Keys To A Happy Marriage Part 16: Dealing With Jealousy Issues
Jealousy: A Common Marital Problem
Dealing with jealousy is hard! A spouse thinks he or she sees or hears something, then suspicion builds, imagination runs wild, and bad things happen to the marriage.
Jealousy creates distance, starts arguments, and makes people think and do crazy things.
There are productive ways to deal with jealousy, whether it’s real or imagined, that can help you keep your marriage from unraveling.
Two Things To Know
When dealing with jealousy, it’s helpful to know these two things:
1) Are you, or your spouse, the jealous type – are you prone to jealousy? If so, then proceed cautiously when dealing with jealousy and ALWAYS give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.
2) Is having to deal with jealousy a frequent pattern in your marriage? If so, then decide today to deal with the underlying issues that are eroding your marriage’s foundation of trust.
6 Steps For Dealing With Jealousy
To begin with, use jealousy to your advantage by letting it drive you and your spouse to figure out the deeper reasons for what’s triggering it. Get to the bottom of things once-and-for-all!
Step 1. Figure Yourself Out
If you’re the jealous partner, then there’s a reason why. Do you know what that reason is? If not, then wouldn’t you like to know?
Set aside some time for thoughtful reflection and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my spouse give me a reason to be jealous?
- Does my spouse give me a reason to not trust him or her?
- Is insecurity triggering my jealousy – deep in my heart am I’m afraid my spouse will find someone who’ll make them happier?
The first step in dealing with jealousy is to get clear about the issues that are triggering your jealous feelings.
I’m here to tell you that the one thing that can “fix” jealousy is trust. And right now, if you’re jealous, you have a trust issue – either with regards to yourself or to your spouse.
Hey, listen, in today’s age of social media – and even in today’s work force – chances are your spouse will be connecting and spending a lot of time with people of the opposite gender, so you must reach the point where you can trust him or her – even if something happens that makes you sit back and wonder. Without trust you have nothing. And if/when something happens, you need to talk about it together ASAP before your imagination gets out of hand and you have a P.I. on your speed dial!
After all, it is not worth your time, energy and pain to allow yourself to get jealous. It’s a place you don’t want to go because it’s ugly, cold and counter-productive to just about anything you hope to accomplish or enjoy in your relationship with your spouse.
Step 2: The Healthy Side of Jealousy
Okay. I know it sounds like I’m contradicting myself but hear me out. A very small amount of jealousy can actually benefit a marriage. Why? Because it motivates you to protect your marriage.
Jealousy, when expressed in a healthy and productive way, can be a tool for protecting your marital “territory.” And that is a good thing.
One of your roles to your spouse is to protect them – because they might be totally unaware when someone is looking for something more from them. One of your roles is to protect your marriage – and you shouldn’t feel bad or apologize about this. Taken in this light, jealousy can be a very helpful “red flag” so to speak.
The trick is knowing when you’re using jealousy to protect your marriage or when jealousy is using you to harm your marriage.
Jealousy can be a blessing or a curse. And you get to choose which it will be.
Step 3: Identify Irrational Sources of Your Jealousy.
Okay. I’m restating this point because it’s that important. One of the very first things you must do is to identify if your jealous feelings are coming from within – insecurity issues – or whether from a legitimate “threat.”
Insecurity issues are what I call irrational sources of jealousy.
If you find yourself dealing with patterns of low self-esteem or low self-worth, or if you feel you don’t measure up and that because of this your spouse could do a whole lot “better” than you, then this is the starting place for dealing with your jealousy.
If your jealousy is coming from within, then maybe you could find a book, course or a seminar that might help you grow and develop personally. Your marriage will change when you change.
So be kind to yourself. Invest time and energy into becoming the best you you can be – and in doing so, chances are you’ll become the best partner your spouse could ever hope for or find.
Step 4. Identify External Reasons For Jealousy
Face it, there are times in life when jealousy is triggered for valid reasons. For instance, if your spouse has been unfaithful to you then you have a “reason” for being jealous.
Even if betrayal and adultery, whether in the form of emotional infidelity or physical infidelity, has scarred your marriage, you must move on and get to work on rebuilding your trust.
Also, another external reason that triggers jealousy is when your spouse has things you don’t have – whether it’s more time, freedom or money. If after thinking it over you feel that these kinds of things are triggering your jealous feelings, then I’d suggest you discuss the matter with your spouse to make sure your needs are being met, too.
Keep this in mind though, some spouses enact a kind economic abuse over their partner by withholding cash or access to financial accounts. So if you think you might be in this kind of abusive relationship, then you may wish to speak with your pastor or clergy before confronting your spouse just to talk things through and make sure you have a plan in place to keep you safe.
Step 5. Evaluate How Your Jealousy Is Affecting Your Marriage
Jealousy can damage and end a marriage. It’s divisive and creates rifts. So put yourself in your spouse’s situation: How would you feel, and what would you do, if you were the one having to deal with the brunt of these jealous feelings?
By swapping roles in this manner, you’ll figure out better ways to express yourself to your spouse, and better ways of dealing with your jealous feelings because jealousy usually creates much BIGGER issues that I know you’d rather not face.
Step 6. Be Bold!
Feelings of jealousy can engulf you within a paralyzed pool of bitter desperation where you feel like a martyr trapped within endless misery. Realize this for what it is: Fear. Fear paralyzes people into inaction. And that’s not what you want. The antidote? The direct opposite: Action!
Here’s the lesson: Love requires you be bold and take risks. So put yourself out there! Push through your jealousy and take charge! Don’t let jealousy bully you around and set the tone for your marriage. Make sense?
By following these six steps for dealing with jealousy, you will boost your confidence, build your trust, and enjoy a much, much happier marriage – and stay madly in love!