3 ways to cope with a jealous spouse in a calm and rational manner.
Felicia cannot believe that her husband went through her cell phone records. Last night, he met her at the door with her cell phone (she'd forgotten it at home) and an angry look on his face.
Felicia's husband, Rick, was particularly upset about the frequent calls and texts that she exchanges with a guy she's been friends with since college. She and this male friend have remained close all of these years. Rick has known about her male friend and he's never made a big deal about their friendship before.
Before now, that is...
When you live with a jealous spouse, life can be frustrating and exasperating. You may feel that your partner's jealousy gets in the way time and time again. What can be done when it's your partner who seems to be frequently controlled by jealousy?
Contrary to popular belief, there's actually a lot that you can do. The one thing you cannot do is "solve" your mate's jealousy problem for him or her. As much as you'd like to force your partner to just "get over being jealous," this is nearly impossible.
However, you can set boundaries with your spouse that will support his or her efforts to overcome jealousy. These boundaries can also help you two to move closer together again.
Here are three useful tips for setting boundaries with your jealous spouse:
1. Set boundaries with an awareness of your own tendencies. You know best if you truly are innocent in this situation. Be very honest with yourself and own up to it if you are behaving in ways that could be triggering jealousy in your partner and undermining trust in your marriage.
This isn't about you "taking the blame." Instead, this is about you recognizing any tendencies that you have that might be playing a role in the tension and conflict that's present in your marriage. Do you like to flirt with others? As harmless and innocent as your motives may be to you, it's probable that your mate does not see this as harmless or innocent.
Do you appreciate looking at and maybe commenting on attractive people's bodies? You may know that you're only looking, but your partner does not know this. When you look "too long" or "too longingly" at others, it can most certainly lead to jealousy and insecurity within your mate.
You may not even be aware of all of the ways that you are contributing to the jealousy. Take some time to really evaluate your habits and see if there are ways you might be fueling jealousy in your mate without meaning to.
Felicia can see that, to Rick, her friendship with her college buddy might appear to be more than it really is. She admits to herself that she tends to turn to her male friend first with requests for advice and a shoulder to cry on.
She acknowledges to herself that she does call him every day, sometimes twice a day. She loves Rick deeply, but for some reason, she feels a level of connection with her friend that is lacking with Rick.
2. Set boundaries with love and kindness. Now that Felicia can see her own role in the distance and jealousy, she returns to her dilemma. She feels like Rick invaded her privacy by checking her cell phone records and she is angry about it. She suspects that he has also looked at the e-mails in her personal account too.
Felicia wants to set a boundary with Rick even after admitting to him that she is partly responsible for the conflict in their marriage right now. The first thing that Felicia does is to go for a walk at a nearby park. She feels clearer and calmer after exercising in the fresh air. When she does sit down with Rick, she says this to him:
"I felt like my privacy was violated when you looked at my cell phone records without my permission. I am angry and do not like to be wrongly accused. I admit that there are times when I turn to my friend before I turn to you. I would like to talk with you about how we can both rebuild trust and start to reconnect. I will answer any questions that you have for me and I do not give you permission to ever access my phone records again."
You can set boundaries with your jealous partner with love and kindness. Come to the discussion as calm as you can. Be clear about what you will do and what you won't do. Remember to speak from your own vantage point instead of assuming what your partner wants or how he or she feels.
3. Set boundaries knowing that you cannot "fix" your partner's jealousy for him or her. As we said above, your partner's jealousy is not something you can "fix" or "solve" for him or her. You can be honest about how it feels to be wrongly accused. You can be open about how much you'd like the two of you to communicate without arguing.
You can let your spouse know that you are willing to support his or her efforts to overcome jealousy in specific ways. These ways shouldn't include you taking the sole "blame" or you giving in to whatever your partner wants just to avoid a fight.
Let your mate know that you are taking ownership for your role in the disconnection between you two. You can also let your spouse know that you want to work as a team as he or she faces the jealousy and begins to let it go.