I’m sick of telling my wife I love her. I keep telling her and trying to show her through my actions. But when I do romantic things she asks me, ‘what do you want?’ and when I tell her, she just says ok. She doesn’t say it back. I know she had a tough childhood; her parents divorced when she was young and she grew up without a successful couple role model. But this is getting to be too much. I think she suspects me of having an affair now, even though it’s not true. It’s very emotionally difficult to be in this situation. What can I say to her to make her believe?
A reader who wishes to stay anonymous asks
Answered by Sneha John, Clinical Psychologist, Camali Clinic Child & Adult Mental Health
Thank you for reaching out regarding this concern. I would like to appreciate you for your openness, vulnerability and willingness to seek support. This is the first step to resolving your present difficulties within your marriage. Jealousy can fracture the love that exists in a relationship and present itself in behaviours such as possessiveness and dependence.
I would like you to keep the following tips in mind as you navigate through this time:
It is not about you
Your partner’s suspicious behaviour may have little or nothing to do with you. Perceptions about their partner and marriage may have stemmed from tough childhood experiences, fears or unfulfilled expectations from marriage. Since you cannot fight them for their perceptions or tell them that they are wrong to feel that way, it is best to not blame yourself for their actions. It would also be helpful to detach yourself from her behaviour towards you.
Your mental health is important
Having to face constant negative suspicions from your beloved is difficult to accept. Tell yourself that you have the power to control your mood and no one else. Remind yourself that you are responsible for your own feelings and your spouse cannot make you feel unhappy or bad about yourself without your consent.
Keep your cool
Try to listen calmly instead of getting defensive. Cutting off your spouse prematurely or reacting with an impatient gesture or tone of voice will only blow up the situation. Try not to dismiss a jealous partner’s feelings. It will make your partner feel more misunderstood.
Hear them out
Instead of mentally switching off or reacting with counter-criticism, be patient and hear out your partner when they begin to complain about your actions. Sometimes, it helps to let a partner know that he or she can talk to you about his or her feelings. If your partner feels understood after talking about his or her problems in a supportive environment, he or she will be able to move beyond such feelings and worries more effectively.
If you regularly take calls late at night or leave town unannounced, then your partner may only be reacting to such unconventional acts on your part. The only way to solve this is to bridge the communication gap by talking things through and assuring them that you will be more transparent about your plans.
Address the concern objectively
If you find that your supportive behaviour bears no fruit, then, it may be time to take a more direct approach by talking about it. Find a suitable time to discuss how you are feeling unhappy at being interrogated all the time. Let your partner know that being suspected no longer makes you want to try harder to please them. Describe how you feel clearly using simple language with the objective to seek a middle-ground that works for both partners.
Know when to get help
If the issue continues to create problems in your marriage, the two of you may have the need for a counselor. Getting support from a professional can help you overcome the feelings that keep you stuck. It means delving into sensitive, vulnerable feelings, but it can be rewarding and allow for healing, change, and personal growth. Professional support does not mean a failed relationship, rather it's a proactive step to bounce back even stronger.
If you have questions that you would like answered by a mental health professional in the UAE, please write in to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please let us know if you'd rather stay anonymous.
Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of doctors are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.