How to Be More Compassionate to Your Spouse

These action steps are key to compassion.

I think one partner in every marriage has heard or thought the phrase, “You don’t care.” I’ve learned to interpret that in my own marriage like this: I’m not showing any compassion. 

Compassion is where empathy meets action.

It’s the difference between caring and showing care. You want your spouse to know you can feel their pain, and you’re willing to do something about it. And studies show that you’re better off for showing compassion whether your spouse acknowledges it or not.

Do you want to be more compassionate to your spouse? Sure you do! Here are some tips.

Put your energy into understanding.

Compassion starts with listening for understanding. Listen, not for how you can fix it or be right, but to understand your spouse’s thoughts, emotions, and desires. The Gottman Institute’s research tells us, “Most of the time, when your mate (or anyone) comes to you with an issue that has made them upset, they don’t immediately ask for advice. They are silently asking for your understanding and compassion. They want to feel that you are on their side.”

Action: Respond in a way that demonstrates you understand or that you want to better understand. Avoid trying to fix the issue.

Step outside of yourself.

Things affect people differently. You may not react to disappointment, pain, or betrayal the way your spouse would. If you respond differently than your spouse, try laying your preferences down and allowing your spouse to be true to themselves. Accept them as they are and support them.

Action: Validate your spouse through words, physical affection, and comfort. 

Never forget: your spouse is human, too.

He’s your husband. She’s your wife. The parent of your children. Your knight in shining armor. Your queen. All that may be true. But they are also a person with emotions, ups and downs, disappointments, and unrealistic expectations at times. They make mistakes, and they might have a lapse in judgment here or there. In other words, we all have our imperfections. Treating a spouse as though they shouldn’t make mistakes will block compassion.

Action: Give your partner space to be human. Give them grace when things don’t go their way. Avoid placing unrealistic expectations of perfection on them. Don’t treat them like a title: husband/wife, parent, provider. Instead, treat them like they’re your favorite human on the planet.

Stop what you’re doing and go “all-in.”

Sometimes when your spouse is having a difficult time, you have to just turn the TV off. Silence those cell phone notifications. Cancel a social outing. Remind your spouse that the world can go on, but right now, “my world is stopping until you get what you need from me.” Do this before there’s a panic attack, nervous breakdown, or an explosion of pent-up anger.

Action: Ask, “What do you need from me at this very moment?”

Be helpful.

Each of you brings different strengths and tendencies to the relationship. Our tendencies can sometimes leave us vulnerable to mistakes. For instance, your go-getter spirit can cause you to overcommit your time, which causes stress. Your kindness can allow others to take advantage of you. You often have the choice to criticize or be compassionate toward your spouse. 

Criticism will help point out all their “flaws.” Compassion will look for ways to cover their blind spots.

Action: Be the spouse that recognizes blind spots. And with a generous spirit, help fill the gaps. For example, be the friend to your spouse that they are to others. Do a little more housework when your spouse is stressed. 

Pillow talk and morning coffee…

Compassion is at its best when we intimately know the recipient of our compassion, a.k.a. spouse. We don’t learn them through osmosis. Sometimes the only way to get the answer to being more compassionate is to talk about it. This is the perfect kind of conversation to have at night while lying in bed.

Action: Give your spouse undivided attention before bedtime or during morning coffee. Ask, “What does the word compassion mean to you?” What does compassion look like to you? What do I do that makes you feel cared for or understood?”

Sometimes we can be our kindest, most understanding selves toward strangers, but I’m here to tell you: it should be the other way around. The ones closest to us should be the first recipients of our compassion. Admittedly, it takes intentionality. Remember that your favorite human is the one you said “I do” to. And now that you remember it, treating them like it will help them believe they really are your favorite.

Sources:

Tis’ Better to Give, To Your Spouse

Expressing Compassion and Empathy

MOST POPULAR LINKS ON TOPIC:

The Most Important Quality in a Marriage Is…

30 Ways to be a More Compassionate Spouse

7 Tips on How to Communicate With Your Spouse In a More Compassionate Way

13 Tips for Newlyweds

A solid foundation can help couples handle whatever comes their way.

