I was invited to a party a couple of weeks ago while speaking in New Orleans. I didn’t know many of the guests, but since the party was celebrating a friend of mine I decided to attend. When I don’t know many people, I sit back and watch. I watch how couples interact, how they hold one another, and how they watch each other talk. It is amazing because, when I am watching, I see more than when I am in my office listening. I observe who they look at when they are speaking, and I watch how they react to each other when someone else is speaking. During my observing, a nice man came up to me and introduced himself. He was very soft spoken, polite, and engaging. His wife soon joined him along with another woman. I didn’t know any of them, so I left it to the man to introduce me as he knew everyone. He did not so I introduced myself to avoid the awkwardness I was feeling. The woman seemed to be set on embarrassing her husband in front of me and her friend. It seemed as though the husband and the woman’s friend had been through this routine before as they all knew what part to play. He apologized for “leaving her” at the party and then her friend just walked away. I don’t know what happened to the couple, (someone else came up to rescue me) but I do know that this woman was threatened about her husband talking to another woman, and she believed that there are women who want what she has.
Jealousy is something we aren’t comfortable admitting or feeling with our partner, but we all experience it at times. A small amount of jealousy may be part of a healthy relationship, and it may flatter your partner. When jealousy becomes frequent and takes on an assumption that your partner is always cheating or that someone is always after your man or woman, it turns into a pathology and can damage the relationship beyond repair. The wife mentioned above may have a good reason to doubt her husband; maybe he does have a tendency to seek out other women, and she may feel threatened. He may belittle her or be disrespectful. All I know for sure is that she was angry and used this moment to embarrass him. I also believe whatever she has done thus far about her jealousy is not working. Her husband knew the routine and so did her friend.
Most likely what is going on with this couple is something much deeper than jealousy, but if you find yourself identifying with the wife in this story there are things you can do to help curb your jealous outbreaks. Below are a few suggestions:
1. Look in the mirror and talk to your image. Ask yourself why you feel jealous? Unfortunately, when we feel jealous it usually is about devaluing ourselves. Try to identify what you don’t like about you and write it down. Evaluate this list. Is there anything on the list you can change? If you don’t like your hair color or your yellow teeth, these are things you can change.
2. Identify the “old tapes” in your head. For example, you may have grown up with a parent who told you that you were the smart one and your brother or sister was the “looker.” If you are still replaying that tape in your head, what purpose is it serving? If there are no other tapes, other than those making you feel bad about yourself, throw them away.
3. Talk to your partner and explain why you are so sensitive around certain people. Ask them to stay by your side if you are having one of these “sensitive times.” If it isn’t all of the time and happens only at certain parties, your partner will most likely try to work with you. If your partner seems totally insensitive to your requests then there may be a good reason you are feeling insecure and jealous of their attention.
4. The best way to curb jealousy is to remember all of your blessings and focus on them when you feel a wave of jealousy washing over you. It is difficult to be insecure or worried about losing someone we love when we are aware of all we have.
Jealousy or feeling insecure is part of being human. Being able to talk about it and admit it makes others open up to us more and feel less threatened around us. If you live in the mindset of jealousy you become bitter and caustic. No one wants to be around that, including your partner. Talking about your insecurities with your partner is all part of the beautiful dance of intimacy. Don’t wait for a party to act out what you failed to communicate. –Mary Jo Rapini
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