Dear Amy:

My husband and I dated for several years, broke up for several years and then got back together and married.

During the time we were apart, I dated other people and found a very nice guy with whom I had an exclusive relationship. When my husband came back on the scene, I realized I loved him and broke it off with Mr. Nice Guy.

Shortly before my marriage, my husband went into my e-mail account without my knowledge or permission, and he read a sexy message I had sent to Nice Guy before my husband came back on the scene.

It made him berserk.

My husband has tortured me with this for a year and a half, veering from blaming me for not having password protection on my account to accusing me of promiscuity.

He has repeatedly sworn not to mention this again, but he can't seem to stop himself. Today he brought it up again, this time claiming that there will always be a barrier between us until "we work this out." I told him that he needs to work this out by himself or with a therapist and that I would come with him to therapy if that was his choice.

I have learned two things about my husband through all this. One is that he won't go to therapy and the other is that "insecurity" is something that only happens to other people.

I am really angry with him for betraying my trust by snooping in my e-mail and for continuing to poison an otherwise happy marriage by bringing this up.

How should I handle this?


I realize that some people seem to associate therapy with whining characters in a Woody Allen movie, but given the alternative (tortured jealousy), I think that your husband should be brave enough to submit to some sessions.

Therapy isn't easy. It's hard work to bungee jump into your own motivations and emotions. But when a person is stuck in a particular thought or behavior pattern, the best and most efficient way to work things out isn't to revisit the problem every few months but to sit down and focus on the issue in a concentrated way with a person who knows how to probe and listen.

Irrational jealousy and blaming you for his insecurity are signs that your husband is using this incident to try to control you. Some of this behavior is alarming -- if he doesn't get a handle on it.

You both might benefit from reading "Relationship Rescue: A Seven Step Strategy for Reconnecting With Your Partner," by Phil McGraw (2000, Hyperion). Dr. Phil's book has a chapter ("Eliminating Your Bad Spirit") that seems to apply to your husband.

Dear Amy:

This summer, one of my best friends stayed with my family and me for six weeks while she looked for an apartment, which was a month longer than she had asked to stay originally.

During this entire time, she thanked me only once (somewhere around Week Three), and she never thanked my parents.

Because I didn't want to make a big fuss, I didn't say anything to her, but now I find it hard to be the kind of friend to her that I was before, and she is starting to sense the distance I've been keeping.

I can't get past my anger over her ingratitude.

Judging by how she has reacted to things in the past, she'll apologize profusely, but she won't change her ways.

What should I do?

Silently Fuming

Stop "Silently Fuming" and fume out loud. You need to give your friend the benefit of knowing what's on your mind.

She should apologize to you. She also needs to thank your parents -- right away.

She may fall all over herself with profuse apologies, and that's fine -- but make sure she knows that she STILL must thank your parents.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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