Previously, I presented a type of jealousy that I called relational jealousy.
I defined this form of jealousy as the experience of feeling insecure and panicky because we believe our relationship is being threatened or we think we cannot trust our partner.
What causes some of us to be more jealous than other people? One answer might be, many of us grew up in homes where the father cheated and left our mother.
The message we heard early on was, 'You can't trust men.' (or 'You can't trust women.') This becomes what I call a core belief that we keep alive in marrying persons who cheat or if we marry someone who is loyal, we become so suspicious that we see things that may not even be there.
What finally happens is our jealousy kills the marriage. When the marriage dissolves, we can say with confidence, 'I knew it. You cannot trust men.' The question we need to address is, 'What beliefs am I reinforcing by my behavior and expectations?' We often keep our beliefs alive by faulty preconceived notions or in the relationships we choose. It has been said that we get into relationships to heal childhood wounds so we do not marry anyone by accident.
In some relationships the source of our jealousy may not be our partner as much as it is our own baggage: our insecurities, our core beliefs, our wounds or low self-esteem.
All of this reminds me of a story about a man who was riding along one evening in his car. He was traveling on a lonely country road when suddenly, he heard a bang. It was obvious from the thumping of the tire that he had a flat. When he opened the trunk of his car, he discovered to his horror, that he did not have a jack. He looked around to see if there was a home nearby. Luckily, he saw the light from a nearby farmhouse.
As he climbed the fence, he began talking to himself, 'If I knock on their door at this time of the night, they will be upset and won't want to loan me a jack.' He kept walking and talking to himself. As he got closer to the house, he said to himself, 'They won't loan their jack to a complete stranger.' He knocked on the door and when the farmer opened, the man said, 'You can keep your old jack for all I care.' And he walked away in a huff!
The question that needs to be addressed is, 'How do I know when the mistrust of my partner is legitimate and not a projection of my insecurities, my baggage and unhealthy core beliefs? It is an important question to answer because jealousy can kill our relationships.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700