Wikipedia states “Jealousy is an emotion, and the word typically refers to the thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection.”
Jealousy is often portrayed and viewed by our society as a positive expression of love. Let’s be honest, we all appreciate the protective nature of our significant other when someone is making unwanted advances; however, most of us also know how it feels to be falsely accused of purposefully trying to attract the attention of others.
An abuser is almost always unreasonably jealous.
My ex did not start off with jealousy. Of course, I did not have many male friends and associates while we were dating, I didn’t have time since every moment was spent with him. After we married, however, that began to change. I became a leader in our new church and part of my responsibilities included attending meetings. As a part of a married couple, we began making friends with couples and a few single men and women with whom I served. It was not long until he began to “wonder” what I was really doing when I had meetings to attend without him. Fortunately, I was never in a position to be alone with those men so no accusation could truly arise.
It continued to worsen, however. He started to comment that if I’d met one those gentlemen before we married, I might have chosen differently. He accused me of an attraction. Oddly, when I was hit on by a homeless guy on the street (regularly) my ex laughed it off as insignificant, even when he knew it greatly bothered me. He even accused me of an attraction to one of our married friends.
After we had our first child, and another move, his accusations increased in intensity and frequency. Suddenly, though I had fewer occasions to leave the house alone, I was suddenly under scrutiny more. When I encouraged him to join a group so he could pursue his passion, he asked why I wanted him out of the house so badly. When I arranged to go out for coffee with a female friend, he queried who I was really going to meet up with. Somehow, he came to the conclusion that I was having an affair. He even decided an old friend, married to another friend, was my lover.
When my sister died, I left town for three weeks to help sort out her affairs and he could only get one week off for the funeral. When I returned, we got pregnant immediately. This was the catalyst for him to start blatantly accuse me of an affair. Somehow he now had “proof” that I was unfaithful to him. He denied that we had sex on my return home, so therefore I must be pregnant by someone else. When our second child was two I finally told him that if his accusations continued, I would demand a DNA test. The outright accusations to me ceased, but he continued his insinuations that I had cheated on him. When I asked him to leave, the accusations flew that I was kicking him out because I had another man. He couldn’t fathom the concept that his own behaviour had consequences. In face, even now, separated for almost 7 years, he will continue to accuse me of cheating on him during our marriage, and of course of having partners since…. Not that those would be of any business of his now, even if they were true. Years later I realized that while we had been talking about a second child for a year, he had sabotaged our attempts and when we got pregnant it shouldn’t have been a good time for it, except my cycle was off due to grief.
Jealousy should not be confused with the normal insecurities found in a fledgling relationship. In a beginning relationship, there may be some need for discussions about where you stand with your new partner. This should never be accompanied by accusations or assumptions of infidelity. Jealousy is also not desiring to be in a monogamous relationship. It is normal to desire the person you are beginning a relationship with to be involved only with you and here comes a point in every relationship when that decision needs to be made. It becomes unhealthy when you are repeatedly questioned or accused of seeing or being with other people after you have mutually decided on being in a relationship. Again, it is not jealousy if you have good reason or proof of an affair to ask reasonable questions. At that time, a decision will have to be made to trust again or end the relationship. Jealousy is an unreasonable expression of distrust…. Except it is not about you, it is either about control, or it is about their own personal insecurities. For an abuser, it may be both, but the goal will always be to break your spirit, to exert control.
Jealousy is not a loving behaviour. Jealousy is not protective, it is destructive to relationships. Jealousy destroys trust between people and grows stronger when given consideration. Jealousy is not okay. It is merely a tool, a tactic to diminish you self-esteem, to weaken your defences to gain more control over you.
Jealousy is a red flag of abuse. Many will also say it is an expression of guilt used by those who have cheated to deflect the guilt onto you and keep you from seeing what they have done. I can’t say whether or not my ex cheated on me, but I never saw evidence of it. It doesn’t matter to me anymore.
Extend trust in your relationship. Expect trust. Anything less is not acceptable.
When all else fails, when relationships crumble, I have discovered that there is One who will always be there for me. Hold me, heal me and comfort me. He gives me strength, and in Him I know I can always trust. He’ll be there for you too if you only ask.