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October 30, 2012 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Dr Love, heres my problem . Prior to my marrige my husband had an on again off again relationship with his ex girlfriend. Theyre initial break up was her request and a mutual'lets sleep together on and off because we are familiar to each other 'relationship formed between them. (they had 2 children in the commited portion of their relationship and one during the casual part)
My husband has never denied his responsibilites as a father and continued to stay close to his children. Then we met and a month later we were married. It was so quick and took us and everyone else by suprise and im happy to say that its been 3 years of marital bliss. With only one thing that keeps rearing its ugly head. His ex.
Our marrige was a shock to her and I understand this. But its been three years and when my husband visits his children she makes comments that reflect that she still caries a torch for my husband.
During our short engagementThe act of engaging or the state of being engaged, also known as betrothal. During this period, a couple has a good opportunity to explore their relationship and deepen their connection. , my husband spent many hours on the phone and in person reasuring her that he had every intention of being a true father to his children, that it was over along time ago and reminding her that she was the one that called it quits to the commitmentFear of commitment is a common source of conflict for couples. Commitmentphobia is often most strongly apparent in romantic life. Generally, commitmentphobic people claim that they are eager to find...(Click for full definition.) and she was the one that suggested that they see other people after ward, keeping things casual.
Now she has placed herself on the cross so to speak, mentioning to who ever she can how hard done by she is. Further, she has taken it upon herself to bad mouth me (whom she has not met. ) to the children in affect ruining any chance I might have had in forming a posotive relationship with them. She has also taken my husband to court in an effort to raise child support monies to ridiculous amounts.
Where do I sit in all this? No mans land. My husband does not want me involved . His conscern is that I will get hurt in the cross fire. I am finding it difficult to sit on the side lines and watch him hurt by this woman.
As of late she has proven herself irrational. My husband phoned home from her house (inquiring if he needed to stop by the store on his way home)and ended the call to me with a kiss and an I love you. She started shouting names at my husband, shouting how she never got any affectionAffection is defined as fond attachment, devotion or love. Couples are most compatible when they are equally matched in terms of their needs for displays or expressions of affection. like that and carried it out on to the street as he tried to leave.
I am at a loss, and would appreciate any suggestions on how to deal with this.
I can't help but wonder if your husband is, without realizing it, provoking his ex girlfriend's jealousyTo resolve jealousy, one must identify the emotional issues that trigger it. Jealousy can be defined as the fear of being replaced by another. In other words, jealousy is really the fear of...(Click for full definition.). I say this because the phone call that he made to you, right in front of her, was very provocative.
Since he knows that she is carrying a torch for him, why would he rub her face in the fact that he loves you? The only reason that I can come up with is that he is actually furious with her for dumping him, and so he is paying her back. Seeing her blow a gasket must give him some gratification. The only problem is, you are receiving the fallout.
He needs to examine his behavior. He needs to honestly ask himself what reaction he wants to provoke in her (rage, jealousy, etc. ). He needs to also own what feelings are driving his own behavior (bitterness, resentmentResentment is anger that has ossified into resentment. When you find yourself holding on to a resentment it is generally because you have not felt properly heard and understood by your partner....(Click for full definition.), anger, etc. ).
I also would wonder if his ego was bruised when she ended the relationship. By behaving in ways that provoke her to chase after him, his unconscious mind may be attempting to boost his ego. After all, having a woman crazy for you is an ego boosting experience. Just a thought to examine, and discard, if it doesn't fit.
Once he examines the feelings that are motivating his behavior, he will have more conscious control over his actions. In other words, when a person is angry and doesn't know it, the anger is more likely to 'seep' out in ways that he/she doesn't realize. When he becomes clearer on his thoughts, feelings, and motivations, he will be able to make a conscious decision on how he wishes to behave.
I think the decision will come down to the following question. Which does he want more: to get his rocks off or to create peace and harmony in his world? If he wants to continue driving his ex. up a wall, then he will continue behaving in provocative ways. If he is ready to stop sticking it to her, then he will become discreet when it comes to displaying feelings for you in her presence. That will surely help tone her down.
At the same time, he must also examine what else he may be saying or doing to provoke her jealous fury. If and when he decides that he wants to stop igniting his ex's fury, he will also need to examine how he encourages her 'fits.
One really good way to encourage another person's behavior is to pay attention, respond, etc. If he wants to curtail her fits, then he needs to walk away, say nothing, and/or leave the room or the house whenever she goes nuts.
A last idea for helping to tone her down. I know that he has tried to use logic (reminding her that she is the one who ended their relationship) in order to calm her down. Trying to talk another person out of his/her feelings never works.
Has he ever tried to simply listen and understand how she feels? Often a person will keep singing the same tune, griping over and over again over the same issue, because he/she still doesn't feel resolved. In many cases, feeling heard and understood is all that the person needs to resolve a particular issue.
Remember, feelings aren't wrong or right, and they are often downright irrational. If he decides to listen and understand her feelings, he shouldn't try to talk her out of them, or reason them away from her.
If she feels that he wronged her, she's entitled to her distorted view of reality. If your husband is willing to temporarily view the world from her own distorted lens, she may feel sufficiently heard to get on with it.
I hope that he has the strength to do the self-examination I propose, give up provocative behaviors, and listen and understand her pain. This plan should move you past this nightmare.
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