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The Jealousy Demon

Philip Leara
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We've all heard advice that sounds good on the surface. But if your partner really doesn't like something you do for yourself, like masturbation, is it vital to the marriage that you respect his/her comfort level and sacrifice the behavior for the benefit of your marriage? Does this really help your partner? Or could it be that this sort of self denial actually causes more problems in the long run?

  The Real Issue.

The problem with this type of advice is it doesn't deal with the real issues at play here. Jealousy is a deep and destructive emotion; ignoring it will not make it go away. It grows in the dark. If you can't feel like your partner loves you, and doesn't want to replace you, NOTHING they do, or don't do, will change that. It is a seductive power play that is inherently unequal and ultimately kills the relationship faster than outright deception because it is a subtle and poisonous form of deception. You are allowing your partner to tell you that you must act a certain way, behave a certain way, and feel a certain way in order to keep his/her feelings from being unmanageable. In other words, you are managing your partner's feelings! You are being defeated before you begin because you can't possibly know what your partner's true feelings are. You are also robbing your partner of a chance to grow.

We are all responsible for managing our own emotions, and ultimately our feelings are NOT paramount in the relationship, especially our negative ones. What is paramount to the relationship is acceptance of who and what our partners are, intrinsically. This is the meaning of unconditional love, which is the only kind of love that strengthens through adversity and lasts. Unconditionally loving yourself is the first step to unconditionally loving your partner. How can you love yourself without condition when you are denying yourself experiences that reflect who you are as a person? When you deny who you are to placate the fears of a partner, you are creating a power vacuum that sucks at your soul. This is not the way of love, which seeks the truth.

At the root of the power give away is a desire to end the suffering of our partner. This is a wonderful drive, but it is a self defeating proposition. Simply avoiding the triggers of an emotion doesn't deal with the underlying fear. Honestly looking at the problem and discussing the possible consequences is a step in the right direction and helps to build trust. It also has a wonderful side effect: it helps build true intimacy.

To get at the root of the problem, my friend and her husband had to sit down and have a really hard look at their entire relationship. From their courtship, each had been playing a role they deemed appropriate and wholesome but they had missed out on a wealth of intimacy because each, in their own way, was afraid of what that intimacy would reveal. She feared being a wanton, or "bad" woman, and he feared losing this marvelous creature he loved so deeply. He believed she stayed with him because she didn't like sex and he didn't pressure her. She believed he stayed because he was a good man and suffered deprivation that made him like every other married man! In essence, her frigidity and his self denial were deemed appropriate "roles" each could play. So much of their combined ego was tied up in believing the false illusion that they almost missed the opportunity to really connect, and that would have been a crying shame.

For any relationship to be successful, jealousy must be dealt with in a positive light. It isn't something to be feared, but rather, something to be examined. Once you get to the root of what is causing the fear, because that's what jealousy is at its root, you can begin to make real changes in your relationship that are positive and sustainable. You begin to deal with the fear and insecurity, and that's when true intimacy creeps in. When you truly know yourself, and your partner, your moments of jealousy become small and completely manageable. This is when just a small token like a hug, a smile, and acknowledgement that you are having a rough time ends the heartache. When you manage your own emotions and let your partner manage his/her emotions, you are free to be intimate. Don't deny yourself in an effort to placate a partner, lest you lose what makes you, and your relationship, special and unique.


Well thought out and thought-provoking examination of a difficult subject. Thanks for sharing this story and its implications with us.


That was extreamly helpful and made me think. Thank you!


It scares me that our society has such backward views of what makes a lasting relationship. Denying something that brings you pleasure, but harms no one, because your spouse or significant other is jealous of the activity is a sure way to destroy yourself. It doesn't help your partner to grow and deepen his/her trust in you and your love it just avoids the issue. It simply isn't a very loving thing to do for your deny them a chance to grow and deal with their own discomfort in a mature manner.


This was a little wild to read. Marriage is about love, not denial. Very well-thought-out article.



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