Our closest friends just got married. My wife and I grabbed dinner with them a few weeks ago, and it reminded me of how fun (and frustrating) the newlywed phase of marriage can be. Our friends are clearly in a season of re-learning everything they thought they knew about marriage and each other. Seeing this reminded me of just how uncomfortable the first few years of marriage can be and how NORMAL it is for couples to struggle. 

So, without further ado, here are 13 tips for newlyweds (gathered from experts, therapists, and research) to help couples navigate the first few years of marriage.

1. Listening is key.

I can’t express enough how crucial healthy communication is. It’s foundational to any relationship. Remember, communication has two parts: speaking and listening. Listening is vital in communication. Become a better listener and tune in to your spouse.

2. You won’t always agree, and that’s ok.

You’re not going to see eye to eye on everything. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. I strongly suggest coming to a mutual agreement on big things like significant purchases, career choices, family size, and holidays. But in small things, it’s ok to disagree.

3. You’re both going to grow.

A wise leader once told me, “You’ll be the same person in five years as you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet.” Basically, what you learn and who you build relationships with will mold who you become. You’re both going to grow. You’ll be different people in five, 10, or even 25 years. Grow together and encourage each other’s growth.

4. You both may see the world differently.

You and your spouse have different life experiences that shape your worldview. My wife and I grew up in different countries and cultures, so we see the world differently. But we try to see the world through each other’s lenses.

5. Always be intentional with each other.

Successful couples are intentional. They prioritize each other’s needs. Be intentional about putting your spouse first.

6. Keep dating.

Dating keeps you connected. Get creative with your dates. It doesn’t always have to be dinner and a movie. And it doesn’t always have to be in the evening. Schedule dates, put them on the calendar, and prioritize that time together. (Need some date ideas? Check out http://firstthings.org/date.)

7. Make sex a priority.

Talk about it. Schedule it. And do it. Sexual intimacy actually increases the emotional intimacy in your marriage. You both may have different sex drives, and that’s ok. Again, talk about it. Sex is an essential part of your marriage. (Check out our course, MARRIAGE COURSE | Discover Deeper Intimacy In Your Marriage!)

8. Boundaries are crucial.

In-laws, social media, opposite-sex friends, technology, money, friends… the list goes on and on. Boundaries matter, and they aren’t bad. Think of them as guardrails. They’re there to keep you on the road and going in the right direction. Talk about them and establish them together. 

9. Conflict will happen.

Your marriage is made up of two imperfect people. Conflict is gonna happen. One of you may see conflict as a sport; the other may avoid it at all costs. You can’t make conflict disappear, but you can learn to manage it in a healthy way.

10. Assume the best about your spouse.

Your spouse may do something that bothers you or hurts you. Don’t assume they did it on purpose. You are both learning about each other. Assume the best and give them grace.

11. Be your spouse’s #1 cheerleader.

Your spouse has goals. Talk about their goals and find ways to support them as they work to achieve them. 

12. Be committed.

Your wedding day shouldn’t be the only day you define your commitment. It’s a daily choice that you make known to your spouse.

13. Have fun, and lots of it.

Maybe it’s dancing in the kitchen, playing games, being goofy, or having Nerf gun wars. Whatever it is, make your marriage fun.

The first five years of marriage can be uncomfortable and beautiful all at the same time. Whether you’re a newlywed yourself or you have newly married couples in your life, these 13 tips can go a long way to help newlyweds build a solid foundation for the rest of their lives together.

Sources:

23 Good Pieces of Marriage Advice All Couples Need to Read

Why the First Year of Marriage is So Hard

Keeping Marriages Healthy, and Why It’s So Difficult

The Research on Stress and Happy Marriages

What Introverts Married to Extroverts Need to Know

Knowing who you are individually and together can make you stronger.

We’re all wired differently, and the differences are never more evident than in marriage. While navigating differences in relationships can present challenges, you’ll go deeper as your relationship grows and you become a student of your spouse. Couples often encounter differences when one spouse is introverted and the other is extroverted. This can be a pretty noticeable difference based on the individual’s personality, but these types are often misunderstood. Let’s dive a little deeper into understanding them.

What’s the difference between introversion and extroversion?

