Dealing with a jealous partner
Now that we've seen why your partner might be feeling jealous, together let's try and keep that green-eyed monster at bay in the future.
Just before you read on... I want to be sure that you are safe and that your partner isn't abusing you. If he or she is abusing you (yes, there are women who are abusive, though the majority of perpetrators are men), then you need to get help!
What can you do to help your partner deal with their jealousy?
You cannot change your partner or spouse. You cannot heal them, you cannot stop them feeling jealous.
Jealousy is a complicated emotion, often stemming from past hurts and feelings of scarcity. It may be that there was little love going around in their family, but it can also be that they were spoiled and have been left with an unfortunate sense of entitlement. It's only the sufferer who ultimately can overcome their resentments.
If your partner has a fragile sense of self, they are ultimately responsible for building up their inner strength. You can't be your partner’s only source of external validation and appreciation. You cannot 'make' them feel better - the effect of your reassurance will be short-lived and counterproductive in the longer run. Only their own efforts will lead to solid results.
However, if their jealousy is in part due to your infidelity, then of course you need to claim responsibility for part of the fall-out and help them get over the betrayal.
Have you broken your partner's trust?
If you've broken your partner's trust - in whatever way - keep the following in mind:
- Trust can be won back, but it takes time and effort on the part of the one who broke the trust to help mend what was broken. Is that you?
- There will be days when it seems the worst is over, but there will also be times that the pain is a little more acute. During those times, your partner will appreciate the warmth of your presence and your reassurance.
- Yes, it may feel like you're going through hell while the healing stage is happening, but it won’t last forever. Be patient. The best times might still be ahead of you!
- Your partner clearly cares deeply about you. That’s why he/she is still with you even if you hurt him/her. That should say a lot about your partner’s strength of character and commitment to love you even in the face of difficulty.
Again, staying in the relationship is a choice that you and your partner will have to make. Studies show that couples (especially married ones) who survive an ‘affair’ end up stronger after the test to their relationship, as explained in this video. If you are one of those couples there can be a light at the end of the tunnel, and I sincerely hope that you'll be able to work things out.
Read on to learn what else you can do to help your partner cope with feelings of jealousy..
Loving, yet being able to let go, requires a strong sense of self.
10 ways to help your partner deal with feelings of jealousy
- Accept their jealousy if you have been unfaithful in the past. They'll still be on the look out for signs of infidelity long after your misdemeanour. Heterosexual men in particular feel far more threatened by sexual infidelity as opposed to emotional infidelity. Heterosexual women are more likely to be perturbed by emotional infidelity. There's little difference between the two in bisexual men and women and gay men and lesbian women*.
- Suggest they seek help. Having to rely on keeping you 'chained' just to get a sense of peace and security is not healthy for anyone. Your suggestion will most likely be rejected. However, you may over time make some inroads if it's suggested in a non-accusatory manner and not as a 'punishment' or when you're angry. Don't force the issue - allow them to make the choice in their own time.
- Avoid trying to deliberately hurt him or her just to get your own back. Consider your partner’s feelings. Reverse roles in your mind - if you disapprove or are uncomfortable with something that your partner does, then ask yourself if it is reasonable that you do it.
- Reassure gently but firmly - no lengthy defensive explanations. A short clear statement should suffice. I understand totally if you get a little exasperated at times but a little love goes a long way.
- Hold on to your boundaries, values and beliefs in your attempts to reassure your partner.
- Mention in conversation with others your partner’s good qualities. Never let them down in the company of other people. If there are opportunities, do it in front of them so that they will know just how much you value them.
- Appreciate the little things as well as those aspects of your relationship that are really important to you. In other words - don't forget to count your blessings.
- Write a gratitude list of elements in your relationship that are priceless, and your partner's characteristics that mean the most to you - as it's all too easy to become overwhelmed by the problems. Make sure to communicate your appreciation to your partner twice as much as you communicate your complaints.
- Be honest, transparent and upfront if you feel that your relationship is no longer your number one priority - for whatever reason - rather than feeding into your partner's jealous nature by withdrawing and being illusive. Give your partner - and yourself - an opportunity to work things out.
- Do not bother with any of these points if you are in an abusive relationship. Seek help yourself.
I sincerely hope that this article has given you hope, and some strategies to help you overcome your difficulties right now :-)
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Chapman University. "Research on jealousy: Impact of sexual vs. emotional infidelity." ScienceDaily, 7 January 2015.
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