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Is wife irrationally jealous of his old friend?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear Annie: I am 51, have been married for 17 years and have three kids. A year ago, my wife and I ran into “Sue,” an old friend of mine. I had not spoken to her for at least 15 years. We talked briefly and it was somewhat awkward. She was unmarried with a pre-teen son. My wife was a bit put out because Sue did not speak to her very much. The whole interaction lasted about two minutes.

Fast forward to today. I received a call out of the blue from Sue, who tells me she’s getting married. She wanted my address so she could invite my family to the wedding. My wife thought this was rather forward of her and I asked what exactly she was so upset about. Sue and I were only friends. We never dated.

My wife refused to give me a good reason why this upset her so much, and we had words. I’d like to go to the wedding because there might be some people attending whom I would enjoy seeing. For me, this is just a wedding of an old friend. For my wife, it’s apparently much more, but she cannot or will not tell me why. What should I do? Without an Explanation

Dear Without: It’s actually rather generous of someone with whom you have barely had contact to invite you to her wedding. However, your wife seems irrationally jealous. Is Sue particularly attractive? Your wife may feel you are comparing them and that she comes off poorly. Try reassuring her and see if it helps. But if the choice is to attend the wedding of a lapsed friend or placate your overly sensitive wife, we’d opt to appease your wife. Don’t court trouble.

Dear Annie: Both my parents passed away within the past three years. Here’s my beef: My wife has two married siblings who live in the area, and neither one of them attended either of the memorial services. Neither of them called us offering their condolences. Neither one sent a sympathy card.

This is upsetting to me. My wife says they probably just didn’t know. I say they are socially retarded. What say you? Orphaned at Middle Age

Dear Orphaned: Our condolences on the loss of your parents. We understand why you are upset, but if, in fact, your wife is correct and her siblings do not know your parents have died, they would have no reason to contact you to express sympathy. If your wife has informed them and they still have not called or sent a card, then we agree they are both insensitive and socially inept. Your wife should tell them that an expression of sympathy would be appreciated, even now.

Dear Annie: I read the response to “Isolated Wife” from a therapist who said people with social anxiety often self-medicate with alcohol.

As a person who suffered with Social Anxiety Disorder all my life, I can relate to those who use alcohol as their drug of choice to cope. My father, brother and sister are recovering alcoholics who suffer from depression and social anxiety. I am fortunate not to be in the same boat.

I tried cognitive behavior therapy, hypnosis, talk therapy and group therapy. I knew my problem wasn’t all in my head. Finally, I found a therapist who understood my only-recently acknowledged disorder and treated me with medication. I am now free to be myself for once in my life.

For those who suffer from a social anxiety disorder or who know something is wrong but don’t understand what, please seek professional help. Believe me, alcoholism is worse than a social disorder, which can be treated. Finally Happy in El Paso

Dear El Paso: We’re glad to know you persevered in finding treatment. Thank you for encouraging our readers to do the same.

• E-mail your questions to or write to: Annie’s Mailbox‚Ñ¢, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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