The common perception of the difference between these two is that one is shy and the other is outgoing. While that can be true, it isn’t the rule. Psychologist Carl Jung (the father of this whole conversation) classified the two groups based on where they find their energy. Extroverts are energized by the external world. Introverts are energized by alone time. 

So, are they polar opposites?

Jung discovered that people aren’t necessarily one or the other. Instead, look at it as a spectrum. There can be varying degrees of introversion and extroversion. My wife and I fall on different points of this spectrum. And it can fluctuate.

What does an introvert married to an extrovert need to know? 

There are differences in how these two are wired. So, for the introverts out there, here are some things you need to know and some tips to help you navigate your differences:

Navigating social settings.

As we discovered earlier, extroverts are energized by the external world. They are often the life of the party, and they love it. They live to meet new people and experience new places. “Stranger” is a foreign word to them. 

For the introverted spouse who likes to be alone, this can be a struggle. If they do go out in the crowd, they often want to be out of the spotlight. But if you know that your spouse is energized by being around others, you should talk about this. It’s not fair to prevent them from being in social settings, but it’s also unfair to always send them alone. It’s possible to find a balance that meets your needs and your spouse’s needs while strengthening your relationship.

Talking about their problems.

Extroverts usually find it easy to talk out their problems with others. They’re often more than willing to express their feelings, thoughts, and issues. 

On the other hand, introverts tend to internalize and think through things. They dislike conflict and will withhold their thoughts to avoid confrontation. For the health of your marriage, it’s essential to talk through issues and manage conflict together. Introverts may need to step out of their comfort zone and discuss issues with their spouse. They don’t have to talk to all their friends about it, but need to express it to their significant other. Remember, if you don’t discuss problems with your extroverted spouse, they will find someone to discuss them with. And the best place for marriage work to be done is in the marriage. (Read https://firstthings.org/should-you-tell-your-friends-and-family-about-your-marital-problems/.)

Taking risks.

Extroverts aren’t afraid of risk. They may be more apt to engage in risky behavior than an introvert. Some studies have shown that they are wired this way. Their brain rewards them when risks go well. One study found that risk-takers are rewarded with dopamine, a “feel good” chemical associated with pleasure and reward. So for extroverts, risk-taking brings about a rewarding sensation. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

Introverts are more inclined to weigh the pros and cons of any risk. Whether diving into the stock market or diving out of an airplane, they think it through and process it. Their extroverted spouse just jumps. The introverted spouse needs to express their desire to process to their spouse. You can’t hold them back from taking the risk, but you can be their cheerleader, so look for opportunities to support healthy risk-taking. Remember, they are wired to have a natural desire to take risks.

These are just a few ways that introverts and extroverts differ. Remember, this is a spectrum, and you both may find yourselves at varying degrees on that spectrum. But most importantly, you need to recognize who you are, who they are, and who you are together. Marriage is about learning from each other and growing together. Be who you are and encourage your spouse in who they are. 

Sources: 

Neurobiology of the Structure of Personality: Dopamine, Facilitation of Incentive Motivation, and Extraversion

How Does Dopamine Effect the Body?

Extroverts, Introverts, and Everything in Between

Are You An Extrovert? Here’s How to Tell.

Tips for Extroverts Married to Introverts

These tricks can help you understand and appreciate each other!

I’m sure you want to understand and appreciate your spouse, and it can be hard sometimes. But I’m here to tell you: When extroverts are married to introverts, it can be a good thing — a great thing, even! You just have to figure a few things out and appreciate your differences.

My spouse and I are the epitome of the saying “opposites attract.” I’m an extrovert. He’s an introvert. Throughout our 27 years of marriage, I’ve become more extroverted. In contrast, he’s become more introverted. We’ve worked through and understood these differences by now, but it wasn’t easy at the beginning of our relationship. (Read What To Do When You And Your Spouse Are Really Opposites.)

We had conflicts and disagreements as a result. As an extrovert, I tended to be more talkative and demanding, which caused him to retreat. That led to frustration because I wanted him to be like me. But he’s not, and that’s ok!

Once I realized there was nothing wrong with him being who he is (an introvert), we could have productive conversations. In turn, he shared some things he wanted me to know about him, so I’ve got some tips to share. Navigating through our differences to reach the point of understanding was a good thing for us. 

