Past Relationships: Getting Beyond Ex's

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dear Dr. Gunzburg

When my wife and I first started seeing each other she still had a lot of interaction with her ex-boyfriend. Her ex had access to a lot of really nice things that he could offer her. At first I told her that it was okay with me because at the time I didn't know where we were going or if [we were] serious or not. Unfortunately her ex was a complete jerk and also very manipulating and controlling.

This in turn caused me to have to tippy-toe our relationship around him; I had to hide our relationship from him. This even included going so far as to have to leave before he showed up. I originally thought over time she would exclude him from our lives.

As our relationship developed I grew more and more concerned when she didn't end their friendship. I expressed to her my discontent, but she said that she was keeping contact with him for his access to things she wanted that I could not provide. Eventually he found out and everything, but he still texts her almost every day and they still see each other.

Recently we got married and again I thought this would be the end of their friendship. The other day she spent the entire day at his house and when she came home I was irate because I had told her previously that was unacceptable to me. Her relationship with him is a constant source of contention and conflict and I couldn't continue having him be a part of our lives. I told her she had to sever all contact, communication etc. with him or I was leaving.

She thinks that this is a sign of controlling and that I am just overly jealous. Although she hasn't initiated contact with him, he still texts her. She continues to fight with me about keeping contact with him which I told her really hurts me because it make me feel like her friendship with him is more important to her than our marriage. Am I controlling, overly jealous, or justified?

-Stop Seeing Him Or Else in Hawaii

Dear Stop Seeing Him Or Else,

Based on the information you provided, you are justified in your request to have your wife stop communicating with her ex-boyfriend. I would question her judgment and what she gets from the relationship besides the material things. Do you think she would look kindly at your spending a day with an ex-girlfriend who was still showing interest in you?

This is why the wedding vow states, "…and forsaking all others…" It is risky to your marital health for her to send or receive communications of any kind from her ex-boyfriend.

Based on your description, I don't think she'll do this, but I recommend she change her cell phone number or block his number from her account. Even if she is not doing anything with him, she is sending the unspoken message to both of you how important he still is to her. The message for herself might include maintaining a Plan B, which means she cannot be 100%, fully invested in her relationship with you.

If the material things he can provide are more important to her than you, then I would guess that her emotional intimacy and maturity are stunted.

Please remember that I never met or interviewed her, and that the information you provided is only the tip of the iceberg.

I wish you all the best in managing this very tough situation.

If you want to work with me, I offer marriage counseling or marriage retreats in Maryland, to couples from all over the world. I am intentionally out-of-network for all insurance plans. My fees are based on $260 per hour, with a 45 minute session costing $195. I also have self-help programs available.

Tags: jealousy, marital problems