I was once this teenage girl who misused jealousy. I had a boyfriend when I was younger and I had this very bad habit of checking his phone, all his social media accounts, his comment threads, posts he likes, people he interacts with, who sits with him in class… and if it involves one girl- any girl, I would stir up a commotion. My defense has always been “it should bother you more when I stop being jealous, because I am only jealous because I love you. If I don’t, I wouldn’t care about what you do at all”. I found myself stressed and have used great amount of time doing unnecessary things and feeling unnecessary discomfort. Pfttt, why do I even have to monitor anyone’s behavior? That’s not how relationships should be, right?
A few years later, I have grown and learned (though not as much I have now). I have learned that the very essence of a relationship is trust and that true love sets free. Because of this, my husband is a free man. He can go where he likes, make friends with many people (including girls), have his password all to himself, without his wife sticking her nose in his every action. I trust him this much. However, I have overused this “to love is to trust” mindset and have turned it into “jealousy is a shameful and detestable feeling”. I would never entertain jealousy because I felt it was for immature girls. I felt this way because I felt ashamed whenever I would feel that my old, immature self is re-surfacing.
A couple of months ago, I have noticed a couple of familiar girls appearing on Mark’s Instagram. I know how Mark uses his social media accounts: follow everyone I know. He’s not very selective. And I also know that Instagram has a certain yet uncertain way of filtering the stories they show you. Even I, sometimes wonder why I have “top people” showing in my feed when I rarely or don’t even visit their accounts. So, I decided to ignore this as what other girls call, “gut feeling”.
Fast forward to a few weeks after that, Mark and I dealt with an issue of misunderstanding and jealousy. An issue we rarely deal with in the three-year course of our relationship. My previous “gut feeling” was confirmed yet I praise God for a humble and honest husband, because he had the courage to tell me his previous discomfort with this girl, and that he wanted to go through it with me. Just as he goes through protecting our marriage with me when I am the one who is about to stumble. Everything was settled and everything was restored by the Lord. Besides, if comparison must be made, I actually am the weaker one. When we do our heart evaluations, I am usually the one with more “this guy is starting to catch my attention” lines. My weakness is in affection and time and every time I feel like I am being tempted, I tell Mark. It’s one of the most effective way to protect each other in marriage. The number one target of the enemy is to tempt us in believing that someone is better than our spouse and that it’s okay to give in.
Adultery is always wrapped beautifully and no person ever foresees it until the damage has been done. That’s why we’ve mutually agreed that we will do whatever it takes to protect our marriage in a sense that we will still be free to grow as individuals but we’ll just be accountable to one another.
Another week has passed and Mark asked me to wake him up at 6:30 am. I had a quiz that day so I had to go to school even earlier. I didn’t want to disturb Mark’s sleep so I thought of just setting an alarm for him. I took his phone and as soon as I unlocked it, Instagram opened. There I saw the same girls I saw a couple months back. I didn’t want to dig deeper so I just quickly set the alarm and left.
There started the lies of the enemy.
“He’s probably starting to look at other girls”
“Maybe you’re not attractive enough anymore”
“Guys change and they’re all the same, you know? Do you really expect him to be that man of God you think he is?”
“At the end of the day, he is still ‘just’ a man”
I battled these thoughts in prayer and the heavy feeling still did not go away. Should I tell Mark? The very thought of having this heavy feeling was embarrassing enough, how much more when I tell him? I could not accept the fact that I was jealous.
When I came home, Mark immediately noticed my coldness, “are you okay honey? What’s wrong my baby?” but I gently said, “I can’t talk about it right now”.
I knew sweeping it under the rug will cause bigger problems and that sooner or later, I had to tell Mark. But how? It sounds so awful. Should I ask him to unfollow those girls? Should I ask him to be more considerate of who he chooses to follow on social media? Should I tell him that maybe he’s not protecting himself enough? Even when I say these things to myself, I already sound so immature. I couldn’t accept that I might be going back to my old self. Why would I want to sound like a girl making a big deal of social media accounts? I am not like this! Why am I suddenly becoming who I am not, especially becoming someone who I absolutely do NOT want to be?!
