I have met the person I feel is Mr. Right. He is very sweet and I will do just about anything within reason to make me happy. I work with computers and therefore have people throwing computer symptoms at me everywhere we go. I have been divorced for 18 years and found this man who is great in every area except one. He is very jealous. I guess I would understand if I flirted or put myself in compromising situations. But, I quit going to the club to work out and don't visit friends.
If I'm walking down the street with or without my future spouse, and someone smiles and says hello I calmly smile and say hello back. I've never carried the moment past that and don't single out men or women in public. Last night with my sister present my future spouse caught me watching a man and his son walk in. I noticed that the boy who looked to be about 10 or 11 almost fell as he was coming in. I was accused of looking at the man's butt! This comment made me angry. My future spouse later apologized and told me to get over it - that he was trying to quit smoking and that I would have to understand. I try to understand. I don't think smoking has anything to do with his reaction. The best part of it is I couldn't tell you what the man who walked in the restaurant with his son looked like. I was only concerned with the child falling on the hard floor.
How can I deal with this? I have told my future spouse that we need to solve this problem. Am I just totally blind to what I'm doing to cause this? Is it even me? Is this because he just upset that his ex-spouse cheated on him? I'm open to all suggestions. I don't mind working to a healthy and happy relationship.
Computer lady (41 year-old woman)
Dear Computer lady,
You have reason to be worried. Clearly, you are a mature and intelligent person who can see past the distortions brought by the rose-colored glasses of new love.
Jealousy will not go away by itself. It will only grow worse with time. It will try and try to put you into a prison, step by small step, just like over the years it has taken over your friend.
There is nothing much YOU can do about it. However, HE can. He needs help from a therapist who practices 'cognitive therapy'. Go to http://anxietyanddepression-help.com/cognit.html where I give a brief description of this approach. Also, he can seek out a book by Aaron Beck: Love is Never Enough. This is an excellent self-help book that shows how to do cognitive therapy for relationships.
He is suffering from a lifelong habit of distorted thinking. This can be challenged and conquered in about eight sessions, PROVIDED HE HAS THE MOTIVATION TO DO SO.
My suggestion is 'tough love'. Pass on this message from me, and tell him that you refuse to be put into a prison, now or in the future. His jealous behavior is guaranteeing unhappiness for himself, and he is going to inflict this on you or any other partner he may have if you separate. However much you love him, you have no wish to share in this unpleasant destiny. If he wants a future with you, he MUST address his feelings of jealousy.
If the two of you are to marry without first solving the problem, jealousy will turn your lives into hell, and you will lose each other anyway. Therefore, regardless of the joy of your love for each other now, it is better to part before all the mutual hurt than after.
Actually, I have written a novel where jealousy is a central theme. In that, I have a number of quotes about jealousy:
Jealousy, excessive possessiveness, is a very destructive emotion. It is a tragedy that kills what it values, for the object of jealousy almost invariably ends up rejecting the constraints of jealous love.
In part, jealousy is a feeling of entitlement. The unspoken, irrational thought behind the emotion is, 'I love you so much that you owe me an equal return of love.' Jealousy is a double tragedy: the more the jealous partner demands, the less the loved person is able to return...
Almost invariably, jealousy grows out of insecurity. The jealous lover has a feeling that, unless he binds the loved person, she will escape. No amount of love, no amount of reassurance can satisfy his love, for always and ever, the loved person's return love must be proven anew. And at last, jealousy's fears come true, brought about precisely by jealousy itself.
A person given to jealousy may well be an overachiever. They tend to excel in many fields, for whatever they do, they must prove their self-worth over and over and over. And after every proof, they still feel the need to prove their worth yet again...
Jealousy is based on irrational premises, so the proper treatment is 'Cognitive Therapy,' the process of encouraging the sufferer to prove these deep beliefs to be false.
Ask him to keep a record of the thoughts going through his head just before feelings of jealousy intrude. Then convert these thoughts into a testable form, and have the sufferer test them. These surface thoughts can be used to expose deeper held beliefs. The reader is referred to Aaron Beck's work for details.
This is quoted from a book read by one of the characters in my book. Actually, the rest of the story is relevant too: you can see jealousy and its defeat in action. If you are interested, go to http://bobswriting.com/sleeper.html.
In summary, jealousy is going to poison both your lives, unless he attacks it. Help is available, and he can defeat a lifelong pattern of thought in a couple months of weekly visits to a competent person. He should do this for his own well-being. He should do it if he wants to keep you.
You are clearly not the kind of person to be constrained and constricted and put into a box. If he doesn't conquer jealousy, he'll lose you anyway, after a lot of unhappiness for both of you.
This should give him plenty of motivation to do something about it.
Please get back to me and tell me your (and his) reaction to my suggestions, and later, let me know the outcome.