"He's Way Too Insecure"
The Couple's Turn
Jessica: 44, lawyer
Michael: 43, accountant
Married: 13 years
Kids: Cole, 11, and Logan, 9
Jessica is gorgeous, extroverted, and constantly on business trips; Michael is violently jealous. After he smashed a computer keyboard during their last fight, Jessica stopped speaking to him and called a marriage counselor.
Jessica: Let me be totally clear: I've never cheated. I've never even thought about cheating. Sure, I smile and make small talk with bartenders and busboys, but that doesn't mean I want to sleep with them. Michael says people stare at us in public because of my behavior. That's crazy! If they're staring, it could be because we're a mixed-race couple -- I'm Korean-American, he's Caucasian -- but it's probably because he's berating me.
My husband's always been insecure, but he's gotten worse since I started traveling for work several times a month. He's convinced I'll hook up with a coworker or client in a hotel, so he texts me constantly to check up on me. Basically, Michael doesn't trust me about anything. Early in our marriage I joined a health club near my office without telling him and he went crazy when he found the invoice. I apologized a long time ago for keeping such a big purchase from him -- it was wrong. But Michael thinks if I went behind his back once, I'll do it again, and he throws that gym membership in my face every time I go out of town for work. Get over it already!
Michael: I can't get over it. Anyone who lies about a gym membership is capable of lying about an affair. Jessica is sneaky. She closes her laptop if I enter the room, she doesn't tell me about her business trips until the last minute, and she won't give me her travel itinerary unless I beg her. If I ask who's going on the trip, she won't give me a straight answer. I don't have proof that Jessica's cheated before or is cheating now, but I wouldn't put it past her. I've found texts on her phone that sound bad -- things like, "Plane is late. Meet you at hotel" or "Gotta talk. See you at bar in five." Not one text, okay? More like 25 texts. If Jessica has nothing to hide, why won't she be up front about where she's going and who she's with?
My wife says nothing's going on but, given her history of flirting with other men, I have reason for concern. I call Jessica the "Tollbooth Attendant" because she doesn't let anybody pass without checking them out, even when we're in the middle of a conversation. I'm not jealous -- I'm frustrated. Jessica is rude to put strangers before me, and I won't apologize for calling her on it.
Jessica: Calling me on it? Oh, please. Shouting and swearing is more like it. Michael fights dirty. Every time we argue about my so-called flirting, he calls me a liar and does something violent, like throwing the TV remote across the room. He went ballistic one time when I said I was traveling with three men -- my married boss and two unmarried colleagues -- so I stopped telling him who was on business trips with me. I don't want to set him off.
Michael can't stay on topic when we fight, either. He dredges up every complaint he has against me, so our battles last hours, if not days. Michael hates my work schedule and says I'm cold and selfish as a mom because I don't dote on our sons 24/7. Sometimes I want to get a manicure on the weekend instead of sitting through five hours of baseball games. Or I need a nap to get over jet lag. Or I've got piles of laundry to do -- not that Michael would notice. He also thinks I put my career before family life because I work long hours and don't get home for dinner every night. Well, I've been the main breadwinner since he had a falling out with his business partner and lost a bunch of clients. I don't hear Michael complaining about my paycheck. Frankly, I think he should be grateful I can support the family while he rebuilds his accounting practice. And he should be more understanding of the pressure I'm under working full-time and running the house.
Michael: Jessica makes me sound like the bad guy, but she gives as good as she gets. During our fights she curses me out in front of the kids for not trusting her and not pitching in around the house. Then she goes all Drama Mama and threatens to jump off the balcony of our sixth-floor condo unless I stop yelling and start doing chores. She's even done it in front of the kids!
Jessica: Could he be more insecure? I'm sick of fighting the same battle over and over, and I'm pissed that Michael criticizes me for everything I do. He reminds me of my father -- constantly on my back for not living up to his fantasy of who I should be. And what kind of example are we setting for our sons? I'm afraid we're turning them off to marriage. I'm having second thoughts myself. If counseling can't help us, it's over
Michael: I'm not big on counseling, but we can't go on like this. Getting professional help is worth a shot.