Tame the Green-Eyed Monster within you.
There can be many unhealthy feelings that arise in relationships, like jealousy, so you may be wondering how to save a relationship that’s falling apart.
Your emotions can cause you to have thoughts that make you believe that there’s no hope. Jealousy, especially, is a very damaging emotion to you and your partner.
Feeling a little jealous in your romantic relationship is normal. It’s one way of showing that we love and value our significant other. Like a lot of things, though, a little jealousy goes a long way…and more is definitely not better.
Too much jealousy can show a lack of trust in our partner and can ruin an otherwise happy relationship.
You can’t always control how you feel about something. But, you can make decisions to control how you will react to your feelings.
First things first, are jealousy and envy the same thing?
Though both words are often used interchangeably, they do mean different things.
Jealousy is a complex emotion. It ranges from feeling the fear of abandonment to rage and humiliation. Both men and women experience jealousy. In romantic relationships, it’s often aroused when one person perceives a threat to the relationship from a third party. That threat may be real or imagined.
Jealousy is the suspicion that someone or something else has or is trying to get what rightfully belongs to us.
Envy, on the other hand, is a desire for something that someone else has. Since you’ve already got your boo, envy isn’t likely to be fueling your thoughts of how to save a relationship that’s falling apart. Envy provokes a feeling of ill will due to another person’s advantages or successes in general.
So, there is a huge difference between envy and jealousy.
What about non-romantic jealousy?
Sometimes you can experience jealousy in a relationship from other stresses. These don’t arise from fear of losing your spouse or partner’s affections or losing them to someone else.
The trigger may be the feeling of having to compete for his time. He may have children from a previous relationship. He may have ailing parents and other family or work obligations that make you feel that you’re at the bottom of your partner’s priority list.
When this happens, you may need to assess your own needs and look for ways to treat yourself better. It’s healthy and empowering to not rely on your partner for your feelings of self-worth and value.
Let your significant other know that you love him and value him. Tell him that you set a high priority on the quality time you spend together. This way, you can keep the closeness and trust in the relationship at a comfortable level.
How do jealous feelings arise and what damage do they do?
The truth is, sooner or later, we all get a visit from the green-eyed monster.
Take this scenario: You and your husband have been married for a while and have settled into a comfortable routine. One day, your husband comes home and mentions the newly-hired sales rep at his job. She’s so young, pretty, has a good sense of humor, all the staff and the clients think she’s great, etc.
Your first thoughts might be, “Uh oh. He hasn’t sounded excited about anything in a long time, and now, this? What am I, chopped liver? Heck, I am chopped liver! I need a haircut. I haven’t exercised in months. He likes her better than me! She’s younger, prettier, sexier. He’ll leave me! Look out, dog, I am on to you!!!”
If you let your internal dialogue run wild, the next thing you know you’ll be making him sleep on the couch.
But before you let your thoughts have you believing you know what he’s up to with the new sales rep or you move permanently to Crazy Town, you need to take several steps back and learn how to not be jealous.
Here are the 2 ways your misguided jealousy can destroy your relationship.
1. The crazy factor
Acting out on your jealous feelings — with angry outbursts and suspicious, third-degree-type questioning — can make you look psycho-crazy to your partner. The more innocent they actually are, the worse your behavior makes you look.
Extreme jealousy is ugly and frightening. The lack of trust it expresses can mean death to a relationship. Trust is one of the core supports of a healthy relationship. Without it things tend to fall hard and fast, and there’s not much left but a greasy smear at the crash-site.
Destructive jealousy stems from insecurity and/or the need to control another person. If you’ve expressed your jealousy over a partner or had a partner feel jealous over you, you’ll be able to recognize these familiar patterns.
2. The self-fulfilling prophecy
The other undesirable outcome of this level of distrust is the potential for it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If someone is always doubted no matter how “clean” their record, they may feel that it’s futile to try and prove their innocence. And many people then take the attitude, “If I’m going to wear the name and bear the shame, I might as well play the game.”
So, what’s the alternative to sneaking, snooping, spying, and downright stalking?
