Dr. Love,my wife and I have been married for about 10 years. She is 51 y/o but looks 40 y/o and is very attractive and beautiful. I am 45 y/o and above average looking. My problem is that my wife has an attitude that all men are perverts. She is constantly accusing me of looking at other women…..especially women who are young and attractive. She wonders what I am looking at in my rear view car window, whenever we are shopping, and it has constant conflict and tension. To me this is a very destructive, controlling nature. Can you please help me label what this disorder might me? Thanks.
I can give you a label, but what good will that do you. I think it would be better for you to understand why she feels the way she does, and better yet, what we can do to arrest this pattern.First of all. It sounds to me like your wife is terrified that you will leave her for another, more attractive woman. I know that you feel controlled by these accusations. But, what you don’t realize is that beneath her accusations is a terror of being abandoned by you. I am sure that her self-esteem is poor and beyond that I can bet that she was abandoned as a young child.As a result, she has come to adulthood with a deep scar that translates into: my own dad (or mom) didn’t want me, so it’s only a matter of time before my husband discards me. Unfortunately, she may not even be in touch with her own terror. If she were and could talk with you about it, you would feel empathy for her instead of anger. To be accused of being a pervert does arouse anger.So, what can we do to resolve this? First, tell her that you want to talk more about what she’s actually feeling. Tell her that you have the impression that she is afraid that you will dump her, and that instead of talking about her fear, she accuses you. Explain to her that her accusations are angering you and actually drive you away from her. Tell her that if she wants to talk about the real feeling–the fear beneath the anger smokescreen–you will be happy to listen and understand.In addition, you need to give her words of reassurance. This is the healing that she needs–to be reminded that you love her and aren’t abandoning her. Remind her that marriage doesn’t make men blind to other women, but that you have chosen her because she is the most beautiful woman in the world to you.To give this loving message is hard, especially when you are feeling accused and attacked. If you can hear her accusations, and the terror-stricken cries of a young girl, and respond to the fear beneath, in much the same way that a parent picks up and comforts a terrified, screaming infant, she will calm down and the accusations will stop.To break this you must be willing to overlook the overt accusation, hear the fear beneath it and proved the emotionally healing response that I described above.I know that you are angry right now and that you may feel stingy. But, believe me if you can find it in your heart to do as I suggest, you will help her to heal. Her panic and attacks will subside and so will your anger. So, in essence, by helping her out, you will be making the world a better place for you as well.Realize that all women (not just those who were abandoned) need to be reminded, in words, why they are loved and special to their husbands and lovers. But, for a person who was abandoned, the need is all the stronger, and when the words aren’t forthcoming, fear and anger mounts.You are now caught is a tough impasse. Find the love in your heart for her. If needed, recall the feelings you had for her when you were lovers, before the trouble hit. Speak to her from your heart and you will be fine.