Greetings to you, Dr. Buckingham,
I found your article on BMWK. My husband went through my cell phone in November and read text messages from me to a friend, who I’ve been friends with since the ’90s. My friend is happily married and living in another state.
I had reached out to this male friend for advice on some of our relationship woes. My husband and I had been constantly fighting; and he’s been acting out of character.
My husband didn’t find any romantic messages or any hint that I was having an affair in these messages. Yet, he accuses me of having an emotional affair with my friend just because I was texting him. I’m not having an affair, nor would I. I’m 51 years old, and I don’t have time for that kind of drama. Nor do I have the energy to have an affair.
I apologized to him only because he said it felt like I was cheating on him. But it has been seven months, and he is still talking about it. He brings it up constantly and had even accused me of meeting up with this friend in April while I was chaperoning my daughter’s school music trip.
I am physically separating from my husband because I can’t handle the constant accusations and all of the other unresolved issues we have.
In his heart and mind, he says that going through my phone was a way God was showing/revealing something about me. I told him he was violating my privacy. I don’t go through his nor do I ask to. He keeps his phone turned off and out of site. Your thoughts!
How do you cope with spousal insecurity?
Smothered by His Insecurity
Dear Smothered by His Insecurity,
Before I respond to your question, I would like to say that most men are somewhat insecure, especially when it comes to sharing intimate information about us with other men. I understand that your friend has provided a listening ear and is happily married. Although this might appear to be harmless, your husband probably feels violated.
It is not my intent to blame you for your husband’s insecurity. I share to provide a little insight. Sometimes, we let our egos get the best of us, and we attack when we feel betrayed. However, feeling betrayed does not excuse or justify insecure behavior.
Spousal insecurity is not easy to cope with, but it can be done. Here are three strategies for coping with an insecure spouse.
First, seek to understand the source of your spouse’s insecurity. This is critical because you cannot respond to or effectively address something that you do not understand. You might be the target, but not the source of his insecurity.
Blaming you might be the easy way to deal with pain or mistrust associated with past issues. People learn to mistrust others and often do not recover from unresolved betrayal without some form of intervention. Your husband’s inability to move on is probably a reflection of past personal issues. Seeking to understand his insecurity can help you identify and eliminate triggers.
Second, apologize and mean it. Do not get caught up on who is right or wrong because perception is reality. He does not need you to apologize because he is nagging you; he needs you to apologize for sharing what he considers to be sensitive and intimate information about him.
If he believes that you understand him, he might strive to minimize the nagging and insecure behavior. Insecure people need support and validation. You are not responsible for trying to change his mind, but you are responsible for trying to comfort him. Let him know that you are available to him, and tell him that you would like to have better communication with him so that you do not have to seek outside advice and comfort.
Third, remind him why you married him. Focus on his strengths and let him know that you married him because he won your heart. Every man likes to have his ego stroked.
I am not suggesting that you say things that you do not mean. I am suggesting that you look inside of yourself and express what made you say, “I do.” Praise him for caring enough to fuss.
While the nagging is not good, the love is. People typically fuss because they care. Caring is not a bad thing. He just needs to learn how to cope with his insecurity more effectively. Praise and reinforcement is a good way to help insecure individuals build confidence and trust.
I pray that you find peace in your marriage and that your husband finds peace with you and himself. If you apply the strategies outlined above and do not find peace, please consider seeking professional help.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.