How to Deal with a Jealous Spouse
My spouse is a very jealous person and I worry he may become abusive. How do we address his behavior to prevent anything from happening in the future?
Jealousy is a complicated emotion. In some cases it is a normal human response to a real or perceived thread of loosing your partner to another. Usually, when there is no cause for jealousy and both partners are basically trusting people it is quickly and relatively easily resolved.
In more extreme cases there needs to be an honest assessment as to whether the jealous person has reasons to be jealous. Often jealous people marry or get involved with people who provoke them, sometimes unconsciously. So if one is married to someone jealous, it is important to understand and care about their feelings and do everything possible not to give them any reason to feel threatened and suffer.
Jealousy is rooted in insecurity, lack of trust, betrayal, history of being cheated on or growing up in a family with cheating and seeing its impact on family members. It is important for the partner of a jealous person to know and understand where this is coming from and be sensitive and protective of their feelings.
However, when there is an extreme jealousy bordering on abusive behavior, even if it is based on some real triggers in the relationship, abuse should not be tolerated and it would be very important for the jealous spouse to start individual therapy to figure out what is being triggered and how to cope with the triggers without becoming abusive.
Another possibility is to see a couples therapist to help navigate this dynamic, to help the couple understand if there are triggers to jealousy, what they are, if there are behaviors or situations that bring this on, and more importantly how to communicate and cope with extreme feelings without getting abusive emotionally or physically.
It is also important to see this as a couple issue and not a problem with one spouse. Only in extreme cases this may be an individual issue. This is usually in a case of a jealous spouse having a trauma history involving betrayal or/and infidelity.