We Can’t Go On Together…”: Dealing With Suspicion In Marriage.
(ThySistas.com) Suspicion is the kind of emotion that has allowed humanity to flourish for thousands of years. To an extent, we owe our survival to the suspicion of our ancestors. Suspicion about whether or not to eat that particular berry, or whether that animal is a friend or a foe – it’s an essential survival guide.
In a more sanitized modern world, however, the emotion doesn’t have the same outlet. We know what to eat, what to be fearful of – we live in an age of PSAs and warning labels, so there’s nowhere for the instinct to go. So we channel it elsewhere; not consciously, but it’s reflected in society with skepticism, the anti-vax movement, conspiracy theorists – they’re all just ways of venting this latent caveman emotion.
Unfortunately, sometimes we turn this desire inward and begin to focus on our significant other. We begin to wonder where they are, what they’ve been doing and who they have been doing it with. We interpret the most minute of signs as something more significant, our brain pinging with paranoia.
Or (perhaps even additionally), we are on the receiving end of it. A suspicious husband, who questions everything and even floats the need for a paternity test or to be able to check our phones. It can make us feel like we’re on the receiving end of a constant barrage of suspicion, like everything we do is subject to interpretation – and an interpretation we don’t like.
So how do you handle it? As alluded to, the Elvis song Suspicious Minds makes a good point in the primary line of the song: “we can’t go on together”. How do you handle it when this leftover, Paleolithic instinct is focusing itself on the primary relationship in your life?
Trust Is Essential
You will hear many a saying about trust in relationships. Almost everyone focuses on it as a major necessity, the one thing that marriage has to maintain. If you can’t trust one another, so the conventional wisdom goes, then what do you have?
Well, you have a marriage. You have your children. And you have interest.
Yes, Sometimes Suspicion Can Be Healthy
It is also often said that the opposite of love is not hatred, but apathy. There is a lot of truth to this. Many relationships don’t implode like a supernova, but instead fizzle out with a sad “pfft” sound – because one, or both, involved in the union lost interest.
When you have been together for a long time, it can be hard to sustain the same level of excitement in one another as you always had. You may begin to glaze over when they talk about their work day. You may disagree on fundamentals like child-raising tactics and it pushes you further apart. You may simply not have much time for one another.
So can suspicion be healthy? Yes – because if someone is suspicious, they care. They are concerned. They are, in essence, the exact opposite of apathetic.
It’s completely natural to feel a frisson of alarm if you see your husband conversing with an attractive woman – and vice versa. And despite what some may say, it’s not a sign you don’t trust them. It just shows that you still value him as an attractive man who women would be interested in – because you are interested in him!
If he asks a few questions about a male work colleague you have mentioned, it’s not a sign he thinks you’re cheating on him. It’s a sign he sees your value to others because he still appreciates it. He sees how others might see you and what’s more, he’s protective of the relationship and life you have built together.
That’s a good thing.
So When Does It Go Too Far?
The above cases mentioned have been isolated incidents. Moments when we allow our mind to wander, out of a protective instinct for the lives we have built for ourselves.
When it becomes an issue is when it is no longer an isolated incident. Below are a few of the warning signs of a suspicious mind that is becoming chronic.
- Checked his phone behind his back?
- Looked up his work colleagues or friends online to check their relationship status or other personal information?
- Questioned him about the same person more than once, out of more than idle curiosity?
- Gone through his pockets – and not because you were getting ready to do laundry!
- If you do the above once in a momentary fit of worrisome thought – then fine. It happens to us all; no one has got themselves together all the time! The issue arises when it becomes chronic. If it gets to the point where this is normal behavior for you, then it’s time to see it as an issue.
The same goes if you are dealing with being on the receiving end of this. If you’ve been questioned at length due to a brief mention of a male name, and it’s not the first time it’s happened, then there’s an issue.
What Can You Do About It?
The first fix is simple – appreciation. Take a little time together to remember why you are together and bolster your confidence in your union. Talk about your future plans as a couple, see the way that your lives are entwined together – and feel reassurance from that. You’re not just each other’s spouses due to a legal document; you’re partners, and seeing each other as that can help ease the overriding problem.
The second step would be to seek guidance from an outside source. That could be your spiritual advisor or conventional therapy for couples.
The most important thing to do is to treat it seriously. You don’t have to live in a marriage that’s full of suspicious, doubt and insecurity – so don’t accept having to do so. Work through it to a point where you are most comfortable and adapt behaviors for the other person if it eases their concern. You’re partners, so work together for the solution.
Staff Writer; Lisa Love