Dear Dr. Love,I pray that you will choose this letter to answe for free. I am having a real problem dealing with my husband’s new female co-worker. First of all, my husband of 9 years is not flirtacious, not a filanderer, etc. There is a pretty 27 year old sales manager who recently transferred to the branch he manages and since I’ve seen her, I have had periods of anxiety over this. I think I have idealized her in my head and fear that she has qualities that I do not possess any longer.I’m 35 and attractive, work part-time and am intelligent. But I have managed to picture her as the object of his attraction and am constantly finding myself imagining what she’s like to be around all day…I have discussed my discomfort with him and he reassured me that there is no way that he would ever do anything to jeopardize what we have, etc. Also, his interactions whith me haven’t changed at all. He also said he was not all that impressed by her looks when he met her.Yet still, whenever he mentions that the group went to lun ch, etc., I find my stomach turning! I think I must be having a mid-life crisis or something. Maybe I feel that I just cannot compete anymore with a 27 year old…maybe I think she has alot of the qualities that he admires in women and am jealous over that…all I know is I have gone from a woman who, for 9 years, has felt like his queen and who he would never in a million years find a replacement for, to a woman who has lost all self-assurance.I really feel that this entire situation has changed the way I view myself in my marriage. I no longer have the confidence that he will always prefer me. I find myself needing a lot more reassurance and that really bugs me…He has said that he’s the one who is always worried he could lose me, and here I am in a situation where I worry I could be replaced either in thought or in his desires…I just wish I sould stop thinking of her…I wish that I knew more about her other than she’s gorgeous and shares the same job interests, office space for 40 hours a week and lunches with my husband…I know you’ll say I have a fear of abandonment, which is not true…no one has ever left me in my life….you’ll say I suffer from low self-esteem, which until now I never have…I just need some good sound advice to help me through the times I feel threatened and really do not wish to get all psychological about it…would self- affirmations help?? If so, which ones? Should I tell him when I feel needy and risk his getting annoyed about it? How do I stop myself from having un-productive thoughts about this????Please tell me…Hate felling insecure….
You said you don’t want to get all psychological (meaning digging to find the reason why you are feeling so tormented) and you just want techniques to rid yourself of these terrible feelings. I will give you some practical techniques, but I want you to know why I don’t think they will work. Your mind is bringing these feelings up for a reason. If you try to bury the feelings, they will only get stronger. A person needs to honor his or her feelings, however painful they are, and understand why they are here, then the feelings resolve and diminish on their own. You wouldn’t ignore or push away physical pain. You would try to find out what is causing it. Emotions are the same. They can’t be forced out of existence. They must be honored and examined. Ignored emotional issues worsen just as a physical ailment increases if its ignored.The fact that you don’t want to find out why these feelings are here indicates that there is something inside your soul that is frightening you. In fact, people usually resist looking inward when they suspect that they would uncover something painful. On some level, your mind must know that the answer to this mystery lies deep within you, and it senses that you would have to unearth painful feelings. If you didn’t know this on some level, then you wouldn’t be so adamantly against examining your inner self. In other words, the only reason why a person bolts the door to his or her psyche, is because she is afraid that if the doors were opened that some unwanted feeling would be let in or out.The way you have asked me to approach this problem with you is consistent with the ‘bolt the door’ approach. Just tell me what to do to make the feelings leave. Techniques without insight are rarely effective. I think you must also know that if you could have reasoned your feelings away, they would have been long gone by now.So, I will reluctantly give you techniques, but, I don’t hold out much hope that they will be effective. And, if and when you hit a wall, then, we can talk again.One technique to try is ‘Thought Stopping.’ Whenever you have a thought that upsets you, stop the thought and talk to yourself. You can use affirmations, such as reminding yourself that your husband has chosen you, has been faithful all along, etc. You could also tell yourself that you aren’t expected to compete with a 25 year old. Your husband is in love with you, not a calendar. Your age and years spent together have deepened your attachment.You could also work on bringing up your self-esteem. Remind yourself what is attractive and desirable about you, and tell yourself these good things over and over. Also, remind yourself about the qualities you have acquired thanks to your age and experience.Good luck. I hope, for your sake, that these techniques work.