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Your Call – Why Is My Husband Jealous of My Female Friendships?

Tue, Apr 13, 2010

Advice, Dear Em & Lo, Your Call

photo by tibchris

Dear Em & Lo,

Following a year of very intensive therapy to deal with PTSD resulting from a childhood of abuse, I’ve emerged whole, happy, and healthy. My husband says I’m a changed woman; more confidant, happier, at peace with myself and my life. In the process of learning to accept and love myself, I’ve finally allowed myself to make friends with a woman who shares a background very similar to my own. Though we live in in different states, we speak by phone and communicate via email, mostly while my airline pilot husband is traveling. My question is how to stop my husband constantly butting into my phone conversations with my new friend.

I’ve tried to assure him that my friendship with this woman is no threat to him or our marriage, which will always come first. Still he persists. He even butted in yesterday when an old high school friend (also female) called in need of a friendly ear to talk about her marriage ending.

In each instance, my otherwise intelligent 53-year-old husband turns into a needy three-year-old child, demanding my constant attention. What’s up with this and how do I put an end to it without hurting his feelings — or allowing him to ruin my friendships?

– Married to a Three-Year-Old

How should MTATYO deal with her husband? Let her know in the comments section below.

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22 Responses to “Your Call – Why Is My Husband Jealous of My Female Friendships?”

  1. SS Says:

    Strangely enough, one of my good friends was just telling me about her “3 year old” husband’s antics…you’re not alone! So, here’s my take on things: Men are creatures of habit, they don’t seem to like change, it makes them nervous on some level, as though they no longer have a “handle” on their relationship with you. Your husband was probably used to being the one you talked to about your past issues, and now you are sharing with someone else. I know there are plenty of highly evolved men out their (and probably a bunch who read this site), but I don’t happen to be married to one, nor do any of my friends. As great as our husbands are, they are all in touch with their inner caveman :) Even positive change can be viewed as a threat in their eyes, or if that’s too strong a word, than as a possible cause for concern. It sounds to me like your husband is feeling insecure and needs lots of assurance that you are still his # 1. However, like most women, you have probably thought that the best way to do this is to TELL him, which is what women do, verbal creatures that we are. Men seem to respond to actions more than words, so I can tell my husband I love him until the cows come home, but if I’m not affectionate (initiating hugs, touching him throughout the day, etc.) he doesn’t believe it. So rather than telling your husband how you feel, I would think of actions that will show him this, like more sex (always a good place to start!) and more spontaneous affection when he is home (I know it drives my feminist soul crazy, but making my husband tea, bringing him a beer when he’s watching the game, making meals, these are the ways he interprets my love for him, not through verbalizing alone.) And remember, when dealing with an actual needy 3 year old, you don’t say “You know mummy loves you, now smarten up and stop asking for hugs!” No, you give them plenty of love and attention, and the neediness drops off. What works for children and puppies usually works pretty well on husbands, too, IMHO :)

  2. Madamoiselle L Says:

    SS, you are SO right!

    Married to a 3 year old, Kudos on dealing with your past! It is so good to shed the Victim Label and see how better life gets, isn’t it? Good for you!

    As for your husband, mine is also similar. He stares at me, while I am on the phone, wanders in and out of the room, acts like he desperately needs something and then when I hang up my call, or when I DO return to the room, he stares at the tv or the newspaper and says NOTHING!

    Caveman with Electronics!

    I think he just wants me “around.” I don’t know. I have more friends than he does (big surprise) and much of my work is telephone related, and he actually will “get into trouble” if I am on the phone too long; starts taking thing apart, starts “A Project” (at 10:00 at night) complains about “a mess” that was there for 48 hours before, ach, it’s like dealing with a little kid.

    So, I can relate. Even though I don’t have a mass of friends like a lot of women, I do have a select few women and men I speak to frequently, as well as clients, whom I NEED to talk to.

    I don’t have a lot of advice. I have tried to talk to My Man and try to explain, “I have FRIENDS, I like to talk to them, if you and your buddies (buddy?) don’t do that, OK, but this is what works for MY friendships.” (He rarely talks to any of his few buddies on the phone beyond, “What time? OK. See ya, asshole.” (or “twink” or “jerkwad.”) THOSE are his term of affection for his buddies) I have even explained to him, while on the phone with a client “I’m with a client, can you wait a minute?” And he sometimes will go away, or otherwise mumbles to himself and wanders around, getting into “trouble” until I take the call in an other room.

