Jealousy & Marriage


#1

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.


#2

Wow…as a woman, I can see where she is coming from. I would be deeply hurt if by reading his e-mails, I discovered that my husband was having deeper, more frequent conversations with someone else other than me. I don’t know how you and your wife interact on a daily basis, but maybe she feels hurt that she is not the one you go to every time you need to talk. Maybe her feeling is not jealously, but hurt. Maybe it is not mistrust that she feels, but alienation from you. If you were my husband I would feel like an outsider after reading your e-mails to other people-male or female.

I am also in a similar situation with my husband, but not to the extreme…sometimes I feel that he would rather talk to anyone else but me. Sometimes I feel left out…he goes to someone else before me, his wife, who is supposed to be #1 (after God). It probably comes across as jealously, but mostly it’s hurt. I know he will never cheat on me, but it gives me an uneasy feeling when I see him going to his friends before me. What else is he not sharing with me?

There’s nothing wrong with having friends, male or female, but you should make sure your wife knows that she is the #1 person in your life, after God. It may take some time to rebuild that trust.

Maybe I’ve totally missed the mark here, but I hope this sheds some light. Put your self in her shoes.:shrug:


#3

I do not know if this will help, but it is an idea.
Encourage “your” friends to direct their emails or invitations to both of you.So that she is an important part of such friendship and she is included.So, you will no longer have a separate life, secret or not secret, apart from her.
Good luck and God bless you and your loving wife.


#4

Are you and your wife close? Do you spend a lot of time together? Go on dates? Do you have frequent, and deep conversations?

It could be that your wife just has self esteem issues, but doing more of the things I mentioned above might help her feel more secure.

If your wife has issues, befriending multiple younger, attractive women is probably not the best idea in the world. You’re certainly within your rights to have those friends, but ask yourself why you want to be friends with them. Ask yourself if you’ve been enjoying flirting.


#5

So your wife experiences a sense of insecurity in your marriage. It might be warranted or it might not be. It would be hard to tell over the internet. If I were you though I would think hard about whether you are providing the near occaision of sin to the women who think you are offering more than friendship and are actually making passes or suggestions. Chances are they think you are providing an opening for that. You may not mean that but you may be communicating that openness despite it and you need to learn how not to. You may be communicating with emails and phone calls beyond an appropriate boundary. It’s hard to tell.

Consider going on a Retrouvaille weekend( if this is a big problem in the marriage) or a Marriage Encounter Weekend ( if you don’t think the problems are big) to work on communication and marriage building.


#6

I am going to try and give you advice as a woman and as a woman whom’s engaged to a very social man… As a woman I would like my husband to have me as his only “close” and best friend, and if there is anything troubling him at all, for him to discuss it with me instead of trying to get advise from other people, specially other women…IF we cannot solve something amongst ourselves and if the need for another person to get involved for advise purposes only is required then I would be ok with it because I too would be looking for advise outside of the husband and wife circle of trust…

My fiance has women friends, and most of them have come on to him, plenty of times, he makes sure they know their place, because the one he wants is me and I am the one he loves…since we are getting closer to wedding, and more deeply in love I have noticed he will not go around his female friends that often, he said it just doesn’t feel right even though they have been friends for decades, for him to be talking more to them than to me, or at least make it seem that way… I thank him for this because the one I enjoy talking to more than anything is him.

The relationship between husband and wife is sacred and special. Something no one should ever come between… If my fiance keeps talking to these friends of his like he used to before we go together things would go sour between us and jealousy can definitely sprout up because I would feel they are more fun and interesting than I am…AND that means he only got married to me for comfort? Or what??? You can’t share your hopes and dreams with someone else and your love and heart with another…It all has to be in a package, if you can’t talk to your wife about the great achievements at work, your heart aches at home, your headaches from family, friends, jobs, car problems, and everything else without talking to someone else first or even mentioning it to your friends as well, well then there’s a problem. My fiance’s brother has nothing but male friends, a few “girlf friends” here and there that he and his wife share in common, but the ones he confides in after he talks to his wife and after he sees there is no comming to conclusion with her are not his girlfriends but the guys and the guys go and confide in their wives for advice and they return to him with some good advise to give for his situation… He doesn’t go to his friends’ wives and ask for advise personally…

