What do you do if you’re sick of always being a jealous wife?
It’s Wednesday, the day when we always talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own marriage posts at the linky below. I’ve had two questions come into the blog lately about jealousy in marriage, and today I thought I’d take a stab at them.
One reader writes:
I have a wonderful husband, but lately I have been having issues with insecurity. We have been married for 4 years now, but recently since having our second child I’ve been obsessed with thinking that my husband wants someone better than me. I have been monitoring his phone, social media, etc. even though I know that he is doing nothing wrong. I get mad when I see other woman have called or messaged him, even if he ignored them or if it was purely business related. I feel like he is looking at other woman when I’m not around, or fantasizing about ex’s. I have voiced my insecurities to him several times and he just laughs it off, telling me that I am being ridiculous and to think logically. I know he is right, but I can’t stop these feelings.
Another reader writes:
I love my husband. We recently had a deep conversation about his ex. They didn’t really break up. She called him one day and wanted to go to the movie with him and he never told her he was married now. I took it upon myself to declare that we were. I wonder if he loves her more than me. They share common hobbies and we don’t have anything in common. I want to be the only one that has his heart and I don’t want her to have not even a piece of it. I just want him to let her go.
Great questions! And let’s take a look at this insidious little thing called jealousy–and figure out how we can stop ourselves from feeling like jealous wives.
Jealousy Truth #1: There Are Only Two Reasons for Jealousy–You or Him
There really are only two roots to jealousy: either he’s doing something wrong and you’re picking up on it, or there’s a deep insecurity inside of you and you’re projecting it on to him.
You need to figure out which one it is!
Let’s take these two letter writers at face value, and assume there’s nothing else going on behind the surface. It seems that with Letter #1, the problem really is with the wife, not with the husband. With Letter #2, though, the husband really is acting inappropriately.
I’ve already written a longer post on jealousy in marriage, on what to do if you’re specifically jealous of a woman your husband works with. That’s got lots of tips to work through a specific situation, and I recommend that you read it if that’s what you’re going through!
I don’t want to repeat that post today, so I want to look at some big picture issues about jealousy that can stop you from always feeling like a jealous wife.
Jealousy Truth #2: You Have the Right to Be Your Husband’s Sole Object of Love and Admiration
When you married, you did so “forsaking all others”. That’s what marriage is–it says that from now on, you are the only one who gets my love.
You are not wrong for wanting your husband to love you and you only.
Often what happens is that a husband starts a relationship that he says is perfectly platonic and doesn’t mean anything–because he loves you and only you. But it’s still inappropriate. In the second letter writer’s case, it is totally inappropriate for him to continue to see his ex-girlfriend, especially if he hasn’t told his ex-girlfriend he’s married. It doesn’t matter if he says to his wife, “Stop being so jealous! We’re not doing anything.” For a husband to spend one on one time with someone else, or to constantly text or communicate with another woman, is to violate something important.
Even if he tries to turn it back on you and say, “it’s your fault for being so paranoid”, you have the right to feel like his only object of affection.
So set some firm boundaries about what is and isn’t okay for both of you to do with members of the other sex. Talk about it. If he won’t agree, then it’s likely time to bring in a mentor couple or see a counselor. Spending a lot of one on one time outside of marriage, even if they say there’s nothing physical going on, is really dangerous.
Jealousy Truth #3: Often We Pick Up on Things Before We Can Prove Them
Here’s the other tricky thing about jealousy in marriage: often we know something is wrong before we can put our finger on what it is.
A wife may have gone through ten years of marriage without feeling jealous at all, but then suddenly she finds that she has this compulsion to always check his phone, or to call him at work to see if he’s really where he says he is.
If jealous feelings start out of the blue, when they weren’t part of your marriage before, it may be that you’re picking up on something that’s wrong.
So what do you do?
Find a mentor you can talk to and bounce things off of. Find someone who will pray with you and will help you sort out your feelings–whether they stem from something he is doing or something in your own heart. And finally, you may need to see a counselor together.
The key is to figure out WHY you’re feeling something is off. Is it that your sex life has suddenly dulled? Does he stop looking you in the eye? Is it that he doesn’t want to spend time with you anymore? That is the place to start the conversation.
Sometimes we don’t want to start that conversation because we don’t want our worst fears realized. While we hate being jealous, the thought of actually knowing something is wrong and having to deal with it is overwhelming. But you can’t get your marriage back by wishful thinking. God works in Truth; when things are brought to light, then He is able to deal with them. When we keep things hidden, all we’re doing is preserving the shell of the marriage while burying the authentic relationship deeper and deeper.
Talk about it. I know it’s scary, but it’s the only way.
Jealousy Truth #4: No One Else Can Fill a Void in Your Own Heart
And now, the other side: sometimes we feel like there’s something going on and there really isn’t. It truly is just a problem with ourselves. That’s what our first letter writer seems to be going through. She’s had two kids, and she likely has some body issues now. She feels like she’s a boring mom, and she worries that she’s not exciting anymore.
But if you’re feeling insecure in yourself, there’s often very little your husband can do about that. You need to base your worth in God, not in anything else.
Talk to your husband and say, “I know I’m really struggling. I’m feeling so down on myself and so I’m snapping at you and accusing you of things you wouldn’t do because I don’t know why you’d choose me. Can you pray for me? Can you be patient with me as I try to figure this out?”
And then find someone else to pray with, or find a counselor to talk to, who can let you know that you are worth something. You are precious. You are a great mom, and you are a great wife, and you’re married to a great guy. And nothing can change that.
Jealousy Truth #5: God Doesn’t Want You Burdened with Jealousy
One more thing, that I so want you all to understand.
I have known women who think that jealousy is normal. They’ve grown up seeing men cheat on women, or seeing men walk out, and so they’ve never learned how to trust. To them, it’s normal to have insecurities.
God never intended us to be jealous in marriage.
Truly, let that sink in.
It is not normal to watch where your husband’s eyes are going all the time to see if he’s checking out other women.
It is not normal to have a compulsion to check his phone whenever he’s not in the room.
It is not normal to question him when he comes home about what the women look like at his workplace.
None of this is normal.
Some of it may be very smart to do if you have reason to be jealous. But none of it is normal.
So if you are doing these things, it needs to stop. You need to figure out what the root of the problem is so that you can get past it and you don’t need to live with this burden anymore.
That is too heavy a burden to carry.
So go back to point #1, and ask yourself: is the problem with me or with him? If it’s with him, confront him. If it’s with you, then start running to Jesus to work on your self-worth.
But please know: you aren’t supposed to carry this. Jealousy is caused either by someone else sinning or by brokenness in yourself. God wants to heal both of those scenarios. He doesn’t want you living in this icky place.
So don’t be scared. Walk through the fear. God can carry you, no matter what you find out. And then, on the other side, you can finally have that authentic relationship you really want. You can stop being a jealous wife, and start being a thriving wife!