The image that comes up for jealousy is one of a bathtub that’s running over. You’re standing in the bathroom with your partner looking at that bathtub and water is gushing over the edge wetting the floor, drenching the carpet in the hall and dripping through the ceiling below. Instead of acting as a team turning the taps off, pulling the plug out quickly and cleaning up the mess together, you are bickering about why it’s running over, who let it run over, about the floor getting wet, the damage that it’s doing to the floors below etc. But… that will never solve the actual problem.
Jealousy is exactly like the water spilling over the bathtub. Unless you are the team that fights the actual problem, it’ll keep spilling over and over, creating paranoia, more mess and leaking into other areas of your relationship, whilst damaging the trust and fun you have.
In jealousy what we tend to do is react and argue about surface emotions, in our bathtub example it’s arguing about the wet floor and the damage it’s doing while not actually dealing with the real issue. But just like in the bathroom, with jealousy it’s never ever the surface emotions we bicker about. It’s really about the deeper needs that are not being met…
The Romance Stage
Those first few months in a relationship are just heaven. Totally focussed on each other, we can be honest and open, life is easy and not a cloud is in the sky. We loose our selves a little and that’s ok. We call this wonderful first phase the ‘Romance stage’. It’s pure bliss.
When we commit a little deeper to each other over time, we get triggered by our insecurities and fears. This is a natural and normal process that everybody encounters.
There’s no escaping this second phase, called the Power Struggle. It is challenging if we are not prepared and equipped for this second relationship stage.
The ‘Power Struggle’ Stage
Some couples stay in this power struggle for years, others break up, but a healthy relationship can move through this stage with a little bit of understanding, communication and self reflection quite easily.
One often pulls away to reconnect with themselves during the power struggle and the other partner, feeling this withdrawal, begins to chase. This usually doesn’t help as the one withdrawing will withdraw more, which will make the chaser chase more.
Both partners start to feel unsafe and fear arises. This fear often surfaces as jealousy. Jealousy is the result of pulling away and triggering fear of loss or rejection in the other partner and fighting for survival starts. But bickering about surface issues and jealousy isn’t going to help.
A jealous partner however tells you something important about their love for you: they deeply care, they are really committed, so much so that they fear loosing you. Because of that fear and the possible heartbreak that follows, they’ve started feeling unsafe and insecure. Their defence is nagging, bickering, lashing out, fighting for survival and that fear and insecurity create jealousy as a symptom.
The actual fights are never about what is going on at that visible surface level, it’s always and always about the underlying needs that aren’t met. We are squabbling because we are trying to survive and we are just are too afraid to actually admit to those fears underneath in a vulnerable and honest way.
So how do we loose this jealousy that destroys what we had that was so good? With three simple keys
1. Reassure and soothe
Both of you first need reassurance when you are stuck in the jealousy dance. The reassurance that you will be there for each other, no matter what, will soothe the fears that lead to jealousy and fighting. Keep from taking things personally and let your partner know that you are in no way abandoning or rejecting them. Help them open up to what is really going on and promise them that you are there to help them through it, together as a team. Whatever it is, you’re going to be there. You’ll stand next to them in it and you’ll love them regardless.
Listen to your partners underlying needs, truly hear them out completely and allow them to express everything around the issue without you reacting to it. Leave your defences’ out of it. It’s not really about you, it’s about them and their fear and their needs. You’ve just triggered it. Just like it’s not the taps fault that the bath is running over. Instead of becoming enemies, you have a chance to cure the deeper underlying issues. They need to be healed for you both to move through this phase. Know that both of your issues will be triggered. So, never just listen, really hear them and let them express everything as honest and open and vulnerable as possible, be there for them. It’ll pay of for sure. Value how they feel and try to understand it. Surround the issue with your love, this is often half of the cure.
3. Fulfil the underlying need
Together, as a team, you can fight the real problem instead of fighting each other. When you can hear and see the underlying needs that aren’t being met and from which you are both reacting, it becomes easy to solve and soothe them. When the underlying need is being met, we feel safe and trusting again. We know that nothing has changed in our bond and connection in fact this has made your togetherness stronger. Once you’re in that safety frame of mind again, you can explain why you pulled away, or needed space and ask for your needs to be met as well. Creating a solution and plausible way for you to have space or more time apart without the other person being triggered makes you grow in the relationship and life, life has turned good once again.
Three more keys:
Now if you are really smart you’d want to keep jealousy out of your relationship all together. The following three keys will help you do so:
Be completely honest from the start till the very end. Give your partner that total trust that no matter what you’re going through, no matter what is happening, no matter what’s changing, you’ll come to them for advice and support and together you’ll get through it.
2. Keep appreciating and complimenting
When we become complacent in our relationship, our partner will feel this, consciously or subconsciously. They’ll feel the void and this will trigger them, sooner or later. Keep appreciating your partner like you did when you first met them, keep making that effort that makes them feel special. It’s a guarantee for keeping them happy and for you to keep your freedom and confidence within the relationship.
3. Be aware, have fun and keep communicating openly
Keep your eye on your partner, make them your No.1 priority at all times. It doesn’t mean having to spend all your time only with them. It means being aware of how they feel in the relationship at all times, it means including them and being on top of misunderstandings, changes ahead and discussing how you really feel. Being clear and telling them what you really need while keeping things light and fun is a guarantee for a
happy relationship to continue forever.
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