- My Spouse is Jealous of Me and It’s Ruining My Marriage
- In the meantime, how can you deal with jealousy in your marriage?
- Ask questions to understand the jealousy.
- Communicate your frustrations.
- Set healthy boundaries.
- Talk with a trusted married couple.
- You can’t change your spouse; don’t try.
- You can’t always prevent jealousy, but you don’t have to feed it.
- You can’t ignore it;otherwise, the jealousy may escalate.
- Understanding healthy and unhealthy jealousy
- Two types of jealousy
- The good kind
- The bad
- The Causes and the Concerns
- What is the basis of jealousy?
- Causes of jealousy in marriage
- Pathological jealousy
- How jealousy ruins relationships
- Can jealousy be unlearned?
- 5 Reasons Why Jealousy in Marriage Is Actually OK
- It can protect your relationship
- It can help you better understand yourself and your partner
- It reminds you to not take your partner for granted
- It can make you feel more connected to your partner
- It might fuel you
My Spouse is Jealous of Me and It’s Ruining My Marriage
You may look at your life and say: Money’s decent. Job is stable — good social life. I get along with lots of people. I’m winning. But somehow, you still feel you’re losing. Why? Because if your spouse is jealous of you, it can feel it’s ruining your marriage. That’s a tough place to be.
Jealousy is a strong emotion that can cause serious control issues. Let’s be frank: jealousy can lead to abusive, violent, or destructive behavior. If it’s at that point, calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline may be your next step.
The root causes of jealousy may be deep or go back several years. Seeking professional help sooner rather than later may be the best answer.
If your spouse is open to it, finding a counselor who will fight FOR your marriage could be a game-changer.
In the meantime, how can you deal with jealousy in your marriage?
Jealousy is often rooted in insecurity, with fear as a close relative. It may be sparked by a relationship you have, career accomplishments, community recognition, or simply because you’re happy. None of this is necessarily wrong.
Are you giving your spouse a reason to be jealous? I’m assuming you are not. But it’s an excellent place to start.
Ask yourself if you are…
Spending too much time with someone else?
Sharing parts of yourself with someone that should be reserved for your spouse?
Getting a disproportionate amount of your fulfillment from your work or community involvement?
Often prioritizing being there for others and leaving your spouse on their own when they have problems?
Your spouse can become jealous when something else has the place in your life that they believe they should fill.
Ask questions to understand the jealousy.
There may not be a single thing you need to change. However, you can talk to your spouse to understand their insecurities or fears. Make sure you’re setting aside uninterrupted time so they know they’re a priority.
Without bringing up the jealousy first, you might ask, “What is your biggest fear?”
Or you can more directly relate it to the relationship: “Is there anything in this relationship that scares or concerns you?”
If you believe your spouse is jealous because of your accomplishments or success, try, “When something good happens to me, how does it make you feel? Is there something in my life that you believe has a place in my heart that you should have?”
Side Effect: Giving your spouse a safe space to be open and vulnerable is an antidote to jealousy. Demonstrating your care and concern may increase security, thereby decreasing jealousy. (Read about How to Be An Emotionally Safe Spouse here.)
Communicate your frustrations.
You love your spouse. But the jealousy makes it difficult. Get your thoughts together. Lovingly, tell your spouse what it makes you think and feel when their jealousy shows itself.
Set healthy boundaries.
There’s a difference between healthy boundaries and being controlling. Boundaries aren’t set to feed jealousy or insecurity. If your spouse wants to know your every move, you may feel they are controlling you.
Communicating daily about plans for the day and telling each other about changes may be a healthy boundary. The goal is for you to be able to be yourself without any surprises.
This happens through honest, considerate communication and respecting boundaries.
Talk with a trusted married couple.
Find a couple you both respect and discuss your struggles with them. Since jealousy is something many couples have experienced, the wisdom of another couple may give you insights that can change the course of your marriage for good.
You can’t change your spouse; don’t try.
You can assure them. You can listen, talk, and be understanding. And hopefully, your mate can see the jealousy. You can’t force them to be different.
You can’t always prevent jealousy, but you don’t have to feed it.
Being who you are may cause jealousy. Achieving success, being d by others, or having meaningful relationships with others may just be who you are, but changing who you are isn’t the answer.
You can’t ignore it; otherwise, the jealousy may escalate.
It may take trying several different approaches to break down the jealousy in your marriage. The person you know and love is hiding somewhere behind that jealousy. Fighting through jealousy together is a good thing for your marriage, and the rewards from moving forward can last a lifetime.