How did we get there? 

We finally realized that the difference between introverts and extroverts is how each gains and uses emotional energy. We also recognized that being introverted or extroverted is not cut-and-dried. Instead, it’s on a continuum from extroversion to introversion. There are extreme extroverts, extreme introverts, introverted extroverts, extroverted introverts, and other combinations. 

If you are an extrovert married to an introvert, here are some things they probably wish you knew.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean they don’t like people.

As an introvert, your spouse does like people, but being around them requires them to use a lot of emotional energy. To restore themselves, they need time alone. Recognizing that they have limits on the amount of time they spend with others and the number of people they want to be around can help you understand them better.

Have a set game plan.

Whether you’re planning a dinner party for friends or want to attend the retirement party for your supervisor, talk about it with your spouse. Consider things like date, time, location, and the number of people. Once plans have been set, try not to change them at the last minute. Once you’ve shared the game plan, have an honest conversation about what you both expect. This will help you both mentally prepare for the interaction.

Accept, and don’t judge them.

If you’re at a social gathering, your introverted spouse may want to be near you. They may need your presence as support. While you want to “work the room,” realize that may be uncomfortable for them. Give them understanding, not judgment. Telling them they are anti-social or standoffish is not helpful.  

They need alone time.

After spending time with people, your spouse will need time to recharge. While you may be over the moon about spending time with people (and energized afterward), being around people can cause stress in your spouse. Solitude gives them the time and space to regain their equilibrium. They’re not trying to reject you or distance themselves from you. You can help your spouse out by creating an atmosphere that provides the solitude they enjoy. For example, try drawing a bath, placing candles around the tub, or making their favorite drink and leaving it near their favorite chair. This can demonstrate that you see, respect, and appreciate what it took for them to go with you to the outing. 

No matter what you prefer, it’s vital to know and understand how your spouse feels and responds to social events. Find ways to assist and support them. Things like standing near them, holding hands, or checking in from time to time to make sure they’re ok. Be aware of the signs that they have reached their limit. There’s a delicate tightrope between your comfort level and your spouse’s, but it leads to a great place. Remember, the more you understand your spouse, the more you can love, serve and give them what they need.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-introverts-corner/201509/5-essential-tips-introvert-extrovert-couples

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/introversion

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/extroversion

How to Help Your Spouse With Post-Pandemic Anxiety

Here are two important things you can do right now.

Let me state the obvious and say it’s been a rough year or so. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, reality has come the closest it’s ever been to a sci-fi novel. And it’s literally messed with our heads. Society as a whole experienced a significant uptick in relationship and mental health issues. 

And let me just speak for us all when I say thank goodness we seem to be on the downswing of it all. (Of course, we’re not entirely over the hill — many are still dealing with health concerns.

Despite this downswing, fear and anxiety are still lingering in the air. Many are experiencing what scientists call “post-pandemic anxiety syndrome.” It’s a condition marked by continual worry about re-entering life in the post-pandemic era. 

Signs1 of this syndrome tend to mimic other mental health issues like anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome. They include: 

  • Increased stress
  • Excessive worry
  • Difficulty returning to a full engagement with society
  • Avoiding work or social interactions
  • Constantly checking symptoms despite not being in a high-risk scenario
  • Perceived threats that aren’t necessarily there

Some of these symptoms are pretty normal after a global pandemic. Most of us experienced at least one of these at some time or another. But for those who cope in a healthy way, these signs should gradually taper off. 

However, symptoms that persist or get worse might indicate a bigger problem. 

So how do you help your spouse with post-pandemic anxiety? 

There are two important things you can do right now.

1. Exercise a great deal of empathy and understanding. 

You may not have the same anxiety your spouse does. You may even wonder what all the fuss is about. But it will help if you understand that’s not their reality. 

Consider this: We now know that our brain can train itself to think toward a certain way over time.2  

We’ve had over a year for our brains to adjust to new and sudden precautions, rules of social distancing, and risk management during extreme uncertainty. That’s stressful. 

And now, we’re experiencing an almost equally instantaneous shift back to pre-pandemic life. For many, that’s stress multiplied

Knowing this, put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Let him or her know you’re there, walking with them through this. Allow them to vent and share feelings, no matter how irrational it sounds to you. 

