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Q. My friends are very important to me but my husband can't stand it when I'm on the phone with them. He eavesdrops and sometimes he stands right in front of me and makes a "time's up" gesture. He also hates it when I have a girls' night out. I love him but I need other people in my life, too. There are some things you can only share with a woman! What should I do?
A. Every successful marriage is a balance between togetherness and separateness. However, when a person feels insecure in a relationship, separateness on the part of a spouse feels like a threat. Your husband's possessive behavior is his way of trying to keep you all to himself. Also, studies indicate that women have deeper and more emotional friendships than men do. That is almost certainly contributing to your husband's jealousy. See whether you can get him involved in some of the "buddy" activities men enjoy such as playing or watching sports. He'll be less likely to begrudge you your time with your friends if he has some companionship of his own outside your marriage. Beyond that, research shows that the happiest marriages are those in which a husband and wife tell one another they love each other every day. Don't forget to reassure your husband that he's your priority even though you do need your friendships. If you've gotten out of the habit of saying those three little words, make a point of verbalizing your affection once again. Chances are your husband will begin to reciprocate and you'll both feel closer than ever.