Tell Me About It: I’ve done something my husband says is unforgiveable
Kate Holmquist answers your relationship and life queries
Control issues can sometimes lead to one spouse bullying the other into relinquishing complete access to their phone, laptop or tablet, and that can be a form of domestic abuse. Photograph: Getty Images
Q I have done something my husband says is unforgiveable. He is barely speaking to me, and the distance between us has never been greater.
I had seen him smiling and laughing to himself in the evenings and weekends while he talked to people on his laptop. He never smiles and laughs with me any more, so I got jealous and wanted to know what was behind it.
I was afraid of losing him and I went behind his back to look at his history on his laptop. Then I found a way to read his emails when he was asleep. I’ve tried to explain this to him.
I found he was being flirtatious in emails, and that women were sexy right back at him, although it didn’t seem to go further. He found out I was spying when he caught me doing this one night.
A People closest to us spy on us the most. I feel for you because it must be upsetting to constantly observe your husband, to start to feel that you’re boring compared to his online friends, and to obsess to the point that you get up in the middle of the night to – wrongly, may I stress – invade his privacy.
Nip your jealousy in the bud. This sort of control issue can lead to one spouse bullying the other into relinquishing complete access to their phone, laptop or tablet, and that can be a form of domestic abuse, warns Brendan Madden of Relationships Ireland.
We have a devised a plan for you. First, talk to your husband. Apologise and explain that you breached his trust because you care about your relationship. Share with him your own feelings of insecurity. Are they from a previous unhappy relationship or from your childhood?
Then, work on your own unhappiness. You may have got into what couples psychologist John Gottman calls “negative sentiment over-ride”. This is when your own persistent bad thoughts about what you suspect your husband is doing block out anything positive, perhaps making you difficult to be around.
Develop your own interests and get a life that has you laughing and smiling.
Sometimes “the less we know about each other, the better”, says Madden.
Then, agree to spend some time together in a technology- free zone where you each have the other’s full attention. Start small. Do you think you could last 30 minutes?
Q I have been invited to what promises to be an incredible wedding by a friend from college.
I’m delighted that she still considers me close enough to be on the guest list and I really want to go. I want to show my appreciation and regard by dressing well and bringing a gift.
This sounds awful, but I am worried about the expense, as I am skint. Attending involves travel and an overnight stay. I can’t turn up without a present, and the whole thing could come to €500, but I’m barely scraping by at the moment.
I’m totally stressed out about this, so should I make an excuse and say I will be away?
A Never let a lack of funds stop you from living life fully, especially when it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event like this. Maybe you are secretly a little embarrassed and insecure at having an unsettled life, while your friend is embarking on the seeming solidity of marriage with an expensive celebration.
If so, stop feeling sorry for yourself and think of the bride. What’s important to her is you. “These days, weddings are more intimate so people don’t invite you unless they really want you there,” says wedding planner Rosie Meleady. Couples know times are tough and, in Meleady’s experience, many write on their invitation: “Your presence is our present.”
The top wedding gift is cash, and your friend won’t register whether you have given a stuffed envelope until after the honeymoon, when she sits down to write thank-you notes. So you can be the first in with a thank-you note to her, describing how wonderful the wedding was and including some photographs you have taken. At the bottom of the note, you can say: “I haven’t got you a present yet, but look forward to a surprise on your first anniversary.”
For wardrobe solutions, Facebook is your closet. People have dresses and shoes they are happy to lend.
The simplest dress can be made wedding-ready with borrowed accessories. Connect via Facebook with other invitees and ask for lifts and a space on someone’s floor. You can do all this for little or nothing if you think creatively.
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Kate on Twitter @kateholmquist. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into