This is my first post here. I’ve tried a couple other Catholic forums, but after reading this one the last couple weeks, I decided to try here.
One issue that’s been gnawing at me for some time is my wife’s jealous nature. We’ve been married over 13 years & have been together for 15. In all this time I’ve never been unfaithful nor given her reason to doubt me. Despite this, she’s extremely mistrustful of me regardless of what I say or do. The main thing she points to is the fact that I tend to look at other women. I’m an artist & writer by nature, though, and I look at anyone and everyone–not just women, but pretty much everyone I see. One of my favorite pastimes is people-watching, which has never struck me as lascivious or wrong.
Another thing that sparks her jealousy is any time I talk with or make friends with other women. She’s much more introverted than me & doesn’t believe a spouse should have friends of the opposite sex. I personally don’t share that view and believe that someone who is fully devoted to their spouse can have friends of the opposite sex without issue.
I’ll admit I’ve misjudged people in the past, but that hasn’t impacted my devotion to my wife. On several occasions I’ve had friends & acquaintances make passes at me. In each of these situations I told my wife immediately afterwards. Each time it resulted in her being more upset with me than the person who made advances on me. To this day I can’t understand her reaction because I was completely honest and transparent with her about it & never initiated or reciprocated any of it.
Although nothing like that has happened in years, her jealousy seems to have only gotten worse. A while back I developed a fairly close friendship with a female coworker. While not Catholic, she’s a devout Christian & a good, wholesome person. Each of us works remotely so the closest we ever came to one another physically was about 1400 miles. We would often talk while on shift and would exchange emails with one another. After she lost her job, we kept in touch via email and would send each other encouraging notes, jokes…basically the sort of things I send to my other friends.
A year or so back, after several days of the cold shoulder, I found that my wife was upset with me because she’d been reading my emails. She felt violated by the fact that I’d “discussed intimate details” of ours & our kids’ lives with this woman. It wasn’t anything like that (I’d asked advice about our son because she’d gone through similar experiences), but my wife was irate. She claimed she didn’t doubt me but it was clear she did. She also insisted that this friend had less than honorable intentions, which clearly wasn’t the case, but I couldn’t convince her otherwise. After several months of huge fights anytime this friend sent me an email, whether I read/responded to them or not, my wife finally told me that she would leave me if I ever responded to this woman again. Although I didn’t feel this was reasonable, I didn’t want to harm my marriage so I told my wife I would cut this friend out of my life.
This hurt me deeply because, not only did I lose a friend, but I felt wronged by my wife’s lack of trust. I would hope that she knew I would never betray her trust or our marriage vows, but she doesn’t seem to feel that way. I don’t lie to her or hide anything from her, but she still doesn’t trust me enough to not read even my deleted emails. I don’t see why she needs to do these things, especially because she won’t do it openly. She doesn’t ask to read them while I’m awake or at my PC, but instead waits until I’m asleep or out of the house.
Adding to all this, we recently suffered a miscarriage. As devastating as this was, it brought us much closer together. It revealed a greater depth of love to me than I thought possible. I’ve expressed this to her almost constantly since our loss, and have literally rejoiced in this newfound devotion that God has allowed us to discover through our tragedy. Over the last week or two, though, I’ve found out that she’s still just as jealous as ever. She doesn’t seem to understand how hurtful this is, or how baseless it is.
As much as I love my wife and want us to be happy, I also can’t bear the thought of her not trusting me or having to feel guilty simply for wanting to communicate with friends. Thanks to a couple social networking sites (mainly Facebook), I’ve not only rekindled some old friendships (grade school & high school friends), but made a couple new ones. Several of these are women, and a handful of them are notably attractive and/or a bit younger. While their appearances have no bearing on my feelings toward them, those are the friendships she frowns on the most. My belief is that God intended my wife and I to be together and she satisfies my every desire–mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. From my perspective, the idea of me straying or ever leaving her is completely alien. However, I value my friendships & don’t like the idea of her insisting that I turn my back on someone. When we lost our baby, one of the things that helped us immensely was the messages of thoughts, prayers & kindness sent to us by our friends. The idea of telling someone that I have to cut off communications with them because they don’t suit my wife’s idea of a proper friend is extremely frustrating & just adds more stress that we don’t need.
I’ve asked some friends and family for advice and prayed about these issues, but nothing has really helped so far. I don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong or that I should be punished for simply talking with or emailing someone. If someone tells me I’m in their thoughts or sends me a funny or supportive note, they’re not trying to seduce me or wreck my marriage. I don’t know how to communicate this to my wife in a way that will make a difference, or how to get her to accept the idea that I’m really a fully devoted spouse. Any advice would be welcome.