My wife and I have been together for thirty-seven happy years. Like any normal marriage, we had our ups and downs but we stuck together and worked it out. Thankfully neither my partner or I am of the jealous type. Our relationship is based on complete mutual trust, allowing each other space to grow. Jealousy occurs not only in romantic relationships but also between children, family members, friendships and in the workplace. My question is whether jealousy is healthy in a relationship?
My answer to that would be that it is toxic, others may see it as paying a partner a compliment. I am no psychologist but any negative emotion that threatens a marriage or a relationship should be controlled. I view jealousy as a garden. Imagine your garden with the most beautiful plants and you have weeds sprouting in your garden. At first, you tolerate it but when it gets out of control it can strangle the flowers and eventually take over the flower bed.I use this as an analogy to jealousy.
Jealousy is a normal emotion, but it can be painful and difficult to control.
Jealousy happens most commonly within a romantic relationship, although it can occur between siblings and other family members, in friendships and in professional relationships.
A small amount of jealousy can be good. For example, if it’s mild and well managed, it can help a couple to appreciate each other and add to the passion of a relationship. But extreme jealousy can destroy relationships and damage your health.
Signs of Jealousy
When someone feels jealous, they feel that someone or a situation is threatening something they value highly, especially a relationship.
When is jealousy a problem?
Clinical psychologist Linda Blair suggests that if you’re concerned about your jealousy, ask yourself three simple questions:
1) Is this feeling interfering with my normal life?
2) Is my jealousy hurting someone I love?
3) Does my jealousy control me more than I control it?
“If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then seek help through your GP,” says Linda. A GP can refer you to a counsellor or a therapistif you need further help.
In some areas you can refer yourself to your local psychological therapies team.
How jealousy can be harmful to Your Health
Jealousy can take over your life and lead to sleeping problems and a poor appetite.
Linda says that intense feelings of jealousy can have similar effects to chronic anxiety, including a raised heart rate, sweating and exhaustion. If not addressed, jealousy can also lead to depression.
Jealousy can affect your relationship in a negative way, especially if the perceived threat is not genuine and your partner is not doing anything to cause the jealousy. Even the most devoted partner can feel hurt, exhausted, anxious and angry that they’re not trusted. Ultimately, it drains them emotionally.
How to deal with jealousy
There are some practical and positive things you can do to overcome your jealousy
Talk to your Partner
Tell them about your feelings without blaming them. Let them know what makes you feel worried and jealous.Prepare what you want to say, and talk to your partner in a non-threatening, neutral atmosphere. “For example, arrange to meet in a café or restaurant. You’ll be more likely to stay calm,” says Linda.
Try to be objective
Just because you feel there is a threat, it doesn’t mean that it’s genuine. Try to view the situation objectively.
Accept some uncertainty
Uncertainty is a part of relationships. You can’t ultimately control someone’s feelings.
How a Counselor or Therapist can help
A counselor can help you to resolve your feelings of jealousy. They will help you look at the cause of your jealousy and deal with it on a day-to-day basis.
Linda says: “Knowing the origin of the problem is not enough to resolve it completely. You need to look at the everyday triggers, why you continue to feel and act that way. A counselor or therapist will help you understand that.”
Read more about the benefits of talking therapies.
October 29, 2002
Valerie and Danny, who’ve been married for six years, say they have a great marriage — except for one issue. He gets so jealous and controlling that he doesn’t even let his wife go to the bathroom by herself! He gets aggravated if she goes out without him, and pulls the silent treatment if she’s too friendly with someone on the supermarket line.
“I just don’t trust other people … I know how men can be,” says Danny. “My biggest fear is that she would cheat on me for someone more interesting.”
This is how out-of-control his wife says things have gotten. He’ll send her cards, for example, that practically read: “Happy Birthday … I hope you never cheat on me.”
Valerie, who’s never had an affair or misled her husband in any way, is “fed up with it,” and turns to Dr. Phil for help in making her husband more secure and trustful — before it destroys their marriage.
Here’s what Dr. Phil has to say:
Advice For Danny:
- If you’re concerned that you’re not interesting enough for her, why are you working onher instead of you? How does following her to the bathroom make you more interesting? It doesn’t! It just makes you more present. This is not about your wife. This is about you.
- Why are you so obsessed with this? Danny says it’s that he’s seen so many marriages destroyed by infidelity. He’s disgusted by it, and believes being unfaithful is wrong. “But why are you dragging that into your marriage?” asks Dr. Phil.
- How dumb would you feel if you spent 50 years of your marriage worrying that she’s going to cheat on you? And then it never happens? You’re missing out on enjoying each other.
- Do you really think you could watch her enough to keep her from cheating on you? No way. Why try to control something you can’t? First off, you have no indication that she’s predisposed in such a way. And you can’t stop her if she’s going to. All you can do is react if she does. And she told you she won’t.
- You are addicted to the payoff of testing your partner. You’re so relieved when she passes the test, when you get that reassurance. It gives you a little bit of peace for a short period of time, and you’re addicted to it like a drug.
- The only way you’ll ever get peace is if you come to the realization that you can’t control others.
Advice For Valerie:
- If he’s addicted to that payoff like a drug, then you’re the drug dealer. Stop giving him the reassurance. Don’t let him follow you or control you. Don’t pay him off in that way anymore. The only way you can help him is to stop reinforcing him when he does it.
Advice For the Couple:
- Relationships require emotional integrity. Be honest and own what you’re saying and what you’re doing.
- Don’t only talk about this issue when you’re fighting. You need to discuss it when the waters are calm.