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          Dealing With a Jealous Spouse

          October 29, 2002

          Valerie and Danny, who’ve been married for six years, say they have a great marriage — except for one issue. He gets so jealous and controlling that he doesn’t even let his wife go to the bathroom by herself! He gets aggravated if she goes out without him, and pulls the silent treatment if she’s too friendly with someone on the supermarket line.

          “I just don’t trust other people … I know how men can be,” says Danny. “My biggest fear is that she would cheat on me for someone more interesting.”

          This is how out-of-control his wife says things have gotten. He’ll send her cards, for example, that practically read: “Happy Birthday … I hope you never cheat on me.”

          Valerie, who’s never had an affair or misled her husband in any way, is “fed up with it,” and turns to Dr. Phil for help in making her husband more secure and trustful — before it destroys their marriage.

          Here’s what Dr. Phil has to say:

          Advice For Danny:

          • If you’re concerned that you’re not interesting enough for her, why are you working on her instead of you? How does following her to the bathroom make you more interesting? It doesn’t! It just makes you more present. This is not about your wife. This is about you.
          • Why are you so obsessed with this? Danny says it’s that he’s seen so many marriages destroyed by infidelity. He’s disgusted by it, and believes being unfaithful is wrong. “But why are you dragging that into your marriage?” asks Dr. Phil.
          • How dumb would you feel if you spent 50 years of your marriage worrying that she’s going to cheat on you? And then it never happens? You’re missing out on enjoying each other.
          • Do you really think you could watch her enough to keep her from cheating on you? No way. Why try to control something you can’t? First off, you have no indication that she’s predisposed in such a way. And you can’t stop her if she’s going to. All you can do is react if she does. And she told you she won’t.
          • You are addicted to the payoff of testing your partner. You’re so relieved when she passes the test, when you get that reassurance. It gives you a little bit of peace for a short period of time, and you’re addicted to it like a drug.
          • The only way you’ll ever get peace is if you come to the realization that you can’t control others.

          Advice For Valerie:

          • If he's addicted to that payoff like a drug, then you're the drug dealer. Stop giving him the reassurance. Don't let him follow you or control you. Don't pay him off in that way anymore. The only way you can help him is to stop reinforcing him when he does it.

          Advice For the Couple:

          • Relationships require emotional integrity. Be honest and own what you're saying and what you're doing.
          • Don't only talk about this issue when you're fighting. You need to discuss it when the waters are calm.

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