I hope that you can help. For some time now my marriage has been suffering. My wife and I seem to be screaming and yelling at each other every day. I would say that jealousy is a big factor that causes the majority of our arguments.
My wife has a close male friend who is single. I have always tried to be supportive of her close friendships and have trusted her implicitly, even during times that felt uncomfortable. As I continue to try my best, I find that it is growing difficult to maintain this trust. Recently, given that we have been arguing so often, my wife has stayed over at her male friend’s house. She expresses that it is perfectly innocent, that he is like a brother to her and that she slept in a separate bedroom. However, this feels inappropriate. Every time I try to discuss this issue with my wife, she becomes very angry and offended by what she feels is my accusing her of wrong doing.
How do I handle this in a calm manner? I feel very confused. Is it wrong of me to expect my wife to make some changes? I have had some relationships in the past whereby I was cheated on. Going back to my younger years, I was the cheater. I understand that this makes me particularly sensitive to jealousy and trust issues.
Jealousy and distrust are tricky issues to navigate within any relationship. As an emotion, jealousy can feel overpowering as it is a rather harrowing combination of fear, humiliation and rage. Your past experiences of infidelity, can indeed fuel your emotional response to circumstances such as this, particularly the fear of abandonment.
It is great that you have acknowledged your feelings and that you are taking the time to consider them carefully and with patience. Continue with this self-awareness. Remember that your pangs of jealousy and distrust are telling of your love for your wife and your fear of being betrayed, not necessarily that your wife has done anything wrong. Painful feelings can often come to feel like open wounds to our self-esteem and self-worth. Take some further time to focus on the relationship that you have with yourself. In doing so, consider whether the anger and insecurity that you are experiencing extends beyond your wife and your marriage. Do your feelings have more to do with the pain and betrayal evoked from your past? Also remember that whilst you have no control as to the actions of your wife, you do have control as to how you cope and respond to this situation. In this instance, your feelings of jealousy and anger can be utilised as useful tools that signal to you that, for whatever reason, your relationship is currently in danger and in need of repair.
The fact that your wife retreats to her friend’s house following your arguments, indicates that she is overwhelmed by the daily confrontations that are occurring. I would suggest that the way in which you both express your anger needs to be explored and the main factor to overcome. Are you truly listening to one another? It seems that the way in which you communicate your emotions is the true source of the conflict and confusion that you are experiencing.
Boundaries shall be the key tool for you both to utilise moving forwards. By boundaries, I mean the agreed and shared understanding of what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t, for the good of your relationship. Boundaries apply to the both of you and must be mutual. For example, a boundary
could be that you both agree that staying overnight at a single friend’s house is inappropriate, therefore you both shall refrain from doing it. Another boundary could be that when either of you feel a sense of anger or jealousy arising, you write down your emotions and think with caution about how you wish to express them effectively and calmly before confronting one another.
If you find that attempts to instil mutual boundaries such as this are ineffective, couples counselling may be the way forward to assist you both in communicating successfully within a non-judgemental and supportive environment. The therapy process will assist you to forge more constructive communication patterns that will significantly reduce your daily arguments and allow you to attain a better understanding of one another.
Have patience Berhan.
Wishing you happiness and restored peace of mind,
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