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How can I stop his ex-wife making me feel so insecure?

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Hi Mark,

I'm a 32-year-old in a relationship for the past 16 months. Up until a year ago, everything was great. He lives an hour and a half away and has three jobs, one of which is in the fire brigade, so he has to be on call 24/7. So most of the time, I'm doing the travelling up and down. There is a 12 year age gap, he has been divorced twice, and he has three grown-up kids.

For the last couple of months, I've felt really insecure, to the point of losing myself and who I am. For the first year, I was the one reassuring him all the time about his weight and the age gap, saying that it didn't bother me, that I love him no matter what size he was, and that I didn't want a younger man.

The tables have turned and I'm feeling so low. His first wife, with whom he had the kids, suffers with depression and bipolar. She is always ringing him, sending messages like 'happy wedding anniversary', and needing to talk to him. It didn't bother me in the first year, but now it is.

This was all triggered when one day she asked him to come to dinner at her house with the boys; she would cook it and she would go to her sister's while they had it, so he agreed. I was a bit upset about this, as his last girlfriend of four years was insecure too and left him because of his ex-wife's actions. I told him that his ex-wife was doing the same thing: as soon as she sees him happy, she tries to come between the relationship. He told me it was for the boys and said, "I didn't have to tell and you would have been none the wiser."

Now I'm insecure about everything. Please help! Thanks.

This question was submitted by 'Sharon'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Sharon and thank you for writing in.

I'd love to know exactly what it is you have been afraid of here. Do you fear he'll suddenly go back to his ex-wife? That he'll start preferring her to you? She is his ex-wife for a reason. She went to her sister's when he went around so he could be with his kids. She may be needy and focussed on her own needs above and beyond yours because she feels you are already secure in your situation.

Ask yourself, what exactly are you afraid of?

The poor guy has three jobs, a hectic, busy life…would he even have time to cheat on you? Sounds like he has enough going on in his life without having any inclination to have a fling with his needy ex-wife. It also sounds like he needs and wants you, from his worries about whether you really want to be with him.

Imagination has replaced reality here. Maybe you learned an insecurity pattern from his initial worrying, the way he misused his imagination to upset himself. You already know how not to be bothered by his ex-wife because you weren't bothered by her before. Your man did tell you he was going to his ex-wife's for dinner to see his kids, not her. I don't believe there is anything else in that and you need to show him how to be more secure by you being more emotionally secure.

I suggest you write down all the things you have been bothered by, what has actually happened here, and what has merely happened in your imagination. Then write down ways to challenge those imaginings, because people can ruin their own lives by believing what their mind conjures up through fantasy. If you really think you need to, you can always follow the '10 Steps to Overcome Insecurity in Relationships' program, but you may not need to.

It's never easy conducting long-distance relationships, but if you love this man and he loves you (despite what you sometimes imagine), then there's no reason this shouldn't be a wonderful relationship once you kick out fear.

All best wishes to the both of you,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - June 17th, 2015 in

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