Q: I think my wife is jealous of our twin 14-year-old daughters. Strangers comment on how beautiful they are, while my wife has gotten very critical of their appearance (hair, clothes, everything). I think part of it isn’t typical mother-daughter stuff, and more that she feels threatened. Of course, as her husband, I can’t bring this up, but I can’t keep taking their side, either.
A: No doubt there are complicated feelings involved with watching your daughters grow into supermodels. But it doesn’t have to just be about jealousy – it could also be about the passage of time and mortality, fears of them being sexualized too quickly, or feeling no longer needed.
Still, your daughters don’t deserve to be picked apart. Find a time when your wife is in a good mood and raise the issue. Don’t be accusatory. Just explain that you’re trying to create a supportive environment. It doesn’t matter that you have a Y chromosome; you’re part of the family and are affected by the relationships therein. And if your wife could use some professional help in developing a healthy relationship with her teenagers, she certainly wouldn’t be the only one.
Q: I’ve struggled with OCD-related issues in the past that I’ve worked through with some self-help work. My symptoms had to do with counting things and needing everything to be symmetrical. For the past year, I’ve been struggling with some disturbing sexual thoughts. They are repulsive and come up almost constantly. I’m wondering whether or not the same type of self-help techniques might work.
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A: If you were using workbooks that have their basis in cognitive behavioral therapy, then that could definitely be helpful. If you are using websites that say “Dare 2B OCD-FREE,” I’m guessing those won’t be as fantastic.
But I’m struck by the fact that you haven’t tried them yet, which leads me to believe you might need some help. You don’t mention if you are having compulsions (habits or rituals you must perform) connected to your obsessions (the intrusive thoughts). Sometimes compulsions are easier to attack. There is something called exposure-and-response prevention that is sometimes doable on your own, but why not have the extra support of a therapist working with you?
Andrea Bonior is a psychologist and author of “The Friendship Fix.” www.drandreabonior.com