    He doesn’t understand that although HE works a regular 8 hour day, MY work requires around the clock access, and I can’t control when clients need help. They frequently need help in the evening, and he still has problems with that (although claims he doesn’t.)

    He also does this thing when he comes home from work, he stands at the back door and YELLS my name, not moving, until I appear. I have accused him of expecting the entire family to line up like the Van Trapp family, in order of height, to greet him after his work day, in matching sailor suits, with a song, and he says, “That isn’t it.” I have NO idea wtf he wants…

    But, I can commiserate.

    Blessings. To MRA3YL and SS.

  3. Johnny Says:

    When someone gets like that with me I can’t even take their feelings into consideration. I tell them, in my nicest tone, that I like grown women, not little girls, and that needy, clingy pouting turns me off to the point of wanting to puke.

    Try telling him that! He deserves to hear it. Why shouldn’t you have friends?

  4. SS Says:

    @Madamoiselle L….you don’t know what he wants when he bellows from the back door?? If the naked/saran wrap combo is out, then he wants you to come running like a Labrador, give him a kiss, and make comforting noises about his day….the fact that when WE come home, they are tapping away at computers, or doing whatever, as we struggle in with 3 pallets of food from Costco, and perhaps drift in 20 minutes later with, “why didn’t you come up and say hi?” Do you think we are perhaps married to brothers???

  5. Madamoiselle L Says:

    SS, yeah, LOL! A Labrador, I am not. ;) IF I am in the area, he’ll get an immediate kiss, but often I’m busy, too, but he STANDS there, like he won’t enter until he has been announced and greeted. We don’t have a butler to do this. :) Separated at birth? Yeah maybe.

    I have threatened to dress the family in matching sailor suits, a la Van Trapp Family, so we could meet him at the door, lined up, singing. (Should I buy him a whistle for commands as well? LOL!)

    My Man is more like a 12 year old, but still…..you know what I am talking about.

    Still all in all, he’s still a good good man. :)

  6. Heather Says:

    I agree with the consensus that he’s acting this way because he feels threatened or insecure that she now has other people to talk to. But I also agree with Johnny that, as an adult, he should be able to respond to an adult conversation telling him he is actually immaturely and unfairly. While it’s of course important to do things to reassure him that he is still very important and needed in her life, she should also be allowed to have friends (and NEEDS friends) to be a complete, whole, healthy human being. I think a direct, open conversation is needed and then the affection and little reminders that he is still important can be a complement to that.

  7. Heather Says:

    I meant acting, not actually*

  8. dankey Says:

    it’a amazing that yo all make these coments! did any one ask there husbands y he act’s that way, if youve been married a few years and you go from relating to him and he sum what understands you to you replaceing him with someone else. He cant do you like a buddy and just not deal with you Y because he love you and doesent know how to tell you how he fells. We (as men)will now wtary the conversation but if you get the atmosphere right we will join in and try to come to a resolution…. Try that because a man a real man isent just gonna cum out and say he has a problem !!!!!!

  9. Ellie Says:

    I think you may all be over-thinking this – I think the key here with the first gentleman, may be the telephone: I have known men, small children, dogs & cats(!) that cannot stand for ‘mummy’ to be on the ‘phone & I think it is because a phone conversation is so exclusive of anyone except the person that’s talking. This scene is acted out in homes ALL OVER THE WORLD – anywhere that there’s a family & a telephone! Why it doesn’t affect women so much, I don’t know but I suspect that we are just better at disembodied communication
    Men always seem to want to SEE – hence the brevity of their phone conversations (I speak in generalities, of course) I have to say I disagree utterly with the last comment before mine – once I figured out what he was trying to say! If you want people to listen to you, Dankey, don’t treat everything like a cellphone text message. And a “real man” would, in fact, be able to come right out & admit that he loves someone – it’s the insecure ones that cannot.

  10. Steve Says:

    Hey, I may be the same way. I’m mid 50′s and have experienced similar feelings with my wife and her friends. I think it’s the hard wiring of the male. At this age men don’t want to start over. We need to get feed back that we are loved. Maybe if you tell your husband you love him on a regular basis and realize that his insecurity is part of aging it would help. Studies have shown as men age they become more dependant on their female partner. They also become the more emotional partner in the marriage. Women are more dependant on the spouses when they are younger. Men become more dependant on their wife as they age.
    So let him know you love him….. He’ll be alright!

  11. SS Says:

    Totally agree, Steve, my husband is about your age, and it took me awhile to figure out that he can be quite insecure about our relationship, even though he can be Mr. KickAss at work.

