Jealousy is a uniquely stupefying emotion. It is stupefying both in definition and in application. At times it will be blamed for hideous crimes of passion. At other times it may be applauded for saving someone a life of disgrace. It will most assuredly cause someone deep pain and anguish. Jealousy, the frightening evil from deep within our souls, it must be dealt with, it must be managed…or must it?
Any and all of our emotions are natural; jealousy is no exception. It is natural to respond emotionally with anger if someone does us wrong. It is expected that we be timid or even frightened in cases of extreme threat. We will surely be entertained if we are faced with the antics of some of our best comedians and we will be sad at the passing of a loved one. These are all normal responses; they are instinctive, they are expected. Why then, if we are expected to freely respond to so many different situations with our built in, instinctive emotional pain receptors, is it so emphatically proclaimed that we must control our jealousy? Why isn’t jealousy an expected emotional response?
I say jealousy is instinctive. Jealousy is healthy and jealousy is to be expected. There is no reason to control it and we must not even try to control it. We are to allow jealousy to flare up un-tethered the same as we would any of the other many emotions we are blessed with. All emotions are responses to external stimuli of some kind; fright in cases of threat, laughter when amused, sadness when losing someone, jealousy when our relationship is threatened.
Jealousy is our best instinctive response to the over powering threat of a spouse or a partner being lured away by a predator of the opposite sex. Jealousy is there, telling us to stand up and pay attention; something is happening that will not be beneficial to our relationship. We need to embrace jealousy. We need to welcome those pangs of misery when they first hit. We need to thank our emotional self for giving us the warning of this devastating, looming, disaster.
Jealousy is when you have no idea where your mate is and he / she comes home past midnight after a night of “walking” with a “friend.” You would instinctively ask a series of frantic questions: “Are you okay? Who were you with? What have you been doing? Where have you been? When were you planning to come home? Why didn’t you call me?” These are the usual 5W, “who, what, where, when, why” type of questions that make up such a common response to a situation like this.
Sure this is jealousy. Sure the person asking all the questions is concerned. Sure they want answers. Why shouldn’t they? Are they not entitled to know the answers to such basic questions, particularly when it involves the other half of their committed relationship? Go ahead and ask, it is your jealous privilege.
Should you simply ignore the situation and settle yourself with an “Oh well, he’s finally home.” Of course not. You owe it to yourself and to your relationship to ask the questions and to insist on answers. Answers other than “Don’t be so jealous!” Yes, this is jealousy. It is you exercising your instinctive emotion, jealousy. You have a responsibility to protect your interests, to guard against predators, to not tolerate rivals.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary has this to say about JEALOUS:
“…intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness.” (Also, suspecting or hostile toward)
“…vigilant in guarding a possession.”
INTOLERANT OF RIVALRY: If you are being called jealous you are being told you have no tolerance for rivals or for those who would vie for your mate’s affections. You are being told, by being called jealous, that you don’t want your mate to have any partner other than yourself. The definition indicates that you won’t tolerate it, in fact you may even become “hostile toward” a rival.
Well, good for you. You shouldn’t tolerate anyone, male or female, friend or family, associate or acquaintance, taking a place of importance over you. You should always be your partner’s priority #1! Don’t tolerate your mate spending intimate time, your special intimate time that belongs to you and your mate, with another. The other person, the one he or she is spending that intimate time with, is a rival and cannot be tolerated. This type of requirement should be expected in a good, healthy relationship. Personally, I would feel cheated if my wife did not step in if she saw another woman setting her sites on me or me looking too long and too hard at another woman. I want my wife to swoop in and save me just as fast as she can.
INTOLERANT OF UNFAITHFULNESS: The second half of that first definition of jealous is the one I really like. It says a jealous person is intolerant of unfaithfulness on the part of their mate. Not only will you not tolerate someone chasing after your mate or your mate chasing after someone else, but you will also, certainly not stand for your mate yielding to the chaser and allowing that pursuit to be successful.
Is that a bad thing; to be protective of your mate, to not want another person to take them from you? You don’t want your spouse to be unfaithful; in fact you will not stand for it! Isn’t that fairly normal? How many people do you know who realize their spouse is sleeping around, yet they are comfortable with it? You probably know very few couples in that position, if any. You should not accept it either. You don’t have to, you can be jealous. This is healthy jealousy.
GUARDING A POSSESSION: Let’s take a look at that second definition of the word jealous; vigilant in guarding a possession.” Vigilant means to be “alertly watchful so as to avoid danger.” Be on your guard! Sleep with one eye open. Have eyes in the back of your head. Always be on the lookout! Try not to miss anything. You are still fulfilling the promises in your vows, one of which is to protect. This is not so much an obligation or a promise as it is a privilege. Guard your investment.
It really is your responsibility to be on the alert at all times. Not only do you have to be vigilant when it comes to rivalry or other people pursuing your possession, your other half in your relationship, your partner, but you also have to be extra alert to keep an eye on your mate. All of us are no more than human and a true predator takes on a super human persona as they try to reach their goal of yet one more conquest.
What does the Bible have to say regarding jealousy?
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”
Exodus 20:5, The Bible – KJV
In this passage from Exodus God delivers the Ten Commandments to Moses. He makes it clear to everyone who reads them they are not to have any other gods before Him. He does not want His people worshiping anybody but Him. God demands that He be their number one priority. In other words, God is pretty intolerant of rivalry, wouldn’t you say? He wants to be the only God and He wants no one else to get in the way! Would anyone dare to tell God “Control your jealousy?” Anyone? I didn’t think so.
It isn’t jealousy that needs controlling. Jealousy must be allowed to flow freely and to respond to the situation as required. Jealousy is a God given emotion, it is instinctive, and it must be free. It is our reaction that needs the controlling. We can react to our jealousy in a safe manner or a totally insane way. We need to emphasize the control of the jealous reaction. We do need to react when we sense the jealous response welling up within us, but we need to react in a healthy, constructive manner.
Jealousy in any relationship, is to be expected. It is instinctive and healthy. Let jealousy flow as the situation dictates. Temper your reaction to that jealousy. Gather all the facts; investigate the situation you have become jealous about. Ask the 5W questions and don’t stop until you get legitimate answers to them. Once all conditions are known, react in a sane, controlled manner. Jealousy is your friend, not your enemy, treat it as such.