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How to Deal With Jealousy When a Former Spouse Gets in a New Relationship

by Elise Wile, studioD

You're not sure why jealousy is referred to as the "green-eyed monster" when your eyes are a dusky gray, but you know for a fact that this emotion is threatening to derail your life. You know if you don't get your feelings under control, you could make decisions that you'll likely look back on with regret later. Figuring out what to do when you'd like to make your ex's life look like a scene from a disaster movie can be difficult, but once you've decided not to let jealousy get the better of you, you'll experience increased emotional maturity.

Separate your emotions from your behavior. It's not unusual to feel jealous when you see the person you loved enough to marry on the arm of another person. However, you don't have to act on jealous feelings or thoughts, states clinical professor of psychology Robert Leahy in a May 2008 article in "Psychology Today." Acknowledge your feelings, and then realize that's all they are.

Pay attention to what you are thinking, advises Leahy. If you have unrealistic assumptions such as "I'll never find another partner," your feelings of jealousy are likely to be stronger. Listen carefully to the thoughts that traipse through your mind when you are feeling jealous, and challenge their truthfulness. While it may be true that your ex-husband's new girlfriend is thinner than you are, it is likely not the case that she is also smarter, friendlier and happier.

Steer clear of the temptation to compete with your ex, advises divorce coach Lee Brochstein on her website PostDivorceChronicles.com, noting that there is no prize at the end. If seeing your ex-wife at dinner with a man who probably graced the cover of last month's GQ makes you want to get a new girlfriend -- stat, then beware. Avoid making any decisions based on jealous feelings.

Use your jealousy as a catalyst for change, says Brochstein. If you transform the strong negative feelings you are having into positive action, you will be a force to be contended with. Perhaps your jealous feelings will make you think, "I'll show him," and go back to school or run your first 5K. As you work to improve yourself, your focus will shift from jealousy to pride in your accomplishments.

Cut off unnecessary contact with your ex, advises Susan Elliott, author of "Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You." After all, you'll only fuel your jealousy if you call him and he's "busy." Likewise, keeping tabs on his social media updates can add unnecessary angst to your life.


About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

Photo Credits

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