Dealing with jealous and possessive spouses


Jealousy is a perfectly normal human emotion. All of us have felt it at some point in our life and sometimes quite frequently. It's natural to be envious of another woman’s attractiveness or fit body or your neighbor’s state-of-the-art car or highflying career. Even in a relationship, mild jealousy is only natural when you find your spouse or partner paying attention to, or admiring, another man or woman. Or even slight possessiveness if you find you don’t get enough of your spouse's attention due to a newborn baby or other priorities.

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Jealousy and possessiveness become unacceptable when it gets out of hand and begins to consume the relationship. Often, a wife feels desired if her husband displays affectionate possessiveness or a boyfriend feels more loved and important if his girlfriend gets a little irritated when he flirts or checks out other women. So when does it get to be a problem?

When it gets to the point of making the other partner uncomfortable and borders on paranoia, that is when it is unhealthy and needs to be addressed. Here are some instances of overly jealous or possessive behavior from a spouse.

Your partner gets unreasonably angry if you even so much as glance at another member of the opposite sex, forget actually admire them. And even if, through no fault of your own except your God-given looks, you attract an admiring gaze, all hell breaks loose.

Your spouse gets nasty if you spend time with your friends, parents, siblings, basically anybody other than him/her. It gets to the point where you either have no life and company other than his/hers, you have to account for your whereabouts, or you have to lie, and live in fear of being discovered.

Your overly jealous partner starts questioning even your friends behind your back, which is not only embarrassing for them and you, but also makes you feel like your every move is doubted and motives are held suspect. Sometimes it can get so out of hand that you feel like you are being stalked, either by your spouse himself or by a detective on your tail. He makes it out to be a lucky coincidence when he bumps into you, but you know better. She shows up suddenly at your office once too often and even quizzes your colleagues about what was genuinely a working dinner. And you often find your mail rifled through or your drawers ransacked.

What should you do?

If you are in a relationship where your spouse’s jealousy or possessiveness is beginning to get to you, what should you do about it? Would it help to figure out why he/she feels this way? Talk to them about it, communication is the key as always. If all else fails, counseling has been known to help those who are unable to help themselves.

Often, when the woman or man in the relationship is devastatingly attractive, charming, personable or witty, far more so than the spouse, insecurity sets in, which prompts jealousy. Sometimes feelings of neglect and lack of attention give way to possessiveness and making them want to cling to their partner, sometimes unreasonably, and grudge the attention they are bestowing on others.

Or maybe they were in an earlier relationship, or even you at some point, have given them reason to be this way by cheating or being unfaithful. It could even be that they themselves have been tempted to cheat or stray and are now ascribing their low motives to you, making you take the flack for their inadequacies.

If you are suffering due to your spouse's unreasonable jealousy or possessiveness, especially if is totally unwarranted and you have never given them reason to doubt your commitment to them, it can cause irreparable damage to the relationship.

If you are serious about the relationship and feel that this is your spouse's only downfall, try and work through the problem.

For instance, if he or she accuses you of checking out, admiring, or flirting with someone and it is totally uncalled for, don’t argue and get into a heated debate about it. It will only worsen an already tense situation. Instead, try to calmly and rationally explain that you were not doing anything of the sort and nor are you tempted to. And even if you were, reassure them that it was harmless, after all it's human nature to appreciate something or somebody good looking and nothing is going to come out of it.

If you were flirting though, even if it was harmless, that will only add fuel to an already blazing furnace. Realize that while your intentions are clean, it does not seem that way to your spouse and that is probably not something you should indulge in if you are serious about your relationship. Flirting with someone is just a pleasurable distraction, not something essential to your happiness, so quit it and keep the peace, it’s a mild price to pay.

If your spouse has been visiting your office too frequently, asking your friends too many questions or generally being a menace, let him/her know as gently as possible that you do not appreciate it. Tell them that you are more than willing to address their fears and provide answers, always assuming that the questions are reasonable and not verging on the paranoid.

If they are showing strong signs of possessiveness and want you to cease all contact with your friends or family, make him/her understand that it is not healthy for a relationship to spend all your time in each other's company. Soothe their concerns and worries and encourage them to also spend time with their own circle of friends. Let him know that friends and family are important to you, but he is the most important person in your life.

When to get out?

Ultimately, you can only try so much and hope your partner meets you halfway. It is detrimental to a relationship if one partner is being unreasonable and the other partner is giving in and making all the adjustments. If there is no improvement, raging jealousy can hurt a relationship to the point that there is eventually a breakdown of trust. And trust is so vital to a relationship that without it, the relationship can die a natural death. Once this happens, it is better to recognize that you’re fighting a losing battle.

Also, if your spouse is verbally abusive or tortures you mentally or physically, seek help immediately, either from a support group, counseling or therapy. If the situation does not improve, get out. If you stand in danger of losing your self-respect or damaging your emotional health, it is time to acknowledge that the relationship is doing you more harm than good.