Dear Patricia Marie,

My husband spent his early 20s working away in the States doing all kinds of jobs, and he still describes that period as the best days of his life. I find that so insulting since he's now married to me and we have two lovely children. Recently we were at a party when he started bragging about his US years, and I just lost it. How do I make him understand how insensitive he's being.

He also tells our friends at any given opportunity that he was always popular with the women and hasn't lost his charm. How dare he make such comments. I do love him, but am beginning to think he's not the man I thought I'd married, which is causing me to resent him.

I don't think he deserves me or our beautiful children. My friends think he is a joke, which is very embarrassing for me. Please can you offer me some advice.

Patricia Marie says...

A relationship shouldn't be a battle to see who has had the best experiences, and it can be difficult to live with someone who gives the impression they have seen and done it all. Sometimes, for whatever reason when things aren't going right, people look back on the past with rose-tinted spectacles. The need for your husband to convince you that others think so highly of him, is a sign of insecurity, and by shifting it and projecting it to you, he is reassuring himself. He is covering up his lack of confidence by displaying unacceptable behaviour, which is typical of a person who values themselves so little they're always afraid they're not loved. The only way to work through such anxiety is to work on self-esteem. Counselling will help, but first he needs to admit he has a problem, which may not be easy.

You need to have a proper chat. Make it clear that you're not a jealous person, but his trips down memory lane are wearing you down. How would he like it if you were constantly reminiscing about the fun times you shared with your friends and previous partners? Discuss what you can both do to enhance your relationship. Whilst working hard to bring up a young family, it is easy to lose sight of each other's needs as a couple. Make some special time for each other, so you can both feel loved and appreciated. Hopefully your husband will begin to see he cannot continue to act in this way, as he could risk losing the life he has now. Memories are precious, but the past cannot be allowed to intrude and damage the present.