And if you are here talking long distance to this woman about personal things that you should be discussing with your wife, it looks bad…and gives her reason to feel alianated, and hurt because she might feel left out of your world…

My fiance looks at everyone all the time, and it bothers me sometimes when the women he’s staring at give him the “wanting look!” He’s a very attractive man, and he doesn’t realize the kind of feelings he can give a woman with his stare…Believe me we could be out in a restaurant he’s just looking around and I could be leaving to go to the bathroom when I return he’s getting hit on and he’s here telling them to leave him a lone, it gets pretty annoying. He’s been like holding his stare back lately, lol, promises his eyes are only for me! LOL I trust him, but I tell you if he stops talking to me or stops talking to me often or more than we talk now, things wouldn’t work out at all…AND I would be very disappointed in my husband…

I give him his space, he hangs out with his boys and I with my girls, so we don’t have conditions against each other with friends, but when we are having problems with children or anything else I expect him to trust in me as well and talk to me and always try and compromise together before he goes and opens his mouth to anyone else about our situations…

Just my :twocents:


#7

Looks like you’ve already got some good responses… I’ll chime in as another wife in a less-extreme situation. My husband is definitely the “socialite” and I’m more introverted. I’ve had to fight off many thoughts of jealousy - unwarranted, like you say - but the thoughts and emotions are real, nonetheless.

Intimacy for women means involvement and curiosity about their life. Sharing basic thoughts and feelings about her day - asking her questions about how she’s feeling?, what’s on her mind?, is there anything you can do to relieve any stress she has? - how can we GROW… TOGETHER?

She probably feels violated that you’re sharing and connecting with others rather than HER. How often do you just TALK to HER about basic stuff?.. Cheerfully!

It’s probably less about “looking”, but more about where your mind and heart are. If your mind is focused on interests OTHER than her, then there’s valid jealousy. I know it may seem like mundane everyday conversation about family life with general friends, but to HER, it’s intimate. It’s private. It’s marital.

This is hard for guys to understand, I know… so I commend you for coming here to ask for opinions. :thumbsup: Now the hard part is to change behavior. Yes, you may be completely innocent - but marriage is about becoming ONE with your wife - understanding HER perspective through HER heart and mind. She obviously loves you deeply - treasure that! Don’t take it for granted!


#8

…love your wife??? Then why would you not adhere to her wishes??? You don’t marry and promise 50%, the committment is 100%+… does not sound to me like your as committed as you express… just my humble opinion… peace!


#9

I’ll give another woman’s perspective… I’m not married, but am getting close to that point with my boyfriend.

But for what it’s worth, I also have what you would call jealousy issues and self-esteem issues. What first stood out to me, is that when the women made a pass at you, you told your wife. Yes, I know you were looking out for her best interest in being honest and open, but honestly? I think that would only cause her more grief and jealousy. If you right away made it known to those women that you won’t take that kind of attention and separated yourself from those women, I’m not sure how telling your wife helps the situation. Now, I know maybe others will disagree with this, but I know for me and my boyfriend, we don’t discuss things of that nature, it isn’t helpful to our relationship. Because with trust, you know that your significant other will not put up with attention like that, so why even talk about it? It’s only going to make the other one feel insecure and maybe even jealous. Perhaps she’s wondering why you get all the attention from the opposite sex? (not saying that’s a healthy feeling, but it is possible she feels this way)

And I will also agree, that you may be opening the door for sinning with having so many female friends. If you are going to have female friends, I think they should be family friends, not solely your friends. But, I’m going to say that I think for the sake of the marriage, it’s probably better to stick with married friends so that you both can hang out with them.

I don’t know if this really helped, but I can say that I really see where your wife is coming from…


#10

So… you’ve gotten lots of advice and suggestions, but nothing’s really helped. Why not? Because everyone told you what you don’t want to hear?

