WE’VE ALL KNOWN JEALOUSY AT SOME TIME; IT’S NORMAL BUT THAT SURE DOESN’T MEAN IT’S HEALTHY OR FUN.
“Jealousy is delightful during courtship, practically essential to the first year of marriage, but after that, Chinese torture.”
When we first meet someone we like, or for sure like for right now, our hearts and minds begin to flutter with excitement and anticipation. The new-car smell tells us we want this person, and although many of us can’t decide what we want for our next meal, this person must be our main course. Needless to say, we may do things or act a certain way, driven by the chemicals and agents of love, that our bodies produce what can border on unlawful possession, obsession, and kidnapping.
Bottom line — jealously comes to visit disguised as a play date, and we dance with it. It’s actually cute and funny when it first shows up. One or both parties experience it as a sign that points the way to opportunity rather than keep out! We can joke about it with our friends, our family, even our new partner. Jealousy at this stage is like a cute little kid with dimples. We all can’t help but say, “Aw, so cute!”
Provided that the relationship moves beyond the honeymoon phase and begins to take shape and form as “a keeper,” jealously continues to play a part in the early foundation of most relationships. Much like a cat or dog may mark its territory with pee or excrement, humans do it with interrogation and accusation, a mental and emotional form of crap. “Why do you need to still talk to your ex-girlfriend?” “You were totally checking her out — don’t lie to me!”
Although we work through this as part of the rocky road to intimacy and Trust Mountain, both parties have officially moved from “so cute” to heavy sighing. It’s the equivalent of lifting heavier weights at the gym: It hurts, but it’s the only way you can get to the next level.
Jealousy can either help or hinder the growth of your relationship
Once couples break through the one-year mark, the roots of behavior, and what’s acceptable are pretty grounded. That doesn’t mean these roots are the healthiest and most vibrant. In fact, many of them can and will be easily uprooted and will disintegrate over time. What started as “so cute” became heavy sighing, and now we enter the land of “You’re crazy.” This is where fights can erupt in a flash, last for days, and the pool of anger and resentment begins to overflow. Jealously beats you up if it continues and beats down your partner. It becomes more and more evident that boundaries were never set from day one yet expectations are firmly in place. “I would never do that to you.” “What kind of person would say something like that?” “I can’t believe you’re still jealous of him [or her]!” Then the ultimate statement of logic falls on deaf ears: “If I wanted to be with him [or her], I would!”
Jealously that isn’t about growing pains will eventually stunt the growth of the relationship. Many will stay and battle it out; yet unfortunately, there are no winners in that game. And beyond just the two people directly involved, if there are any kids, they are the real losers. You’ve basically agreed to deliver them the relationship model that says, “This is as good as it can get.”
Long-term jealously is a sign that you and your partner need support. First as individuals and then as it relates to you being a couple. Both parties need to declare their own issues and take on the responsibility to clean up their side of the fence.