Doubting Yourself Is Confusing

Q: I've never been the jealous type, but I'm really uncomfortable with my husband's friendship with one particular woman. They've been friends for many years — longer than we've been together. He swears he's never been interested in her, but they're very affectionate with each other. She's always been cool to me, and he knows this bothers me, but I was willing to let it go until recently. He was in her city recently for work. He didn't mention his plans to see her until he was already there, and then I couldn't reach him for almost two days. When he finally did answer the phone, I could hear her laughing in the background. He tells me I'm being paranoid, but am I wrong to think that at minimum she's undermining our marriage? - Nora, 38

Dr. Susan: If anything's undermining your marriage, it's your husband's refusal to take your anxieties seriously. His secretiveness, or at least his being out of touch for two days, are also of concern. It's impossible to say whether something is going on between them, or whether something ever did, or ever will.

The safest way to bring an old friend of the opposite sex into a marriage is to invite her to join the two of you for dinner or some other innocent activity. When he sees her without you, it's completely natural that it would raise your jealousy level. The fact, fortunately, is that she lives in another city and so them getting together shouldn't be a frequent issue. What you can ask of him now is that he let you know ahead of time if he's planning to see her, and that he stay in touch with you when he's out of town.

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