“My wife was in a relationship many years ago with an abusive person who also cheated on her. This caused major trust issues for her, and in the two decades that we’ve been together, I’ve given up many of my friends and hobbies so as not to stoke the flames or make her feel anxious. Still, after all this time, I feel I’ve earned the right to go see a movie or take a motorcycle ride on my own without questions. I don’t know how to get her to believe that I am not her ex, and I feel suffocated and under attack when I’ve been nothing but a trustworthy partner. How should I approach this?”
A good relationship should feel mutually uplifting, not suffocating. It should be based on believing the best of your partner, not assuming the worst. And, after 20 years of support and honesty, yes, you deserve your freedom back. I’d argue you should have gotten it back a long time ago.
It’s admirable that you’ve given up a lot to be such a supportive partner. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get to have a life.
As for what to do, the approach is twofold: Help your wife address her demons, then wean her off your 24-hour support line.