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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4483
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Is it appropriate or "healthy" for my wife of 20 years to accept

Resolved Question:

Is it appropriate or "healthy" for my wife of 20 years to accept Facebook Friend requests from men she dated and had sex with before we started dating? She says that I am being to controlling that FB friendship really means nothing. Please give your opinion.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 10 months ago.

Dr. Z :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

I understand your concern about this facebook behavior and with your wife accepting friend requests from past intimate lovers

Dr. Z :

But do not forget that she was also friends with these men before she dated them and was intimate with them and that she has been loyal to you for 20 years

Dr. Z :

Usually these friend requests are innocuous and are not nearly the same as what is considered a friend in real life.

Customer:

  1. just the same it bothers me and troubles me greatly

Dr. Z :

A problem that can come up is if she is messaging these men a lot or in secret, that can be problematic behavior

Dr. Z :

I understand that it bothers you greatly, why do you think it bothers you greatly?

Customer:

I feel that I would be doing something wrong if I searched out an old girl-friend and approached them in any way on a social media site

Customer:

I have very low self esteem, even though I am a successful ER Physician. Retired Colonel US Army Reserve, et al

Customer:

was sexually and mentally abused and beaten as a child by a mentally ill father

Customer:

and deep down I ahe a very poor self-image even though I am 55 y/o and have accomplished a lot I n my life

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry to hear about your history of abuse, I can only imagine how traumatizing that was for you. I think your low self-esteem has compounded this issue to make it worse than it actually is. Let me ask you in the last 20 years, has your wife ever cheated on you or hurt you in any major way?

Customer:

My wife is 11 years younger than me, very beautiful, and a much better woman than I probably deserve, she just recently told me about her sexual exploits before we were married, and the number of men she had been with, and events like being with more than 1 man at a time, and it has bothered me and I feel even more insecure, and so I really have a problem with former lovers approaching her intentionally on social media.

Customer:

I don't think this other man's wife, would feel comfortable with him approaching my wife, either

Customer:

his wife is very plain and homely, and my wife is drop dead gorgeous, and she dumped him years ago and then he started dating his present wife.

Customer:

I just think it is disrespectful of her marriage for him want to pop in after so many years.

Customer:

I can't help but believe his motives are not appropriate. I trust her, but I don't like the idea of him being motivated to search her out.

Dr. Z :

Well maybe his motives are not appropriate, but the only way he would be successful would be if your wife participates and you say that you trust your wife. He also may be jealous of you because of the attractiveness of your wife compared to his, and that should be something you should be proud of.

Customer:

Words can not describe the anxiety and anger I have at him for trying to reach out to her, I belive that most men, will do something like this just to test the water and see what kind of reception they receive.

Customer:

even is he is jealous of me, I am not reaching out to approach his wife.

Dr. Z :

Well usually most men do not reach out in this way to test the water. Most individuals on facebook just find friends that they know to add to their friends list (the more friends you have on facebook, the more validation of being popular you are). Now if he starts to talk to her a lot on facebook, then I think your concern is warranted.

Dr. Z :

You should not reach out to approach his wife, that would not help the issue

Dr. Z :

You are correct there

Customer:

Just, the same I can not get past this issue, I believe if it makes me uncomfortable, for an sex partner to approach her and want to communicate with her, that she should have enough respect for my feelings that she would not mind not accepting his invitation. She asked if I minded her accepting, his request, "I told her that I really would rather you not"

Customer:

but, she kept on for days telling me that I was just being controlling, so I relented and told her that it was OK, so in front of me she picked up the laptop,and accepted his request. She looked at my face 2 minutes later, and she said I am going to "unfriend him because you look like you are going to blow". I did not say a word and I resisted the temptation to tell her no don't friend him. But, if my true immediate emotional response was sadness and anger, I can not help how I felt. But, I did not vocalize it, I just kept my mouth shut. I just guess she could see it on my face.

Customer:

Mind you I have no problem at all with Male Friends that she did not have sex with, talking to her.

Customer:

We have been bickering now for months about this issue, and it has been so bad that I really wish, that she could not have read my face, because this has not worth the heartache, we have both suffered. There is not hardly a day that goes by that she does not bring this up.

Customer:

Frankly, I wish to God I had never heard of Facebook, because, she is so angry at me.

Customer:

I wish I had not said a word negative about it, but she still might have read it on my face, and I would still be in trouble.

Customer:

I can not help what my emotional immediate response it to an issue, I can not vocalize it, but if my face shows my displeasure you can't really fake that.