Anxiety isn’t something that can just be quickly “fixed.” It’s a process that takes time. So you’ll have to be patient

2. Encourage your spouse to seek out a professional counselor that works well with them. 

A counselor can provide useful coping tools and help your spouse monitor their progress. It may even be a good idea to attend counseling together because anxiety affects your marriage3,4. You may also need to learn new skills to support your spouse. Couples therapy is very effective for treating a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety5.

Your number one goal in marriage is to show unconditional love and support for your spouse, for better or worse. And that takes a great deal of understanding. You may not know the particular skills they need to cope and overcome the anxiety, and that’s okay. (That’s one reason a professional counselor is so important.) But the greatest presence they have is you. Let them know you’re on their side and you’re not going anywhere. Post-pandemic anxiety is real, and it’s scary for those going through it, but it’s no match for the support and understanding you can give your spouse. 

Sources:

1Nikčević, A. V., & Spada, M. M. (2020). The COVID-19 anxiety syndrome scale: Development and psychometric properties. Psychiatry Research, 292, 113322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113322 

2Hunter, R. G., & McEwen, B. S. (2013). Stress and anxiety across the lifespan: structural plasticity and epigenetic regulation. Epigenomics, 5(2), 177–194. https://doi.org/10.2217/epi.13.8

3Zaider, T. I., Heimberg, R. G., & Iida, M. (2010). Anxiety disorders and intimate relationships: a study of daily processes in couples. Journal of abnormal psychology, 119(1), 163–173. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018473 

4Darcy, K., Davila, J., & Beck, J. G. (2005). Is Social Anxiety Associated With Both Interpersonal Avoidance and Interpersonal Dependence? Cognitive Therapy and Research, 29(2), 171–186. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-005-3163-4

5Lebow, J. L., Chambers, A. L., Christensen, A., & Johnson, S. M. (2012). Research on the Treatment of Couple Distress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 145-68. doi:http://dx.doi.org.proxy.lib.utc.edu/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00249.x 

Newlywed Expectations Not Being Met in Marriage

A successful marriage may require you to adjust what you expect.

Dear Newlywed,

How was the wedding? 

Did you enjoy the reception? 

Were all of your friends and family there to watch you join your life with your true love? 

Did you get to go on the honeymoon of your dreams? 

Or maybe you are planning it after all of the restrictions are lifted?

Now that the big day is over, real life has set in. 

Truthfully, you may find that your newlywed expectations are not being met in your new marriage. It’s just… not what you expected. 

Before getting married, everything seemed to be easy. Smooth. Communication was effortless. You seemed to know what each other was thinking without saying anything. But now, you seem to argue over trivial things like no gas in the car or using the last of the coffee beans. Misunderstandings and miscommunication flourish. In your mind, the person you married doesn’t do anything right, from loading the dishwasher, folding the towels, or remembering to set the alarm at night. 

I’m gonna share with you like my mother shared with me 27 years ago: Welcome to Married Life. 

I don’t mean to be condescending, and neither did she. But, I want you to know that most couples go through a transition, even if you dated for years or lived together before the wedding. Before marriage, we all put our best foot forward, trying to win over/impress/woo our significant other. At the same time, you may have gazed at your true love through rose-colored glasses, not seeing the “real” them. In reality, being your best self and seeing your spouse the same way helps you have a successful marriage. 

When I was newly married, I also experienced some disappointment. So I want to share some of the things that helped me get clear about what I wanted from my marriage.

I was focused on the wedding, not the marriage. 

As I was preparing for my wedding, my mother said I lost my mind about a month out. My focus was on making that day the best day ever. I wasn’t thinking about what would happen after. Actually, I didn’t even think about the wedding in terms of it being OURS. It was MY dream day.

Then I realized that I was making the marriage about me. Just like I did with the wedding. Our marriage is for both of us. So I needed to include my partner in my thought process.

Once I included my spouse in my thought process, I was able to fix my focus.

Part of my process included recognizing the differences that we had. Realistically, we don’t think, act or react the same way to situations. You may have realized the same thing in your relationship. It’s vital to give your spouse space to be authentically themselves. Your marriage will benefit when you both bring your best to the table.

