So I woke up at 6:30 this morning to find my husband at the kitchen table already working. It is rare for him to be up this early, and even rarer for him to be working so soon, so I asked him what’s up. He says he’s been up since 5 AM because he had a bad dream about me. I know what’s coming… I’m supposed to go to Lake Tahoe tomorrow for a girl’s weekend. I’ve been hesitant about it since we planned it because my husband is EXTREMELY jealous. I was worried that Tahoe might present too many “threats” (i.e. there might be a man at the slot machine next to me). We have been going to counseling for the last couple of months, but we haven’t even gotten to the jealousy issue.
Anyway, the dream he had was about me “talking” to another man in a flirty way. He says he trusts me to act responsible, but I know he doesn’t. Now I want to cancel the trip (there are other factors too, like $$, childcare) just because I don’t want to deal with him perceiving something that isn’t really there (like there might be a man in the background of a picture we take!).
It’s so frustrating because I have never cheated on him, or any man for that matter. His issues are too long to mention here (hence the counseling)… My question is, how many of you have jealous husbands and how do you deal? I feel trapped.
No wonder you feel trapped! You’re a prisoner in your own marriage. First, if you only get one thing out of this response, get this: Your husband’s jealousy has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. His insecurities sound very deeply rooted. I am curious why “We’ve been going to counseling for the last couple of months, but haven’t even gotten to the jealousy issue.” Why not? It is clearly a huge issue for you both. It’s normal for a spouse to feel tinges of jealousy or possessiveness at different times during a marriage – we all have our insecurities. But what you describe here crosses from within normal range to neurotic. His neurotic jealousy is not healthy for him, your children, or YOU.
I. Answer first part of your question: “How many people have jealous husbands?” A lot! Many people have jealous spouses. People handle their partner’s possessiveness in various ways – depending on how extreme their neurosis is. Some partners verbally reassure the insecure partner that all is well, and it will suffice. Other partners have to “prove” their loyalty in small ways – especially when there has been a rupture in the relationship, such as an affair, substance abuse, or other issues, this is normal. But what you describe is not normal.
II. Answer second part of your question: “How do you deal?” You have several choices:
1) Continue in therapy but bring this topic up next session – no excuses!
2) Decide what you believe is fair and within normal limits of your personal freedom, be very concrete and clear, then stick to it. For example, “Tom, I’m going to Lake Tahoe with my girlfriends like we discussed. I am not doing anything to jeopardize our marriage, or anything I would be resistant to sharing with you. I need you to support me and trust me.”
3) Get into individual therapy for additional support to help you navigate through this difficult terrain.
4) Leave the marriage. I don’t say this lightly, but if your spouse cannot loosen his neurotic grip you owe it to yourself to save yourself and your children.
Remember, every relationship is negotiable, and re-negotiable. You are 50% of your marriage and you have rights not only as a spouse, but as a human being. Don’t cave into someone’s neurotic demands. It may be hard to hold your ground, but in the long run it’s so much healthier for the family unit as a whole. Good Luck!