Obsessive thoughts can quickly spiral out of control and take over your life. Obsessive thoughts about your husband's ex may be particularly difficult to deal with. She was once a huge part of his life, and you cannot rewrite the past. Perhaps they have children together, so this means she will always be part of his life -- and yours. You may not be able to change the situation, but you do have the power to change the way you think about her.
What's Behind Your Obsession?
Confronting painful emotions may not be easy, but it is essential if you want to get over being obsessed with your husband's ex. Be honest with yourself about why you are obsessed with this woman. If you suspect that your husband still has feelings for her, identify whether you have concrete proof of this. However, if your husband has done nothing to suggest that he is thinking about his ex in any way, you need to examine your own behavior. Your obsession may stem from feelings of insecurity or jealousy. You may have low self-esteem and see yourself as inferior to your husband's ex in terms of attractiveness or success. Perhaps you met your husband when he was still with his ex, and you are concerned that if he betrayed her, he will do the same to you.
Concentrate on the Positive
By shifting your focus away from the ex and onto your relationship with your husband, you may be able to retrain your way of thinking. When you catch yourself thinking about the ex, replace those thoughts with positive ones about your marriage. Choose to respect and love your husband rather than be consumed by negative thoughts that may lead to jealous behaviors, advises psychologist Philip "Dr. Phil" McGraw in the article "'Controlling Jealousy" on DrPhil.com. Remind yourself of why you got married, how much you care about one another and the good times to come. Think about your children, how they enhance your life and how much you want to create a happy, healthy, secure environment for them.
Have an Honest Conversation
Communication is vital for a strong, healthy marriage. Talk to your husband about how you are feeling. Choose the right moment to have your conversation. Do it in private, when you won't be disturbed. Make sure your children are elsewhere. It's best to raise the issue when you're feeling relatively calm and relaxed. Explain to your husband how you are feeling, using "I" statements to avoid making him feel attacked or blamed. For example, say something like, "I feel insecure when I think about how successful your ex is in her career. I know I'm probably being ridiculous, but could we talk about it?" This is your husband's opportunity to reassure you. If he is still in touch with his ex, let him know that this provokes feelings of insecurity and anxiety.
Some simple techniques may be effective in helping you stop obsessing over your husband's ex. For example, give yourself permission to think about your husband's ex for a certain amount of time each day (such as 15 or 20 minutes), but no longer. You may find it therapeutic to record your feelings in a journal. If thoughts of the ex creep into your head at other times, tell yourself firmly, "I'm sorry, but you can't think about this until later." Another technique recommended by Therese J. Borchard, associate editor for "Psych Central," in the article "Some Ideas to Help Stop Obsessing" is wearing a rubber band around your wrist. Whenever you catch yourself thinking about the ex, snap the band against your skin as a reminder to let go of those thoughts.
C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."