30 Jul The Green-Eyed Monster: Managing Jealousy in Your Relationship
The following is the second in a two-part series on the subject of jealousy, or as many refer to it, “the green-eyed monster.”
In my previous post, I discussed the story of Bob and June, and June’s strong feelings of jealousy about her husband’s relationship with his coworker Lori.* To understand jealousy, we needed to understand it’s seven common causes.
So, now that you are aware of the typical causes of jealousy in a relationship, what can be done? If you are the jealous one in your relationship, here are ten tips for working past your jealousy. If your partner’s jealousy is causing difficulty in your relationship, keep reading.
10 Ways to Address Your Own Jealousy
1. Identify what your jealousy is really about. Look back at the reasons described in my previous post.
2. Own your feelings of jealousy instead of shaming, blaming, criticizing, or making your partner the one who is “wrong.” Express your feelings and share your vulnerability by admitting that you are jealous and discuss these feelings and concerns. Calmly explain your feelings and discuss with your partner how to find a solution.
3. Ask for what you need from your partner (e.g. appreciations, attention, date nights, sex, etc.).
4. Assess what is missing from the relationship, and what may be causing your partner to be interested in another. Try writing a letter to each other explaining what you “miss” about the person.
5. Stop snooping! Although it’s very tempting, do not look at his/her phone or emails.
6. Get individual counseling. Actively address any childhood issues or past traumas. Recognize that your spouse may actually be helping you by inadvertently pointing out triggers in the very areas of your personality that may need some attention.
7. Recognize and accept your ultimate lack of control. You can never be completely sure that you won’t lose a partner to someone else. No one can truly possess another person. We all have to manage the inherent dilemma of love which says “my partner loves me, but there is always a possibility…” We can only hope to connect for as long and as deeply as possible.
8. Recognize that your partner cannot be everything to you – and you cannot be everything to your partner. It’s very normal and natural for your partner to have some needs (other than sexual needs) met outside the primary relationship. This can actually improve your relationship.
9. Be aware that your accusations may trigger your partner. Perhaps s/he feels like you’re asking them to sacrifice their needs for your needs. Or, perhaps you are becoming the controlling spouse, which reminds your partner of his/her controlling parents. Whatever it is, the only thing that will come from your aggressive and defensive stance will be a wall between the two of you. Your goal in the relationship is to bring your story and your partner’s story into consciousness so that you’re aware when you’re triggering each other – and to be as supportive as possible.
10. Recognize false beliefs. Notice if you’re telling yourself the story that somehow you will be happy if only your partner would act a certain way. Firmly held beliefs that threaten the relationship can include:
• I will be happy when you stop seeing this woman
• I will only be happy when you need only me
• I will be happy when you sacrifice your own needs for me
It’s important to recognize that these are false beliefs. Nobody can be responsible for your feelings. Your individual happiness is an inside job.
Ok, but what if your partner’s jealousy is what is wreaking havoc on your relationship. Can anything be done? Yes, and here are ten helpful tips to address your partner’s jealousy:
10 Pointers for Dealing with Your Partner’s Jealousy
1. Accept your partner’s feelings of jealousy and understand that the flames of jealousy may always be there – and may flare up from time to time.
2. Stay calm, avoid becoming defensive, stick to reason, and don’t walk away – this only reinforces insecurities.
3. Provide more physical contact. Reassurance in the form of hugs and words of affirmation can reduce your partner’s anxiety.
4. Understand that this is about your partner’s emotions and insecurity – and not about his/her love for you. Jealousy often arises because your partner cares about you so much and is simply afraid of losing you.
5. Reassure your partner of your love. Let your partner know that you are still interested and attracted to them.
6. Make your relationship status with your partner clear. Hold her/his hand, stay close with her/him at a party, give plenty of hugs and “I love you.”
7. Refrain from getting too emotionally connected with another, and from sharing your own problems or problems you’re having with your spouse. Save the most meaningful issues for your primary relationship.
8. Be honest with yourself about your intention with this friendship. What are you getting out of it? Is your partner right in assessing this relationship as a viable threat?
9. Avoid any physical contact with the opposite sex friend. It may seem minor (and perhaps, obvious), but do not kiss on the cheek or the lips or give a warm hug when you greet and leave each other.
10. Share with your friend how in love you are with your partner. This may be the most important. It reaffirms your love and creates an energetic boundary, thus reducing the possibility of an affair.
In conclusion, jealousy is a toxic emotion that can wreak havoc on a relationship. Shakespeare called jealousy “the green-eyed monster.” When you’re experiencing it, you feel like you’re possessed – and may feel you have to fight your way out of it. Actually, it’s just the opposite. Whether you’re the one accusing your partner or the one being accused, when jealousy presents itself, it’s a sign to stop, reevaluate what is really happening, and work it out in a loving and supportive manner.
Relationship counseling can certainly help the two of you communicate and resolve the issues – often in a matter of weeks or months, rather than years. As Rumi said, “In the space beyond right and wrong, there is a field, I will meet you there.”
Please don’t hesitate to call me at 619-990-9032 or email me to discuss how relationship counseling can help you.