Other helpful resources:
How To Improve Bad Communication In Marriage
How to Stop Being So Jealous of Your Spouse
10 Ways To Know If Your Marriage Is Toxic (And What To Do About It)
MARRIAGE COURSE | Maximize Your Marriage
Did this blog give you the information you were looking for and give you tools to help improve your relationships?
Understanding healthy and unhealthy jealousy
Whether it’s a mild or major case, jealousy can have a big impact on your relationship. You may feel jealousy when you experience the heightened threat from a rival.
Most of us become jealous when we see our spouse having a great time with a person of the opposite sex – especially if that person seems a little too friendly.
No matter how much your spouse may attempt to reassure you, another person’s interest in him or her raises all your red flags.
Two types of jealousy
Jealousy can be either healthy or unhealthy. Healthy jealousy is a means to guard your territory and comes from a sincere care and commitment to a relationship. On the other hand, unhealthy jealousy manifests itself through lies, threats, self-pity, and feelings of inadequacy, inferiority and insecurity.
The good kind
Healthy jealousy guards the heart of a marriage because it:
- shows your commitment to the relationship
- protects your marriage by safeguarding the relationship against evil attacks
- deepens your openness with each other and makes you accountable through honest communication
- helps you confront major threats to your marriage and head them off before they become major problems
God calls you to respect your spouse’s jealousy that is a warning of danger ahead. If your spouse is a secure person and desires to protect your marriage against cracks, you need to listen. Confront the issue head-on by finding the reason for the jealousy, then making changes to keep you both danger.
Wives: Trust your husband’s instincts. He knows how men think, what they want and how they pursue it. So, it would be foolish of you not to heed his warning.
Men: Trust your wife’s instincts. If she suggests that another woman is behaving inappropriately, your wife is probably right.
Most women have radar, an innate alertness to nonverbal communication and an ability to translate body language and tone into emotional facts.
Your wife probably is able to see these things clearly, so don’t criticize or blame her warnings on insecurity.
Unhealthy jealousy is altogether different. It stems from comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate, unimportant, inferior and pitiful.
Some spouses have experienced a lot of loss in life – whether divorce, death or abandonment in childhood – and they may bring unresolved issues into the relationship in the form of jealousy.
Yet when a person carries this jealousy to pathological extremes, it will dominate a relationship.
A chronically jealous spouse will try to control a relationship through exaggeration, self-pity, lies, threats and/or manipulation. When the other partner resists, the jealous person reacts by becoming even more controlling. Then the other partner resists further by confiding in a friend or seeking relief outside the marriage. Sometimes this can become a downward spiral.
Here are just some of the effects of unhealthy jealousy:
- You doubt your spouse’s honesty and wrongfully accuse him or her, pushing your spouse away.
- You feel worthless and unimportant.
- You become frustrated and overwhelmed.
- You have a desire to control.
- You have less sexual intimacy with your spouse.
When jealousy becomes unhealthy it is destructive and frustrating to contend with. Love is not jealous and possessive. True love enables you to aim for what is best for the other person – not what is best for you.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
So how do you deal with unhealthy jealousy in your marriage? Here are some tips for both spouses – whether you have or are a jealous spouse.
If you have a jealous spouse:
- Assess whether you are doing something that is provoking the jealousy.
- Stop that activity or involvement for a time to show your spouse that you’re committed to your marriage relationship.
- Be demonstrative in love toward your spouse.
- Talk openly with your spouse about the problem. Get his or her take on it (the feelings may be legitimate), and work together to find a solution.
If you are the jealous spouse:
- Listen to a few trusted friends. Your jealousy may be your own problem, not your spouse’s.
- Be honest with yourself. Ask what is causing the feelings. Are you trying to manipulate?
- Spend time with God.
- Think about your spouse more positively. Jealous people use their anxious thoughts and suspicions as cues to misread anything that their spouses do. Instead, take a deep breath and pray – for yourself and for your spouse.
- Express your feelings to your spouse. Own up to your jealousy. Be honest without being blaming or manipulative.
Portions of this article were adapted from The Great Marriage Q&A Book, © 2006 Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg. All rights reserved. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. To order this resource or to find out more about the Rosbergs, visit Drgaryandbarb.com.
Married for over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg have a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touches people of all ages.
Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counselling experience and Barbara's gift of encouragement and Biblical teaching, they are equipping thousands of families through their interactive daily radio program, conferences and marriage and family resources.
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The Causes and the Concerns
Is your spouse unreasonably jealous? Or are you the one in the marriage who feels jealous when your spouse focuses on other people or interests? Whoever is the one that exhibits this behavior, jealousy in marriage is a toxic emotion that, when carried too far, can destroy a marriage.
But you might get swayed by media influence and wonder, is jealousy healthy in a relationship, as they show it in the movies or television series.
Contrary to what the media portrays in romantic movies, jealousy is not equivalent to love. Jealousy mostly stems from insecurity. The jealous spouse often does not feel they are “enough” for their partner. Their low self-esteem makes them perceive other people as threats to the relationship.
They, in turn, try to control the partner by preventing them from having any outside friendships or hobbies. This is not healthy behavior and can doom the marriage eventually.
Some authors see the roots of jealousy early in childhood. It is observed among siblings when we call it “sibling rivalry.” At that age, children compete for the attention of their parents. When a child thinks that they aren’t getting exclusive love, the jealous feelings begin.
Most of the time, this wrong perception goes away as the child develops and gains a healthy level of self-esteem. But sometimes, it persists ultimately transferring over to love relationships when the person starts dating.
So, before we move on to how to stop being jealous and how to overcome jealousy in marriage, let us try to understand what causes jealousy in marriage and insecurities in marriage.
What is the basis of jealousy?
Jealousy issues often begin with poor self-esteem. The jealous person usually does not feel a sense of innate worth.
A jealous spouse might harbor unrealistic expectations about marriage. They might have grown up on the fantasy of marriage, thinking married life would be they saw in magazines and movies.
They might think that “Forsake all others” includes friendships and hobbies, too. Their expectations about what a relationship is are not grounded in reality. They don’t understand that it is good for marriage that each spouse must have their outside interests.
The jealous spouse feels a sense of ownership and possessiveness towards their partner and refuses to allow the partner free agency fear that the freedom will enable them to find “someone better.”
Causes of jealousy in marriage
There can be several reasons for jealousy in relationships. The feeling of jealousy creeps up to a person due to some occurrence but might continue to happen in other situations as well, if not tackled carefully at the right time.
The jealous spouse may have unresolved early-childhood problems of sibling rivalry, negative experiences with partner indiscretions and transgressions. Apart from childhood issues, it is also possible that a bad experience in a previous relationship with infidelity or dishonesty leads to jealousy in the next one.
They think that by remaining alert (jealous), they can prevent the situation from repeating itself. Instead, it gives rise to insecurity in marriage.
They don’t realize that this irrational behavior is toxic to the relationship and can result in driving the spouse away, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The jealous pathology creates the very situation that the afflicted person is trying to avoid.
A small amount of jealousy in marriage is healthy; most people state that they feel a twinge of jealousy when their partner talks about an old love or maintains innocent friendships with members of the opposite sex.
But excessive jealousy and insecurity in marriage can lead to dangerous behavior such as that displayed by people O.J. Simpson as a jealous husband and Oscar Pistorius as a jealous lover. Fortunately, that type of pathological jealousy is rare.
The jealous spouse is not merely jealous of their partner’s friendships. The object of jealousy in marriage can be time spent at work or indulging in a weekend hobby or sport. It is any situation where the jealous person cannot control the circumstances and therefore feels threatened.
Yes, it is irrational. And it is very damaging, as the spouse can do little to reassure the jealous mate that there is no threat “there.”
How jealousy ruins relationships
Too much jealousy and trust issues in marriage will wear down even the best of weddings, as it permeates all aspects of the relationship.
The jealous partner requires constant reassurance that the imagined threat is not real.
The jealous partner may resort to dishonest behaviors, such as installing a key-logger on the spouse’s keyboard, hacking their email account, going through their phone and reading text messages, or following them to see where they are “really” going.
They may denigrate the partner’s friends, family, or work associates. These behaviors have no place in a healthy relationship.
The non-jealous spouse finds themselves in a continual state of defensiveness, having to account for every move made when not with their spouse.
Watch this video:
Can jealousy be unlearned?
It takes a lot of time and effort to deal with jealousy in a marriage. But, you can take appropriate measures to unlearn and detangle the deep roots of jealousy.
So, how to deal with jealousy in marriage?
There are a lot of things that you can do to stop jealousy from hampering your marriage. The first step is to communicate. You can try to imbibe trust in your relationship and comfort your spouse about the issues bothering them.
