Happily Married for Years, Now Husband Thinks I’m Cheating, Says He Might Cheat

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Reader’s Question

My husband and I have been having problems for a few months now. But before recently, things were actually going very well.

In recent months, my husband has become controlling and possessive. He checks my phone and monitors where I go and who I see. Lately, he is throughly convinced that I have cheated on him, when I have not. Despite the fact that there isn’t a shred of evidence to support this notion, he won’t let it go. Things will be better for a while, like a month or so, and we move on and things seem to go back to normal. But as soon as we get back on track, he reverts back to his old suspicions.

Now, my husband is saying that although he still loves me, he feels he cannot remain faithful to me. Life with him is like a roller coaster. One day he loves me and treats me well, then he is hurtful and angry for no reason. Is love enough to save this relationship?

Psychologist’s Reply

You indicate that your husband started having some completely unjustifiable suspicions about your fidelity a few months ago but then recently told you he feared that he himself could not remain faithful. This sounds very much like the ego defense mechanism of projection could be at work.

Projection has historically been regarded as the unconscious way a person avoids reckoning with thoughts, urges, emotions, or impulses they believe to be unacceptable by attributing them to (projecting them onto) others. So, a person who is struggling with desires to cheat (or has in fact cheated and is feeling badly about it) might assuage their pangs of conscience by attributing those same desires to others.

Of course, there’s no way to know for sure what’s going at present with a relationship that you report was healthy and satisfying until recently. So, whatever the issues warranting attention, it’s probably best to seek the counsel of an experienced marriage therapist.

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