Relationship coaches tell us that Jealousy is related to two emotions–fear and anger. Fear of losing what we have and anger at whoever seems to be threatening to take it from us. In a society such as ours where the opportunity for cheating is ever present, it is jealous behavior which is the biggest threat to our relationships.
Every emotion that we have is connected to a reason. For example, we feel sad when we lose something that is important to us; we feel angry when we want someone to do something and they are not doing it. We feel jealous when we believe that a significant relationship is being threatened by a rival.
The purpose of jealous feelings is to prompt us to take action which reduces or eliminates that threat. Just as it would be extremely counterproductive to hit our boss when we are angry, or smash our computer when we are frustrated, so it also very damaging to try to forcibly control our partner or violently confront whoever we are jealous of.
While many people realize that they must not take such violent and coercive action, they have few skills for managing their feelings. The result is that they suppress their feelings. The jealousy still shows, the stress still grows, and their relationships are impacted never the less. The emotion must be positively dealt with or it will grow and spread like weeds on the front lawn. It won’t be long before our neighbors can see it too.
To effectively deal with jealousy, we must adopt a mindset which prevents jealousy from happening in the first place. As you read the following statements, write on a piece of paper any that you find difficult. These will be the ones you will need to work on with your relationship coach or counselor to reduce your jealousy.
IDEA #1. WE DO NOT OWN THE PERSON WE HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH:
*My partner is not my property.
*Someone could not steal me from him/her without my agreeing to it. So too, someone cannot steal him/her from me without him/her agreeing to it.
*He/She is an intelligent adult who has the capacity to make his/her own decisions about relationships.
*Just as I could leave him/her, so could he/she leave me.
IDEA #2. OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD BE ATTRACTED TO MY PARTNER:
*My partner is attractive to me. It is natural that other people will feel attracted to him/her as well.
*I don’t need to try to stop them from being attracted to him/her.
*My partner goes to great lengths to be attractive to me, to himself/herself, and for others. It would be strange if people were not attracted to him/her.
IDEA #3. THREATS TO MY RELATIONSHIP COME FROM WITHIN OUR RELATIONSHIP–NOT FROM WITHOUT
*Before my partner had a relationship with me, he/she had the same opportunity to be with other women/men as she does now. He/She decided to choose me and continues to do so each day.
*My partner chose me because he/she believed me to be a better partner for him/her than other women/men.
*Working on being a wonderful partner myself is the best way to protect our relationship, although it does not guarantee it.
It is our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world which prompt us to take the actions that we do. If, for example, we believe that we need to control our partner to protect our love relationship, then we will do it–even if it is self-destructive. It is also our beliefs which prompt us not to take action when action would be the best thing to do. If, for example, we do not love ourselves, it is hard to believe that others could really love us either. For that reason, many people spend most of their energy trying to protect themselves rather than to truly love their partner. Healthy relationships require us to change our unhealthy beliefs.
Learning to have a great relationship entails more than just what to do on a date or learning the best position for having sex. Great relationships are only possible when people overcome their insecurities; become the kind of person that they love; see, respect, and love their partner as they really are; and make the relationship part of the bigger picture of a great life.