Customer:

So I want to get past worrying about the FB issue, and to end her anger and try to move our relationship back to where it was before.

Dr. Z :

I understand your concern and pain that you are feeling by this action, but I think that your negative self-image is what is chiefly driving these negative thoughts surrounding your wife's decision to accept this man as a friend on facebook. And because this issue has gone on for months, it seems like it has made an impact on your marriage. Have you both considered couples therapy at all to help better communicate the issues and see things more objectively for both of you?

Dr. Z :

I can also show you some good Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Techniques to help raise your self-confidence and help you not focus on the negative regarding this

Customer:

We have talked about it, but she is so mad, that she does not seem to open to this.

Customer:

We had originally agreed when we both got fb accounts, that we would not communicate with or friend anyone that either of us slept with. But, all of a sudden her idea of where we draw the line changed. so, I worry where does she draw the line now, since our original agreement?

Customer:

I know my lse is an issue though, and she has now made light of and fun of by saying things like "I got so little pussy when I was younger because I was such a goober and that I was abnormal."

Dr. Z :

Ah, well since she broke the original agreement I can understand your concern more now. I think couple's therapy can help her communicate better on why she chose to change this agreement, but you are right she has to be open to it. Still it does not preclude you from going to therapy and most likely she will be curious as to what therapy is about and may consider joining you later (many spouses do this actually). And therapy just for you can help you process this better as well

Dr. Z :

That is very hurtful for her to say to you, I am so sorry. Her making those remarks, while may be made from anger, only hurt your self-confidence more and does not help you

Customer:

She has even told me that I probably lied about what my father did to me, that I am so mean, that I probably deserved what he did to me."

Dr. Z :

Oh wow, that is very hurtful. I am so sorry that she said that to you

Customer:

I have become so depressed now, it is really bad. I have apologized for hurting her feelings, begged for her forgiveness. I have even thought that maybe I needed to be willing to forgive my father, so I would be worthy of forgiveness from her. However, he is dead, I have thought about going to his grave and symbolically telling him I forgive him.

Dr. Z :

Maybe forgiving your father can help you process that issue, but I do not think it will help you with your current issue with your wife. I think couples therapy is the most viable solution for both of you to help heal the marriage and even strengthen it

Customer:

My father was in Patton's 4th and 16th Armored Division in WW2, and he was really messed up emotionally. I don't think PTSD was defined at that time..

Dr. Z :

No it was called "Shell Shock" back then, but still very much under reported

Customer:

I believe you r right, I need to work on some couples therpy for both of us.

Dr. Z :

I think the best type of therapy for you would be CBT. CBT has a premise that your symptoms are caused by negative thoughts, so if we change your thought process to be more positive and objective as well, then your symptoms will lessen. This will help you the most I believe and will help you not think about the past and instead it will help you to focus on the present

Dr. Z :

Here is a good book that can help you both heal as well that is based on similar principles of CBT

Customer:

I feel so strange that I put chest tubes in people everyday, in a trauma center and my own personal life is going down the toilet. I can help fix a lot of people, but I can't fix my own life.

Dr. Z :

You can fix this. This is not the end of your marriage and it can be successfully fixed through therapy...in fact therapy can help strengthen your bond with your wife to make your marriage better and stronger too

Customer:

I do love my wife dearly, literally more than I love myself, I just don't think she believes it, She had breast cancer scare which turned out to be a benign lesion, and I was asked to go into an adjoining state and help staff a last minute ER, that was minus a provider. It was aXXXXXand it was before the test results were back.

Customer:

I can honestly say that I cried for almost 2 solid hours driving over there worried about my wife.

Customer:

Thank God the report was good.

Customer:

On a different note, though, for many years I have been an ER Doc, and I have long gotten to the point that I emotionally detach myself, and don't feel much pain when I have give bad news to family

Customer:

but since I seriously considered that my wife might have a terminal illness last week, I find myself now shedding a few little tears, when I have to give a family member bad news. It has been quite a few years since I have felt that kind of empathy.

Dr. Z :

Most likely that is because of the scare with your wife causing you to feel that empathy because you are subconsciously thinking about your wife and what you went through with the breast cancer scare. This is a common reaction, it just signifies that you are more emotionally vulnerable and another reason why therapy may be a good option for you

Customer:

I still feel that I am going to have a hard time, not minding her being friends on Facebook with guys she slept with. I am willing to accept the fact that I may be over reacting to this,and that my feelings may be wrong to mind, but even though my reasoning maybe wrong it still bothers me and causes me anxiety.