    Re: Midlife insecurity: I have found what amounts to a magic pill, that seems to have put a smile on my husband’s face and stopped the conversations about me not being “affectionate” enough throughout the day: unlimited sex. It’s no big secret that sex seems to go downhill in frequency as we age (having all those kids running around didn’t help either!) but when I decided it needed to start heading back in the other direction, to newlywed levels, all of the other concerns/arguments/whatever seem to have faded away….hmmm. ;)

  12. Leigh Olivia Says:

    SMS-like dialect aside, I have to throw in my lot with dankey (I think?). While living with a partner (of any sex, at the end of the day, we all have our moments) can feel like living with a needy three year old, the solution is not *just* treating your partner like a toddler. You’ll never hear me come out against affirming affection in the way your partner understands best, but it seems like “asking him why he has a meltdown over a telephone conversation” should’ve been big obvious step number one. Presumably your husband is not actually three, and can at least make some attempt to explain himself. And if such a conversation forces him to say “well, i…um…guess i don’t like feeling excluded” hearing that revelation from his very own lips will probably go a lot further toward mending his behavior than any action you could take yourself.

  13. MTATYO Says:

    Hello All,

    I am the originator of this querry (Married to a three year old) and I appreciate everyone’s input. For the record, I’ve already done the;

    A. How come it bothers you so much that I’m talking to a girlfriend?
    B. Promising that this friendship will never replace or outrank my marriage to him, my ultimate Best Friend.
    C. Reassuring him multiple times a day that I love him, with impromptu declarations such as; “Honey, I love you”, and “Have I told you today how much I love being your wife?” and “I love you more than anything”.
    D. Impromptu back rubs.
    E. More sex
    F. Inviting my friend AND her husband to come visit so HE can get to know her.
    G. Reassuring him that I don’t and will not share with anyone the intimate details of our life or anything that might cause this friend (or anyone else) to ever judge him.

    I’ve even spoken with my therapist about the situation and she suggested that if all of the above do nothing to change the status quo, then the only thing left to do is confront him (non-confrontationally of course) and ask him what exactly it is that bothers him about my new friendship.

    I love my husband more than anything or anyone, and I’ve done nothing to cause him to doubt that. I wouldn’t ever want to. But we are both adults, and we both need and deserve some room to breathe.

    Since my friend and her husband have just this week come for a visit, I am hoping his panic over this friendship will calm down. Only time will tell.

    My thanks to everyone who took the time to respond.

  14. ncbabe Says:

    My Husband is the exact same way. If I mention my best friends name he rolls his eyes. He complained that I spent too much time with her (maybe once a week). So I started making plans with her while he was at work, like taking our kids to chuckee cheese, or swimming. I made sure to be home when he got home from work. Then the new problem was that I didnt call or text him that I was going until I was already there. Apparently he would have like to have known before I went. So after that I would let him know before hand. Then it was well you just told her you would go without discussing it with me first. If I take her advice on something he goes into three year old mode ” you do whatever she says”, ” when did she become all knowing”. Its like I cant win for losing. It is driving me crazy. Its not that I dont want to spend time with him, but I enjoy spending time with my girlfriends as well. Somebody help me! I have tried talking to him but its like beating a dead horse and by then end of the conversation I feel worse then when I started….

  15. RL Says:

    I think SS has some great insight into this problem and I plan on trying it her way. Thanks SS!

  16. tw Says:

    My wife has a new best friend and she says they have a lot in common. They work together so they see each other 8 hours a day. Here lately when my wife comes home they text each other the entire night. I feel I get no time with here and yes it is hurting my feelings. This weekend my wife stayed the weekend with her. I know she needs girl time and time away to feel renewed. I just feel that a husband and wife should sleep together. Some advice from the ladies please. I am very jealous at this time.

  17. Johnny Says:

    ^ Just making sure I got this right – this is a female-female friendship, and you don’t suspect her of cheating?

    You are a big needy whiny baby. Let your wife have fun with her new friend.

  18. Cary Says:

    I dont agree with catering to a man to build up his level of security…. Sex, constant affectionate verbalization. A girl needs girl time…. To re-energize. Why’s that so difficult?

  19. Jeff Says:

    Feeling on this topic in men will vary widely depending on situation.

    I freely admit to people that I have discomfort and feelings of jealousy about my wife’s time spent with her numerous friends and co-workers, some single some married. To begin, our Saturday morning time may be interrupted before we are up and about with phone calls and instant messages. I rarely complain about it but it has a cumulative effect over time.

