When tackling the issue of jealousy, Dr. Hirsch likes to start with some Eric Clapton lyrics: “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself!”
If you’re faced with a jealous husband or a jealous wife, you may be partially to blame. And if you are the one who is jealous, you should also examine your own culpability. Marriage problems are rarely ever a one sided affair. And they need to be solved together, too.
There are two situations where you might find yourself feeling jealous or have a jealous husband or jealous wife. If you are jealous, you are probably struggling with which one to believe: is there a real threat to your marriage, or are you just imagining and projecting things? This expert advice from Dr. Hirsch can help you decide and, most importantly, address the problem so you can repair your marriage in a positive and empowering way.
Case #1: The jealous spouse is picking up on clues to a real danger.
Example: Marcus’s husband Alison is working one-on-one on a tough work project with an attractive male colleague. They’ve been working late and getting drinks together after work. Marcus is feeling jealous and uncomfortable.
Should Marcus be worried that Alison is having an affair? It’s important to remember that full-blown affairs don’t happen all of a sudden. They grow over time. At the same time, Marcus’ feelings are very valid because they are warning signs of behavior that is threatening their marriage. Because of this he should speak up and address the problem now. Staying attuned to his early feelings of danger gives him the opportunity to address the issue before it actually leads to an infidelity.
If you are in Allison’s place, you might react to your husband’s jealousy by dismissing it. Of course you aren’t having an affair! How could he think that?? At the same time, remember that something you have been doing has been causing him distress and is already hurting your marriage. This alone indicates that you need to address the situation.
If you are jealous of your spouse, or have a jealous husband or jealous wife, here are some steps to take:
- Prepare for the conversation. Choose a time when you are both unstressed and rested. Also, make sure you have top-notch communication skills to handle this sensitive issue. You and your partner will want to remain as calm and positive as possible–this can be challenging with such an emotional subject. Try some PO2 activities to brush up on healthy dialogue skills.
- Approach the subject. This may be embarrassing or awkward, and at the same time, so important to work out. Stay open to your spouse’s opinions. Coming out of the discussion with a re-affirmed trust in each other’s fidelity is the goal.
- Set up an action plan so the situation doesn’t progress or recur. Also set up guidelines for what you consider appropriate behavior around members of the opposite sex. For example, Aliston might ask that Marcus not hang out with female coworkers one-on-one outside of work.
NOTE: If you find you cannot productively discuss the jealousy or come to a solution, you may want to try couples counseling or online marriage counseling with Power of Two. In addition, if you have a chronically jealous husband who tries to unreasonably restrict your activity and quality of life, you may want to check if his behavior falls under our reasons for divorce guidelines.