I was 25 years old with a 10 month old baby. My husband and I were married for only a few years and I was convinced at the moment that he only had eyes for me. What newlywed doesn't? We spent New Year's with a group of friends and family snow skiing.
While eating New Year's dinner with the group at a nice restaurant I decided to pull a little prank on my hubby by standing behind him while he didn't know I was there. Not sure what my plan was but whatever it was it backfired. He was talking to a male cousin and a hot little redhead with a skin tight black dress walked by. His eyes followed her, his neck practically doing a 180 turn, all the way around to face me. I could write a long time about my emotions and thoughts about that moment but I'm going to simplify it by saying I lost my freaking mind.
Nope, I didn't make a scene in the restaurant, I have too much class for that. We returned to the condo and I spent the night on the floor, because, you know, I'm classy. I came very close to boarding a plane and going home but he begged and pleaded and apologized. I decided to "forgive" him by only holding it over his head for YEARS.
That, my friends, is a little glimpse into a tiny picture of what jealousy once looked like for me. I am well aware that you are forming an opinion....what thought do you have about the experience I just described? It's either that I am a psycho nut or that I am justified in my psychosis.
I once thought jealousy was simply my cross to bear. I just was. A few years ago I began studying the Enneagram, an ancient personality assessment, and recognized that I am prewired for jealousy, my personality type, which is a four on the Enneagram, tends towards that. For a minute I wanted to embrace it and just say this is me, take it or leave it. The problem is that although my husband had learned to handle me with kit gloves in this area, I was miserable. Constantly finding reasons and then justifying the reasons for my, often debilitating, jealousy.
I have done a lot of emotional work on this issue and think I am finally ready to speak about it, so here goes. My jealousy has never really been the run of the mill kind. In some relationships, my current one included, jealousy is a healthy emotion that can lead to really fun stuff in a relationship but without intentionality it leads to competition, comparison, and division. Jealousy isn't always about our man having wandering eyes, or even behavior. Sometimes it's about him choosing to do something without me. Or buying something for himself instead of me. I hear this all the time from younger married women.
"He can't go on a guys trip because I'm not going and that's not fair."
"He shouldn't be talking to a friend, he should be talking to me." Often it doesn't even matter if it is a male or female, those of us with jealousy issues look for things to be jealous about.
"He shouldn't want to go hunting/golfing/whatever, he should want to be with me."
If none of these sound familiar, you don't have an issue with it and you are lucky. But many women struggle, and this is a very real and painful struggle.
My journey in this area has been one of the hardest things to battle. The hardest part is admitting to myself that I am jealous and no longer justify my jealousy. If you know my hubby you know he adores me and thinks I'm numero uno but even if he didn't. If he checks out, talks to, or even flirts with other women, if he hunts every day of hunting season, if he goes on guys weekends every weekend...I get to choose not to feel jealous. I am 100% in control of what I feel. My jealousy has NOTHING to do with him, it has EVERYTHING to do with me. I can know that I am worthy of being with AND that he loves hunting. I can know I am beautiful AND that every other woman on earth is too. I can know that I am completely loved AND he can flirt with anyone he wants. It is not my job to control any other person, my husband included, in any way at all. I determine my value and my value has nothing to do with what anyone else on this planet thinks or does. I exist, therefore I am perfectly valuable.
I know this is hard stuff, especially if you are newly married or if jealousy is so engrained in your psyche you cannot see a way out. The thing is that when you let it go you free yourself. Your jealousy is not making him want to be with you more. I remember when I stopped bitching about my husband going hunting. I recognized that it was his passion. I asked myself how I would feel if he tried to take one of my passions from me? Instead of being a grouch when he came home, I was just me. He doesn't seem to hunt nearly as much. Maybe the sexy texts I send him while he is on the stand is more enticing that the ones filled with words trying to guilt him home;).
This is not something that suddenly changes. If you are struggling with jealousy the first thing to do is bring light to the subject. I recently had a bad episode with this and lost my mind for a second, actually a couple of hours. When I gained my senses and could tell my husband about my deep feelings his response was "I won't ever do that again". Since I am doing transformational work on myself and am willing to be brave in this area, my response was "please don't change, I need you to be you and if that triggers me that is my problem. I cannot change if I'm never triggered." Maybe that freaks you out, it definitely would have done so to me when I first started my journey to freedom, but that is what growth can do for you. Instead of running from pain you bravely walk towards it, knowing that only adversity brings growth.