    She has done fifteen vacations with friends away from me in the last fifteen years where she is the only married woman, usually for less than 7 days out. My wife is astounded that I even have a count on how many but I remember every one, very well. She is constantly being asked by her single friends about where to go next on girls trip, some very costly. I actually agreed to let her go to Vegas with 1 single friend recently if she behaved herself, which she seemed to have done. A girlfriend of hers that did not make the trip gave me crap about letting her go there which almost caused me to say some fairly unpleasant things to her that would have caused a serious rift in the friendship and marriage. ( p.s. advise your “friends” not to say such a thing to your husband if he actually trusted you !)

    Bottom Line: I try not to resent my wife’s high level of time spent personally, on the phone, and on vacations with friends. It’s not good for our marriage. I have said that I have never had a desire to vacation without her and told her that I have no concept of what motivates her to want to go places without me. My guy time is done same day, there and back.

    Men will generally always have an issue with being left home for two, but especially three weekends in a row, while a wife travels. Men will generally resent too much phone time if they have an active work life and little time with the spouse. Women, you just need to understand that this is not “3 year old” emotion, its called commitment and results from an honest desire to be with your wife. If there is a problem fitting your marriage into your agenda then the marriage is going nowhere good.

    It is natural for men, especially after 20 years of marriage, to be concerned that their wife has more fun in her relationships with friends than in the marriage. If one has never noticed a the marriage where the wife drifted away from her spouse emotionally then one is just not paying attention. Any who cares is not going to stand idly buy and let that happen.

    There is a spectrum to judging this type of jealousy as to whether it is normal or healthy. Who among would say jealousy is not a normal human emotion when loss to a rival is possible. Kneejerk reactions that this is about control aren’t doing anyone any good. Not allowing your wife any friends is over the top and ridiculous. Having your marriage interrupted by constant friend communication, friend time, and “girls” trips of more than a few days is also over the top.

    Most men will draw the line on this issue somewhere … be assured of that. Be reasonable.

  20. foreigner Says:

    I have moved to Australia from canada with my australian husband. I recently meet a woman which I share lots in.common from.work. we have become really good friend. My husband doesn’t like me spending time with her. He doesn’t want to hear about her. She is the person I have connected the.most since moving here over 10 years ago. She loves my kids and loves hanging out. Lately he has been working away and I have been.seing more of her and him and I are getting in reallY heated argument over my friendship. I am 40.year old and feel I finally have found a true friend here in this new country. I am not willing to give this up and I feel marriage may not survive this. I feel I am being controlled. I love.my husband but why can’t I have a close friend. I don’t get it. He is jealous of this friendship and we have argument even.if we only go to the beach together. With the kids that is. It’s like I should not be seing anyone because he works away. Am.I being selfish? He says I don’t put my marriage first. When.we had our second child he use to recent me for going for coffee with friends with the baby. Saying I had it easy while he is slaving away. I am not a precious woman I don’t spend money on me and never buy anything unless we really need it. It’s not like I go and spend all his hard earn money. I now work and make as much as him and can go to work.fonctions without a scene. I am a bit over all this. He doesn’t want to see anyone about this. I don’t want my marriage to end but can’t live in a prison.

  21. Stephen Says:

    I struggle with this as well. I too am over the age of 50, and don’t consider it “acting like a 3 year old”. After 20 years of marriage and multiple children, it seems that my wife (my best friend; no one else even comes close) takes the depth of our friendship for granted. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she doesn’t love me, but she certainly gets more enjoyment out of her phone calls/texting/facebooking with girlfriends than she does with me. Is it really that unreasonable for me to be jealous of the fact that I am no longer the recipient of the intimacy and affection of our best-friend conversations? I assure you that I am still affectionate with my wife, and let her know I love her on a regular basis, so this isn’t a one-sided situation. I’m not denying her her friendships, but at the same time I think that I deserve to be more than “the other parent” and business partner. Ladies, do you really consider that immature and needy? From where I sit, I see my wife as being neglectful of our relationship, and only sees me as the person that helps discipline the kids, and work the business. I’ve lost the “friend & confidant” role in our friendship, and I truly miss that. It’s been “outsourced”. Apparently girlfriends do that better, and according to the women in this forum, trying to have an open, communicative conversation about it with my wife will only make me less desirable to her. So where does that leave me?

  22. Carol Says:

    Everyone! Read Eros and Pathos by Aldo Carotenuto and…
    Good Luck!

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