Dear Neil: My husband of 12 years is very jealous. Whenever I try and go out with my friends, he becomes upset and causes a fight. I usually come home when I say I will, and I do not come inebriated or such. On one or two occasions something unforeseen happened and I came home late. He got in a rage. He is not physically abusive, but is very verbally and emotionally abusive
I am not sure how to handle the situation any more. I had a brief affair nine years ago. Is this the cause of his behavior? How can I convince him I can be trusted? Even when I take my mother to the doctor, I receive the questioning bit.
Untrusted in Brookfield, Wisconsin
Dear Neil: It is obvious by your recent reply to the wife of 17 years who’s husband she suspected of having an affair—that you know nothing about betrayal and what it does to one’s psyche, not to mention the effect that denying one’s feelings has on a relationship.
Jealousy is a very real feeling that should not be denied, whether or not it has a basis in fact. Denying one’s feelings only makes the hurt of betrayal worse if you find out the truth later.
I went through a situation where I found out my husband had been betraying me. The affair had been going on for a least six months with a mutual “friend.” You have no idea the pain and anger that betrayal generates. It appears that you have never gone through such a thing yourself, or you would have more empathy. My sense is that 95% of jealousy is based on reality.
Betrayed in Portland, Oregon
Dear Untrusted and Betrayed: If you suspect your spouse/lover is cheating on you, does that mean you are correct? What if he says he’s being faithful and monogamous, and you don’t have actual proof of him cheating? Could you still be correct? Of course.
Could you be wrong? Or worse, could you be unfair, suspicious, paranoid, possessive and insecure? You bet.
Jealousy is a complex emotion. Indeed it can function as an early warning signal that things are amiss, but it can also mean that you are insecure and therefore easily get threatened without just cause. Jealousy could be a sign that the relationship has grown more distant than you are comfortable with, and that therefore your sense of security is feeling threatened.
Jealousy can sometimes arise from an expectation of disloyalty or betrayal. It can represent a lack of confidence you have in yourself that you are attractive or interesting enough to hold your mate’s love and affection. It can also be used strategically, in that you can accuse your spouse/lover of disloyalty as a way of demanding reassurance that you really are loved and wanted.
There is a difference between jealousy, possessiveness and suspicion. Jealousy is defined as the feelings, thoughts and actions that arise when one believes that a significant relationship is threatened by a rival.
Possessive people demand lots of attention and reassurance from their mates, and a rival (or potential rival) need not be involved. Suspicion may or may not have a basis in fact, and can easily push away the person you want closer.