Q: I have male and female running partners who all participate in marathons like me. However, my wife does not want me to run with some women who are physically attractive. I have invited my wife to start running too and have asked her to get to know them to put her mind to rest, however she refuses and doesn’t want to join me. It’s awkward for me to break away from the group, and also unacceptable to me that my wife is controlling my platonic friendships, especially since anyone in the group will testify that my behaviour with all the women runners is above board. It’s frustrating. How do I deal with this?
Ans: To quell your wife’s fears – the source of her fears would have to first be looked into. Why is she so afraid of you sharing your time with attractive women? It is important to understand how your wife views or indexes attractive women (in general) – even when this has nothing to do with you. Does she view attractive women as – aspirational, dumb, vain, gifted, exhalted, shallow, superfluous, airy, snooty, entitled or lucky – In some manner? Attractive women may rouse those around them due to their tendency to stick out from a crowd due to their pleasing features.
Is it possible that your wife may be comparing her own looks to these women as some sort of measure of her own desirability to you or to men in general? What is your wife’s general self-esteem like? Is she proud of who she is, how she looks, how she spends her time and how much value she adds to her surroundings? This is a worthwhile assessment to make.
There is the possibility that your wife may be feeling insecure about her looks or jealous about the kind of company you keep. What is your wife’s social life like? Was she denied the company of friends of the opposite gender due to a conservative upbringing and maybe that’s something – she is yet to come to terms with? Is she unsure about your faithfulness to her? Has she been let down in the past? Are you adequately demonstrative of your affection and care to her? Even if you are demonstrative, how does she tend to process your care? Does she feel good about it or does it feel awkward to her?
It might be a good idea to Google the concept of the – 5 Love Languages and figure out which one would work to show her you’re invested in the relationship you’ll share. This may help to soften her stance towards you and give her reassurances about how you see exclusivity in your relationship. This will require some time and patience on your part.
Your wife’s refusal to join you for a marathon could also possibly stem from her assessment of her own physical fitness or how she feels about her body being put through physical rigour. As you know, marathons are not just tests of physical endurance but also markers of one’s psychological grit. It is up to you to yield control of whom you meet in the hands of another human being or to stay the course and be honest with yourself about what you want.
Clingy or mopey partners can be exasperating to support and be around and that is why they require the care and support of a relationship counsellor so that they can focus on their inner healing and not bring let their suspicious or insecurities haunt them. Relationships may be visited by concerns that span the time you’ll share with each other.
This is natural and a part of how a couple evolves. Understanding leads to further understanding. It is important to address all concerns (however trivial they may feel to you) rather than dismiss them. This will show your partner that you’re tuned into their deepest needs and fears. Everyone has failings and fragilities. There’s no perfect way to navigate a relationship but with a little bit of resilience, compassion and empathy, a lot can be negotiated - in time.