My wife doesn’t approve of my new friend

I went with a messy one today. I don't know where this letter writer is from. Based on our recent letters, it's probably Boston ... or Florida.

Dear Meredith

My wife and I have been married for seven years -- this is my second, her third. We met online while I was in a marriage with the first wife. It was a bad marriage so I decided to divorce her, and within two years I married my current wife. I noticed that within a year's time that her behavior was different. She would have these outbursts and snap at me. I shrugged this off and thought it would pass, but things never really got much better. She would scold me about the strangest things and even talk down to me.

I began to panic and thought a fling would ease things with me, but somehow she read my email exchange with another woman and things really got bad. Nothing ever happened and I don't even think I would have gone through with it actually -- it was more flirting then anything. I promised her that I would never attempt this again and have not since. But she will not forgive or forget. She gets really suspicious when I'm texting or if I'm on my laptop for a certain period of time, even though she knows how to access both my phone and email accounts.

Recently I met a female acquaintance at the gym I found out she was from an area that I was familiar with. I soon realized that she is a caring person and easy to talk to and she is also married. I told my wife about her. Both she and her husband wanted to meet with us, and my wife seemed fine with it first, but when I would bring her name up in a casual conversation, she would get jealous and suspicious. Long story short: My wife wants me to end the friendship. My wife asked me why I needed to have her as a friend. What should I do? I don't like to have my social life regulated like this. It feels demeaning.

– Can't Have Friends

You guys need to figure out whether you want to stay married. You're not happy, she doesn't trust you, and you've already tried to have a fling. It doesn't sound like there's much love in the relationship. If this hadn't become a marriage, you would have just broken up.

It's always good to make big marriage decisions after therapy. If you have no interest in getting help as a couple, go alone. But do it soon. Talk about your history.

As for the friend thing, you can do whatever you want. You can tell your wife that you're going to pursue this friendship against her wishes. You can tell her again that you'd appreciate hanging out during a double date -- because that was your intention from the beginning. Just be empathetic. Her demand is unfair -- in a good marriage, people can make new friends -- but she caught you trying to cheat. Of course she assumes the worst.

If you're addressing the problems in your marriage and confronting what's been happening for six years, the friendship stuff will become less important. It's time to tell her that you want to fix the big stuff. Explain that you're deeply unhappy and that you both need help.

Readers? Thoughts on addressing the marital problems? Thoughts on this new friend? Should he be allowed to have friends right now? And what about his marital history? Help.

– Meredith