I eventually told Mark and he felt accused. His defense was valid and it was something I experienced myself. But the reason I opened up my feelings to him was just to stop him from wondering what suddenly happened to me.
I felt betrayed and Mark felt like I didn’t trust him. We both ended up in a cold place. I couldn’t fight for what I felt because I knew I was wrong somewhere and that my husband has always been a good and faithful partner.
Then, I came across a bible verse that says:
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. ” Matthew 18:15-17
So, we decided to open up to our discipleship group leaders. They’re actually almost our parents’ age. They are both couples equipped with experience and wisdom from the Lord, that’s why we really trust them. Dgroup leaders are people we trust with our life and our walk in faith- people who would stimulate our growth and lead us to a God centered life, marriage, and parenting.
We learned three things from them
Jealousy is a warning
That is the beauty of jealousy. If all things were created by God, it means jealousy was also planned by Him. The problem is that humans tend to misuse it and so it can be used by the enemy against us. But God had a beautiful purpose for jealousy: it was to serve as a warning. I was relieved when Tita Gee (my Dgroup leader) shared this to me. She said that if I am not the jealous type, and suddenly I feel jealous, it’s a clear sign that there is danger. How amazing is it that God has equipped us with a feeling that can tell you “Alert! Alert! The enemy might be tempting your spouse in this area!”? What would happen if jealousy didn’t exist? What would warn us of such disaster?
Jealousy is a warning that only I can see for Mark and Mark can see for me. Oftentimes, it would be very hard for me to see that I’m setting myself up for danger as well. And it is true. We have experienced situations where Mark would tell me, “honey, I don’t think he sees as only as a friend” and he would be right.
I was wrong. Jealousy is not a shameful thing. When it is balanced and used right, it serves as great protection for our marriage.
You have to act to protect your marriage
Nothing is ever worth as much as losing your spouse. Our Dgroup leaders challenged Mark to do something about this “foreseen danger”. If I have seen danger that he could not see, what should his response be? I personally wanted him to just filter his follows just as I did. I unfollowed male models and even friends who caused my heart to stumble. In my mind, it wouldn’t matter if these friends would think shallow of me for unfollowing them- my priority is to protect my marriage.
But Mark took this challenge bigger than I thought he would. He deleted Instagram. I felt so bad and I told him he didn’t have to. His response was, “ I know. But you know what? I actually feel more peaceful since then. I like it better”. He was right, he didn’t use Instagram a lot for sharing, he was just a silent user scrolling through his feed. He was more active on facebook and used it to communicate with friends and family. I felt a lot better when he told me that he actually felt more peace in this decision. I felt that it was a wisdom granted to him by the Lord instead of being pressured by me.
Take things of face value
“What does that mean?”, I asked. Tito Edwin replied, “it means you take what he says and don’t give meaning to it. Same goes to you, Mark”. It meant that if I said I was jealous, Mark can’t tell me “you shouldn’t be. I didn’t do anything to make you feel that way” and if Mark told me that he didn’t know why his account reflected that, I can’t say “really? Well when I looked up this and this and this and this… you are lying”. We have to trust what we say we feel and stop justifying ourselves.
Mark had to take responsibility for my feelings and I had to take responsibility for his.
Like any other relationships, mending of wounds was bittersweet. We talked about the issue at home, applying the lessons we learned from our experiences and from our leaders. It was an up and down conversation that had gotten really emotional- perhaps more emotional than it should have been. But it was indeed a challenge allowed by the Lord to teach us beautiful things. We have learned that there is beauty in jealousy and that we should take responsibility to how we made each other feel instead off being so defensive of ourselves.
Now, we can really feel how we’re even stronger than we were. It’s amazing how God uses challenges and trials so that we can grow closer together as husband and wife, and grow stronger in him.
In addition, God taught me that my security and worth is never to be placed upon the shoulder of another person. I am beautiful, I am worthy, and I am loved by the Highest. I should stop asking for re assurance from others because everyday, the Lord assures me of who I am. And the core of my heart and soul should not be shaken from the outside but be built with strong foundation inside.
What’s your own take about jealousy? How do you balance it? Are there areas you need to improve on? Do you need to learn about when is it reasonable to be jealous? Or do you need to learn that it’s okay to be jealous? How are you?
I’d love to hear from you. 😉