If you’ve ever been in love, odds are good that you’ve come face to face with the green-eyed monster that is jealousy. Managing that monster, at its worst, can leave you drained of self esteem and feeling defeated. Being rooted in insecurity and fear of losing the object of our affection, jealousy is as common as love itself. They are not independent of each other. Some disagree and insist that jealousy isn’t a companion of love, but love isn’t open to negotiation. If you find someone worthy of loving, it goes without saying that you’re likely not willing to share him/her with passers-by. When that union is threatened by an outsider, we find ourselves in a wrestling ring opposite the snarling, green-eyed monster. What are we fighting for? Title of sole ownership of our self-esteem.
A modest amount of jealousy can be a good thing for the relationship, giving both parties small bursts of confidence. We notice others checking out our spouse, and we feel a sense of pride. After all, we like to be reminded of our great taste in the opposite sex. And if there’s one thing human nature revels in, it’s to be envied. This envy is a boost to our ego and can serve as an aphrodisiac — a reminder to enjoy him/her because others would easily be interested in the event that we’re not. Getting the lusty once-over is also favorable to the ego of the person getting checked out. After being married for a while, we sometimes forget that we might be appealing to anyone other than our spouse. “Sex appeal? ME?” Getting the “eye” from a stranger makes us feel rejuvenated and more desirable for our spouses. Attention men: a boost to a woman’s ego will usually lure her “mood” out of hiding. Her perception of her physical self is directly correlated with her sexual desire. So, the better she feels, the better you feel. 😉 These minor encounters with jealousy serve us well and keep us on our toes. Enjoy them while you can. Much like our youthful, pre-grey hairs, they enjoy a good game of hide and seek with age. Indulge when you’re lucky enough to find one.
We may also feel a sting of jealousy when observing our spouse checking out another person. While this can be uncomfortable, it’s also a very normal human behavior — whether by male, female, attached, or unattached. This unavoidable occurrence is an indication of a healthy sex drive. We shouldn’t feel threatened by it — just accept it for what it is — human nature. Don’t give it more attention than it deserves. If we’re honest, we’ll catch ourselves participating in a little eye wandering from time to time as well. This should remind us of its meaningless innocence. Of course, there’s a difference in “noticing” members of the opposite sex and “ogling” them. Viewer discretion advised.
Then there are the more dangerous offenders — those that just tick us off. This is the battlefield where innocent flirtation and imminent danger collide. We feel relatively safe with a flirty glance because we recognize it as a minor, non-threatening caution flag (existing to keep us both alert, therefore out of a rut). But once our comfort line has been crossed, we feel impending threat. The caution flag has now been replaced with a road block, which has the ability to derail our relationship. So, where exactly is that line? How do we stay on our toes without being knocked down?
The point at which our “line” has been crossed will vary from person to person. For the vast majority of us, that line is crossed when a member of the opposite sex attempts to get together with our spouse without us – whether it be by phone, email, or lunch. This “getting together” alone will trigger suspicion and fear in us. We will begin to imagine the worst case scenario and view our relationship as under attack. We become angry, defensive, and insecure: three emotions that represent poison daggers to the heart of our marriage. Of course, for destruction of the relationship to ensue, our partner must reciprocate the advances made. If this happens, there is something more going on — or not going on — in our relationship. We should then evaluate and try to find what’s missing. Whether the fear of infidelity is valid or not, failure to resolve excessive jealousy could prove fatal.
While a quick visit from the jealousy monster is beneficial, we want to avoid him moving in at all costs. We should enjoy the small boosts to the ego, as we could all use them from time to time. Jealousy in small doses is our ally — jealousy overdose… our mortal enemy. If we keep the lines of communication open in our relationship and maintain the emotional connection, we should be properly prepared when our line becomes breached and the green-eyed monster knocks at our door with his bags packed.