The Dangers of Jealousy

  • Many experience jealousy out of a fear of a spouse's infidelity.
  • There are biological and evolutionary reasons for jealousy in men and women.
  • Communication, honesty and trust are important in avoiding jealousy.

"Stating one’s feelings to another person can be a challenging experience, but nobody can read minds. In order to make one’s feelings known before jealousy takes full control over the relationship, one has to be honest and forthcoming when they feel the discomfort within their relationship or their spouse’s relationship with another."

It’s often referred to as “the green-headed monster.” Before, during, and after a divorce, jealousy can cause problems to manifest through its invasive nature. It affects everyone differently and can linger and fester for years. Jealous behavior can negatively impact one’s relationships outside of a marriage or divorce, as well affect one’s behavior at home, at work, with friends, and even with family.

Before a divorce, this type of behavior can begin with new individuals entering into a spouse’s life. Countless individuals have experienced this scenario where a new person befriends your spouse at a place they frequent like work, a gym, or a store, and the spouse begins to talk about them. In this classic narrative, this is where it begins. It starts as a behavioral pattern that is being noticed.

Then, they begin to spend time together, causing the first twinges of insecurity and jealousy to surface. This can allow one’s imagination and worst fears to run wild with speculation and nightmare scenarios, which can lead to even worse, more possessive behavior.

This creates feelings of fear, doubt, and a general lack of trust to surface in the spouse spending time with their new friend, which can result in a lack of trust in other aspects in their lives. This self-fulfilling spiral can take a life of its own, until the marriage has deteriorated, and the spouse’s worst fears have become the couple’s reality.

As Nobel Laureate Junot Díaz once wrote, “This is how you lose her.” Jealousy is the fuel to the relationship dumpster fire, which ends marriages, creates divorces, and eats away at general senses of happiness.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Fear of Unfaithfulness

The fear of infidelity can take over someone’s life and create personal doubt in one’s self and one’s ability to form relationships with others.

According to the Journal of the International Association for Relationship Research, a man’s jealousy has been hypothesized to focus on cues to sexual infidelity because a long-term partner’s sexual infidelity jeopardizes his certainty in paternity, thereby placing him at risk of investing in another man’s offspring.

According to the research, a woman’s jealousy has been hypothesized to focus more on cues to the long-term diversion of a man’s commitment, such as his emotional involvement with another woman.

This research suggests biological wiring gives men and women predetermined tendencies for being jealous, but in the dynamics of relationships as a whole, each situation has its differences and nuances that cannot be accounted for. Most of relationships rely on emotions, and while infidelity is an emotionally-charged decision, emotions are not the only reasons why people choose to be unfaithful.

The research also doesn’t claim to suggest that men and women are cognizant of the nature of the selection pressures that have given rise to their psychology of jealousy, similar to people’s tastes in food or taste in significant others. People tend to like what they like and are not always aware of why.

However, the underlying psychology of jealousy is proposed to contain design features that reflect solutions to issues that each sex has faced over the course of human evolution. Essentially, we, as a society, can figure out what leads the “why,” in biological reasoning for jealous behavior but we cannot always pinpoint the “why” itself.

Silent decisions

Jealousy also can be caused by a severe lack of communication. Stating one’s feelings to another person can be a challenging experience, but nobody can read minds. In order to make one’s feelings known before jealousy takes full control over the relationship, one has to be honest and forthcoming when they feel the discomfort within their relationship or their spouse’s relationship with another.

Even in the union of marriage, we, as spouses, are individuals, and remembering that and the independence of decision-making can be challenging when one is experiencing jealousy. However, an important notion to maintain is that if your spouse were truly interested in someone else, they’d be with that person. You’re not holding them back from making their independent decision.

If they do, however, reach that decision, it wasn’t you that made it. You’re not responsible for their decision-making, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for their failure as a spouse. Some find themselves making the mistake of becoming angry, and that is understandable.

Anger and pain

Anger and jealousy during a divorce is an understandable concept, but a divorce caused by jealousy can fuel an attitude of anger toward one’s self or the opposite spouse. According to Vicky Perrett’s book, “Survive Divorce: Your Route Through the Financial and Emotional Maze,” jealousy is often a sign of unresolved anger or grief and may occur because you haven’t yet been able to come to terms with the breakdown of your marriage.

Regardless of the mistakes made in a relationship, loving a spouse while one is going through a divorce is a natural, but painful experience that no one should ever be ashamed of. These conflicting feelings can make one experience jealousy toward memories of the better times in the relationship, wishing that they would return.

Harsh realities

However, the end of a marriage can often be indicative of the amount of weaknesses within the relationship. Divorce is a way to resolve the stresses of a relationship, in order to promote the general health and well-being of the individuals involved. While jealousy can bring out the worst in an individual and their behavior in a relationship, it is important to note that it is not the only factor in the dissolution of a marriage.

Unhappy marriages fail for a variety of reasons, and while jealousy and its resulting behavior can be reasons to seek a divorce, the individuals involved are responsible for their own behavior. While there may be biological and evolutionary evidence suggesting there are reasons to lead us to why jealous behavior starts, it does not claim the responsibility for the ending of a marriage. The words, actions, and behaviors of individuals in the marriage do. If you allow your jealousy to get the best of you and control your life, you have no one to blame but yourself.

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