Customer:

right after this big facebook fight, I self- medicated with Setraline or Zoloft, and in about 4 weeks, it did not bother me at all. But,I discontinued it because of side effects.

Customer:

now that the sertraline has worn off, the side effects are gone, but compulsive worrying and thinking about her wanted to open up a line of communication with someone she slept with and dumped over 20 years ago, has now returned

Customer:

I keep asking myself why should I have to go on antidepressants, so I won't mind my wife being friends on facebook to someone, "who was just a friend she only slept with 2 or 3 times".

Customer:

So why is he that damned important for me to have to go through all of this, there are women on Facebook, that I slept with before we dated, but I have no desire to contact them in any way, nor do I feel like it is right for me to approach them. My wife has a jealous streak herself, and I believe she would go absolutely ballistic if I Friended on of them. I almost did it just to see if that would put an end to her wanting be friends with him on Facebook. Should I have done that rather than say anything negative about her being his friend on Facebook?

Dr. Z :

No, then I think it would have considered just retaliatory and just cause you and your wife more problems. I think that couples therapy is your best option to help you both communicate your issues better and gain a better understanding of how the other is thinking because I do not think she understands your concerns about this issue fully.

Customer:

Part of the reason that I don't think she understands, is that I really believe that men and women think and behave differently in how they are aroused sexually. I do believe that a large portion of women could sleep with someone a few times and "if they just did not click in the women's mind" she could see him on a business basis for years to come and probably not think about him really sexually again. I believe, that most men, if they had sex with a beautiful women just once, that they will remember that time with very positive emotions, no matter what else happened, and if they communicate with her later even a very casual or even business basis, that they will repeatedly be reminded of how good it was to them, and will most likely have to use restraint to not let her know that she still turns them on sexually.

Dr. Z :

That is possible, but remember being facebook friends is different then being friends in real life. You do not see the person on a regular basis on facebook and many facebook friends do not even regularly talk, which could be the case here. I just want to show you the objectivity of the situation too.

Customer:

I just don't believe that a "happily married man" from over 20 years ago, searches out an old lover just to say "hello". There is probably something wrong in his life, and he is looking for somebody to help him make him feel better about his life. I realize that this does not have to be the case, but I think that the odds are that it is the case most of the time.

Dr. Z :

It is possible, but your wife has to respond in kind too for anything to happen

Customer:

I will try to get her into couples therapy though. I know this would be a positive thing.

Dr. Z :

I think couples therapy will help you too a lot because this was a minor issue that just grew over time into a bigger issue. I feel confident that both of you can get past this with couples therapy

Customer:

I know that she would have to be receptive, and I don't for one minute think she would be. But, I don't think she would tell me that he tried to stop over the line, and I believe that is emotional infidelity if you keep something like that from your spouse. You now have a secret between you and another man that you are keeping from your husband. I don't think that is right at all.

Dr. Z :

Well these are great issues to bring up in couples therapy to help her understand

Customer:

However, I don't think she would tell me because I would be very inclined to want to rearrange his smile for him, for being inappropriate to my wife. So I don't see how anything good or wholesome could come out of this, it is just a no win situation.

Dr. Z :

Well I do not think it is a no-win situation for you. Therapy can help her feel more sympathetic to your concerns and if he does cross a line, then she may unfriend him. But you will never know unless you both give therapy a chance.

Customer:

I don't believe therapy will ever make me feel good about this, maybe try to tolerate it without blowing my blood pressure out. I guess I could try another antidepressant, and be numb to it, I don't think it is fair to me just so this man can talk to my wife on-line.

Customer:

But I will try to get her into therapy, to try to work through it.

Dr. Z :

I think with the right couples therapist and a motivation to help mend the marriage from both of you it will be very effective for you, but yes you are right another antidepressant will numb the symptoms for you if you choose that route.

Dr. Z :

Therapy can help you both by providing an objective resource in the room with you to help you both understand how the other is feeling and to help you both better communicate with each other

Customer:

Thank you for your time. I appreciate your views and advise.

Customer:

Do you have the capability to email this session to me, for reference and further reflection?

Dr. Z :

Actually this chat will always be saved. After you rate me you should receive an email with a link to this chat. Also you can log back into JA and under My Questions this chat will be saved too

Dr. Z :

I am not allowed to email the customers, only the administrators can do that actually

Customer:

Can you refer me to some competent couples therapists?

