Style Sex & Relationships

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dear Mary: A replay of my marriage as I'm with another possessive man

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images
Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

QI think I've made a dreadful mistake. I was married for seven years to a man who was very good to me in every way except that he was extremely jealous.

At the beginning of the relationship, I found this very appealing because I thought that I must mean an awful lot to him. He was very good-looking and had a great job and I suppose I was flattered that he was attracted to me.

So I didn't really see it as jealousy when he questioned where I'd been on the nights that I was out with my friends, and I didn't notice that he often phoned me at home rather than on the mobile on some pretext or other when I was staying in. I came to realise eventually that he was checking up on me.

Anyway we got married and it got a thousand times worse, we tried to have children but were not successful, and he even accused me of being on the Pill on the sly.

I'm glad now we didn't have any because I eventually left him, as I couldn't take the constant controlling and questioning anymore.

I suggested counselling, but he wouldn't agree to it. We are now separated even though he made it all as difficult as possible and it was a very nasty time in my life.

Then, after about a year, I met somebody else who I thought was the total opposite to my ex-husband as he seemed to be laid-back and relaxed, and gave me as much freedom as I wanted.

That is, until I moved into his house with him six months ago and everything seemed to change quite quickly.

It was like a replay of my marriage as he has turned out to be every bit as possessive as my husband was.

What should I do? I don't want everybody to know that I've made the same mistake twice.

Mary replies:

I often noticed in the counselling room that when people started describing their ex-partners or ex-spouses the description was very similar to their current partners. I was also struck by the fact that they were presenting the same problems as they had encountered in their original relationships.

This in itself is understandable, as we tend to be attracted to the same type of person, but it is what we do when we encounter difficulties in the relationship that is important.

If you had counselling in your marriage then you would have reached some understanding as to why things had gone wrong, and what you would have both needed to have done in order to try to make things better.

Counselling may not necessarily have kept the marriage together, but it would have helped with your understanding, and the part you played in allowing the overwhelming jealousy to continue for so long.

Now that you find yourself in the same position again, you have options.

Talk it over with your partner and explain how intolerable it is for you to once more be subjected to very strict control, as if you were a child. If he is not prepared to change his behaviour then you will either have to get him to agree to seek help together or you will have to leave the relationship.

Remember that he has been like this all his life, even though you didn't realise it at the beginning, so it will be quite difficult, although not impossible, for him to change, and outside intervention will most likely be necessary.

Even with the best of intentions, it is our natural instinct to revert to old habits, and that is why regular counselling can be such a good thing, because the counsellor will facilitate the transition to the new way of operating. And don't worry about what people will think if you decide to leave this relationship as well as leaving your marriage.

People are far too engrossed in their own lives and their own problems to give yours anything more than a passing thought, no matter what you may think.

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