Reason #2: We Get Jealous Because We Fear Losing Them
“There he goes staring at my cute friend again.”
“She puts everything she’s got into the kids and doesn’t have any time left for me.”
“He leaves early and gets home late. He’d much rather be at work than with me.”
“She spends all her time chatting with her friends on Facebook.”
How often do you get jealous of your spouse? – jealous of how they spend their time and energy and attention, that is. When we get jealous, we get angry. Sometimes the anger is expressed outwardly and loudly—sometimes it smolders quietly inside. Either way, it is destructive.
Early in our marriage Bob volunteered with political campaigns. I came along as support staff, but politics is more Bob’s interest than mine. Political campaigns can be all-consuming—mid-week strategy meetings, constituent phone calls, Saturday precinct walks. Every step of the campaign was urgent, and I wasn’t. Even Friday night dates went by the wayside. I was jealous of the time Bob was spending and angry about taking a back seat.
What do you do when you’re jealous? I began pulling in. Subconsciously I figured that if I didn’t care as much about our relationship—if I didn’t give as much to it—then I wouldn’t be as hurt. Pulling inward and away from the relationship is a form of self-protection.
As with hiding my share of the goods in order to protect my interests and compensate for my spouse’s selfishness, this method does not help your marriage in the long run. (See last week’s article: “Why We Get Angry with Our Spouse: Reason #1: They are Selfish”)
Instead, consider a more productive course of action.
Do not assume your spouse knows he or she is offending you.
When Bob gets involved in a project, he throws himself into it. He does not do this for the purpose of slighting me. If I choose to hold my feelings in and not express that I’m feeling hurt, there is a good chance he may not notice—unless I really start giving him the cold shoulder. And that’s not what we’re aiming at, is it? What we’re aiming at is harmony and two happy spouses. A better solution is to tell him, “I know this project is important to you right now, but I’m feeling lost in the shuffle. I miss you. How can I reclaim a little bit of your time?” Clearly and nicely put the issue on the table.
Offer a solution.
Don’t just complain. Be ready with some well-thought-out ideas. “If we can go on a long walk on Sunday afternoons, I believe I can forego our weekly date night until you finish this project.” If that doesn’t work, offer another solution: “How about if I work with you for a few hours and then we catch dinner and a movie?”
Forgive the offense.
Even if your solutions are not accepted, going around with a chip on your shoulder will not improve the situation. Ask God to help you see and feel the situation from your spouse’s point of view. Ask Him to help you forgive your spouse. I Peter 4:8 tells us, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” One thing that helps me is to remember that God wants a close relationship with me—and often, I slight Him. He keeps on loving me anyway. Ask God to show you how to love your spouse anyway.
Do you sometimes feel jealous of your mate’s time, energy, and attention? Talk about it. Actively seek a solution. Forgive their inattentiveness. Over the next three weeks we will look at three more reasons we get angry at our spouse.
This article was first published on The Marriage Dance blog on November 17, 2016.