Dealing with jealousy in a marriage can make you both feel crazy. Dr. Helen Fisher, relationship expert and columnist at Oprah.com, defines jealousy as that "sickening combination of possessiveness, suspicion, rage, and humiliation" that you feel when you think of your beloved with someone else. In addition to the intense discomfort it can cause both you and your partner, jealousy can wreak havoc on your relationship. But there are a few ways to cope with, or help your partner cope with, jealous feelings, and may help you overcome them as well.
Understand What She is Going Through
Author, professor and clinical psychologist Dr. Ayana Pines recommends that you try to empathize with your jealous partner. Letting your spouse know that you understand the torment she is in is the first step to dealing with her jealousy and helping her overcome it. Even though her jealousy may not be based on an accurate perception of reality, by letting her know you comprehend the things she is experiencing, you will help her take the first steps in moving past her jealousy.
Analyze Your Behavior
Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, authors of "The Great Marriage Q&A Book" recommend that you analyze whether something you are doing is provoking jealousy in your spouse. Perhaps you are doing something for work that is causing him to question the value of your marriage, even if it is something you must do. If you have recently developed a friendship with another male coworker, for example, or have begun to spend more time at work instead of at home, your husband may think you have a hidden agenda. Talk to him about what is really going on and explain how these changes do not mean you are being unfaithful.
Help Your Spouse Build Self-Confidence
Dr. Terri Orbuch, relationship therapist, professor and author, says it's essential to help your struggling spouse build his confidence. If you help him feel successful, accomplished and attractive, his jealous feelings may begin to subside. Furthermore, helping him realize what positive qualities he brings to your relationship will help him to focus on his strengths rather than his (possibly imagined) weaknesses. Your words can help your spouse develop a healthier perspective on your marriage.
Go Out of Your Way to Demonstrate Love
If your spouse is jealous, he probably doubts the love you have for him, so be demonstrative of the love you feel for your partner to help him get over the jealousy he is experiencing. In her book "Romantic Jealousy: Understanding and Conquering the Shadow of Love", Pines asserts that vulnerabilities, fears and insecurities vanish in the face of true love. The more assured your spouse is of your love for him, the less his insecurities will threaten your relationship and the less jealousy he will experience.
- Oprah: Jealousy: The Monster
- Focus on the Family: Healthy and Unhealthy Jealousy
- Psychology Today: Romantic Jealousy
- Romantic Jealousy: Understanding and Conquering the Shadow of Love; Ayala M. Pines
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images