I’ve been chatting with some women who are really struggling with the issue of jealousy in their relationships. Hearing their stories remind me of some of my own. And I gave them the best advice I have:
Where does jealousy come from? When you really think about it, jealousy is born out of fear. We are only jealous if we are afraid that what we see, and are being told is a lie. Having a jealous nature can either mean we have trust issues, or there is a legitimate reason to withhold trust.
I was in a very long marriage that was definitely built on trust. I had not one jealous bone in my body because I knew my husband loved me. And then one day, I found a CD in his car that had one of our favorite bands burned onto it and a note inside the CD case that read something to the effect, “Thank you for being such a great guy and boss. I respect you more than you know. Always, Jezebel”
Well, okay, her name was not Jezebel but it may have well been. Of course, he denied knowing that the note even existed. I was automatically suspicious as I should have been. And if a spouse finds something like this they have a right to be jealous. It’s not like I made it up out of thin air. I immediately called my sister and asked her if my reaction was reasonable. But she couldn’t believe my husband would cheat on me and thought he was probably just being nice to her and it was taken the wrong way. I wanted to believe that, but that was the first clue for me that my marriage was being seriously attacked. Two years later, he moved out. Four years after that he finally broke it off with Jezebel. She never did seem like that much of a prize to me.
But after finding that CD, I wondered what else I didn’t know. I checked his phone for messages and texts. I called him often to see where he was. I worked very hard to be emotionally available and sexually inviting. But I had a very suspicious mind. For good reason. I was very afraid. I was afraid that my world was going to crash down around me. It did.
But that was my ex. Am I justified bringing that fear into new relationships as baggage because all guys are pigs? If I believed all guys are pigs I would become celibate. So, my answer is no. You can’t make someone else pay for the sins of your ex.
Okay, so what about if your current guy was caught doing something very wrong. Then, are you allowed to be jealous and suspicious for the rest of your relationship? I mean, there was good reason since it happened before right? Well…actually no. A qualified no that is.
If you and your guy dealt with whatever issue it was and agreed on a new set of rules then you have to ask yourself if you can get past what happened and trust him again or if you can’t. Did he have a reason for doing what he did? Did he show that he’s learned from it? Did he do it out of fear and now understands differently? Did he try to make amends with humility instead of getting defensive and aggressive? If he did these things the right way and asked for forgiveness and demonstrated by word and deed a commitment to you…then I don’t think you have a right to keep bringing up the issue.
It doesn’t mean that you won’t get pangs of fear from time to time. My Harry and I dealt with some things when we started dating. Things that hurt me. And we’ve come so far from those days. But now and then something is said, or something happens and my brain and body remember the panic of fear I felt. For a moment my brain and body are engaged in fighting that fear and I get a tingle of jealously creeping inside of me. It is one thing to forgive, but it’s almost impossible to forget. So when I am reminded, I have to ask myself where this feeling is coming from. Is it because of something that just happened that I can legitimately react to? Or has my mind conjured up a scenario where something bad could be happening? In all cases for me with my Harry it is the latter. Ever since we had our trouble long ago, he has in word and deed shown me humility, repentance, and commitment. So I talk myself down and let it go again.
Why? Because I’m a stupid woman and it will come back to bite me some day? I’ll be honest with you, that possibility is there. It always is. I never in a million years would have bet that my husband of 18 years would have ever cheated on me. It’s a risk. But I for one don’t want to live with that fear and suspicion as a part of my daily life. I refuse to check his Facebook, his phone, worry about who he’s talking to everyday. I refuse. I want to be happy. I choose to trust him. I’m not turning a blind eye, I just refuse to be a detective either.
Any guy or girl for that matter will cheat if they want to. Sooner or later they will get caught. Because sin will be found out. There are too many ways to communicate anymore to think that if you conduct surveillance you will somehow be safer. Or to think that if you pepper your mate with questions and give him the third degree he will be too “afraid” to cheat on you. That approach can poison your relationship. It can put a barrier of mistrust between you and your spouse that can actually lead to distance intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Consider that. If your suspicion is based on your own imagination and you choose to deal with it by giving him the inquisition all the time… Don’t you think that might create a self-fulfilling prophesy? In other words having a suspicious mind is counter-productive.
No. I refuse.
Instead I choose to believe what I see, what I hear, and what I know to be true. Instead, I choose to give him reasons to stay not reasons to leave. To love him unabashedly. To kiss and hug, and listen, and respect him for everything he is and does, and tries to be. In return, he openly communicates. We always let each other know where we are. And we are the first person either one of us want to have a conversation with. Because I chose him. And he chose me. Out of all the people in the world, we freely chose each other. So there is no room for suspicious minds in my marriage. And if I’m ever faced with evidence again to send that fear down my spine. I will deal with it then. But I will not let it rob me of my joy now. I will not let the possibility of pain become a disability.