A recent survey performed by Vanity Fair and 60 Minutes asked Americans to reveal the biggest threats to marriage.
The number one answer was: Jealousy. One out of four Americans believes that jealousy is the biggest threat to marital bliss. What were the next contenders?
After jealousy in the #1 spot, survey respondents identified these following threats:
5) The Internet
These are quite interesting answers, and they reflect many of the issues that I deal with on a daily basis when working with clients.
I am going to offer a ‘Quantum Love Protection Plan’ against these biggest marital threats, and this is part 1 of what will be a 5-part series. Today I will start with the top threat that plagues so many couples.
Feelings of jealousy are natural and healthy. It’s normal to feel sick when you think about your husband with another woman, or to frown a little when you hear your wife giggling about how funny her new male coworker is. And many of us have experienced infidelity in the past. Maybe your first wife cheated on you or maybe you witnessed your father cheating on your mother throughout your childhood. If you have these thorns in your past, it can be very difficult to open your heart again. But I promise you it is possible.
Here’s how to begin:
1. Understand what jealousy is. At its core, jealousy is nothing other than fear. Fear of not being good enough. Of being replaceable. People who struggle with jealousy tend to grapple with insecurity throughout their lives, not just in their relationships. People who feel jealous might also stress about getting passed over for promotions at work, or they might feel like the ‘least favorite’ in their family or the one who always gets forgotten. Someone who knows their own worth and 100% believes that they are lovable and worthy of their partner’s love and attention is not going to suffer from jealousy. They will accept the love their partner offers, and if they feel suspicious or unsafe about a new person in their partner’s life, they won’t hesitate to discuss the issue calmly and honestly. Once you truly believe that you are valuable, precious, and complete on your own, you won’t hold on to your partner or your relationship with a death-grip. You will exist in a space of trust, not only with your spouse, but with the universe itself.
2. Accept that you are currently holding feelings of jealousy and that these feelings are damaging to your relationship. I can’t tell you how many people who I have met who refuse to admit they are jealous partners. “Not me,” they claim, “I am totally secure. My partner can’t do any better than me!” But their behavior says otherwise. Even if they aren’t checking their partner’s phone or trying to prevent them from spending time alone with their friends, maybe they make passive-aggressive comments in order to keep their partner’s ego ‘in check’ or comments to call their parenting or character into question, such as “I don’t ever remember my mom staying out late at night with her girlfriends.”
Even if you don’t make such comments or engage in such behavior, it is still true that your jealous energy is having an impact on your relationship. Energy doesn’t lie. You might think that you are coming off as confident and secure, but your energy will be saying: “Don’t get too close. Don’t hurt me. I won’t let anyone break my heart again. Back off.” It’s as if there is a giant wall of barbed wire all around your heart, and any time you feel like your partner does something questionable, the barbed wire gets higher and higher. After a while, your partner will feel completely shut off from you, only they may have no clue why the coldness has occurred. “He doesn’t love me anymore,” they think, when in reality the complete opposite is true: You love them so much you are afraid to let yourself really feel it.
So step 1 must be admitting that jealousy exists. Not only to your partner, such as honestly communicating “It makes me paranoid when you stay at work late and don’t answer your phone,” but to yourself: “I am struggling with jealousy. I am not happy with how I am currently dealing with my fear, but I believe that my jealousy can change.”
2. Find the gift in your jealousy. As I outlined above, often many people try to run from or hide their feelings of jealousy. We know that jealousy is not a desirable quality, so we try to squash it or we shame ourselves for feeling it. But here’s the thing: Feeling jealous doesn’t make you a bad partner. It doesn’t make you a insecure mess. It makes you human. Real. And it’s okay.
In fact, I encourage my clients to find the gift in their green-eyed monster. But what’s the gift in struggling with jealousy and fear? Here’s something: It’s proof that you don’t take your partner for granted. Proof that you care deeply about your relationship. Proof that love matters to you. That you are loyal, ethical and committed to monogamy.
Rather than running from it, I encourage you to actually give your jealousy a name. Once I had a client name her jealousy “Hera” (after the Greek Goddess who was noted for her jealous streak.) She even bought a small statue of Hera which she placed in her meditation closet. It was a visual reminder of the ferocious, unfailing love that she had for her husband, as well as the dangerous side of that love: The need to control. The need to own. The need to feel 100% secure, instead of vulnerable. Human. Able to be hurt.
Whenever she felt a ‘Hera’ mood coming on, she would seek the gift in the feelings she was experiencing. Instead of saying to her partner, “I know you’re checking out our hot waitress!” or “Why didn’t you answer my phone call?” she would become of ‘Hera’ and find the bright underbelly of her pain. The fact that she was so deeply in love, so deeply human and so deeply vulnerable. And that’s something to celebrate rather than something to be ashamed of or something to hide. So instead, she now says things like, “Our waitress might be a perfect 10, but you’re all mine, stud,” with a wink, or “I missed you! I have been waiting all day to wrap my arms around you.”
3. Visualize how you would feel if you weren’t jealous. How would you feel if you felt completely safe in your relationship? You would probably feel adored and cherished. You would feel as if your relationship was the firm foundation on which you could build the rest of your life. Physically, you would feel light, open, and warm. I want to invite you to start feeling that way right now. As I have discussed in previous blogs, when it comes to energy: Like attracts like. If you go around feeling jealous, bitter or insecure, your energy will invite experiences that validate your negative emotional state. You will notice how frumpy you look standing next to your pretty neighbor. You will pick at your partner and criticize them, certain that they find you unlovable. You will accuse. Blame. Give the silent treatment. And here’s the funny thing: You may even cheat!
Yes, it is often true that people who are the most jealous are the ones who are most likely to stray themselves. Why is this? I think it’s because we are stuck in a energetic state of “He doesn’t really love me” or “She doesn’t find me attractive anymore” or “This marriage is doomed to fail,” we are more vulnerable to temptation. We are looking for someone else to make us feel good. Make us feel attractive. Worthy. Important. Alive.
But here’s the thing: You can start feeling that way right now. You are the author of your own reality. You get to choose what thoughts you allow to reign in your mind. You get to create your own beliefs. How incredible is that? You aren’t powerless. You aren’t a victim. You aren’t waiting for the bottom to drop out of your marriage. You’re consciously creating the beautiful, passionate and fulfilling love story you desire every single day.
When you are in this state of being (what I call ‘home frequency’), it is impossible for jealousy to rule your mind. Jealousy becomes to ego, to an ego which says: I have to be number one. I have to be in control. I have to work hard all the time to ensure that I am worthy of love. But when you are in a state of home frequency, you say: My partner and I are one. I am in control of my mind, mood and energy. I am worthy of love simply by existing, exactly as I am.
When you feel that way, then you will have kicked the green-eyed monster’s butt.