The Random Writings of Rachel: Jealousy? Not in My Marriage.

Jealousy? Not in My Marriage.

Back in February, when we were visiting my family, at the breakfast table, Angel told a story about a dream that had disturbed him. In his dream, I had met a guy, and started dating him. At first, Angel wasn't bothered by this at all. He described how, in the dream, I'd come home from each date and excitedly told him all about the guy and everything we did and how fun it was. Angel said he felt totally fine with the 1st date, and the 2nd, too, but when it came to the 3rd, that was going just a little too far. The takeaway from this dream, he said to all of us listening to his story, was that he's going to draw a hard line--his wife isn't allowed to go on 3 consecutive dates with the same guy, because that's just too much commitment.

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.

34 comments:

  1. This. This was a good read. Jealousy is definitely a struggle for me and my boyfriend, especially as we try to undestand each others cultures (he's tanzanian, I'm american), but it's something we are working on. This was a really good and eye opening read.

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  2. Excellent! Jealousy isn't part of my marriage. I work in a male dominated industry as an outdoor writer covering hunting and fishing. I take off into the woods and water with men. My husband works in an industry that more women are moving into. We don't give each other reason to worry. I'm a hugger and he accepts hugs. It is what it is - and it isn't worthy of jealousy.

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  3. My husband works primarily with women. It just so happens that when he took his job, that particular department was comprised of women. I don't worry about it at all.

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  4. Yes to all of this, so good!

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  5. I LOVE this. When you commit to someone and they commit to you .... why be jealous?! It's about trust! :)

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  6. I don't get jealous of my husband :) Sometimes he gets mock upset with me when I tell stories of being hit on :P but he's just being silly. We do try not to hang out 1 on 1 with members of the opposite sex (just something we decided in our own marriage) but I totally trust him! We both regularly do our own things. I actually can't wear my wedding band right right now, because I'm swollen due to baby. But being 7 months pregnant kinda helps people not hit on me. hahaha. :P

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  7. Great post, Rachel. So well written (I'm cheering you on your way to becoming a best-selling author!)

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  8. I love this post! No real relationship has room for jealousy. My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly 2 years with plans of getting married next year and I can say that jealousy is never an issue in our relationship. The respect that we have for one another goes far beyond that struggle.

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  9. " I do scold Angel when he takes off his wedding ring and spins in on the table like a top"

    I THOUGHT ONLY SEAN DID THAT!!! Glad to know I'm not alone.

    Now, go enjoy your two dates with whomever...

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  10. My marriage started out with lots of jealousy. My husband is Italian/French. He has a temper and he has a jealous side. Both of us had many boyfriend/girlfriends prior to marrying, with that comes baggage. Also my husband is very good looking and has a great French accent. Two things that have women falling all over him all the time which does burn me at times. Especially since often women will go too far, even when they know he is married.

    After being married for 24 years now you are right that people always make a choice. They choose to let someone into their lives or to keep them out.

    This was a great read. I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about it in another 20 years : )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  11. I wish jealously wasn't an issue in my marriage. I am the jealous one though. My husband has never wore a wedding ring so he can't ever take it off since he never put in on. But the jealously thing drives me crazy. I feel like I'm going crazy most days worrying about it. But he cheats on me a lot. And has for years and years... so of course, I am jealous and. Wish I could just brush it off and try to make it work to where I just realize it is who he is. He will not change. I hate that he is always finding new women on dating websites. The jealously thing really sucks.

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  12. "Spontaneously combust into flames of love"... hahahaha that is so great, and I completely agree with you. I think couples have to draw boundaries that they see fit, and I'm glad you've defined yours here. A lot of it is cultural too, I imagine. A kind gesture in one culture can mean something entirely different in another!

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  13. Same here! But as a running inside joke, my fiance and I have mastered mock jealousy and fake outrage in our attempts to boyfriend/girlfriend-trap each other.

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  14. This is so funny! You two sound a lot like me and my husband. I'm happy to say we have no jealousy problems either! He's a machinist, and I'm a teacher--a young, female teacher. Some of my male students can get a little fresh sometimes, and the stories I have to tell my husband about the things they say tickle him to no end!

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  15. Oh, goodness! I have had my fair share of jealous boyfriends in the past and when I met Cory it took me by surprise how laid back he was. I have definitely struggled with jealousy in the past but to me, our vows eased that jealousy. I know Cory and if he took the time to go through planning a wedding with me, he's not gonna cheat! Ha!

    I couldn't agree more with the choice to cheat, though, which is why we take the approach of "if whatever you are doing couldn't be done in front of the other person, you shouldn't be doing it."

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  16. Great read! I think that this is important . Jealousy doesn't help relationships at all. It just helps end them, it seems.

    http://bobaandpearls.com

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  17. I think jealousy comes from a lack of trust. My marriage is based off a certain level of trust, which gives me confidence. Like you said I know my husband can separate relationships into their appropriate category.

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  18. I'm so glad you don't have jealousy! We don't really have it either. I think it comes down to be confident in yourself and trust in your spouse!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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  19. Phillip and I like to show mutual respect and tell the other that they are smoking hot!

