a calm moment and say something like this:

Brianna, first and foremost, I love you, and I’ve always been faithful to you. I know how bad you feel when you think I’m focusing on another woman or you worry about my becoming interested in someone else. But I have to be straight with you: I can’t take this jealousy anymore. Your reactions to ordinary things are over the top. You press and press, and before we know it, you’re in tears, I’m yelling and we have another fight. I think you don’t want to feel jealous all the time – the strain must be painful for you, and certainly for me. I want us to go to couples counseling as soon as we can or I’m afraid for the future of our marriage. We have to break this cycle together and learn to trust each other. What do you think?

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