Can jealousy be a good thing? Is jealousy in a marital relationship healthy? It is understandable that these questions readily spring to your mind when reading the title of this article. Jealousy is one of those words that automatically give off a negative connotation, and one can easily assume that it is always bad. There is certainly enough evidence and experience to back up the negative and unhealthy side of jealousy which definitely can wreak havoc in any relationship. However, not too much is said about the healthy side of jealousy. So lets’ take some time to explore this interesting aspect of healthy jealousy in marriage.
What is the difference between healthy and unhealthy jealousy?
This is a very important question and a good starting point for our discussion. Although at first glance it may be difficult to distinguish between the two, when you take a closer look you will find that healthy and unhealthy jealousy differ fundamentally as follows:
- Healthy Jealousy:
This is when there is a deep and sincere commitment to the relationship and any outside threat is met with healthy jealousy as a means of safeguarding the marriage.
- Unhealthy Jealousy:
This usually stems from insecurity and is characterized by threats and lies as well as feelings of inferiority and self-pity.
Is it normal to feel jealous?
Studies have shown that most marriage counselors would attest to the fact that approximately one third of marriage problems involve some form of jealousy. Indeed, jealousy is a very normal human emotion which tends to surface sooner or later in every marriage.
What does healthy jealousy indicate in a marriage?
When there is healthy jealousy between a loving couple it is often a good sign which indicates at least four things:
Twinges of jealousy shows that they are committed to each other and to their relationship – that is why they care if a third party begins edging between them and affecting the closeness that they had been enjoying.
Jealousy is an indication that there is a valuable accountability structure in place. If one spouse goes off and starts behaving inappropriately with others they will soon start to feel the jealous vibes from their husband or wife letting them know that they are out of line.
The value of healthy jealousy is that it forms a protective layer around the marriage relationship, safeguarding each other’s hearts.
When the warning bells of healthy jealousy begin to ring, the threats or potential threats to the marriage can be confronted and effectively dealt with before the marriage is harmed.
What are some causes of jealousy?
The causes of jealousy in a relationship can be as many and as varied as the individuals themselves and their differing circumstances. But generally speaking, here are five of the most common scenarios which usually tend to cause jealousy:
- Flirting or being flirted with:
Flirting is probably the number one cause of jealousy. Sometimes someone can start hitting on your spouse without warning and your spouse may not even be aware of what is happening. And then in the other case your spouse may be the one who gives off flirtatious signals to someone else. Either way it is a cause for healthy jealousy if you want to protect and preserve your marriage relationship.
- Making admiring comments about others:
If you or your spouse make admiring comments about others, especially about their physique or their physical appearance, it can be very hurtful and can cause undue jealousy in your relationship. It could make you feel like you are being unfavourably compared with someone that your spouse finds more attractive than you.
- Seeking the advice of others:
Perhaps your spouse is always discussing important matters and seeking advice from his or her family and friends without first talking it through with you. This can arouse negative emotions of jealousy and offense as you could feel slighted and overlooked. As the significant other you would rightly expect your thoughts, opinions and advice to be of primary importance and concern to your spouse.
- Spending excessive time with someone or something else:
It is not always that only other people can cause jealousy in your relationship. It may be your spouse’s work. Perhaps your spouse is very often away from home on business trips without you. If he or she is a workaholic and spends excessive time at the office, it is possible that sooner or later some jealousy may arise in your relationship.
- Putting others first:
If you have made plans to do something together, and then your spouse’s friend or family member phones with a request for help of some kind – then your spouse says, “Sure, no problem, I’ll be right over.” And off he goes, leaving you high and dry, because the needs of others always take precedence to your needs. This is indeed grave cause for jealousy in your marriage.
How can you make the most of jealousy in your marriage?
When the green-eyed monster of healthy jealousy raises its head in your marriage, what can you do about it in order to draw closer as a couple and not let it push you apart? Here are three tips for making the most of jealousy:
- Don’t ignore the red flags:
Choose to see your spouse’s jealousy as a warning flag of danger ahead. Instead of brushing his or her concerns aside, rather confront the issues and make appropriate changes that will protect your marriage against any cracks.
- Be honest with each other:
This is where you need to learn to trust each other’s instincts. If your spouse feels uncomfortable with the way someone else is relating to you, be willing to examine your reactions carefully and take action to reconnect with the one you chose to marry.
- Set healthy boundaries:
Every healthy marriage has boundaries, and these are worked out and mutually agreed upon by both of you. Some couples don’t mind a little casual flirting here and there, while others find that their jealousy levels will not tolerate any flirting outside of their relationship. In this way jealousy becomes an extremely useful tool for developing the healthy boundaries within which your marriage relationship can thrive.