Dear Christian Counselor:
I have been married for almost 6 yrs. My husband loves God, but he tends to get extremely jealous. He has asked me not to talk to men at my work, one in particular, but my position requires me to interact with ALL the staff equally. This man has never disrespected me or made any inappropriate comments. He knows I love my husband and am a faithful wife. This became such an issue that I lied to my husband and told him that I was no longer speaking to that coworker since it always ended up in an argument. He recently found out and is saying that he can no longer trust me. He wants me to change the way I dress (I dress modestly) and to not be so “giggly.” He drills me everyday to see if I have talked to that coworker, asks me if anyone has hit on me and checks my phone. When I try to confront him about it, he tells me that wives should submit to their husbands. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Please help me. What should I do?
Confused and Controlled
Dear Confused and Controlled:
I have to be honest and say that I feel for both of you. Your husband is dealing with a case of fear which borders on phobia. It makes me wonder if there is anything in his past which initiated this anxiety. It’s not personal; it’s about things going on inside him. But it does impact you, and there’s little you can do to solve it by yourself. That’s frustrating.
I’d advise you to attack this problem on two fronts. First, learn what you can from your husband. The way men perceive women is very different from the way women perceive women. There may be a kernel of truth in your husband’s fears. Where could you honestly tone down your wardrobe and your personality with other men? Is there an older woman you respect whose objective advice you might request? Marriage is all about making compromises, and, frankly, it is more important to love your husband well than it is to make an attractive impression on others. However, I am not suggesting that you do this out of lifeless duty but out of life-giving love. If you see it as some sort of punishment, you will resent it. But if you CHOOSE to give, prayerfully, to Jesus and your mate, it will bring you real joy.
Second, I’d encourage you to make an appointment with an experienced Christian counselor. If your husband will go with you, all the better. If he will not, go anyway. You need to find your worth and beauty in Christ despite your husband’s jealousy, and he needs to work on this unreasonable anxiety. You both need to learn better communication skills so that you can stay on the same team even when you are struggling. It would be wonderful if he could learn to say, “Honey, I know this is hard for you to hear, but I am really struggling with jealousy right now.” And it would be equally wonderful if you could reply, “Thank you for telling me that. I’m so sorry. Let’s ask God what each of us can do to make this better.”