5/31 – Jealousy was an Opportunity

**Please note, this blog project is about lessons I’ve learned and my growth. If you have an inkling of who the other woman is, please refrain from mentioning her at all. 


 

There was a summer when Megan was working extremely hard as an administrator for her school. Her work became her life, with every waking moment attending to her duties to her job. That left very little time for to spend with her husband. She would only see me a few minutes a day, and during those times she was exhausted from stress. Normally, my wife keeps much of her emotional dialogue to herself and communication has been learned over time. This distance led to some marital conflict as the following story illustrates.

Megan and I were in middle of training for our Disney World Marathon vacation. We’d trained for a couple of months together in the spring and all that training was halted abruptly that summer. A six plus mile jog was an investment of about 2-3 hours, from the stretching and warm up and run and cool down and post run relaxation. Running is an intense bonding experience.

But I wasn’t running with Megan that summer. My wife would see me go off to have fun with another woman nearly every day. I would spend hours with another woman while my wife had to stress over data and schedules and personnel. She did not take a break from her duties because people were counting on her to fulfill her duties, duties meant for 2-3 full time staff. She was an emotional and physical wreck, and no one could save her. The more she threw herself into her work, the more isolated and withdrawn she became. And our own imaginations can be a dangerous cave to enter.

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I anticipated this early on and asked her if everything was okay. I told her outright if she had an issue with my purely Platonic athletic relationship with the other person I would adjust my time and even eliminate the activity altogether with the other woman. She assured me everything was okay. Mostly, I think she wanted to believe she could maintain her composure to prove something to herself.

One night at the end of that summer, standing together at Malden Station waiting for the bus her emotions unloaded. Tears and of fear overtook her. It wasn’t that I was physically cheating on her, but she was concerned of my emotional infidelity.

What does a husband say to that?

How does a husband respond in love and assurance that this was not intentional infidelity?

I’m going to try to remember what I said as best I can:

Megan, I love you. If you want me to stop seeing her, I will end it immediately. I will figure out some excuse and everything will be fine. I’ll train on my own. You are the most important person in my life and your emotional needs means I will do what it takes to keep you happy. What can I do?

 

In actuality, those words mean nothing. 

Jealousy is a legitimate emotion that comes from a sincere place. Jealousy means a fear of being replaced, a rivalry towards somebody else. Jealousy is fear of unfaithfulness. To me, jealousy means the significant other feels like he or she is lacking something in the relationship with his or her significant other. This was an opportunity to understand my wife and what I could do to serve her needs better as a husband.

I don’t think we came to a conclusion that night. She was too drained to converse with me. I think she went to bed, and we spoke again the next couple of days. That gave some time to both of us to ruminate over the issue.

Jealousy was an opportunity for me to be a better husband to her. By merely severing a real friendship with the other woman, I would not be a better husband to Megan. Severing the friendship alone would be a Band-Aid on a broken leg. I’m not going to delve into details about what I learned about our relationship. For me, I believe that’s a personal item between to loved ones.

But I will say this: Emotional infidelity is serious. And fear is a stronger emotion than love. Love can conquer all, but fear can destroy anything and everything indiscriminately in its path. And the feeling of abandonment is a quiet emotion. She may feel there’s nothing and no one left to trust and to hold onto — feelings of abandonment may be one of the most terrifying emotions to have. Jealousy is the outcome of fear and abandonment.

For both partners, you need to give your voice to your significant other. Take the opportunity to address the underlying emotional needs of yourself and your loved one. Jealousy is an opportunity to build an emotionally and physically stronger bond in a new an exciting way, so long as both people are willing to communicate, and try.


Megan read this post and here’s what she has to say:

Yes. Okay. Stop bothering me. I’m reading my book. Go ahead and post it. But your grammar is weird. I would say atrocious but I’m trying to be nice about it *kiss* I love you.

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