IT is not always easy to tell when a partner becomes too suspicious – especially in the early part of a relationship. Certain acts like asking who you have been hanging out with or who you were talking to on the phone, can mistakenly be construed as a strong concern and deep longing for your company. However down the line, such behaviour becomes irritating and unbearable not to mention invasive and even emotionally abusive. So if you feel your partner is overly suspicious, here are few things you can try out.
It is not about you
To begin with, realise that your partner suspicious behaviour has little or nothing to do with you. He/she might be busy the whole day reading your mail or conducting a Google search with your username, but you need to understand that this is not really a reflection of the appropriateness of your activities. This is happening merely because your spouse’s perceptions, for whatever reason, are different from yours. Like for an emotionally mature person, speaking to a colleague after working hours might not seem a big thing, but for an overly suspicious person, the action is indicates an attempt to hook up with a co-worker and perhaps even a budding office romance. And since you cannot fight with a person’s perceptions or tell them that they are wrong to feel that way, it is best to ignore such a negative attitude. In fact an extreme form of a suspicious tendency is likely to be an expression of a person’s sense of insecurity or a sense of loss of self-control which makes them to focus on the perceived wrong-doings of others so that they can feel justified about harboring suspicions in the first place. So even though it may be hard not to get depressed by constant interrogation from your partner – after all they are directed at you – try not to take them personally.
Don’t let it get you down
Having to face constant negative suspicions from the person you love is difficult to accept. But don’t let your partner’s suspicions ruin your day or spoil your mood. Tell yourself that only you have the power to control your mood and no one else. Don’t give away this power so easily. Moreover remind yourself that you are responsible for your own feelings and your spouse cannot make you feel unhappy or bad about yourself without your consent.
Avoid getting defensive
It may severely try your patience to answer to yet another round of interrogation about who you met and what you did last evening, but try to listen calmly instead of getting defensive. Cutting off your spouse prematurely or reacting with an impatient gesture or tone of voice will only blow up the situation and give your partner another reason to build up his/her suspicion. Likewise, try not to dismiss or discount a jealous partner’s feelings. Coming up with phrases like “Not that again…” or “You are crazy to think like this…” will only serve to make that person feel more misunderstood and hardly help solve the problem. Rather give your partner an opportunity to be heard, so that they feel they have had their say and then you can either choose to ignore the complaints or give your side of the matter.
Hear them out
Instead of mentally switching off or reacting with counter-criticism, be patient and hear out your partner when he/she begins to complain about your actions and their implications. Sometimes it helps to let a jealous partner know that he or she can talk to you about his or her feelings, that you will listen to a partner’s fears and anxieties and try to understand where such negative emotions are coming from. Maybe if your partner feels understood after talking about his/her problems in a supportive environment, he/she will be able to move beyond such feelings and worries more effectively.
Try being more available
If your partner does not have some deep-seated psychological issues, you can try to be more emotionally responsive and available to your partner. For instance pick up the phone when he/she calls instead of letting it ring. If you are going to put in some overtime at work, let your partner know where you will be and when you will come home. Be transparent about your schedule. Try not to think of these acts as having to “explain” yourself. You may find that by knowing how and when to reach you, your partner will reel more assured in love and hence become less suspicious in a relationship. If you find such these measures working even just a little, follow up by consistently reminding your partner that you love him or her, that you will be there and that you will work through problems together.
Consider your own actions
It may even be possible that some of your actions are leaving room for doubt. If you regularly take calls late at night or leave town unannounced, then your partner may only be reacting to such unconventional acts on your part. To you they may not seem worth kicking up a storm over, but to the other person, they may imply something else. The only way to solve this is to bridge the communication gap by talking things through and assuring that you will be more transparent about your plans.
Have a chat
However if you find that your supportive behavior bears no fruit and on the contrary you are getting exhausted by constantly having to answer to your partner’s suspicions, then it may be time to take a more direct approach. Find a suitable time and place to have a talk with your partner. Discuss how you are feeling unhappy and depressed at being interrogated all the time. Let your partner know that being constantly suspected no longer makes you want to try harder to please him/her – in fact it only makes you feel more discouraged and defensive about your privacy. Also point out that if this continues over time, your feelings of despair and hopelessness may even make it difficult for you to continue in the relationship. End the discussion by reaffirming your love for your spouse and your readiness to improve any aspect of your behavior which may be actually upsetting him/her. If talking face to face with your partner seems too hard, perhaps you could even write him/her a letter. Here too, couch concerns of your emotional well-being between affirmations of love and support for your spouse.
Finally if you remain unsuccessful after trying out all the above ways but still want to give your relationship a chance, the only thing left to do is take professional help. A counsellor or therapist will not only be able to diagnose the cause of your partner’s overly suspicious behavior but also suggest ways of coping with it in a relationship. Sometimes an excessively jealous behavior may not be about mere insecurity but about a dysfunctional personality in which case it may not be possible for you and your spouse to deal with the effects by yourselves.