Copyright © 2011 by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D. and
Permission to reprint this article is granted if it includes this entire
copyright and link.
I've had some good questions on my website regarding handling a partner's irrational jealousy.
The reason I wrote the article
What to Do When
Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage
for the individual with the problem jealousy is because until that person decides to make changes
nothing can be done to eliminate their jealousy. That article has been very popular and many
people have indicated to me that they are trying to change their behavior after reading it.
However, there are many other people who are not recognizing their jealous behavior and so their
partners are writing to me asking what to do.
WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO RISK TO STOP THE IRRATIONAL JEALOUSY?
Just because the person with the jealousy problem is the only one who can change it doesn't mean
that there is nothing that you, as the partner, can do about your partner's jealousy. However,
the steps you can take may be very challenging and don't come without risk. If you truly want
a chance for your partner to change, the best place to start is with yourself. By changing how
you respond to your partner's jealousy you will develop a greater understanding of how difficult
it is to make changes. This increases your empathy for your partner especially if he/she is
trying to make changes. However, it may also make you less tolerant of someone refusing to
recognize their problem or do anything about it. This could be a healthy thing for you because
you are less likely to remain in a destructive relationship.
Usually jealousy is a problem for the non-jealous partner when the behavior gets out of control.
The jealous individual may engage in excessive questioning, make accusations, seek excessive
reassurance, and may even control their partner's activities. Of course, no matter how much
reassurance is given, faithfulness can never be proven, only disproved. So the jealous
person's behavior continues and tends to escalate. The first thing that the recipient of
this behavior needs to recognize is that the behavior is controlling and abusive. However,
sometimes the recipient of the jealous behavior believes that it just shows that his/her
partner is deeply in love. Jealousy is not a sign of love, it is a sign of insecurity. Love
is not controlling. When we love someone we allow them to grow independently of us because
by doing so they are with us by choice, not by demand.
The main risk of trying to do something about your partner's jealousy is that you may have
to risk the relationship itself. Before you go any further, you must ask yourself, "Why am
I willing to take this kind of abuse? Do I deserve to be treated this way?" Just as the
person who is jealous has a problem with self-esteem, if you are willing to tolerate this
type of relationship, it indicates that you have a problem with self-esteem. Another
question you need to ask yourself is, "Am I willing to risk everything in order to try
and improve my relationship?" The answer to this question needs to be "Yes." If it is
not, there is no need to read any further.
READ MORE: page 2