I am the sort of person who likes making friends. And people are easily drawn to me because of my bubbly personality. Most of my friends happen to be men. No, I’m not one of those women who say “I prefer male friends to female friends.” It’s just how it is. I understand that people get the wrong impression when a woman has a lot of male friends, but that has never concerned me. I know how to draw healthy boundaries with my friends so that lines don’t get crossed.
It was through one of these friendships that I met Jeff. We started as friends, but we both felt connected in a way that was beyond friendship. Through our frequent interactions, the connection we shared intensified. It didn’t take long for us to start dating. Jeff knew about my male friends before we even started dating. And he never expressed any concern. When we started dating too he seemed okay with my male friends. I introduced him to them and they got along very well. You know when men meet, they don’t even care that they don’t know each other well. They can bond over literally anything. That’s how Jeff had fun chatting and laughing with my male friends when he met them.
As our relationship progressed, we started talking about our future. Jeff was ready to settle down, and so was I. There was no dragging of feet or dramatic proposal. We just knew what we wanted, and we went for it. We involved all our families and made the necessary preparations to tie the knot. My male friends were with us every step of the way, supporting us in their little ways. By God’s grace, our plans succeeded and we are now married. Soon after we got married, one of my male friends called me. We made jokes and laughed like we usually did. After I hang up, I saw my husband looking at me with anger etched on his face.
I was concerned so I asked, “Why do you look angry? Who upset you?” He shouted at me “Who were you talking to on the phone?” I got scared all of a sudden, “It was a friend. Someone you know.” That didn’t calm him, “I don’t care if he is someone I know. You are a married woman now. You shouldn’t be entertaining male friends.” I was very surprised at his behaviour. I tried to rationalize it, “Maybe he is angry about something else, and he is taking it out on me.” At that moment I wasn’t ready to accept that my husband was upset with me for having male friends. It just didn’t make sense.
After that incident, I was walking with him when I stopped to say hello to an acquaintance. My husband’s mood changed the rest of our walk. When we got home, he asked in anger “What did I tell you about entertaining male friends?”
I asked him back “You know how I am and you married me regardless. You never had a problem with my male friends before we got married. So what changed?” He retorted “Before we got married, I had no rights over you. That’s why I allowed your friendship with these men. Now you’re my wife and I have a say in every aspect of your life. So I am repeating this for you to understand, cut off your male friends.” I thought it was a ridiculous request to make. But he was angry and it terrified me so I didn’t argue with him. To avoid problems, I spoke to my male friends once in a while. Whenever they invited me to hang out with them, I’d make excuses and turn them down. I hadn’t officially cut them off but it felt that way.
I did all this to make my husband happy but he was not satisfied. If my phone rings in his presence, he would start asking questions. “Who is calling you?” “Why is he calling you?” “Didn’t I tell you to cut him off?” There are times I don’t answer the phone when he is around for the sake of peace. When he notices me ignoring a call, he would get upset. “Why are you not answering the call? It’s one of your male friends, isn’t it? Is there something you are hiding? Is that why you can’t talk to him in my presence?” When I answer the calls too, he would get upset. Left to him alone, I would block all the men in my life so that they wouldn’t be able to contact me.
I tried explaining to him several times, “These people you asking me to cut off are like my family. I cannot cut them off just because I am married. They were in my life before I met you.” This explanation doesn’t sink into his head. The man wants what he wants. His level of possessiveness is scaring me. I haven’t done anything to make him question my loyalty to him. He says I disrespect him when I speak to other men. He claims that’ what makes him angry. I thought that with time, I would get him to understand me but things keep getting worse.
Just the other day, a male friend was driving past my house when he saw me standing in front of the house. He stopped to say hello. This is someone my husband knows well, including his wife and kids. But when he came home to meet us talking, he lost all sense of decorum. My friend and I both looked on in shock as he shouted and called us names. Our neighbours heard the commotion and came to watch. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I have become so afraid of him that I am not able to sleep at night. I keep wondering, “What if he gets blinded by rage one day and he gets violent?” He could hurt me, or one of my friends.
I have been thinking of getting separation from him. So we can both spend time apart and reevaluate our relationship. But I’m worried that it will only aggravate things. I don’t know what to do about this situation. Please I need help.