How do you handle jealousy?
How do you handle jealousy?
Firstly, one is JEALOUS of what he has. One is ENVIOUS of what others have. Either jealousy or envy can also become mixed with resentment. Jealousy is a perfectly normal emotion to experience within a marriage.
It is common to, at one time or another, be jealous regarding many different things: a spouse's interest in football, work, in-laws, children, TV, friends, hobbies, etc.
It is particularly normal to feel jealousy early in the marriage when we are still not so sure where we stand.
Jealousy can be healthy when handled well, because:
- it communicates caring and commitment to the relationship.
- it defines the boundaries of what is acceptable and not acceptable.
- it can be a warning signal that the marriage is in need of attention.
Feelings of jealousy can be thought of in either negative terms:
possessive, dependent, paranoid, insecure, irrational
or, in positive terms:
exclusive, romantic, loyal, devoted, sensitive
We are likely to experience jealousy when we sense that our partner has less interest in the marriage and more interest in someone or something else.
Jealousy is always a SECONDARY EMOTION, but it is usually expressed as:
ANGER and efforts to PUNISH and CONTROL.
The PRIMARY EMOTION we usually conceal from our partner is:
INSECURITY and ANXIETY over the THREAT of being DISPLACED.
The relationship is as follows:
Event -> Threat -> Insecurity -> Anger
That is, an EVENT which is interpreted as a THREAT, and experienced as INSECURITY and expressed as ANGER.
YOUR JEALOUSY THRESHOLD
Our jealousy threshold is how resistant we are to experiencing jealousy. It is influenced at any one time by many factors, such as the following. Which are more important to you?
feelings of personal attractiveness
your view of the attractiveness of your mate
your view of the committment of your mate
length of time married
number of possessions and other symbols of committment
satisfaction level of the marriage
expressions of affection and attention within marriage
satisfaction with work and social life
satisfaction with sexual aspects of marriage
availability of alternatives to marriage
known history of betrayal by partner
history of betrayal of partner by self
secret wish for betrayal of partner by self
history of rejection by relatives or friends before the marriage
Everybody grows up with some negative messages about himself/herself, coming from parents, relatives, teachers, peers, or others who are important to us. Some receive more of those messages than others.
A person who feels bad about himself often tries to regain some sense of self-worth by being seen as worthy in the eyes of his partner. S/he needs to feel his partner appreciates, or even adores him/her.
S/he becomes dependent on that partner for something s/he can only provide for him/herself. This dependency makes him/her vulnerable to jealousy.
He hopes she will see him as wonderful, but at the the same time, he fears she will "find out" how worthless he is. If she withdraws her approval he has no inner security to fall back on, so he carefully watches for any signs of withdrawal or rejection.
He expects abandonment and rejection - after all, he's been rejected in the past. So, when she smiles at another man, what he sees is his own insecurity: "I'm not good enough for her, and I'm going to lose her."
If your partner's attention is moving out into the world, she might not necessarily be preparing to abandon you. She may only be developing her own issues and a sense of independence.
Jealousy can be a way of trying to control your partner when you are feeling insecure and powerless. It can be a tool to get another person to do what you want. If a partner yields to jealous demands, you may feel reassured (temporarily) and relieved of some fear of loss.
Jealousy is also a way of punishing people. In fact, you may end up punishing her for things OTHER people have done to you, perhaps long in the past.
Jealousy also keeps a partner at a distance, even while you seem to demand closeness. Jealousy says that you don't trust your partner.
The end result is that jealousy destroys trust for both of you.
Do you have any actual basis for a lack of trust, stemming from past events?
Is there any justified basis, in the behavior of either of you, for provoking jealousy? Can that be cured?
Can you agree on what the behavioral boundaries should be for both of you, in a way that will be satisfactory to both of you?
If your jealousy seems excessive (that is, not justified by evidence of wrong doing, or a threat of loss) then perhaps the problem is within you, perhaps based on your past life, and even your childhood. How can you handle that?
One way is to treat the unconscious memories provoking that feeling of being threatened with loss. A useful way to do that is by using the Unseen Therapist technique mentioned on this website.