Dr. Z :

Sure, what is your zip code

Customer:

39422

Dr. Z :

Okay give me a few minutes to compile a list for you

Customer:

thank you

Dr. Z :

Okay, I think these therapists are good and can fit your needs as all of them have specialties in couples therapy.

Dr. Z :

Is there anything else I can assist you with?

Customer:

No, I appreciate your help today.

Dr. Z :

I am just happy to help you today. I hope that you and your wife can succeed in therapy and help mend your marriage. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Customer:

I will have to mention one more thing, this is third man who has tried to friend my wife on Facebook, who in years past was romantically interested in her.

Customer:

1st Man, wife said he was real creep, and she blocked him immediately. 2nd, one IMed her reminiscing about how, he remembered when they were dating, that he was ready to settle down, but she was a young newly divorced woman wanting to do anything but settle down.

Dr. Z :

Also her honesty about telling you about these guys is also a good sign that she is not hiding anything from you regarding these men.

Customer:

I thought it was inappropriate for him to suggest that my wife was a wild young divorcee... having a good time.

Dr. Z :

It may be inappropriate, but some individuals are more open on the internet and their inhibitions are usually down more.

Customer:

even if it was true......I thought it was disrespectful for him to bring, and verbalize it to her married, now and him married also.

Dr. Z :

You are right, but that is his issue of what he said. Some people will be disrespectful like that.

Customer:

I called him up and told him if he ever contacted her again, that I woulf see if his wife thought that this was appropriate for him to be saying to someone he dated years ago, now that he is supposedly happily married.

Dr. Z :

These are all valid issues that be addressed in couples therapy with your wife to help her understand.

Dr. Z :

And how did he respond?

Customer:

I was also honest, and told my wife what I did, she went ballistic at me, and told me that she only went out with him once, and it was a lot of friends that all went out a movie together. She said she never even kissed him, that he was just kind of a pest she tried to avoid.

Customer:

His response, to me was he apologized, and admitted he should not have made the remark about the young divorcee, et al. To be quite honest with you I scared the you know what out of him. He was very contrite and apologetic.

Dr. Z :

Okay, well I understand your wife's concern because that did seem a bit on the controlling side as you took matters in your hands, when the correspondence only between him and your wife. And this was a guy she did not sleep with at all.

Customer:

When she told me she never even kissed him, I realized he was trying to goat his wife, by showing her he "had once dated" a woman a lot better looking than her.

Dr. Z :

That may be a possibility, you never know

Customer:

So, I in turn called him back and I apologized to him, and told him that I was fine with him being her friend on fb, and that I was ok with them corresponding on FB

Dr. Z :

That was good of you

Customer:

I even sent him a friend request

Dr. Z :

Good, that was big of you

Customer:

and we would occasionally chit, chat

Customer:

this was 3 years ago, all of a sudden, 2 mos ago, I saw him put on his feed that he had encountered so much drama on FB, that he was going to deactivate his account and he would start using his wife's account, so they would be seen on the same account, to put an end to any misunderstandings

Dr. Z :

I see a lot of couples doing that

Customer:

I have a strong feeling, that my wife's was not the only other man's wife that he tried to test the water, saying things that were borderline, like he did with her, (talking about her young divorcee days).

Dr. Z :

That is possible, but that is his issue with his wife that he is trying to mend

Customer:

Something happened for him to talk about FB drama, and then deactivating his acct., or maybe his wife put an end to his trolling after other people's wives.

Dr. Z :

That is possible, but that is between them and involves their private life.

Dr. Z :

No has to air the details of this drama, and that is probably best for them.

Customer:

My point is I read his IM(s) to her originally and they were right on the border line of being very inappropriate. he said just enough to leave the door wide open for her to take the ball and run with it, but not quite enough to get himself convicted shall we say. I honestly do not think his intentions were honorable, but I apologized, and changed the tone to make my wife feel better about the whole deal.

Customer:

My point still is...

Customer:

that happily married men just don't all of a sudden one day decide to search out somebody from years ago, that they really wanted to be with.

Customer:

My sweet little wife is just to trusting to realize it.

Dr. Z :

Well this is something to bring up in couples therapy to help her understand your point of view and to help you understand hers and hopefully a good compromise can come from it

Customer:

Men are much more driven through out their life by testosterone than most women, realize, because they don't carry those life long high hormone levels like men do.

Customer:

Thank you for your time.

Dr. Z :

Anytime, I am always happy to help. I wish you and your wife the best of luck :)

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4483
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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