I notice you don’t say “Well, she has guy friends and I don’t feel jealous of them” because she hasn’t put any “friendships” into the middle of her marriage. She focuses on YOU and… where are you? Ummm… over on the internet with your “friends.”

You need to get a clue about women… especially ones with miscarriage hormones surging through their veins.

YOU are making her feel insecure. You telling us how she has no reason to feel insecure is just you making yourself feel better for hurting her. It doesn’t solve the problem.

Here’s her version of the letter:

Help. My husband is a big flirt. He claims to watch all people, because he’s an artist, but I suspect he uses it as an excuse to ogle good looking girls. I have self esteem issues and he makes me feel disrespected because I have asked him to stop many times and he still does it. Then when women hit on him, he lets me know just how attractive they all find him. Women email him. I have asked him not to be giving our private information to other people and seeking these deep intimate emotional friendships with other women. He tells me they’re all innocent, and they are just friends. But I’m supposed to be his friend. I don’t do that to him. He doesn’t understand that I know women better than him. He is being friendly and there are many women who will use “friendship” to raid other women’s marriages. No matter how many times I ask him to stop, he says he’s innocent and has a right to have these friendships. Now he is on facebook and other social sites looking up old friends and I feel like a cyber widow. We just had a miscarriage. You’d think that would bring him to his senses. But I bet one of these days I’ll be in my room crying and he’ll be on some site with some other woman who had a miscarriage sharing his deep feelings about it with HER!

Yeah. That’s how it looks, buddy.

Her issue is that something this important is not being fixed because you have told her how innocent you are. Well, you don’t look completely innocent from this woman’s point of view. You are having your ego stroked by lots of women you’re not married to, while a woman you promised to love forever and cleave unto her exclusively, forsaking all others, is sitting with self esteem issues while you pour out your heart to other women online.

Your pride is something you need to take to the confessional. You are putting yourself in the near occasion of sin. Many men have fallen into affairs this way. You are not immune. Instead, you flaunt it in your wife’s face all in the name of “openness.”

Let’s be honest. If you really cared about her feelings, you wouldn’t be writing to us. Or to other women. You would have stopped this cyber flirting and all these extraneous friendships long ago.

For the record, your generation knows no politeness. When a man is married, a woman addresses all correspondence to him and the wife. If she is polite and doesnt’ have designs on him. Your friendships exclude a very important person. The women are circling. You probably like it more than you’re admitting. And trying to blame the woman you’re hurting for feeling insecure.

All you can say is how her mistrust hurts you. Pretty selfish.

You don’t talk about the toll 13 years of flirting with other women takes on a woman who has given you no reason to ever doubt her fidelity.

You write to other women behind her back and then act like she is the problem because she read those emails behind your back?

Lose the double standard. If you were really open and aboveboard, you’d have openly CC’d her on every letter and response you and these “just friends” shared. That would put those other women on notice that you don’t sneak around behind your wife’s back getting emotionally entranced with all these “good Christian” women. Oh. You didn’t do that? Well, you were letting them know that you’re open to having a relationship with them that excludes your wife.

Why any smart woman would want to be friends with a man like that is beyond me, but go figure. Those are the same women who think they’re getting a prize when they steal another woman’s husband away.

Your problem would end if you would stop the behavior your wife has asked you to stop for 13 years. Basically you’ve been telling her for 13 years that her feelings are unimportant to you. And then you wonder why she doesn’t trust you? Trust isn’t just about thinking a man isn’t having a physical affair. It’s about feeling emotionally safe with him. You don’t make her feel that way.

Been there, done that.

Just a woman’s perspective. But you’ll say it’s unhelpful because I didn’t tell you what you want to hear: Your wife is out of line and she has no right to tell you who you can email.

Nope. Not gonna say that. Too much smoke here not to have some worrisome spark.


