Jealousy in Your Marriage and How to Put it Right
Some people think that if a partner is jealous in a marriage it shows that they really care about their spouse. While it may be novel or flattering to begin with, it can quickly spiral out of control. It should never be forgotten that jealousy is a negative emotion that has its foundations in fear and low self-esteem. If a person feels unlovable, or that they are not worthy of your love, they are more likely to feel jealous. The jealousy manifests itself in thinking that their partner will realise that they could do better than them, and that they will find other people more attractive than them.
Reactive JealousyThere are different types of jealousy, so in order to put it right in your marriage you first need to work out what type of jealousy you are dealing with. Most of us will have experienced the first type ‘reactive jealousy’ at some point in our lives. This can be, for example, finding out that your partner has cheated on you, or your ex-partner proving that they have moved on from you; or when your partner has been emotionally unfaithful to you. In the face of actual betrayal, it is very natural to feel emotionally hurt and jealous, as well as angry.
Suspicious JealousyThe other type of jealousy does not manifest itself because of anything that has actually happened. This kind of jealousy is called ‘suspicious jealousy’ because it is based purely in the mind of the jealous person. This can have a significantly detrimental effect on your relationship, as it is designed to ‘test’ the other person in the relationship, so that they understand that they are wanted and needed. Most worryingly it is based on control of the other person. It is not possible for the other person on the receiving end of this kind of jealousy to do anything to assuage this kind of jealousy. The only person who can work through and overcome suspicious jealousy is the person who is feeling it.
How to Overcome Suspicious JealousyIf your spouse is suspicious of you, even though you have done nothing wrong, it is important that you work together to resolve the issue. To ignore it could be fatal to your relationship. Firstly examine your own behaviour; if you stay out late with friends and don’t tell your spouse where you are, you could be fuelling their jealousy. This is especially true if you are spending a lot of time with someone of the opposite sex. If you are not doing this, then it’s something that is in your spouse’s head – and not at all based on truth. If there’s nothing to hide, why not invite your spouse along so that they can see that there is nothing for him or her to be jealous about?
Often a jealous spouse will issue ultimatums. These can be “it’s them or me…” or “you don’t care about me otherwise you’d stop seeing those people” or “if you ever speak to that person again I’ll leave.” These put both parties in an untenable situation. The non-jealous spouse has to choose between their friends, and their spouse. Whatever they choose (let’s say it’s their spouse) they’ll end up resenting their spouse for making them choose. This not only reinforces the spouse’s jealousy, but it could make it worse.
If your spouse demands that you have no friends, this is controlling and destructive. You should be able to be friends with whomever you want. To suggest otherwise is childlike and manipulative. It also shows a flagrant disregard for your judge of character. Does your spouse really think that they are such an awful specimen that you are going to jeopardize everything you’ve built up together to go off with someone else? Do they think so little of you that you have no judgment in your friendships? If your spouse’s jealousy is that you are ‘looking at other people’ this is utterly ridiculous. Looking at other people is a natural human characteristic. If your spouse honestly thinks you’ll drop everything and run off with a stranger – they’re both silly and childish!