As we all know, relationships are complicated things. There are so many ins and outs of our unique personalities that come into play, some of which only start to come to light after things gets serious.
One of the most difficult personality “quirks” (and accompanying behaviors) to deal with is jealousy. If you’ve struggled with this yourself, or even spent time around jealous couples, you know how destructive it can be.
But compared to other problems that can arise in a marriage, jealousy issues have one stark difference – for the people causing the problems, they feel like they’re doing the right thing.
A jealous spouse may think they are protecting the marriage, protecting their partner, helping them avoid mistakes, or even think they have to “defend” their position in the relationship.
In reality, jealousy almost always stems from insecurity. When one member of a couple insists on keeping tabs on the other, constantly worries about infidelity, or focuses an inordinate amount of energy on the behaviors of their partner – all of it may be reflecting a lack of trust and self-esteem, especially if the spouse being scrutinized hasn’t done anything to betray the good faith of their partner.
It all comes from a fear of losing the relationship, yet jealous behavior actually puts the marriage at a much higher risk of falling apart!
So, what can you do if you have a jealous spouse?
First, determine if the jealousy is simply reactive – are you doing anything that would cause them to feel this way? Are there behaviors you can curb to minimize the problem? If the jealousy is unfounded (sometimes referred to as “suspicious jealousy”), however, tackling the problem is a little more challenging.
As with many other problems, the solution begins with communication. What is the jealous spouse so afraid of? Do they have an experience in their past that makes it difficult to trust people? Getting to the root of the issues will take some open and honest discussion, and this means that the spouse asking the questions needs to be compassionate and understanding, not judgmental or demanding. Vulnerability lies at the heart of jealousy, and that makes it tough to talk about.
Beyond finding the sources of self-esteem and trust issues, one of the best ways to deal with jealousy is to help your spouse develop self-confidence! The more confident a person feels about what they bring to a relationship, their own levels of attractiveness, and their overall “value” to their spouse, the less they will worry about losing their partner to someone else.
Jealousy has a way of making bad situations worse, and creating problems out of completely innocent behavior.
Jealousy is tense, illogical, and drives a wedge between happy couples through accusation, obsession, and ultimately, resentment from the person on the receiving end of the jealous behavior. No one wants to be treated like they’re dishonest, no one wants to feel like their every move is being scrutinized, and the pressure of such treatment can make even the most patient people snap.
To prevent this type of rift from forming in your marriage, be aware of the causes (and solutions) of jealous behavior, and keep yourself in check when you’re feeling a little bit threatened or jealous. Seek to understand why you or your spouse may be feeling the way you are, and you can prevent jealous behavior before it starts.