Communication is essential. 

Whether you’ve had a conversation about expectations before the wedding or not, it’s not too late. However, it might be time to reexamine and reevaluate your expectations if you did have that conversation. Expectations are good things to have, but they’ve gotta be realistic, and you’ve got to share them with your partner. You can’t just assume that they have the exact same expectations as you. Marriage is a partnership of two different people headed in the same direction.

I had to admit that I wasn’t always my authentic self at the beginning of our relationship. 

Did that happen to you, too? Maybe you ordered a salad on a dinner date rather than the bacon cheeseburger you wanted. Perhaps you participated in activities because they mattered to your significant other, not because you enjoyed the activities. It’s time now to accept that you’ll both change and grow throughout your relationship. Being able to flow with those changes will strengthen your marriage. 

I want to encourage you to take the time to recalibrate your relationship as a newlywed. Listen to your spouse’s perspective so you can create realistic, attainable expectations together. Share with your spouse honestly and lovingly that you only want the best for them and your future. Try your best to shift your expectations to reality rather than shift reality to what you personally expect. 

Other helpful blogs:

What to Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

The Difference Between Realistic and Unrealistic Expectations in Marriage

Do You Have Realistic Expectations for Your Marriage?

How to Communicate Better With Your Spouse

To the Husband Who Hurt His Wife

Take the healing process one day at a time.

To the husband who hurt his wife:

Marriage is tough, and we all make mistakes. I’ve made some big ones in my marriage. I don’t know what mistake you made or what you did to hurt your wife, but I do know this: You have a chance to save your marriage. Choosing to do so is a huge first step. 

I’ve been where you are. By our second year of marriage, I screwed up majorly and hurt the one person who matters more to me than anyone else. But, as I write this, we are celebrating our 17th anniversary. So I offer you hope IF you’re willing to invest the time and energy.

I’d like to tell you there’s a quick fix or three steps to healing a broken marriage, but there’s not. If you are committed to repairing the relationship, and your wife is open to it, all you can do is take it day by day.

Let’s start here. You have to own what you did. 

Don’t pass the blame off on anyone else. You made a decision; you did something wrong. Own that. As I said, I made some big mistakes, and I own them. My wife isn’t at fault for my past decisions. I carry the burden of my mistakes, and it can be a heavy burden. But when she sees that you own your mistakes, she may be more willing to forgive you.

Show your wife that you desire to mend the relationship. 

This takes effort. She needs to see that you want to make things right. Gifts and flowers won’t heal these wounds. Depending on the gravity of the mistake, there may be a massive break in trust. You have to rebuild it. You have to walk with her hand in hand. She may need space to process. You may need to seek out counseling. Ask her what she needs, not what you can do to make up for your mistake. What is required to heal both of you may take you out of your comfort zone, too. The best step for us was a fresh start. So five and a half years into our marriage, we relocated 1,000 miles from our hometown. The next five years were about reconnecting with each other and reestablishing who we were as a family. During this time, we decided to use our struggles to help other young couples. It may take years to repair the damage that’s been done, but it’s worth the wait. Your relationship can still move forward.  

Wounds take time to heal. 

Emotional wounds take significantly more time than physical wounds. The deeper the wound, the longer it takes to heal. Stay by her side. She isn’t the only one who needs healing either. The fact that you hurt her enough that you are questioning the security of your marriage means you need time to heal as well. Warning: Guilt is dangerous. Don’t let it consume you. Seek individual help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

And then there’s pride. For us men, it can be challenging to set our pride aside. If you’re honest, pride may have gotten you where you are. You have to humble yourself enough to own what you did. A healthy marriage takes sacrifice and putting each other’s needs first. 

Your relationship can survive! 

If you’re both willing to work together, you can move beyond this hurt. And you know what? Your relationship will come out stronger. I am still processing and healing from my mistakes. I don’t know that I will ever fully heal. But I do know that my wife has forgiven me. I know I am harder on myself than she is. We are healthier today than we’ve ever been. Our marriage is stronger, and we see our past issues as a way to help other marriages. 

You’ve got this. Take it one day at a time. No matter how hard it seems, don’t give up. I’m rooting for you, and I’m here for you!

