Guest post from Kim at GraceisSufficient.com
Jealousy is a major factor in the break-up of many couples – whether or not one has a chronic illness. Add the difficulty brought on by medical issues and the bond is truly going to be tested. Therefore, it’s a subject that must be addressed if we’re going to have healthy, loving, long-term relationships.
First, realize a certain amount of jealousy is healthy in any marriage. It shows you value the relationship and you’re working to protect it from the rocks and waves life’s going to throw at it.
Also, I want to note: jealousy based on cheating is warranted and needs to be dealt with. I would suggest marital counseling but that’s not the focus of this post. For right now we’re just discussing the jealousy that occurs because you have a chronic illness and your spouse doesn’t.
A few years ago I had to admit I was jealous and bitter at my husband’s ability to pursue his interests. What was the focus of my jealous heart – a 17-day hike? Now mind you, I have no desire to hike for 17 days and sleep on a tarp on the cold, hard ground – not before I became ill and definitely not since. The specifics of his pursuit weren’t what was making me jealous. It was simply that he was physically able to participate in things he enjoyed.
At first, I was happy for him but as time went on I become more resentful. As this hike turned into a bigger deal with media coverage and talks of book deals the jealousy was just magnified. It grew to a point where I was feeling bitter and making it clear I didn’t want to talk about the subject by sabotaging any discussion he tried to start.
Finally, my husband asked if we could talk honestly about his hike. After an open discussion, I decided I needed to take a deeper look at what was causing this jealousy and get it under control before it put a permanent wedge between us.
As I did some soul searching and research on jealousy I found there are usually just a few reasons behind it:
* fear of missing out
* fear of growing apart
* lack of self-confidence
* feelings of insecurity and inadequacy when it concerns your contribution to the relationship
Once you’re able to uncover the root cause to your jealous feelings you’ll be able to direct your frustration at your illness and not your partner. You can’t just stop here, though. Now you need to take some steps to overcome the jealousy or it will simply funnel itself into a well of self-pity.
Here are a few practical things you can do to put this green eyed monster in its place:
1. Pursue your own dreams and passions. Odds are you’re not able to do all the activities you once enjoyed but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new passions waiting for you. You may have to think outside the box and make some changes – but don’t give up on hopes and dreams.
2. Admit the jealousy and don’t let yourself become bitter. If your spouse can tell you’re jealous they might withdraw from conversations concerning the event/activity you weren’t able to attend. This could eventually lead to the break down of communication of any kind.
3. Celebrate the other’s individuality and allow yourself your own. I don’t understand my husband’s desire to go on a 17-day hike but he doesn’t understand my obsession with planners. Granting each other time for separate activities allows you to maintain your individuality.
4. Take precautions that ensure you aren’t growing apart. Make sure you pursue activities you can do together. Even if it’s binge watching your favorite show on Netflix – find something to do as a couple.
5. Seek couples therapy. Not all problems can be solved by yourselves. Sometimes the advice from someone outside the marriage can bring a neutral position and problem-solving solutions.
6. Don’t play games or play the martyr. Acting “sicker” to keep your loved one home hurts both of you. It tricks you into thinking deception is ok as long as it means your spouse stays home and you’re not left alone for the evening.
7. Engage in physical intimacy whenever possible and desired. This is huge so stay with me here. Our illnesses get in the way of romantic nights more often than we’d like, so when there is an opportunity or a desire on the part of you or your spouse, you need to take the time to enjoy each other. This makes those impossible nights easier to deal with.
What’s one way you push jealousy out of your relationship? Leave a comment below – it might be the answer your fellow chronic warrior was waiting to hear!
About Kim Penix
I’m a Christ-follower, flawed, a work in progress, bible study facilitator, writer, blogger, wife of 27 years, mother to two, and grandma to a 4 year old firecracker born on the fourth of July!
I also have a chronic illness. I have been diagnosed with PCOS, Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Adrenal Fatigue. In 2011 I stepped away from my career in the financial industry to focus on my Lord, my family, and my health.