Am I right to ask for some space?
A FEW months ago, I married a man I’ve known for four years. He’s very obsessed with me, but we get on well and have a lot of fun. Until recently, we never argued. He was married for 30 years and has no children. He and his exwife didn’t get on, so had separate holidays and lives. I have three grownup children. Recently, one asked me on a long weekend with her in France.
My husband made a terrible fuss, saying I couldn’t love him if I wanted to go away without him. My previous husband (who died) didn’t mind separate hobbies, etc. He respected our mutual need for space.
My new husband is very clingy when I want to see my friends. He always wants to come, but sometimes friends want to talk privately. Also, my children would like to see me alone sometimes, but he feels left out if I don’t include him. It’s very difficult. I did go on that trip with my daughter and it caused a huge row.
My eldest son says he shouldn’t be able to stop me, since I’m an adult. But my husband calls me selfish if I want to go anywhere without him and says I’m not taking his wishes into account.
I’d given up most of my hobbies but now I want to restart one or two. But on the whole, my husband thinks married couples should be joined at the hip like his parents were. I don’t think that’s healthy.
The other day, I visited a friend and was out a bit longer than expected and he went crazy. He said I should’ve texted him, but I was having a discussion and didn’t think.
I was on my own for 20 years and was used to doing exactly what I like. Am I being reasonable or not?
TOGETHERNESS can be happy; possessiveness is never so. Togetherness can be as much fun as frolicking in a field in spring; possessiveness slams the cold cell door. Togetherness is about ‘us’; possessiveness is all about ‘me, me, me’.
A companionable marriage allows for differences and independence of spirit; a possessive partnership can stifle breath. William Blake wrote a short poem on this very subject: ‘He who binds to himself a joy / Does the winged life destroy / But he who kisses the joy as it flies / Lives in eternity’s sunrise.’
It would be interesting to know whether your husband was quite so unreasonable during the four years before your marriage. Does he feel liberated to show his true, needy self because he reckons the status of ‘husband’ gives him the right to do so?
I’m also wondering whether your adult children had any misgivings before, as clearly they do now. You didn’t argue before, but now you do. Is it because he suddenly thinks he ‘owns’ you?
It’s good to know you ‘get on well and have a lot of fun’. That is the best grounding for a happy marriage. But something has to be done about his obsessiveness, neediness and controlling possessiveness before it gets much worse. To answer your final question —yes, I think you are being perfectly reasonable. The trouble is, ‘reason’ isn’t much use when it comes to dealing with human emotions.
I’m glad you make the point that having been on your own for 20 years, you now have to think about the other person in your life. That’s essential.
It’s not necessary to be ‘joined at the hip’ to be considerate. If you know he’s expecting you home at a certain time, it’s only sensible to send a text to say you’ll be late.
I think I’d expect that, and your point about being involved in a discussion doesn’t really cut it. Since you married him, you must be familiar with his personality by now, so if you’re aware he gets stressed about such things, let him know you’ll be late. It might seem like a chore, but it’s really not hard to do.
As for the ‘terrible fuss’ and ‘huge row’ over the very short break in France with your daughter... Oh dear, somebody has to tell this man that unless he comes to his senses soon, this second marriage will turn out to be as unhappy as his first.
He sounds as if he has real issues to do with self-esteem and would benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy.
Does he have a close male friend you could talk to and get on side? That would be an excellent start.
I hope you are strong-minded enough to have a serious talk with him and tell him you need to find a way forward together which allows you some space.