Dear Dr. Norquist:
My husband gets mad at me if I want to spend time with a friend. He says I don’t have enough time for him. If I do spend time with a friend, he complains that everyone else is more important than he is because if I have enough time to spend with them, I must have time to spend with him. I am only asking for one night out a month. We work together and spend every night together –is this asking too much? My husband has no social life outside of me. If I don’t want to spend all my time with my husband, does this mean I don’t love him? He thinks so. What should I do? I’m starting to get claustrophobic.
Dr. Norquist responds:
Not wanting to spend all your time with your husband doesn’t mean you don’t love him. However, his neediness may be creating a desire in you for more space, more separateness. When we try to “fill-up”, so to speak, on our partner, to get our needs for love and security met, our partner eventually feels drained, and wants to pull away. Ideally, love should be a freeing feeling. Your husband’s insecurity will create what he most fears – your need to pull away. You seem to be struggling with guilt about engaging in a normal and healthy human activity – spending time with friends. Try not to allow yourself to own these guilt feelings. You have the right to see your friends. It is not unloving of you to want to do so. Don’t allow your life to be shut down because of your husband’s insecurities. It will not serve either of you for you to do this.
Your husband needs to recognize that the security and love that he is looking for is within himself, not in you. He needs to accept his innate loveableness and self-worth, and recognize that the fulfillment he is searching for is within. Being dependent on others for our sense of worth leaves us forever vulnerable to insecurities – as outside conditions and relationships are always changing. By becoming more centered in himself, and connecting with his inner richness, he will be more able to love you in a way that feels freeing to you. Then he may also spontaneously start developing a social life that is not totally dependent on you.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanyacounseling.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2017 Chaitanya Counseling Services