Ask Stavroula: Dealing with a Jealous Husband

Dear Stavroula,

I’m married to a man I fell madly in love with. I married him relatively quickly, shortly after I became pregnant with our child who is now two years old.

The problems in our relationship started when I decided to go back to work. At first he tried to persuade me to stay home until our child grew up and epic quarrels ensued with him calling me a useless mother and me insisting that I want to continue my career since my two-year stay at home was tiring.

When I started working, every morning we had the same discussion, why am I wearing those clothes, why am I putting on makeup and perfume, women who are looking to hook-up do those things, and such comments. Then, the phone calls started even at work, persisting in trying to get to know my male colleagues, the quarrels every time I wanted to attend events at my company when he couldn’t come, and the faces he made when he did come with me and he saw me speaking with men. I won’t even mention the times I dared to go out with a girlfriend for coffee, I was always embarrassed having to answer to “where are you,” “who are you talking to” and “you did not answer immediately,” “who else is with you” and whatever other question pops into his head.

I’m tired of all this, I can’t understand why he feels this way, what am I doing wrong? I love him very much but I don’t know if I can stand this situation.

Maria P.

Dear Maria,

It seems like you have married a man who is constantly experiencing anxiety that he will lose you in a way that leads him to absurd conclusions. While you were at home and caring for your child, he felt safe and calm. But when you decided to work again, he lost his footing and began to behave excessively and unreasonably. He probably had given you examples of this behavior at the beginning of your relationship, but as you wrote to me you were very much in love with him and maybe then you would interpret this behavior as caring, love, protection. Depending on your past experiences in relationships, especially if we have experienced indifference in a previous relationship, we may welcome the control in a subsequent one and interpret it as ‘caring’.

I would first suggest that you talk to a mature person in your area and present the problem honestly. It may help you to understand if it is something in your own behavior that can trigger this reaction in your husband.

Then, try to talk to him and ask him to be honest about how you might be causing him insecurity and for what reasons. Ask him to tell you what he would do if he were in your place, how would he try to make you feel calm and safe again. I think a lot depends on the outcome of this conversation.

If you think he is jealous for no particular reason, honestly explain to him how you feel and urge him for you both to visit a specialist. Jealousy is a disorder and most of the time it is very difficult to overcome without professional help no matter how determined the sufferer is to change. Usually, feelings of disadvantage, insecurity, and phobias are hidden behind such jealousy. People who suffer from this disorder try in their own way to prevent potential infidelity by their partner, perhaps because they do not feel that they deserve to stay with them. Because they cannot control the fear of abandonment or the anxiety of humiliation which can be expressed with insults and even sometimes with violence.

Don’t make the mistake of giving up or accepting to adapt to what he asks for, if you think it is unreasonable. And don’t leave the problem unsolved in the hope that it will resolve itself later. In these cases, timely expert assistance is needed to save the relationship.

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