Jealousy WILL affect every marriage at one time or another. In fact, in a nationwide survey, marriage counselors say that jealousy is a problem for one-third of all couples they counsel.
Whether it’s a mild or major case, jealousy can have a big impact on your relationship.
For instance, a new writer has sudden fame and along with lots of new fans and she gains lots of attention on a daily basis. This may cause feelings of heightened threat from the other spouse, but most of us become jealous when we see our spouse having a great time with a person of the opposite sex – especially if that person seems a little too friendly or overly appreciative.
No matter how much your spouse may attempt to reassure you, another person’s interest in him or her raises all your red flags.
There are 2 types of Jealousy and jealousy can ONLY be either healthy or unhealthy.
Healthy jealousy is a means to guard your territory and comes from a sincere care and commitment to a relationship. On the other hand, unhealthy jealousy manifests itself through lies, threats, self-pity, and feelings of inadequacy, inferiority and insecurity.
The good and humanly normal stuff is when a person guards the heart of a marriage by:
- showing your commitment to the relationship
- protecting your marriage by safeguarding the relationship against coy attacks
- helps you confront major threats to your marriage and head them off before they become major problems
As spouses, it is our sole duty to respect your spouse’s jealousy WHEN ITS HEALTH because it may be warning of danger ahead. If your spouse is a secure person and desires to protect your marriage against cracks, you need to listen. Confront the issue head-on by finding the reason for the jealousy, then making changes to keep you both out of danger.
- Wives: Trust your husband’s instincts. He knows how men think, what they want and how they pursue it. So, it would be foolish of you not to heed his warning.
- Men: Trust your wife’s instincts. If she suggests that another woman is behaving inappropriately, your wife is probably right. Most women have radar, an innate alertness to nonverbal communication and an ability to translate body language and tone into emotional facts. Your wife probably is able to see these things clearly, so don’t criticize or blame her warnings on insecurity.
Unhealthy jealousy is altogether different. It stems from comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate, unimportant, inferior and pitiful. Some spouses have experienced a lot of loss in life – whether divorce, death or abandonment in childhood – and they may bring unresolved issues into the relationship in the form of jealousy. Yet when a person carries this jealousy to pathological extremes, it will dominate a relationship.
A chronically jealous spouse will try to control a relationship through exaggeration, self-pity, lies, threats and/or manipulation. When the other partner resists, the jealous person reacts by becoming even more controlling. Then the other partner resists further by confiding in a friend or seeking relief outside the marriage. Sometimes this can become a downward spiral.
Here’s what THAT mess looks like:
- doubting your spouse’s honesty and wrongfully accuse him or her, pushing your spouse away ALL THE TIME!
- you feel worthless and unimportant.
- you become frustrated and overwhelmed.
- you have a desire to control.
- you have less sexual intimacy with your spouse.
When jealousy becomes unhealthy like that^ the marriage or relationship with suffer, but you CAN DEAL with it by trying to figure out whether you are doing something that is provoking the jealousy or is your spouse just dealing with some personal unresolved issues.
- Stop that activity or involvement for a time to show your spouse that you’re committed to your marriage relationship.
- Be demonstrative in love toward your spouse.
- Talk openly with your spouse about the problem. Get his or her take on it (the feelings may be legitimate), and work together to find a solution.
If you are the jealous spouse:
- Talk to a few trusted friends…your jealousy may be your own problem, not your spouse’s.
- Be honest with yourself. Ask what is causing the feelings. Are you trying to manipulate?
And last, but NOT LEAST from the pages of Kit Kat’s Coaching Guide – Learning to Protect Your Marriage
- Think about your spouse more positively. Jealous people use their anxious thoughts and suspicions as cues to misread anything that their spouses do. Instead, take a deep breath and pray – for yourself and for your spouse.