We nearly fell out of our seats with laughter at his shocking tale.
That anecdote should not be taken to mean that I, as a married woman, run around dating other men a maximum of two times apiece. But, after hearing that tale, you probably won't be overly surprised when I say that jealousy has no place in our marriage.
I feel as if no sooner did we become a couple than mentions of jealousy began popping up. Angel told me once, during those early weeks of phone calls, "I'm a nurse. You know that means I'll be working with mostly women for the rest of my life. Are you really okay with that?"
My coy response was: "I think you're smart enough to know the difference between a wife and a coworker, so yeah, that's no problem for me."
He just laughed. "Wife...coworker....wife...coworker...hmmm, I think I see what you mean."
We understood each other perfectly.
When I was in beauty school, a client saw the picture of Angel I kept on my mirror and asked me about him. "He's Mexican, isn't he?" she said, "Mexican men are known for their jealousy--I'd be careful if I were you."
I laughed then, because my husband is not, and has never been, jealous. When I told him the story of how (3 years post-marriage) I was infamously asked out on a date by a very sweet 19 year old at a New Year's Eve Dance, he thought it was the funniest thing ever and wished he had been there to see the awkward look on my face when I was trying to figure out how to respond.
I had a few moments of jealousy on my part very early on in our relationship (mostly jealousy of the past, which, we should all know, is the most useless and ridiculous form jealousy can take), but as years have passed, I've grown up enough to know that one thing I will fight for is to keep jealousy out of my marriage.
Both of us have traditional "till death do we part" views toward our own marriage. It's not that we're so modern that we think it doesn't matter if our spouse falls in love with someone else. It's simply that we believe that a jealous attitude will poison our marriage faster than any innocent contact/conversation/relationship with someone of the opposite gender ever could.
The fact that each of us has a free will and is responsible for our own actions is a key point of my theology. Any married person can choose to be faithful to their spouse or can choose to be unfaithful, and their lives will bear the consequences of their choice either way. No, I don't want my husband to cheat on me. But I believe that if he is determined to cheat on me, no boundary that I set up is going to stop him. If my husband is unfaithful to me, it is not my fault, and it is not the other woman's fault, it is the result of his own choice and his own actions. In my view, it is impossible for a married person to accidentally fall in love with someone they're not married to--and because of that impossibility, it would be silly for me to life my life in fear of this happening.
I am not a jealous person, because I fundamentally believe that if a man and a woman are left alone in a room at the same time, they do not spontaneously combust into flames of love. That's a myth. People who are unfaithful to their spouses actively choose that route--for many different reasons, possibly, but they choose it.
In some cases, for some people, actively choosing to be faithful to their spouses in complicated situations might be a daily battle. In our case, it's more comparable to autopilot.
Our experience in marriage has not given either one of us any reason to view the other jealously, and I'm determined to never let the vicious weed of jealousy attempt to sneak in and destroy the peaceful relationship we have.
What does a marriage not characterized by jealousy look like in real life?
- We leave ourselves signed in to most social media and email accounts as a matter of convenience, and occasionally check the other's accounts for important messages, but have no rules banning contacting friends via email or social media, regardless of gender.
- I hug people whenever they hug me first (not a hugger). Angel hugs almost everybody. I do not feel insecure or jealous when he hugs people, even when they are strangers to me.
- All of our professional interactions (whether in the hospital or school) are governed by adherence to the policies set in place by our workplace, and we don't have any of our own additional workplace rules above and beyond normal ethical and professional behavior when it comes to interactions between genders.
- I have traveled to visit family and left Angel home alone many times, with the longest trip I've ever gone on lasting 3 weeks. He plays sports and leaves me home alone for the evening regularly.
- I feel proud of how likeable my husband is and how easily he makes friends wherever he goes.
- I do scold Angel when he takes off his wedding ring and spins in on the table like a top when we're at a night market waiting for our dinners. I always tell him that if he drops it in a drain someday, it'll have to be replaced with a cheap steel or silver ring instead of a gold one. Both of us wear our wedding rings most of the time, but not all the time, and not wearing our rings is not viewed as a threat to our marriage or a signal of impending doom.
- He encourages me to dress "attractively." I respond by dressing "like a rainbow" but maybe try to make it an "attractive" rainbow. We have different ideas on the fundamentals of a great outfit, but I appreciate that he doesn't feel the need to squash my sense of style.
- We're each happy when good things happen to the other. Angel has always said that he hopes I someday become a famous author and make millions of dollars--since that would obviously improve his own lifestyle.