Woman standing on a rocky beach at sunrise feeling the freedom of overcoming jealousy

What Jealousy In Your Relationship Is Trying To Tell You — And How To Overcome It

Negative emotions don’t exactly exude a welcome invitation to higher learning. They feel crappy, they challenge your very thinking and allotment of energy, and they drain the life force out of you.

One of the most negative emotions is jealousy. Within your relationship, it can be destructive. Within yourself, it can be devouring.

This is why learning how to overcome jealousy – as well as what causes it – is tantamount to protecting your marriage.

Learning from jealousy.

If you aspire to the belief that we are all on this planet to learn, then you have the opportunity to transform the negativity into something positive.

You can choose to believe that every experience happens in order to teach you something. You can turn the tables on your jealousy and come away with the spoils.

Jealous feelings in your relationship are trying to tell you something.

When you experience jealousy in your relationship, you probably focus on what’s happening (or not happening) outside of you.

Is my partner attracted to someone else? Is s/he going to leave me? Is something going on that could unravel my world? Can I really trust my partner?

Difficult as it is to do, you are really being called to focus on what jealousy in your relationship is trying to tell you. Because it is trying to tell you something. Every emotion is a messenger of some sort.

Every emotion is a messenger of some sort.

All complex emotions, in their most pared-down form, come from only two sources: love and fear. If you were to dissect every emotion by asking, “What’s under that? And what’s under that?” you would eventually come to one of these two undercurrents.

Jealousy is no different. Before you can truly begin to understand what’s underlying your jealousy, it is important that you understand certain truths about jealousy:

Here are 5 things your jealousy is trying to tell you about your relationship and how to overcome it.

1. Jealousy is natural, part of our human condition and our DNA.

We feel jealousy in relationships because we care, and we fear losing our beloved.

This garden-variety jealousy isn’t what hurts relationships. This type can actually help strengthen relationships.

What can hurt relationships is excessive and obsessive jealousy.

2. A little jealousy can be a turn-on.

Individual reactions to a jealous partner are just that – individual. So it’s difficult to generalize.

However, a little jealousy can shake-up the complacency often experienced by couples in long-term relationships and serve as a reminder that no one can/should be taken for granted.

Smug complacency can be far more toxic than a smidge of jealousy.

That smidge of jealousy can get the sparks flying again. It’s affirming to see one’s partner through an admirer’s eyes.

It’s nice to know that others find one’s partner attractive. This knowledge can also remind you of how attractive one already knows his/her partner is.

3. Not all jealousy leads to controlling or violent behavior.

Jealousy per se doesn’t lead to bad behavior. How the jealousy expresses itself can be negative, though.

One doesn’t need to act on all of his/her thoughts or feelings. Human beings have the intellect to make choices and reign in emotion.

(In cases where a person has difficulty managing him or herself and becomes controlling and/or violent other strategies are necessary. Professional help may be required.)

4. If you feel jealous, it doesn’t mean you’re insecure.

In an extremely primal way, jealousy touches on our fear of loss.

People who are aware of their jealousy may be more in touch with their own emotionality. They may be keenly appreciative of the importance of their love relationship and partner.

5. Sharing your jealousy with your partner can be a good thing.

Many erroneously believe that sharing feelings of jealousy with his/her partner is a mistake because it reveals too much vulnerability/weakness.

However, true love thrives on vulnerability and authenticity. By talking about one’s feelings of jealousy, s/he is actually saying, “I care about you and would be greatly pained to lose such a precious part of my life.”

Now that you have a better understanding about the true nature of jealousy, it’s time to explore how you can better understand what you are feeling.

How do you overcome unhelpful feelings jealousy? The following 3 questions will help guide you.

1. What am I afraid of losing?

If you have to spend your life clinging to someone so s/he can’t escape, you may need to check in with your ego.

Are you trying to control the life and choices of another person? Do you believe that your love and affections bind that person to you? Do you have a sense of possession or ownership of your partner?

If you do, you will have a difficult time relaxing and enjoying a true sense of relationship. After all, someone could swoop in at any time and steal him/her, right?

2. Is this real or imagined? 

Consider that your natural state is one of love, self-worth, and self-empowerment. Jealousy, as a fear-based emotion, takes you away from that natural state – despite how natural it is to feel this emotion from time to time.

If the jealousy in your relationship stems from verifiable behaviors by your partner, then you have choices to make.

Working on how to get your spouse or partner to communicate with you can open up channels of honest disclosure and mutually beneficial resolutions.

On the other hand, you may have to go back to your own experiences of loss and abandonment to discover the source of your imaginings.

You spend most of your adulthood operating out of filters that were set in place at a young age. It may be time to examine them and determine whether they still serve you.

3. What does this person represent to me?

Truthfully, the unhelpful jealousy in your relationship is most likely about your fear of losing yourself, not the other person. And that negativity becomes the fuel source that then keeps you from becoming who you truly are.

You can’t own another person. And, no matter how painful another person’s choices may be for you, you can control only yourself.

What, then, does this other person have or represent that you don’t want to lose in your own life? What does that person have or represent that you still need to develop?

Perhaps by maintaining attachment to the object of your jealousy, you put off the feeling of responsibility to develop those qualities in yourself.

If you find yourself feeling jealousy that is not healthily affirming of your relationship, you can do some soul-searching to understand what is really at play.

And remember, you can’t lose what you don’t have.

So get honest about what you “have.”

You’ll find that the only things you truly possess have been with you all along. The rest is all part of what can make life, and love, absolutely wonderful.

This article was originally posted on YourTango.

Mary Ellen Goggin

Mary Ellen is a highly skilled and intuitive relationship guide. She brings over 35 years’ experience with individuals and businesses as a lawyer, mediator, personal coach and educator. She received her J.D. at University of New Hampshire Law School and a Master’s Degree at Harvard University. Mary Ellen co-authored Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Jerry Duberstein — and they were married by chapter 3. Mary Ellen brings a unique blend of problem-solving, practicality, and warmth to her work. She’s a highly analytic person, with geeky and monkish tendencies. She’s a daredevil skydiver, a voracious seeker of knowledge, and an indulgent grandmother. Her revolution: helping people become the unapologetic rulers of their inner + outer realms. Read more about the retreats