Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for seven years. Having both been married and divorced before, we committed and agreed before we married that the words "separation" and "divorce" would never be discussed in our future.
We have a large circle of friends and attend music festivals that include old-time dancing, which I love. We both agreed that it's OK to dance with others occasionally.
An acquaintance, "Frank," attends a couple of the same festivals. He's married, but his wife has medical conditions, so she can't always accompany him. Frank also loves to dance, and when his wife is not available, he dances with many ladies. Last weekend, we attended a festival. Frank asked me to dance a couple of times on the second day. When we got back to our camper, my husband blew up at me, accused me of "coming on to" Frank and said, "I'm leaving you. We're done. I'm not putting up with this anymore. You ticked me off yesterday, as well, and that's enough." When I asked what I'd done the day before, he said, "I don't remember, but you tick me off every day, so it doesn't matter." He threatened to pack up and leave right away and said I could go home with "him." I was in disbelief at his accusation, which was the furthest thing from the truth. I remained calm, and slowly he cooled off. After some time, we returned to our seats and resumed socializing and dancing. We finished the evening and headed back to the camper. We packed up the next morning to head home.
My husband has not said another word about this, and we have returned to our usual routine. He's back to his usual happy self, as if it never happened! I've thought this through, and I believe that my husband's jealousy stemmed from his fear of rejection. His first wife left him for another man. But his words haunt me, and I'm not sleeping. We have had a good marriage and often speak about how blessed we are. We're followers of Jesus Christ, and I am committed to the vows we made before God, but he seems to have forgotten our commitment.
I have spoken to no one about this but am at a loss as to what to do. Of course, I will no longer dance with anyone else — but what else can I do? I can't just pretend that his words didn't cut me deeply, and now there is the issue of trust, on both sides. He has an attitude of unforgiveness, which has been evident many times in the past (not just with me). Your advice would be greatly appreciated. — Perception vs. Truth
Dear Perception vs. Truth: You're right that it's an issue of trust on both sides — because trusting a partner doesn't just mean trusting the person not to be unfaithful; it means trusting the person not to try to control you or make you feel lesser in any way. Your husband broke your trust the day he blew up at you. That was bad. But even worse was his silence about it afterward. Everyone makes mistakes; what's important is our willingness to talk through them and grow from them.
I strongly recommend seeking the guidance of a marriage counselor or religious adviser, as your husband's emotional volatility might make it difficult to work through without a more objective third party present. If his outbursts escalate to a point where you don't feel safe, call 911 or The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]