Suspicions about my wife are getting the best of me

I am currently dealing with a significant amount of anxiety and suspicion regarding my spouse; this is very unexpected, as in nearly 10 years of being together, my wife has never given me any reason to doubt her faithfulness, and in fact there is no valid reason that I can see for me to feel this way now.

These emotions seemed to have come out of the blue, with no identifiable cause. It is causing me considerable difficulty to deal with, as I had even begun to act on them, i.e. calling my wife repeatedly to verify that she was where I expected her to be.

I have been fortunate, in that I had the courage to speak openly and honestly (no accusations) about my feeling with my wife, relating to her how I have been feeling, how unexplained the emotions are, but how real is the problem that they are causing me.

My wife was understanding and reassuring, and I asked her for her patience while I sorted through the problem. Overall, it was certainly a very positive response, I was pleased to have attempted to deal with it in that way, and I fully expected to have some measure of relief.

However, despite the positive response, my emotions are still very much unchecked, and I continue to have a very difficult time dealing with them: mind racing, losing sleep, feeling ill at ease, anxiety, fear, etc. Along with these feelings is a very real fear that if the situation continues for a prolonged period of time, there is a risk of causing damage to our relationship (self-fulfilling prophecy?).

I am hoping to get some strategies to cope with these difficulties, as well as some idea of how I can help myself recover.

I should add that the entire dynamic is further complicated by the fact that my first marriage failed, and in that case the infidelity was real, and my suspicions were validated: thus, I have some history that reinforces a tendency to trust my emotions.

Any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Response:

It is quite possible that your current feelings of suspicion are based on your prior relational experience. Negative events tend to create strong emotional memories which can be easily triggered.

As you mention, such negative emotions, if not dealt with constructively, can interfere with your current relationship (see overcoming jealousy). Suspicion, if not dealt with in an appropriate manner, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy in that such feelings can create resentment and distrust within a relationship.

And the way you are currently handling your suspicion may actually be reinforcing your negative beliefs. While checking on your wife may provide some calm and certainty, doing so can also heighten your anxiety. Not knowing exactly what your wife is doing (anxiety) may lead to more information seeking—resulting in you wanting more and more information to deal with your doubts and concerns.

A better way to deal with your feelings is to discuss them with your wife (as you have already done—see, talk about suspicion).

It also helps to find other strategies for dealing with your anxiety. When you are having anxiety over this issue, try to resist the urge to check on your wife. A more effective way of dealing with such feelings is to write them down as they occur, or write down the positive aspects of your current relationship, or write out how your concerns are tied to the past rather than the present. Writing down your feelings, rather than seeking information about what your wife is doing, is likely to help you reduce your anxiety in the long run (see sharing secrets).

Finally, if your feelings do not become less intrusive, it may help to talk to someone rather than let this issue have a negative impact on your relationship.

 my jealousy | suspect cheating

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