Jealousy is powerful like a fire or a flood. It can overtake a person’s life and bring with it devastation to their soul and relationships.
We hear about forest fires constantly in the news. If not contained, they can rapidly grow burning anything in their path. People often have to vacate their homes, leaving valuables and precious items behind, because of the smoke and danger of inhalation… all before the fire ravages their home or switches direction with the wind.
Even as I write this, I need to pause to address my 2-year old about jealousy. Our Boston Terrier likes to cuddle up next to my side whenever he can.
If you know Boston Terriers at all, you know that there’s no such thing as personal space and if you know anything about toddlers, you know that they don’t like to share. This is my life.
So here I have my son saying, “No, Remy! My seat!” as my dog just stares at him indifferently. It doesn’t matter that there’s room to have one of them on each side of me; he’s jealous that our dog is having Mommy time.
Types of Jealousy
One of the most interesting things I’ve read about jealousy came from one of my favorite books on love, called “The Love Dare” by Stephen & Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough. They write that there are 2 different types of jealousy, a positive and a negative kind, they call legitimate and illegitimate jealousies:
- is based on love
- is longing to have back what is rightfully yours, like when a spouse has an affair
- is rooted in selfishness
- is being jealous of someone, to be moved with envy
[Kendrick, S., & Kendrick, A. (2008). The Love Dare. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.]
Illegitimate jealousy can rear its ugly head in many forms and is detrimental to a marriage. Sometimes it is a result of someone’s insecurities or mistrust of their spouse. Most often it is because of a lack of being content.
I know someone who is constantly going on elaborate vacations, adding to their wardrobe, and redecorating their home. It’s very easy to become envious of all she has and does. It starts with being happy for her, thinking about how great that is for her, and quickly turns into wondering, “Well, why don’t I get to do that?” My happiness for her turns into discontentment for me. And my unhappiness doesn’t just stay there; it bleeds into my relationship with my husband and what we have in comparison.
Or maybe jealousy can look like being jealous of your husband. It’s easy for me to get riled up when I see him relaxing on the couch while I’m on my feet making dinner after being faced with tantrums all day from my
terrible “teachable” 2-year old while trying to juggle work.
The truth is that yeah, I have some crazy days but they are nothing compared to what he goes through being in the Navy. And his time “relaxing” won’t last long since he’s a hero to our little boy who will be climbing all over him in no time… or taking out the trash for me… or helping to clean up the dinner table… or giving the kiddo a bath… or a hundred other things that prevent him from really relaxing after being up since around 4am.
Trying to compare and feel sorry for myself only leads to resentment of others.
Isn’t it funny how jealous we can get when we take our eyes off our blessings? Even at our worst, there is always something to be thankful for in life. The same in our marriage too.
Always count your blessings and look for the good.
How to Show Love: Thoughts on Jealousy is Part 4 in a series on Understanding Love.
Part 5 -What About Pride- can be found here.