Dear Annie: My wife and I have been together since we were just out of high school. We’ve been married for 18 years, and we have three glorious children. We have a great relationship, but I recently discovered she was extremely promiscuous in high school and found out she slept with many of our friends, some of whom are still in our social circle. I have always had a jealous nature, and now the jealousy is overwhelming my daily thoughts, especially when we see these other guys. Although the encounters happened before my time with her, I still feel cheated on and don’t look at her the way I once did. I have not brought it up with her, because I know she will get super defensive, and I know she will not go to counseling because of the nature of the topic. Any insight into getting over this would be appreciated, as I do love her and want to be with her. — Jealous in Wisconsin
Dear Jealous: Your wife is still looking at you with the same love in her eyes she always has, and if she knew you now look at her differently because of things she did 20 years ago, she would be heartbroken. So don’t tell her. Though I generally champion the importance of talking every problem out with a romantic partner, unfounded jealousy is the exception. If you aired your feelings, they’d grow like fanned flames. You’d most likely make your wife feel defensive, and her defensiveness would in turn make you feel less secure about the marriage. Deprive these fiery feelings of oxygen and they’ll eventually die out.
It’s also not worth talking about it with her because this is about you, not your relationship. Do some digging and try to get to the root of your insecurity. Use positive self-talk to encourage rational thinking. And if the obsessive thoughts won’t stop nagging you, consider therapy.