#11

*I agree with others, Gordon. I think that your wife has a reason to feel a bit insecure…because it seems like you frequently talk with other women besides her, about her. Just imagine the shoe on the other foot…and your wife had numerous male friends that are not your friends, and she emails, and chats with them about you and the intimate details of your marriage. Not a pleasant vision, I’d imagine. When you marry, you become one. When your wife hurts, you hurt–when you hurt, she hurts. She shouldn’t have to fight to prove her point with you. Your wife doesn’t sound like she’s over the top with this, it sounds to me like she has a right to feel the way she does.

There comes a point in a marriage, when our own wants have to go by the wayside for the good of the other person, and marriage. If your wife is hurting, LISTEN to her. Don’t defend what you’re doing anymore…these women are not your wife, your wife comes first. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having relationships with people of the opposite sex, but it sounds like it’s become too often in your marriage.

Remember…if the shoe was on the other foot…how might you feel.

Praying that your marriage gets back on track…God bless.*


#12

You pretty well covered how much you love and adore your wife. I wonder how she shows her love for you.

Other than the jealousy issue, what is your relationship with your wife like? Does she respect you? Is she interested in the things that you say or do? Is she kind to you? Is the fact that she is concerned about you becoming emotionally close to another woman the only complaint that you have?


#13

Gordon–CLEARLY God has used this forum to steer you in the right direction of healing yourself and your marriage. The answers are unanimous. This is your chance, Gordon. You can either do what is right, or turn your back and keep looking for someone to tell you what you want to hear, instead of the truth.:frowning:


#14

#15

Gordon, I’m curious if your wife is jealous of your men friends.

I’m guessing from what you’ve written that you are a person who thrives on being a sun orbited by lots of planets. That’s not a criticism; it’s more a personality description. But it is a big red flag because very few woman are emotionally capable of being married to such a man without experiencing jealousy. In fact, usually the only women who can live comfortably with such men are the ones who are even bigger, brighter suns than their husbands. But every woman, no matter how social, wants to be the sun that her husband orbits. And a woman of childbearing age feels this particuarly deeply.

Whatever they think prior to marriage and childbearing, women soon learn that if they want to have a husband, friends, an education, a career, children, etc. then they will generally have to spead those wants out over time.

You may need to evaluate your need to socialize and have many friends of both sexes in that same light. There are some times in a person’s life when they have to put friendships on the back burner. (This goes for friendships with both sexes.) This may be one of those times.

Your wife may very well be overly jealous or she may not. There’s a good chance that she was attracted to your nature in the first place but has since found out that what’s attractive from a distance is not so easy to live with. But you can’t control how your wife feels. You can, however, chose to sacrifice for your wife or not. A sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless what you give up was a good thing. (Giving up a bad habit is not a sacrifice.)

I don’t know if being an artist is your career or your hobby. It is my understanding that artists think of themselves as discovering art more-so than creating it. Consider that your wife is the artwork you most want to be known for.


#16

Gordon, why should your wife have to share you with other women? The simple answer is, you should stop developing these friendships because it bothers your wife. And you love her, and she loves you and you are married. Period.


#17

Guess I am the odd woman out here… I believe what the Scripture and the Catechism teach us about friendship. Friends are important to our lives, nowhere does our faith teach us to abandon friendships when we marry.

I have friends, my husband has friends, we know each other’s friends. We have friends of both genders and of various ages, ethnic groups and marital status. Our friends enrich our lives and make us better spouses.

Your wife knew you were the person you are when she married you, and I will bet you a dollar that she thought you would change after you married her. To her shock, you are still the same person :eek:

Counseling with a good Catholic counselor sounds in order for her and for the two of you as a couple. Find out when the nearest Retrouvaille weekend is and schedule it.

Pick up a copy of “The Seven Levels Of Intimacy” and read it together.

Pray together!


#18

Nobody said friends aren’t good and important. But close friendships with *women *obviously bother the OP’s wife. The husband is supposed to be willing to give up his life for his wife. He should put her needs before his own “need” to have close friendships with people of the opposite sex.

It’s not like she’s telling him to abandon all of his friends. That wouldn’t be a fair characterization.


#19

Nobody said friends aren’t good and important. But close friendships with *women *obviously bother the OP’s wife. The husband is supposed to be willing to give up his life for his wife. He should put her needs before his own “need” to have close friendships with people of the opposite sex.

