It takes two to combat mistrust in a relationship
Q MY HUSBAND thinks I am cheating on him but I am not.
I never have and every once in a while he gets it in his head that I have met someone else and am preparing to leave him.
I don't do anything to prompt him thinking this.
Nothing in our routine or intimacy changes, and I'm as affectionate as I always am.
He has been cheated on in the past and has self-esteem problems so I think he tends to be more negative about relationships.
But to be honest, I'm growing tired of the jealousy and suspicion and lack of trust.
I want to make the marriage work, but how do I get him to believe I am his faithful wife?
A When someone has low self-esteem and has been cheated on and rejected in the past, they may develop a fear of being left again, as well as a low sense of self-worth.
They may feel unworthy of long-time love and devotion and become a person who believes they aren't worth staying with.
Their fear can grow stronger and in fact sometimes can manifest into reality.
We can create that which we fear by not understanding ourselves.
If what you say is true and there is no outward change in your relationship, it sounds as though from time to time his fear overwhelms him and his mind starts to tell him the relationship must be coming to an end, you must have found someone else and discovered he is not enough for you, and so he convinces himself this must be the case.
Innocent as you are of his fears, it must be frustrating to have to deal with them on an ongoing basis.
Has he tried counselling to address his anxiety about the marriage and you as a partner leaving him?
Have you tried counselling together to learn effective communication together?
Communication in a marriage is not just about talking, but listening and understanding what is in each other's hearts, minds as well as the baggage we all carry into relationships from our childhood and past relationships.
It would be important that you both break this reactive cycle of waiting for his fear, jealousy and sense of worthlessness to grow and dominate, and then cope with it when it rears its head.
It would be far better to create a healthy relationship in which you both feel safe, supported, loyal, trusting and loved.
Given your husband's past and self-esteem issues, it may take some time to achieve this, but even initiating the process is a hopeful and healthy step.
So if you want the marriage to work in the long term, the responsibility of healing the mistrust and disbelief between you rests with both of you.
It's not just up to him to address his fears and baggage and not just up to you to manage your frustrations and reactions.
Both of you must commit to a co-operative and supportive relationship with each other, determined to set new patterns and communication together, without fear of cheating, leaving or dishonesty and with understanding, commitment and true partnership.
A counsellor can help guide you in this process, but in the end, it will be up to both of you to change the way you think, and love.