Dealing with jealousy can be a very difficult thing to do after your spouse has betrayed you.
When your spouse cheats on you and destroys your self-esteem and breaks your heart, your natural reaction is to turn your pain inward onto yourself. You are overwhelmed by negative thoughts:
- Why did my spouse cheat?
- What did I do wrong to make him/her cheat?
- Doesn’t my spouse find me attractive enough to be faithful?
- What was so great about his/her affair partner?
- Am I inferior to the other woman/man?
That affair has cost you plenty in terms of loss of self-esteem, emotional energy, negative thoughts, painful memories, and perhaps uncontrollable jealousy over the other person. It’s important however, not to waste your time or energy dealing with jealousy of the affair partner.
Steven Stosny, Ph.D., the author of “How to Improve your Marriage without Talking about It,” and “Love Without Hurt,” identifies two types of jealousy: Simple and Complex.
Stosny states that:
“Simple jealousy starts as a feeling of discomfort at the prospect of losing reward or affection to someone else. In complex jealousy, the prospect of loss feels like unjustifiable self-diminishment; you become smaller and less valuable, because someone is manipulating or betraying you.
Simple jealousy motivates reward/affection-seeking behavior – you try to be more cooperative, helpful, or loving, and that usually gets a positive response sufficient to alleviate the discomfort. Complex jealousy motivates attack, either overtly or in your head. It makes you devalue and try to control others, which invariably makes things worse.”
Based on Stosny’s distinctions, after an affair we are typically dealing with complex jealousy.
If you are feeling jealous over the other person and what he/she might mean to your spouse, you are taking precious energy away from yourself and giving it over to someone—and a situation—that doesn’t deserve it. You are going to need that precious energy infused back into you, effecting positive changes that will help you heal and rebuild your self-esteem.
I realize that in practice this is very difficult to do.
Have you experienced a great deal of jealousy over the other person?
If so, what has the effect been on you and on your marriage?
Have you been able to control your jealous thoughts? If so, how? How has that made a difference?
Please remember to respond to each other in the comment section below.
Linda & Doug