By: Dr. Gregory Popcak
When a person is jealous, they have a tendency to look for and consistently find (whether there is reason to or not) external reasons for their jealousy; the beautiful co-worker, a spouse coming home a little later from work than expected, etc.
The temptation in this situation is to keep needling one’s spouse about every perceived offense no matter how small and/or to constantly look around for proof of the affair one is desperately afraid is happening just out of sight.
Missing the Point
The problem with this approach is that it misses the fact that whether or not there is some impropriety, or even an affair, the relationship itself is simply not as intimate, connected, and secure as it should be.
Obviously, any infidelity or objective impropriety needs to be dealt with, but there are many times when a potential offense is less clear. When this is the case, rather than obsessing over the possibility of infidelity, it would be much better to invest the energy into discussing what habits would need to be in place to make the relationship feel more secure than it does. Too many people worry about losing their relationship instead of investing the same amount of energy into making it a relationship that is so strong it can’t be lost. Do you need more time together? More opportunities to talk, play, or pray together? What changes must be made in the relationship in order to feel that both partners are truly committed to the marriage?
Other Causes of Jealousy
In the rare instance when a person feels jealousy even when the marriage really is solid, there is no infidelity, and one’s spouse really isn’t engaging in any inappropriate behavior, the problem is usually rooted in an anxious attachment style developed in childhood but carried into the adult relationship.
Anxious attachment results when my parents respond just enough to my emotional needs for me to not feel abandoned (and maybe to even feel adequately cared for at least physically), but not enough to ever feel emotionally secure. This dynamic causes a person to always feel off-balance in relationships even though they’re never quite sure why. A person raised in that environment is always on high-alert, constantly worrying about what they might have done—what they might yet do— to drive the people they care about away. These are the folks who go from “0 to abandoned in 60 secs” for the slightest reason. For people in this situation, counseling can be a very helpful means of sorting through the past hurt and finding ways to leave it back behind instead of carrying it into the present relationships.
Contact your PaxCare Tele-Coach, who can help you find faithful solutions to any and all of the challenges addressed in this article. Call us to get the support you need to succeed.