Green Eyed Jealousy Can Haunt Relationships
Written By: Mark Smith
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If depression is the common cold of mental health issues then chronic irrational jealousy would be like temporary insanity only a lot more prevalent. If you have a really jealous significant other you need to read every work of this column.
I got a long e-mail from a lady I'll call Sue from a distant city who explained that she and her husband basically had a great marriage except for one fly in the ointment issue that made things painful and irritating from time to time. She said that in her opinion her husband Dave tended to be a little too interested in eye balling other women. She said that this made her nuts. It is almost like she would become instantly drunk and full of rage. We set up a meeting time with Dave's attendance being in question due to his being uncomfortable with coming to therapy.
Poor Dave looked like he was in pure agony just sitting in the waiting room. I spent the first ten minutes trying to build some rapport with him. He thought that the meeting was going to be about shaming him over being some sort of sexual pervert. If he only knew how that meeting was going to go he would have dragged her to my office 20 years ago. Her story was that Dave rubbernecked every time a hottie walked by sporting thong underwear showing from under her pants. She told me that she once dumped a whole bag of leftovers all over Dave's brand new Harley due to a perceived indiscreet glance. Dave's story was that he was basically just a normal guy and that Sue had some sort of over reaction issue. She was armed by her pastor's proclamation that Dave had a sin issue that was provoking what he saw as some pretty normal reactions on her part. She clearly had an agenda that I join her in smacking Dave around.
While I already had a good idea of what was going on here I put off judgment until I conducted a full family back ground assessment. It turned out exactly as I had expected. Sue had been abandoned by her biological father when she was only 4 years old. Dave had grown up with a very volatile and critical mother. The pieces fit together like had and glove. Sue's over reactions regarding Dave's roving eyes were based in her childhood abandonment issues. Although she didn't know it, there was a primitive little girl fueling her reactive responses to these situations. Dave basically took Sue's abuse over these issues because he was used to being criticized by a very powerful figure who thought that she was always right.
So I went ahead and laid out the punch line for Sue - it really was mainly her issues. The first time I said it she didn't even flinch. She immediately denied the call. She wasn't budging an inch. She hadn't every run into anyone quite like me though. I came back at her with a much bigger stick. I spoke with a quiet confidence that was based in my actually being absolutely right about this issue. She squirmed a bit with my 2nd confrontation of her well built defenses. She was still offering some weakened defenses, but they were breaking down. I described the spiraling out of control nature of her jealousy issues with an accuracy that was both spooky and point on. Dave was no longer uncomfortable. He was quietly offering multiple affirming amens and an occasional high five. Sue's walls her melting before out eyes. After my 4th breech upon her defenses she broke down and began to weep. She cried her heart out. Her abandonment issues had been shielded from the light of day for 39 years so they were quite fragile and raw. To Sue I felt like her enemy but I was actually her very best friend. I was telling it to her straight and she needed the truth.
Therapy is about truth. If a therapist can put his or her finger upon the truth about your marriage and then articulate it in a kind, firm, strong and compassionate manner then the service that they are providing you is priceless. It could help get you unstuck. It could save your marriage. That check you write out to that guy is the best money that you'll ever spend.
Every situation is different. Many times spouses are jealous because the person they are married have cheated many times. That isn't what I'm talking about here. If you want to learn more we have several more articles about Abandonment Issues on our website at familytreecounseling.com. If you are haunted by an ongoing battle over jealousy issues it will be well worth it to visit a therapist's office soon. Let them help you figure out what is really going on. It would certainly beat continuing to suffer when ugly jealousy issues keep coming up and spoiling your relationship. You need help with this. Dave is thrilled and Sue now has an opportunity to address the root cause of her painful condition. It is all good. That's all for now. See you next week.
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