Listen to the entire blog article as an extended version on my podcast, or read part 2 below!
In part 1 of this blog, we met Jessica and Christopher who are struggling with jealousy in their relationship. What can they do to work through the emotions of jealousy and fear?
As a relationship moves through different stages, jealousy changes. During the earlier stages of a relationship, there is little investment, so jealousy is minimal. During the middle part of a relationship, like in Jessica and Christopher’s case, when the honeymoon period is over but they haven’t yet figured out as a couple how to move to a more mature love stage, jealousy is greater because they are invested in the relationship but there is also uncertainty. Once they have moved to the next stage and have learned to reassure each other of their commitment when fears and emotions are triggered, jealousy will naturally decrease.
We all have different ideas about what commitment means. If we believe that our partner is truly committed to us and the relationship, we are less likely to experience jealousy. Communication about what constitutes commitment helps us to understand our partner more.
It takes two to have jealousy problems. In order to build security and clear out jealousy there are some guidelines.
- Don’t provoke a jealous response in your partner by flirting with others or by keeping secrets from your partner. When you play jealousy games, you both lose because it increases the fear between you instead of building trust.
- Don’t check on or spy on your partner. It does not eliminate your uncertainty and worry. You can never be 100% certain what another person might do one day. Instead of being able to enjoy your love in the present moment, you live every day in the misery of jealousy and fear.
- Don’t get involved with somebody who is already attached to somebody else. You might think that you are sophisticated enough and can handle a triangle situation by compartmentalizing, but in my experience as a relationship coach, most of us have a hard time doing this in the long run. We are programmed by our biology to form exclusive attachments.
- If you are in a committed and exclusive relationship, reassure your partner of your commitment. Show empathy with their fear of loss and show them through gestures and words that they are the most important person to you. You might feel controlled or smothered by their jealousy, but retreating only increases their fear and creates a vicious cycle. If you can on the other hand take a step towards your partner and reassure her or him of your priorities, your love and your lasting commitment, you have changed the jealousy dance. What is good for your partner, is also good for you.
In our session, both Christopher and Jessica learned to understand what predisposed Jessica through her past history and the present situation to be jealous.
- Her father died when she was 8. She learned the belief that “people you love leave you”.
- Her mother remarried quickly and had two more children with her step-father. Jessica felt replaced.
- Her high school boyfriend cheated on her. She learned the belief that “men can’t be trusted to be faithful”.
- Christopher had expressed to Jessica that he does not want a fourth child because he already has three daughters. Even though Jessica never particularly wanted children, she has had second thoughts for a while. The bond Christopher has with his ex-wife through the children made Jessica feel excluded and short changed by life.
In several individual sessions with Jessica, she managed to clear out many of her limiting beliefs and fears. She also got to know the jealous part in her that was trying to protect her from getting hurt again. She connected with her younger selves which carried the pain of her past experiences to clear those burdens out. She became able to express her jealousy by speaking for that jealous part rather than going ballistic because she was being high-jacked by that part.
In further couples sessions, Christopher learned to do what felt counter intuitive to him. Instead of retreating when Jessica expresses jealousy, he learned to reassure her. He lets her know that she is still the most beautiful woman he knows even if he looks at other women. He also changed how he interacted with others: He is now merely friendly instead of flirting with other women. Most importantly, he was able to share with Jessica that he accommodates his ex-wife out of fear to see his daughters less. They managed to work out how they can show up as a team with his ex-spouse. Jessica’s doubts about children disappeared as her relationship with Christopher grew closer and as she felt more secure and safe.
To work through jealousy and other relationship issues,
please contact me for
individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.
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