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Dealing with Jealousy in a Marriage

Tips to Help You Talk with Your Spouse about Jealousy
By Susie and Otto Collins

Bruce often feels powerless to his jealous thoughts. A doubt or worry about his wife Janey creeps into his mind and, before too long, he finds himself acting from jealousy.

This almost always leads to trouble. Trouble for him and trouble for his marriage.

Bruce doesn't want to bother Janey by trying to talk about his jealousy. He always thinks that, one day, he'll be able to get it under control.

But then something happens-- he sees Janey talking with another man at a party or he imagines her interacting closely with a male co-worker-- and the jealousy seems to take over.

Soon an argument breaks out between the two of them or he's muscled his way into another man's personal space-- more than one fist fight has been barely avoided.

Is your jealousy the unspoken and avoided "elephant in the room" in your marriage?

Perhaps you believe that if you don't focus in on your jealousy, it will just go away. Or, you might see the jealousy as "your" issue and maybe even feel embarrassed to be having these emotions.

Here's what's usually the case, however...

As much as you try to hide your jealous feelings, they seep out in unexpected and sometimes exaggerated ways. You may speak rudely or harshly to another person whom seems to you to be a threat to your marriage, for example.

Your mate can sense that something is going on for you. When you are jealous, you are probably more withdrawn and distant as you grapple with this internal struggle.

Conversely, you might lash out at him or her for what appears to be no apparent reason.

It could be that particular habits that your spouse has developed are triggers for your jealousy. He or she might seem to you to be a flirt, for instance.

We do not recommend that you spend your time and energy attempting to determine which of you is ultimately or solely to blame for your jealousy and the possible disconnection in your marriage.

We do encourage you to find ways to talk about the current dynamics in your relationship.

Acknowledge that you are feeling jealous and look at the possible contributors (from within yourself and possibly from your partner's behaviors).

You can talk about jealousy with your spouse in ways that can bring you eventual ease and actually move the two of you closer together in the process.

Take ownership for your jealousy.
As you communicate with your mate about your jealousy, own how you are feeling. Practice using "I feel" statements instead of speaking in ways that will be judging and blaming.

Remember that your goal is to not only to overcome your jealousy and find relief from the upset you've been feeling, it's also to re-connect with your spouse.

After a particularly difficult office party at Janey's workplace the previous night, Bruce asks her to talk. Bruce admits that he felt jealous while at the party.

He shares with Janey that he has been feeling intense jealousy quite frequently for the past year or more.

Bruce tells her, "I feel angry and fearful that you will have an affair when I see you talk with another man."

Janey is relieved that they are finally talking about this.

She has begun to dread social occasions because Bruce's stares and glares at the men she casually talks with are uncomfortable and even seem to be

Identify triggers and create strategies.
When you communicate to connect, it is essential that you and your mate speak with honesty and openness and that you also listen in engaged and open ways.

Using "I feel" statements is one way to promote a feeling of openness as you communicate, as demonstrated above.

As you and your spouse attempt to uncover what triggers jealousy, continue to focus in on what you each need and what you'd like to change.

For example, Bruce could say to Janey, "I need you to stop talking with other men when we are out together."

But this request is unrealistic and, most likely, undesirable to Janey.

Instead, Bruce might go within himself and identify that when Janey is talking with other men and they touch her on the arm or shoulder, his jealousy tends to spike.

Bruce and Janey can create an agreement that Janey will be aware of how closely she stands while talking with other men at parties and in other social settings.

It might be acceptable to her to agree to maintain a particular distance between herself and the men she is talking as a way to support Bruce's effort to overcome his jealousy.

For his part, Bruce can agree that he will no longer rush over to Janey when she is talking with another man. He will not stare or glare at them.

When triggered, he agrees to find a quiet space (such as the bathroom) to take some deep breaths and calm down.

As you identify what seems to trigger jealousy for you, be aware of your past.

Often, unresolved hurts and experiences from your own history will play a role in your feeling jealous about situations that are happening right now.

Take the time to make completions about your past so that you can be fully present in your marriage today.

As you are communicating about jealousy with your mate, pause and reflect on what you are feeling and what you want to say before you actually say it.

If you need to take a brief break in your conversation, ask for one. Be sure to set up a specific time during which you two will resume
your talk.


For a free audio on overcoming jealousy, click here.


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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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