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  20. Love this. Jealousy ruins relationships and its great that you guys don't have to worry about that!

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  21. I love this! I think trust and communication are the two most important factors in a healthy relationship, and it sounds like you have them both down. Inspirational!

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  22. This is a great post. Jealousy can eat you alive if you let it and if you don't trust your spouse you need to realize what is at the heart of the issue. <3

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  23. I love this. One of my college roommates was absolutely crazy about this stuff. I remember one time she said something along the lines of it being her fault if her future husband ever cheated on her (she thought about that a lot) and I was blown away! No way is it her fault. Maybe a wife who has been cheated on could have shown a little more love or something, but it was the husband's choice to cheat on her. (Or vise versa with husband and wife if that's the case). Also, I never understood why, in the movies and stuff, when a spouse cheats, the other spouse wants to beat up or punish the third party in some way. I'm always like, it's not really her fault. He came on to her. She may not have even know he was married. Ugh! I also like how you said if someone is going to cheat, it won't matter what kind of boundaries you put up. So true. It's not an accident! lol Ok that rant over. Thanks for this post!

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  24. This is awesome! I really enjoyed reading your perspective on this. I don't like how jealousy can cause conflict in relationships, especially when there really isn't a reason to even be jealous.

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  25. My husband is Peruvian, and people warned me about the "machismo" and jealousy problems I was setting myself up for - couldn't be farther from the truth! Jealousy isn't something we've ever discussed, but neither of us suffers from.

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  26. GREAT post. I wrote something similar a few months back. My husband and I have no jealousy in our marriage either. And we're both Hispanic. ;-) So people should really stop stereotyping a whole group of people. I mean, really. I think it's great you and your husband have such a great understanding with one another.

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  27. Such a good post. I didn't think that jealousy would ever be a problem for me before I started dating, but when my guy and I started dating I realized that it was definitely something I needed to keep in check...he's dated a number of girls, and it was really easy for me to be jealous of all those girls. One of his best friends, who he hangs out with fairly often, is a girl...and initially, it was difficult for me to convince myself that his hanging out with another girl was ok. And he's a hugger, too, which initially felt so weird to me. Now, however, I've gotten to know him, and I trust him and realize there's no reason for me to be jealous or to act as his ball and chain, haha. Jealousy is such a dangerous thing in general, and I'm glad you and Angel are so good at keeping it out of your marriage! I hope Josh and I are able to follow your example. :)

    -Vicki
    Vicki Grace

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  28. We're the same way. There's just no reason for it if you really trust someone. And if you're married, you should trust. #sitsblogging

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  29. There's no jealousy in our marriage either. I've long felt that if someone wants to be with me, then they are going to be with me. And if they want someone else, they are welcome to them. Beyond that, though, I trust my husband. He trusts me. There's no room for jealousy.

    Stopping by from Sharefest!

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  30. I might be the only dissenter in the group :) I actually think a *little* jealousy is healthy in a relationship. I completely agree that you can't control anyone---they will do (insert any vice here) if they want, no matter what. And I think it's our choice to react to their actions.

    But, I almost think that the "do what you want--I don't care!" attitude is dangerous...it could potentially make your partner feel like you really *don't* care. I've seen this first hand with a marriage in my family (she was 110% like, go to a bar with a bunch of 20 something women? Sure! I'm don't care!). It's like, ookaaay. You could seriously care less what I'm doing?

    My husband and I have been married for 12 years. I think showing your partner that you think they are attractive and that you would lose your mind if he stepped out on you is romantic (not in a threatening, psycho way--there's a healthy way to do it!). Am I an alien in this thinking?? When my husband looks really good and he's going to some evening event at a bar, or restaurant. I'll say something like, "better watch out for those hussies trying to get a piece of you!" or something silly like that and then I give him a kiss and tell him he looks hot.

    I am a firm believer that people cheat because they are not getting their needs met in their relationship (not blaming the non-cheater---both need to work at it) and for us, part of the needs equation is I make sure he knows he's mine LOL

    And he says silly things like that to me, too. It makes me feel like, hey, he still finds me attractive and he knows other people will too. I love it!

    Am I on an island over here?? LOL :) :)

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  31. ps--stopped by from the SITSgirls linky :)

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  32. Speaking as someone who has experienced the excruciating fallout of adultery by my spouse, although it may be true that people "do not spontaneously burst into flames of love" and they make a choice to do what they're doing, this is usually after a very gradually getting to know and like the other person more and more, not a sudden change. This makes it very important that we guard our own eyes and hearts. Interesting discussion :-)

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  33. I've multiple dreams of Cass ditching me for another woman. I hate those dreams. I love your examples of what a healthy marriage looks like. Especially the ring thing. Cass can't wear his ring at work and my finger gets dried out where my ring sits so we both take our rings off regularly. I think other people are bothered by our not wearing rings more than we are.

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  34. I agree with you SO much! Dan & I trust each other completely. I've always had close guy friends, and that hasn't changed since getting married. Dan doesn't have as many close female friends, but I have no problem when he hangs out with them. Plus I really like that he's become comfortable with my close girlfriends, so he can hang out with them even if I'm unavailable.

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