ROWAN PELLING"S SEX ADVICE COLUMN: Jealousy is tearing me apart


Jealousy is tearing me apart

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UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 21 October 2012

QUESTION:

I am a 68-year-old man, married to my beloved wife for 32 years. She is a wonderful singer and has been dueting with a younger man for the past decade, which involves regular practice at his house.

I thought nothing of it until the other day, when she referred to him as 'my love'. A wave of jealousy swept over me and has been consuming me ever since.

My wife protests the phrase was innocuous and has threatened to leave me if I stop her singing sessions. She has assured me of her love, but I can't control my emotions. Please help.

Is there any emotion that possesses and torments as thoroughly as jealousy

Is there any emotion that possesses and torments as thoroughly as jealousy

ANSWER:

Only the cold-hearted will not feel your pain. Is there any emotion
that possesses and torments as thoroughly as jealousy The green-eyed
monster is angry, wounded and wantonly irrational.

Your letter also demonstrates there's no age bar on jealous agony; you
can feel every bit as tormented at 68 as 18 – and just as powerless to
control it.

As Shakespeare demonstrated so powerfully in Othello, the jealous imagination can conjure demons where there are none.

Let's look at the bare bones of your story. Your wife called her singing
partner 'my love' in conversation and you have seized on this as a sign
she loves him romantically, although you’ve never previously – not once
in a decade — had cause to worry.

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I must tell you here and now that half the women I know could lightly
use the term 'love' to a male friend, along with sweetheart, petal,
gorgeous, or even that great West Country term, luvver (often uttered by
cosy waitresses in cafes to anyone they're serving).

The other thing you need to bear in mind is that your wife is a
performer and when she's in that mode she may simply feel more
flamboyant. Just as luvvies in the theatre call everyone darling, she
may feel some artistic licence in her singing circle to call her duet
partner 'my love'.

Of course, it's also perfectly possible that your spouse does have a
small crush on her slightly younger singing partner. But, if so, I bet
my last farthing it doesn't jeopardise one ounce of the lasting love she
feels for you.

Many people harbour harmless tendresses for colleagues, acquaintances
or, indeed, TV stars, that brighten their lives, but mean nothing in
real terms. Haven't you ever had a charming workmate who enlivened your
days with her smile or wit

There's no quick-fix solution for jealousy once you've worked yourself
in to a frenzy. I could tell you to 'get a grip!', but it's clear you
want nothing more than to regain your composure. It will take some time
and effort.

You feel you are excluded from your wife's intimacy with her singing
partner, so why not ask him and his spouse for drinks and do things
involving all of you

Try to see him as a family friend, not as a rival (and if that doesn't
wash, remember the wise old adage to keep your friends close and your
enemies closer).

It seems to me she isn't choosing her duet partner over you, she's just choosing not to surrender her love for music.

Which seems wise, because if she gave up singing she would swiftly resent you and 32 years of love might crumble away.