Other helpful resources:

How to Rebuild Trust in Marriage

7 Ways to Increase Trust in Marriage

Will My Spouse Ever Forgive Me?

Maximize Your Marriage Course

My Spouse is Jealous of Me and It’s Ruining My Marriage

Find out what you can and can't do about the green-eyed monster called jealousy.

You may look at your life and say: Money’s decent. Job is stable — good social life. I get along with lots of people. I’m winning. But somehow, you still feel like you’re losing. Why? Because if your spouse is jealous of you, it can feel like it’s ruining your marriage. That’s a tough place to be.

Jealousy is a strong emotion that can cause serious control issues. Let’s be frank: jealousy can lead to abusive, violent, or destructive behavior. If it’s at that point, calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline may be your next step. The root causes of jealousy may be deep or go back several years. Seeking professional help sooner rather than later may be the best answer. If your spouse is open to it, finding a counselor who will fight FOR your marriage could be a game-changer.

In the meantime, how can you deal with jealousy in your marriage?

Jealousy is often rooted in insecurity, with fear as a close relative. It may be sparked by a relationship you have, career accomplishments, community recognition, or simply because you’re happy. None of this is necessarily wrong.

What Can You Do?

Self-Reflect

Are you giving your spouse a reason to be jealous? I’m assuming you are not. But it’s an excellent place to start. 

Ask yourself if you are…

Spending too much time with someone else?

Sharing parts of yourself with someone that should be reserved for your spouse? 

Getting a disproportionate amount of your fulfillment from your work or community involvement? 

Often prioritizing being there for others and leaving your spouse on their own when they have problems? 

Your spouse can become jealous when something else has the place in your life that they believe they should fill. 

Ask questions to understand the jealousy. 

There may not be a single thing you need to change. However, you can talk to your spouse to understand their insecurities or fears. Make sure you’re setting aside uninterrupted time so they know they’re a priority. 

Without bringing up the jealousy first, you might ask, “What is your biggest fear?” 

Or you can more directly relate it to the relationship: “Is there anything in this relationship that scares or concerns you?” 

If you believe your spouse is jealous because of your accomplishments or success, try, “When something good happens to me, how does it make you feel? Is there something in my life that you believe has a place in my heart that you should have?” 

Side Effect: Giving your spouse a safe space to be open and vulnerable is an antidote to jealousy. Demonstrating your care and concern may increase security, thereby decreasing jealousy. (Read about How to Be An Emotionally Safe Spouse here.)

Communicate your frustrations. 

You love your spouse. But the jealousy makes it difficult. Get your thoughts together. Lovingly, tell your spouse what it makes you think and feel when their jealousy shows itself.

Set healthy boundaries.

There’s a difference between healthy boundaries and being controlling. Boundaries aren’t set to feed jealousy or insecurity. If your spouse wants to know your every move, you may feel like they are controlling you. Communicating daily about plans for the day and telling each other about changes may be a healthy boundary. The goal is for you to be able to be yourself without any surprises. This happens through honest, considerate communication and respecting boundaries.

Talk with a trusted married couple.

Find a couple you both respect and discuss your struggles with them. Since jealousy is something many couples have experienced, the wisdom of another couple may give you insights that can change the course of your marriage for good. 

What You Can’t Do 

You can’t change your spouse; don’t try. 

You can assure them. You can listen, talk, and be understanding. And hopefully, your mate can see the jealousy. You can’t force them to be different.

You can’t always prevent jealousy, but you don’t have to feed it. 

Being who you are may cause jealousy. Achieving success, being liked by others, or having meaningful relationships with others may just be who you are, but changing who you are isn’t the answer.

You can’t ignore it; otherwise, the jealousy may escalate. 

It may take trying several different approaches to break down the jealousy in your marriage. The person you know and love is hiding somewhere behind that jealousy. Fighting through jealousy together is a good thing for your marriage, and the rewards from moving forward can last a lifetime.

Other helpful resources: 

How To Improve Bad Communication In Marriage

How to Stop Being So Jealous of Your Spouse

10 Ways To Know If Your Marriage Is Toxic (And What To Do About It)

MARRIAGE COURSE | Maximize Your Marriage