Let me start off this post by stating that I have been with my husband since I was 14 years old. We started “dating” before I went to high school and then continued all through high school and college. We got engaged before my senior year of college and later married two weeks after I graduated. We have been through our share of ups and downs, but we have a stable relationship built on friendship and trust.
However, I am also an insecure person growing in my understanding of myself and slowly, slowly, becoming confident in the person I am. I have anxiety and was emotionally abused by my father, which has had an impact on my relationship with my husband. Because I am not secure in myself and anxious, I can easily become jealous and paranoid. We have worked through this emotion together and have some advice for anyone who struggles with jealousy.
But before we go there, it’s important to understand what jealousy is. For this post, we will be discussing jealousy in the context of a romantic relationship, not jealousy with family or friends.
What Is Jealousy?
The word jealousy usually refers to thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, or concern in your relationship. Jealousy is an emotion, and emotions are neither right nor wrong. They are just emotions. It is what we choose to do with these feelings that make them either bad or good. So, feeling jealous in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad. However, if you allow yourself to dwell and obsess over the thought that your partner likes someone else, spent time with someone else, or will cheat on you, that is when the emotion starts to become negative. And of course, the feeling becomes more negative as you continue to act on it through things like false accusations.
Some evolutionary psychologists believe this emotion should not be suppressed but is one to pay attention to. They believe it is a signal that your relationship may be in danger and steps need to be taken to regain affection from your partner. Jealousy, to these psychologists, is a necessary emotion because they believe it preserves the relationship and motivates people to work on their relationship.
I believe that in some cases it could be an emotion used as described by those psychologists, but I also believe that some people struggle with jealousy when there isn’t a reason to. Our mind can take a thought and run with it, even if it is not rational. If you have proof that something is threatening your relationship or that your partner is not faithful, that is another topic entirely. In that case, it is not so much jealousy you are dealing with but feelings caused by broken trust. For tips on dealing with an unfaithful partner, our article here that can help.
So now that we understand a little more about jealousy, how can you overcome it?
Trust is the key to a healthy relationship. My husband trusts me more than I can understand. He knows I would never do anything to purposely hurt him. He knows I take our marriage vows seriously and that I am careful with any male friendships I do have. He knows I love him and am by his side, not that I am perfect, but that I will not choose to do something to break his trust.
I am still learning this, but he has shown me that I can also trust that he would not do anything to hurt our relationship. I do not have to be jealous of conversations he has with women at work, for example, because I can rely on the truth that he will not do anything.
If you cannot trust your partner, you will not make it. There will always be other attractive people around your partner, and you need to trust that he/she will not act on any thought he/she has. Again, there are situations when you may not trust your partner based on some actions done in the past, but I am not addressing those situations. Instead, I am talking to people like me who do not have a reason they can’t trust their partner. If you already feel like you cannot trust your partner before marriage, it is best to leave that relationship.
Spend Meaningful Time With Your Partner
The word “meaningful” is used in this piece of advice intentionally. “Meaningful” time spent with your partner refers to being with each other in ways that are special to you. It is time for each other, but without distractions, such as phones, tablets, or TV if both people do not want to watch it. I have noticed that when I spend quality time with my husband, I feel less jealous. When we have deep conversations, physically touch each other, and laugh together, I feel confident that he enjoys me and loves me more than everyone else.
Communicate With One Another
Communication is vital to a healthy relationship. You need to be able to tell how each other how you feel about certain situations. For example, if your partner is doing something that you feel uncomfortable about, let him/her know. Hopefully, it is respected and discontinued. Sometimes people do not always realize how their actions are perceived, so perhaps your partner didn’t realize that a comment he/she said towards someone else sounded differently than they had intended. People are not perfect, so you need to communicate with each other and develop an understanding of what is acceptable for each of you.
For example, my husband naturally gives people nicknames. He has always done this, even as a kid. Even though I know the nicknames do not mean anything, I have asked my husband not to give certain kinds of nicknames to women. Though none of the nicknames he gave where ever inappropriate, they did cause me to have feelings of jealousy. Because I was able to communicate how I felt to my husband, he was able to respect my wishes and stop hurting my feelings unintentionally. If I had never told him that I was upset, we would have never been able to find a solution.
Have Confidence In Yourself And Your Relationship
This one is easier said than done. But it is important. Spend time reflecting on your great qualities, not to become prideful, but to become comfortable and proud of the person you have become. Your partner is with you for a reason. Understand why you fell in love with each other and how special your relationship is. Remind yourself of these things when you are feeling jealous.
Now, there is probably a reason you are having a hard time with confidence. Perhaps you were bullied, left out, emotionally abused by a family member, or cheated on before. You need to recognize that even though those things happened to you, they are not so much about you. It’s hard to grasp the reality of that but people who in some way attack others are doing it because they are hurt. One of the truest phrases is “hurt people, hurt people.” When someone is emotionally wounded, they will in one way or another take it out on others unless they are healed through counseling of some sort.
If you are struggling to find confidence in who you are, perhaps it is a good idea to meet with someone. It will not be healthy for you or your family in the long run if you do not appreciate yourself or if you are always tearing yourself down. You are special, and it is worth it to find the root issues.
Realize It’s Outside Of Your Control
Before I was engaged, I was in a Bible study about relationships, and a story about infidelity came up. My mind went crazy thinking how cheating can happen to anyone, and I felt like it was too risky to be in a relationship. Then I remember telling my pastor how I felt and he said I could let fear control me and miss out on something great, like being married. Or, I could just trust my partner (and God) that the relationship would be good. Every relationship is a risk, but it is a risk worth having if your partner is a reliable person you enjoy.
Again, if you are with someone who is not trustworthy, do not continue in a relationship with him/her before marriage. Being married does not change someone’s character, and if you feel like he/she may cheat, it is not worth going down that road of emotional pain.
I hope that you leave this article realizing that everyone struggles with jealousy to a small or large extent. The important thing is to understand what jealousy is, and take the steps above to minimize its effect on your relationship. I wish you and your significant other the best of luck as you start to work through your jealousy today.