How can a married man with a jealous wife maintain close female friends?
I have a concern regarding making friends with women.
I am dedicated to my wife and have been for a long time. We are incredibly close - best friends, definitely - and I have never been unfaithful to her. However, she is VERY threatened by other women and becomes quite jealous. Then it's disguised as insults or slams on who the other woman is as a person (looks, talents, job, etc). This generally happens even if I'm friends with the other woman, and my wife is not. When she becomes good friends with the women I make friends with, everything is fine. But if it's someone I just met, or someone she rarely sees, she gets very catty and makes me feel like they're not worthwhile having as a friend. She’ll often do this until she actually meets the person – then she’ll either dislike them and stay catty, or suddenly try to be better friends with them than I am.
So - here's my dilemma. I am going through counseling to try and be more independent. Part of this is me growing beyond fears of my wife's over reactions to things that are considered socially acceptable by others. I am an actor, so having female friends is just accepted as normal (and necessary, even). Here's what I see happening repeatedly with women:
I meet a woman on the first day. It usually goes incredibly well and I feel like a friendship is definitely a possibility. Then I go home and tell my wife about the friendship - and she seems utterly disinterested in hearing about it, and often makes me feel "guilty" that I'm talking to other women at all. I'm not trying to flirt with them, I'm not trying to get with them - but it's as if any excitement over a female friend (or, hell, even many male friends) is quashed by some sort of insecurity in my wife. Then I start feeling awkward around the woman and the friendship sort of fades away. Maybe I'm doing something subconsciously, respecting my wife's wishes? Maybe it's that I don't show interest in them as women? I have witnessed a lot of women aren’t interested in being my friend once they know I'm married (I wear my ring, and I always tell on first meeting once I get to it in the conversation).
What bothers me is how other men's wives feel about these sorts of friendships. I can't tell if I'm just naturally more respectful to my wife, or if I'm afraid to bring out this competitive woman my wife becomes, or if she's convinced me that these women are really as bad as she claims. She acts like every woman is after me so she clings. And it's always "It's not that i don't trust you, but it's that I don't trust them."
So - battle lines are often draw. I've lost a lot of platonic girlfriends over her. My counselor says that's probably a sign of something wrong within my wife which she needs to come to terms with and there's nothing worng with female friends. I've also heard that a lot of married men have healthy relationships with women that have an element of flirty-ness" to them - but I feel like I can't even compliment a woman on anything without encouraging the wraith of my wife.
So what is a healthy way for a man to be friends with a woman? How can I show my wife that they are not threatening this relationship? And can anybody explain how married men in healthy relationships can maintain a healthy female friend relationship, still seeming like a man, but not crossing any inappropriate lines of complimenting or touch? As I said - I don't feel like I can even touch or hug other women whom my wife hasn't "approved" of, mind you, without her getting angry.
And - my wife has conditioned me into thinking that any compliment will be misconstrued as sexual interest. I never viewed it that way before meeting her, but that's how she views the world. And I feel like I am viewing the world that way on an artificial level - like I'm struggling with that concept, disagreeing with it on the inside, but hitting into it like a brick wall when I try to confront it. Because I've listened to it for so long, I think I now believe it. Is that true? Or is it safe for me to pass a compliment without it being construed as such? I just want to stop feeling like I can't say ANYTHING to a woman without it being taken as a flirtatious advance. My wife thinks that if someone is nice to her, it means they're interested - earlier in our relationship, I disagreeed with her opinion, but I feel that sort of drifted away somewhere and I don't know how to express that anymore. And I wish my wife would trust me enough that I know if and when it gets too far, and that I will put on the brakes. What ends up happening is that I never get close to anyone (although she does all the time). And I want that to change (and we've talked about it, and she knows my feelings, but I still feel that level of tension from her).
So I guess this might be even broader than I believed - how do I get over these fears of being close to someone as a friend (male or female) without feeling I will incur my wife's anger over the friendship?
Thank you for the advice.
Last edited by jonathanb222; 05-04-2009 at 01:21 PM.
My girlfriend essentially pushed all of my female friends away. It's very tough and sometimes impossible.
Yea, perhaps your wife is over-reacting....but why do you feel you need platonic girl friends? And why are you talking to her about them?
"May a diseased yak leave a bar mitzvah gift in your sock drawer."
Well. I'd feel uncomfortable with my guy complimenting anyone or being SUPER close to them. But I have no problems with his friends that are girls that are completely platonic as in they have a laught together, hang out together. I trust that.
Unfortunatley all you can do is keep reassuring her and that does get tiring. You should be allowed to have friends.
Have you been to counselling together?
Id be uncomfortable with them being too close and I wonder a little bit WHy you need to many female friends? Or is it just people you meet, click with and would like to continue a relationship with (platonic) and your wife wouldnt understand that?
My wife is the same way.. like.. EXACTLY the same way.
I simply don't have any female friends anymore and no longer try. It sucks, but I have simply accepted it.
I don't think it's that the OP feels that he needs female friends. It just sounds like he's met people who happen to be female that he feels very awkward around them because he's afraid to upset his wife.
OP, does your wife go to counseling as well? It sounds like she has big insecurity issues.
"Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner." ~Max Lucado
It's interesting that you seem to be concentrating on making female friends and that may be why she is jealous. Because friendships - if just friendships - develop between people as people, regardless of their gender.
I am an actor, so having female friends is just accepted as normal (and necessary, even). Here's what I see happening repeatedly with women:
I meet a woman on the first day. It usually goes incredibly well and I feel like a friendship is definitely a possibility. Then I go home and tell my wife about the friendship - and she seems utterly disinterested in hearing about it, and often makes me feel "guilty" that I'm talking to other women at all.
Perhaps you are just as keen to make friends of men as well as women - but it isn't coming across like that in your post.
BTW - I have never heard that it is necessary for an actor to have female friends any more than anyone else.
that is the way marriage was intended
Originally Posted by Lecturer
Yea, you get one woman. That's it.
"May a diseased yak leave a bar mitzvah gift in your sock drawer."
Why would a married man with a jealous wife want to maintain close female friends?
Contacts, acquaintances, casual friends, fine. But close friends? Why do you need that?