My wife’s anxious and controlling behavior is driving me crazy

My wife and I recently celebrated our 2nd anniversary. I consider myself to be very laid back and easy going. She on the other hand has a temper and is more high maintenance on the emotional aspect. She is jealous and sometimes can be a tad possessive.

She accuses me of putting others before her, defending my friends over her, and has said more than once that if things continue to be like this we are not going to last.

She says she barely knows my friends and coworkers. I talk about some of them, others sometimes I don’t because either I think it’s not worth taking about, or perhaps have not mentioned because I might not keep in contact with or are people, I don’t necessarily consider my friends.

She recently saw a message from a guy who called me "princess.” He is an old coworker she did not know. I had asked how his family was doing and he replied they were “ok” and asked how mine was and added “princess” at the end. She got very upset that night and it has been a week and we are still not well.

I reassured her that it’s just a term of endearment. That it does not mean anything. She feels like I hide things. She did not like the fact that I did not say to him not to call me like that. And she feels that I’m defending my friends. I have nothing to hide.

I added her fingerprint to my phone so she can use it. I don’t know how to deal with this. I agree I might feel odd that someone calls her a sweet word or something, and I’m sure she has been called things in the past. She got very upset another time as well when I politely asked her if we could change the music for a while.

She said that I don’t accept her as she is because of it. She stopped talking to me and was very distant for a few hours. I feel anything I say is used against me or backfires. The fact I’m not the jealous type does not mean I care less than her, and I have told her this. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. I feel bad emotionally. What can I do?


Sorry to hear about your situation—such relationships can be very emotionally draining, difficult and frustrating.

Relationships work best when both individuals feel safe, secure and confident with themselves, their partners, and the relationship itself (see secure attachment). In such relationships, partners tend to be supportive, understanding and try to bring out the best in each other (see healthy relationships).

However, when one partner feels insecure with themselves or in their relationship it can lead to the behaviors you describe—difficulty controlling negative emotions, jealousy, possessiveness, a difficult time accepting that a partner may have a different way of dealing with issues, often feeling hurt or neglected, and the tendency to overreact to situations. If this is the case, your wife may have an anxious style of attachment (see anxious attachment).

Individuals with an anxious style of attachment have a difficult time controlling their emotions, fear that their partners don’t really love them, have a hard time taking a partner’s perspective into account, and often act in controlling ways.

So how do you deal with this situation?

To begin with, try to avoid blaming yourself for the situation or your wife’s reaction. Your behavior sounds normal. People often use nicknames with friends (typically, the odder the better), try to reassure their spouses, and do not experience jealousy unless there is a real threat to the relationship.

To be honest, the best way to deal with this situation is through counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful when dealing with a spouse who has issues rooted in feelings of insecurity and abandonment. Through counseling your wife will find new ways to evaluate her emotional reactions and how she responds to them.

Without counseling, these situations can be very difficult to resolve because there’s a chance that no matter what you do your wife will interpret your behavior in the worst possible way—that you don’t really care about her or love her. If you can start to focus on the reasons for her underlying insecurity and help her deal with her feelings constructively, then positive outcomes are possible.

In short, therapy or counseling is the best way to save your marriage and turn your relationship into one where both of you can thrive.

Hope this helps.

 anxious attachment | control issues | save relationship

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