Dear Annie: I have been married for almost 20 years to a somewhat verbally abusive and manipulative man. We were separated for a year, but remained in the same house while I worked with him to understand how damaging his behavior was. During that time, my husband befriended another woman. To my knowledge, it was not sex, only conversation about how they were mistreated and how miserable their lives were.
My husband and I reconciled, and I have been honest and proactive concerning our relationship. However, he still converses with this woman and shares everything about our relationship with her. I think he tells me about it on purpose (emotional abuse), and when I inquire about whether they were intimate, he has a fit and tells me I’m crazy.
I am an attractive person. I have a great job. I don’t need him financially, and emotionally he’s difficult. I continue to try to work things out, but, Annie, what is the story with this woman? Is he trying to make me jealous? It’s sabotaging our efforts to mend our relationship. He tells me how beautiful and sexy I am, but something is not right. What do you think? – Bustin’ To Get Loose
Dear Bustin’: Your signature tells us a lot. Your husband has found a sympathetic connection with this woman. She is someone to whom he can complain while making himself look like a victim. He tells you about it so you will feel guilty and upset that she fulfills a need you don’t – and can’t. If she were male, you might worry less, but flaunting this relationship is emotionally abusive, and he needs to stop.