Also, if you feel that you are the one contributing to jealousy in marriage, you must try every possible way to curb your emotions. If your wedding is at stake, it is worth entering into counseling to help untangle the roots of jealousy.
Typical areas that your therapist will have you work on include:
- Recognizing that the jealousy is damaging your marriage
- Committing to grips with the fact that the jealous behavior is not anything factual occurring in the marriage
- Relinquishing the need to control your spouse
- Rebuilding your sense of self-worth through self-care and therapeutic exercises designed to teach you that you are safe, loved, and worthy
Whether you or your spouse is experiencing an abnormal level of jealousy in marriage, rational jealousy, or irrational jealousy, as discussed by Georgia State University, it is recommended that you seek help if you want to save the marriage.
Even if you sense that the marriage is beyond saving, getting therapy would be a good idea so that the roots of this negative behavior can be examined and treated. Any future relationships you may have can be healthy ones.
5 Reasons Why Jealousy in Marriage Is Actually OK
Most of us consider jealousy in marriage to be a negative thing, however, according to some of the nation’s top experts in love and marriage, it’s not all that bad. In fact, jealousy can actually enhance your relationship, believe it or not—and it’s also a perfectly natural emotion to feel now and then when you’re in a committed relationship.
“In the context of marriage, jealousy arises when we believe our relationship is being threatened for some reason, whether it’s from an outside third party (as in the case of an affair), an activity ( a hobby or recreational pursuit) or other interests,” says Michele Moore, licensed professional counselor, certified coach, and relationship expert at Marriage Mojo. “It can happen without justification when we attribute the reason for our spouse's distance from us due to someone or something that doesn't have anything to do with it, for example when your spouse works late a few nights in a row and you accuse them of being unfaithful when there’s a perfectly good reason for the tardiness.” This type of scenario, however, is more ly to happen when there have been previous incidents of untrustworthy behavior or when we ourselves have been hurt or blindsided before, she explains.
It can protect your relationship
Sometimes jealousy in marriage can serve as an alert for something your intuition is trying to tell you, according to Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., relationship expert, sex therapist and author of Getting the Sex You Want.
“It can reel in a partner who might be slipping away or about to betray your monogamy agreement and serve as a checks and balance system to keep you both drawn to one another despite the natural proclivity to check out other people,” she says.
“This kind of curiosity is totally normal and jealousy and can be a stopgap that keeps the relationship within healthy bounds.”
It can help you better understand yourself and your partner
Talking about your feelings of jealousy in marriage can help you better understand yourself, grow as a person and bring your best self to the relationship, notes Yazhini Srivathsal, M.D., psychiatrist at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“It can help break emotional barriers, expose each other's vulnerabilities, and build a stronger relationship.” She suggests having an open conversation about where the feelings of jealousy come from to expose your vulnerabilities and deep-seated fears to their spouse.
“This helps in better understanding each other and building a stronger relationship,” she adds.
It reminds you to not take your partner for granted
After the initial honeymoon phase of the relationship has waned, it’s not uncommon for individuals in relationships to begin taking each other for granted. But a little jealousy can help remind you (and your partner) of what you have.
“It’s a great reminder because, so often, couples slack off and resort to sweatpants and grooming as a hobby, not a routine, too soon and too often,” says New York-based relationship and etiquette expert, April Masini.
“A little jealousy is also a way for you to show your partner that you realize they’re attractive to other people, and that you're lucky to have them!”
It can make you feel more connected to your partner
A little jealousy in marriage means you feel connected to your partner and you want them all for yourself, which can be a good thing, according to Masini.
“When you feel jealous and react by showing your connection to your partner, to thwart off potential suitors, it’s a reminder of how connected the two of you are,” she says.
“This kind of jealousy takes you any vacuum you might be living in and letting you each know that you care about each other enough to feel uncomfortable when someone else is a possible threat.”
It might fuel you
Whenever those feelings of jealousy occur within a marriage, Jacob Kountz, marriage and family therapist trainee and clinic manager at California State University, says it could be a sign for one important thing: You've still got it for your person—which is great news! “Sure, the feeling doesn't feel so great in the moment, but these feelings could be a general reminder that you still have a fiery passion for the marriage you began with,” he says. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with using jealousy as a sign that you still want your partner, as long as it seems healthy and playful to the both of you. If it's not broke don't fix it, use it!”