How Do I Deal With Jealousy?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My wife and I have been separated for about 7 months. She didn’t want me to move out, but I felt like I had to. She had been lying to me about hanging out with a coworker of hers. I had questioned her about it countless times, each time she got super defensive and I backed off, I’ve always really avoided confrontation. It started really making me feel crazy, instinct telling me one thing yet trying to convince myself that I should trust my wife because I love her. For about 2 years, it sky-rocketed my anxiety, my mood swings were unbearable and I just lost all interest in even leaving the house. When I found out she truly was lying and letting me lose it like this, I lost it, and left. Now this same coworker, she tells me shes developing feelings for and he needed a place to stay so she is letting him stay with her. I don’t know if I want to work our marriage out or not. But I do know I shouldn’t be making any decisions out of jealousy or anger. I can’t help it, however. The jealousy is consuming every minute of every day, I can’t sleep, I can’t concentrate on anything. I feel compelled to just yell at her, but in a way I don’t really blame her. I know being cold or mean to her will just drive her to him even more. Divorce may be a good idea, though my question is about the anger and jealousy. How do I deal with this? I really can’t function and I’m afraid any decision I make at this point will certainly be irrational.

A. It’s common for people to be angry and jealous in a situation like yours. The real issue is divorce. Is this a relationship that you should continue or should you get divorced? That is the real question. You can’t separate divorce from anger and jealousy because it is the source of the anger and jealousy.

Your wife deceived you for a very long period of time. She continues to deceive you. I’m sure it is not a coincidence that the boyfriend now needs a place to stay. Your home is not the only place where he could live. Where did he stay before you moved out? Where did he stay before he met your wife?

You have to think about your safety in every relationship. It’s very easy to cheat someone who trusts you. It is also the most immoral. They trust you and thus have no doubts or suspicions. You originally had no doubts or suspicions about her behavior but over time began to realize that she was lying. You did not allow yourself to conclude that she was lying because you trusted her and assumed your feelings were false. You believed that she was telling the truth because she said she was telling the truth. You had to deny your own feelings when you knew correctly that she was lying. Your intuition into this situation was not just a hunch or a gut feeling. If you were to look at research into social schemas, you would see that there are very complex processes that we use to determine if someone is lying. It wasn’t just a hunch that she was lying; it was much more than that. If you were my client, we would analyze the situation in more depth to determine what it was about her behavior that was logically giving you the impression that she was lying to you and deceiving you.

Each party in the relationship needs to feel safe. You can’t feel safe when you have someone in your life who is in a position to hurt you badly and hasn’t cared so far about how much you have already been hurt.

The big mistake you are making is that you continue to believe this is your fault. You seem to believe that because you are being emotional you cannot make a clear decision. Strong emotions are a natural reaction in a relationship where a great deception has already taken place. It is natural for you to have a strong emotional reaction.

The problem is not you but is your wife’s lying, her deception and her taking advantage of your trust. It was more convenient and easier for her to fool you because you trusted her. She is supremely guilty of destroying the ultimate backbone of the relationship which is trust. What she did to you is immoral. She did not seem to care about how much she hurt you. She knew that you would be angry if you knew the truth so she lied to make sure that she would not have to suffer the consequences of an angry husband or to possibly have to give up her boyfriend.

In my experience, when one party in a relationship is guilty of a large deception, over a long period of time, it is possible that the deceiver could be rehabilitated. In most cases, it simply does not occur. They typically will continue to behave in an immoral manner and will do it again when it suits them, when it is once again convenient.

At the very least, she needs to recognize that she was wrong. She did cheat on you and did things that she should not have done. If she is willing to fully admit how wrong she was and would agree to break off all connections with this individual, including perhaps getting another job, and agreed to truly make her life transparent (i.e. allowing you to see all her cell phone call records, e-mails., etc.) and to do all this in the context of therapy, then it is possible to save the marriage. If she is in denial of what she’s done, then it is impossible to save this marriage.

Counseling could help you immensely. It can help you to analyze your feelings. Together you and the therapist can analyze which feelings are justified and to what degree they are justified. Therapy should help you come to a clear, logical decision about the future of your relationship. Counseling can also take away the intense emotions that you are feeling. Please click on the find help tab at the top of this page to locate a therapist in your community. Please take care and I wish you the best of luck.

Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Dec 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). How Do I Deal With Jealousy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/12/13/how-do-i-deal-with-jealousy/