04 May 2012

Jealousy's two sides

A dictionary definition of the word jealousy: an all-consuming envy, suspicious resentment and possessiveness, but CyberShrink believes therapy can help.


The dictionary defines jealousy as an all-consuming envy, suspicious resentment and possessiveness, which we feel when we think our relationship, our status in life, our friendships or our possessions are somehow threatened. CyberShrink suggests that it can be managed with correct therapy.

Q: Consumed by irrational jealousy

I am a 33-year-old male and have a very peculiar problem. I have been married for 10 years now and overall my marriage is truly wonderful. We have good open communication, we trust each other and our love life is great. However recently I have developed this irrational jealousy over my wife's past which I struggle to control.

She was the first person I ever slept with, but she slept with 5 people (3 were steady boyfriends) before we got involved. I always knew this and it never bothered me, but then one day out of the blue I started picturing her with these ex-flames and I cannot seem to shake the image of her with other guys out of my head and it drives me wild with jealousy. I have tactfully spoken to her about this and she has reaffirmed her love from me, and I do realise that this is my problem and not hers. It just baffles me that after 12 years of being together jealousy would now only raise its ugly head with such vehemence. I won't allow my jealousy to destroy my marriage. Why do I feel this way and how can I go back to being the forgiving, understanding and rational person I used to be?

Expert:  Sounds like you're spoiling a great marriage by irrational and unreasonable concerns. Her social life before she met and committed to you, is hardly your business, and your life together over 10 years is proof of her love and the capacity of your relationship. It's not up to you to "forgive her" for her history, or for her to forgive you for yours. What has changed lies within you, and some sense of insecurity, which you need to deal with within personal counselling.

Q: I have a problem

I feel very insecure in relationships, even friendships. I get angry when not getting the attention I feel I need, and I can't seem to understand that my friends cannot always be available when I want them to be. This has caused a lot of problems in my life and I have lost some very close friends because of this. I say and do things without thinking and then the situation explodes, I step back and want to make everything right again. I have lost very close friends, really good friends, because my behaviour has distanced them from me.

Do I have some kind of disorder? Should I speak to a counselor? I know that I am going to end up being alone in my life and I don't want that to happen. I do not know how to deal with my insecurities. I am a rather attractive woman and I have more male than female friends, yet my behaviour (I think a lot of jealousy from my side) has caused problems in those relationships too. Please help. I feel as though this ''self-destructive'' behaviour of mine is going to destroy all my relationships.

Expert:This must be very inconvenient for you and your friends. You apparently have insight, in that you recognize the problem. It sounds like the sort of thing where counselling, especially of the CBT form (Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy) could be really useful. It is a well-proven method which is good at helping us to learn to change bad habits of thinking and behaving. I'm sure you can be helped.

More info:

Eaten up by jealousy

Choosing the right therapist

Find out more about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in the CBT centre

(Joanne Hart, Health24, February 2012)




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