Maybe your suspicions were sparked by some change in behavior or attitude on your partner’s part. Or, the jealous feelings started because you’ve been feeling a bit insecure or sensed a distance between you and your partner.
Either way, communication is the key to finding a solution.
Sometimes, something in the relationship has already gone way wrong (i.e. cheating has occurred or is occurring). Perhaps there’s been a growing-apart. You feel the bond between you needs renewing and strengthening.
There is only one way to get to the heart of the matter. You need to stop assuming the worst and stop trying to solve “mysterious clues” on your own. You need to ask questions. From there, you can find the appropriate solution to the problem — if a problem actually exists.
So if you want to save your relationship from jealousy, here are 4 ways to tame it.
1. Find the facts
Your suspicions about your partner may be due to changes in that person’s behavior. You do need to find out if they’re actually cheating. If they are, you have a bigger problem than feeling jealous. You need to figure out what to do about your relationship.
You may be spying and obsessing: checking his texts, tracking his social media activity or following him around. If you are, stop.
You’re demeaning yourself not to mention him and your relationship. And to make matters worse, this type of activity has another downside.
Innocent or guilty, when you’re caught (and you will be), your mate can now make yourbehavior the issue, not his own behavior. And not the actual source of the problem in the relationship (especially if he does turn out to be innocent).
2. Talk it out
A better way to approach this might be to say, “Wow. Sounds like this new girl really made an impression on you. I don’t like feeling this way, but it makes me kind of jealous. Are you attracted to her? I mean, seriously attracted?”
Now, asking questions like this puts you in a vulnerable place. But if your spouse is innocent and understands what it is you’re thinking and feeling, he has a chance to respond honestly and to reassure you.
If your worst suspicions are confirmed and you do find out that your spouse or boyfriend has strayed, feeling jealous is a secondary problem. The first issue will be deciding what to do about the relationship.
Do you stay or do you go?
3. Set limits
Another aspect of good communication in relationships addresses expectations. It’s up to the two of you to decide and agree on what “limits” you’ll both respect.
How will you handle contact and friendships with the opposite sex? You can agree on appropriate behavior when dealing with other men and women who are friends, co-workers, or even exes.
For some, this could mean that a woman having a working lunch with her male colleague is crossing the line. For others, that would be acceptable. But a man keeping in private text contact with an ex-girlfriend is crossing the line.
No one else can tell you what “should” be acceptable or unacceptable between you and your significant other. The two of you owe it to yourselves and each other to talk about and come to terms with what each of you are comfortable with.
Lay the ground rules on what you will accept within the boundaries of the relationship.
4. Make time for each other
It’s often said that the quality of time spent together is more important than the quantity. But without setting aside some quantity, there’ll be no chance for quality.
Here are some things you and your partner can do together for just a few minutes every day:
- As you prepare to leave each other in the morning, spend a few minutes together. Make goodbyes important. Say “I love you”.
- When you both get home from work, share something about your day. (Hopefully something good!)
- At least once a day, express appreciation for each other. Say “please” and “thank you.”
Can jealousy be overcome?
The answer is “yes”. But since not all jealousy is destructive, it doesn’t have to be completely eliminated.
That little twinge you feel when your guy looks a little too long at the hot girl on the beach is something positive, especially if it makes you say, “Yeah, I know, she’s really something. Now eyes back on the prize, (pointing to yourself) lover.”
Now, if it makes you say, “Do you know her? You’re looking at her like you know her…or you damn well want to. What’s she got that I haven’t? It’s your fault I don’t look that way in a bikini anymore, you know! Put 3 kids and 15 years on her, she won’t have that cute little caboose…”
You get the idea.
In order to save a relationship that’s falling apart, you need to deal with jealousy in a healthy way.
When handled correctly, jealous feelings can be a trigger for growth in healthy relationships. They can become the first step in increased self-awareness and greater understanding. You’ll have a deeper connection to yourself, your partner and the relationship.
Properly understood and managed, jealousy can help you strengthen the bond you have with your partner. It can help the two of you develop better communication, greater intimacy and a deeper appreciation of each other.