In today’s video, I’m going to share a painful lesson that at least one retroactive jealousy sufferer is currently learning.

How does it feel if your husband has retroactive jealousy?

Zachary Stockill: A big part of my motivation is trying to help people, people like you to avoid my mistakes, and to not mess up in the ways that I’ve messed up in my life. To avoid some of the pain and hardships that I’ve had to endure because I made certain mistakes.

I think sometimes it’s even more effective if I can share the lessons with other people.

Other retroactive jealousy sufferers shared some of the mistakes and lessons they have made in the hope that this will inspire you to not make those mistakes yourself.

I received a comment on a YouTube video on “Resisting the Impulse to Control Your Partner”. The commenter wrote…

I recently ended a six-year marriage because I couldn’t stand being under his thumb. Week by week, my world got smaller and smaller. I was sure that in time, once he saw me for who I am, he will realize I’m a person of integrity. He’d relax and learn to trust me. Sometimes he’d overly tried to control me and other times, he’d be sly and subtle about it.

It left me feeling anxious all the time. Avoiding any situation that may trigger him, which turned out to be a lot situations. He was incredibly possessive and intensely/irrationally jealous, ultimately, this behavior exhausted and saddened me. So a few days ago, I finally gave up and called it quits. I feel like I broke free from some kind of prison.

I still love him, and always will. But I couldn’t deal with his suspicion and accusations any longer. I’m sharing this as a comment here because of other people struggling with needing to control their partner who read this, I want to attest to everything you’ve said in this video. People who try to control their partners, because they’re afraid of losing them will most certainly lose them. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“My husband has retroactive jealousy… and it destroyed us.”

So this is a woman reeling from the end of a six-year marriage because of irrational jealousy. Retroactive jealousy sufferers will write to me these heartbreaking emails, asking for help, and I do what I can.

But frequently, by the time these people are reaching out to me, it’s already too late. The damage has already been done. And these people have already left their partners. They haven’t actually packed their things, but mentally, they are just gone. They’ve checked out of the relationship because too much damage has been done.

And once you hit that breaking point, there’s no coming back from it.

I always say this line from the American songwriter Lyle Lovett, in his song, “She’s Already Made up her Mind.” And the one line that I think about all the time is “there’s nothing as unwavering as a woman when she’s already made up her mind”. And frankly, I think the same can be true for men as well. Once we hit that breaking point of “enough is enough,” there is rarely any coming back from it.

I’m sharing this message about the dangers of irrational jealousy and retroactive jealousy because I don’t want you to get to that point in your own relationship. I don’t want to be getting an email from you saying, “Zach, my wife is threatening to leave me, what do I do?” Or, “she has already packed her things. She’s out the door, she can’t take it anymore”.

I don’t want you to tend up in this position. Because let me tell you: it isn’t pretty.

I’ll get emails from these people asking me, “help me get my ex back.” Or “What do I need to do when my husband has retroactive jealousy?”

And oftentimes, there’s not much I can do, because once the person’s made that decision, that is it. I also wanted to share this because I think that human beings, in particular, people struggling with some kind of irrational jealousy, whether it’s more contemporary based, irrational or retroactive jealousy, think we have more time than we actually do.

We lash out at our partners or try to control them, or maybe we make mean comments about their past. In the back of our heads, we’re thinking, “Oh, s/he’ll continue to put up with my possessiveness a little while longer. I’ve got more time.” I’m not saying this is conscious. I think it’s in the back of the mind. Assured that our partner will continue to put up with anything we keep throwing out them, which is simply not true.

If you have a partner with self-respect, they will not put up with this kind of abuse indefinitely. I’ve got the emails to prove it.

This comment is one of dozens and dozens that I’ve received over the years from partners in a similar position where they hit that breaking point where it’s like “enough is enough.” At the same time, regardless of how your relationship ends, is this how you want to spend your time?

Do you want the person you love to feel anxious all the time like what this woman did in this comment that she wrote? And do you want to look back on your relationship in 5, 10, 25 years, and regret all kinds of time wasted? I look back on one relationship in particular in my life, and that is the regret: time wasted.

Lessons learned absolutely, which continues to serve me to this day, which I’m very grateful for.

But I look back with all the stuff that I was worried about and all this nonsense, and at the end of the day, here I am years later, I can’t get those days back. And I will never be 20 years old ever again, I could live to be 100, but I’ll never be 20, again, those days are gone. That particular beautiful period of my life is over, those days will never be repeated.

All that’s left is time wasted.

And I don’t want that for you. I don’t want you to look back years from now thinking about wasted time. Thinking about nights when you could have been enjoying laughing with your partner instead of lashing out at them for no reason.

So I hope this video serves as a bit of a wake-up call to those of you in my audience who might need to hear it. Who might need to realize that your partner will hit that breaking point if you continue to lash out at them and if you continue to abuse them.

I realize not all of you are doing that. I know that most of you want to stop, most of you realize this is a problem and this isn’t healthy.

What should you do when your husband has retroactive jealousy?

Encourage them to get a handle on their problem before it’s too late, before it ends up costing them their relationship, marriage, and children. But remember that you can only help someone who wants to help themself.

I’m not trying to say that my work is the only way out, obviously, I stand behind my work. But if you find something else that works, that’s great. The point is simply to acknowledge that you have this problem and get to work towards solving it before it’s too late.

Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.