It’s not like she’s telling him to abandon all of his friends. That wouldn’t be a fair characterization of the OP’s wife from how he’s described her.


#20

I think there may be a few misconceptions about what I posted. One thing I’ve never done with these women is flirt. If I email someone and tell them I’m concerned because their spouse or child is sick, or because they’ve lost a loved one, that’s not flirting. If I talk to someone professionally or about shared interests, I’m not flirting. If I email someone I grew up with whose life took a similar path to mine and I tell them how happy I am for them and how blessed I feel to have such a wonderful wife, I’m not flirting. However, these are all emails that have gotten me in trouble.

In regards to the former coworker, we were having troubles with our son and it was entirely on my shoulders to resolve the issues. I discussed it with my wife until I was blue in the face but she couldn’t come up with any suggestions. I talked to family and friends and did not get anything from them, either. I recalled that this friend had dealt with similar issues several years earlier with her teenage daughter so I emailed her for advice. Other than me telling her that I’d pray for her because she was going through some serious health issues, that’s all their was to the email.

My wife & I talk constantly and spend the bulk of our non-working hours together…as in 80-90% of the time. I’m usually with her when she’s on the PC because she’s not very computer-savvy and asks for help. I tell her all the time that she’s welcome to see/read anything I do on the PC, but I’d rather her be open with me about it instead of going behind my back.

As far as the “advice” I got from others, it was all either, “don’t know what to tell you,” “it’s not my place to say,” or, “that’s nuts, you have every right to have friends.” None of that was particularly helpful, and I’ll agree that it’s definitley not what I wanted to hear.

Regarding past advances, we had one instance right after we got married where someone made a pass at me and I didn’t tell her, not because I was afraid she’d be upset at me, but because I was afraid it would upset her and add to her insecurity. Once she did find out, it was a much worse situation than if I’d have told her in the first place. I told her that if anything like that ever happened again, I would tell her immediately. She said she’d prefer that over not knowing. Although the handful of other times it happened upset her, I couldn’t live with myself not telling her. I’d rather be honest and apologize for it happening than deal with hiding something from her.

I not only tell but show my wife all the time that she’s my one true love, that I despise even the thought of adultery & divorce, that I’d never consider leaving her and want to work through our problems rather than ignore them. She’s the only woman I’ve ever had a serious relationship with and that’s one of just a small number of things in my life I take any real pride in (my kids being most of the others). I’m not an extremely social person, spending most of my time with my family and just occasionally with a small group of friends. I value having people I can talk to, though, and I encourage her to spend more time with the friends she does have. I don’t do this as a way to get her to spend time away from me, but because I see the positive impact it has on her mood & self-image. If she comes home in a good mood after spending the day with a friend, I’m elated because nothing makes me happier than seeing her happy.

As far as my art/writing goes, it’s mostly a hobby but it’s also put food on our table on occasion. I’m a very visual person and I tend to get inspiration from all sorts of sources. I’m just as likely to stare at an interesting rock or the bark of a tree as I am an elderly couple, a group of kids playing or an (un)attractive (wo)man. That’s not something I can turn off, and it’s not something I view as wrong in any way.

I’m not looking for anyone to tell me that flirting, betraying or ignoring my wife is right, mainly because that’s not what I do. I don’t discuss personal things with my guy friends because they don’t feel comfortable with it and won’t listen and/or respond (and, yes, I’ve tried). For the record, my wife isn’t comfortable with me talking with them for a variety of reasons, a few of which are justified. On the handful of occasions where I’ve discussed issues with female friends, I’ve valued their responses because they’ve been helpful more often than not, and they typically know me well enough to know that I don’t have any ulterior motives and that I’m just looking for some honest advice. I don’t see abandoning these or any other friendships as a solution because, if I quit talking to everyone she’s ever had issues in with in the past, I wouldn’t have anyone–friends or family–who I could socialize with and that doesn’t strike me as realistic or fair. What I would like is to find a way to get my wife to have as much trust and faith in me as I have in her.


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