Harmful effects of jealousy in marriage

Gender is my AgendaToday we will look at yet another interesting but dangerous topic of jealousy in the home. Almost everyone has felt the sting of jealousy at some point in life.
Jealousy has affected every marriage at one time or another. As a matter of fact, in a nationwide survey, marriage counsellors said jealousy was a problem for one-third of all couples they counselled and it cuts across cultures.
In looking at jealousy in the home, it is important to note that there is both healthy and unhealthy jealousy.
Healthy jealousy guards the heart of a marriage because it shows your commitment to the relationship. It protects the marriage by safeguarding it against evil attacks.
Unhealthy jealousy is when no matter how much your spouse may attempt to reassure you of their love, you continue feeling inadequate. This jealousy comes from comparing yourself to others and feeling unimportant, inferior and pitiful.
It is a situation where your spouse is jealous even though you think you have not given any cause for jealousy.
This type of jealousy can have a big impact on your relationship and cause major rifts between spouses and qualifies to be among the leading causes of Gender Based Violence (GBV)
The media is awash with headlines such as “Jealous husband kills Wife,” “Jealous Wife stabs husband’s lover,” etc.
Unhealthy jealousy is such a dangerous emotion. One jealous man is reported to have killed his wife for giving another man an empty five litre container to use as a ‘chamber’.
Other jealous husbands and wives demand to know everything their spouse is doing, day and night.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to reassure her of my love, and that is negatively affecting our marriage,” one man said on account of anonymity.
“I always feel like she watches everything I do and I feel I cannot even breathe without feeling like I owe her an explanation. This kind of behaviour is killing my love for her,” he said.
One wife said: “He beats me even when he finds me talking on the phone and accuses me of having illicit affairs.”
Some husbands and wives complained that their spouses  insist on knowing where they are at all times and become jealous or angry if they see or hear that they talked to other women or men, respectively .
These spouses get extremely jealous whenever their partners look at or interact with the opposite sex. They habour feelings of possessiveness and mistrust.

If left unattended to, this jealousy has the ability to jeopardise a marriage relationship.
An insecure partner can be intrusive, invasive, irritating, and annoying. Some spouses have been known to follow around their partners like private investigators.
Others cannot wait for their spouses to doze or sleep before they grab their phones or laptops to go through their SMSes, call lists, read their emails and texts, and immediately after lash out at them with anger during the jealous spells.
As stated above, living with an overly jealous marriage partner can be extremely difficult. Many stories of over-jealous spouses remain untold.
According to the relationship experts, jealousy arises when you are fearful of losing a relationship you value.
It is among the most human of all emotions, yet it can destroy the foundation on which healthy connections are formed. It often results in worries and mistrust, even neurotic behaviours like GBV.
Jealousy strikes both men and women with equal fury, cuts across cultures and, unfortunately, does not seem to reduce with age.
Jealousy can eat away at happiness in the home. An irrational fear that your spouse is cheating can drive one to the brink of madness.
It ignites the ‘fire’ within many husbands and wives and many couples suffer with the question of whether the other person is better than them.
Jealousy has ruined many homes as many spouses allow their jealous nature to get the better of them, even spoiling the most romantic outings for many couples.
Experts advise couples to beware of unhealthy jealousy as it is an uncontrollable emotion and once it takes hold, there is no knowing where it might stop.
Once a spouse feels their partner’s attention is slipping away, they begin to feel jealousy and start searching their wallets, purses, handbags, scrolling through their phones the minute they leave the room, worrying about someone taking their place.
These partners will welcome you home when you arrive and greet you with a big hug but meanwhile their eyes and full attention are fixed on your phone, your suitcase, handbag or purse.
The minute you leave these items unattended, they will ransack them looking for evidence of mischief to satisfy their suspicions.
Before you know it the person who was welcoming you with a big smile and that hug is tearfully asking you to explain this and that thing they have discovered from your trip.
Only after the explanation does relief come back in the home and this is usually replaced by immediate regret. In such cases, husbands turn cold towards their suspicious wives and most of them confess of being sick and tired of their wives’ constant jealousies and unfounded suspicions.
Wives on the other hand, however, continue to crave for continual reassurance of love from their husbands.
In the beginning a simple denial could lay fears to rest, but as time goes on a jealous partner will require prolonged and heartfelt protests and reassurance that their partner had not betrayed them with another person.
The continued occurrence of such behaviour tends to increase or they wedge war or distance between a couple.
It is true that some suspicions are just in one’s head. Usually what starts as just a  gentle tease of whether the husband noticed the lady who just passed or whether the wife noticed the gentleman in the other car, grows into something to argue about, straining the mood between a couple irrespective of how happy they are at that time.
Unhealthy spouse insecurities destroy relationships, changing partners from an outgoing person to someone policed and less sociable.
Many husbands and wives are pushed away for good by their own partners’ insecurities and jealousies.
Many other partners are suffering silently in their “private hell” because of being overly jealousy.
It is important for spouses to learn to restrain themselves especially when it comes to unfounded suspicions of their partners whenever they feel the familiar pangs of jealousy.
Beware of the instinct to check your partner’s phone, wallet, purse or handbag. Do not check for stray hairs or dropped earrings that do not belong to you whenever you get home.
When the urge to confront and accuse surfaces, keep yourself busy with house chores or office work.
Usually, somehow an explanation for any suspicions will usually present itself without you having to say it.
Avoid grilling your partner each time they return home.
It is true that some of the jealousy is justified because of the once or continuously broken trust by a once trusted partner, but some of this behaviour is inherited or learnt from parents or close relatives and friends.
When jealousy becomes unhealthy it is destructive and frustrating to contend with. Love is not jealous and possessive. True love enables you to aim for what is best for the other person – not what is best for you.
As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,  love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Other experts advise as follows:
Wives: Trust your husband’s instincts. He knows how men think, what they want and how they pursue it.  So, it would be unwise of you not to heed his warning.
Men: Trust your wife’s instincts. If she suggests that another woman is being mischievous your wife is probably right. Most women have radar, an innate alertness to non-verbal communication and an ability to translate body language and tone into emotional facts.
Your wife probably is able to see these things clearly, so do not criticise or blame her warnings on insecurity.

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