Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- “Jealousy has many positive psychological characteristics that pushes people towards healthy competition and motivates people to fulfill their aims and needs. It propels people psychologically to act within society and at home,” said a specialized consultant in family affairs.
But what if jealousy is extreme? Does jealousy strengthen or weaken a marriage and the trust and love that is between couples? One woman said, “Jealousy between man and wife is disorderly. Sound relationships are built on trust.”
One man who chose to remain anonymous told Asharq Al Awsat, “I am extremely jealous with regards to my wife, but not to the extent that she would complain about it. I love her and respect her and this is why I do not allow her to go the market or anywhere else alone. As for going to her parents’ house, I do not allow this and this shows that I need her, not that I am jealous. If I didn’t love her, I would allow her to go to her parents for weeks or to stay out late every night with her friends.” He adds, “My wife is mine and I am happy with her, so how could I allow myself to let her slip into an evil world?”
On the other hand, Umm Sultan says, “I am not jealous when it comes to my husband, even though he works with women. This does not mean that I do not love him; in fact, trust is what matters. I trust my husband and I believe that if he had feelings for any of his colleagues at work, he would have married them before he married me. Even if new female employees joined him at work, I believe he will always be loyal. Any woman can make their husband only have eyes for her but she can also cause him to look at other women.”
Fadwa states that her husband’s jealous behavior reminds her of her brother. She says, “With time, I have grown to like my husband’s jealousy, I believe that it is somewhat natural to be jealous as we were raised in this way.” She continues, “My husband is not as jealous as some husbands that we read about in magazines or see in television soaps who doubt their wives. Even though these characters exist in reality, people should not generalize about jealous husbands.”
Umm Mohammed argues, “Jealousy between couples is disorderly behavior, however women are usually more jealous especially if other women talk about their husbands. The case is similar with men.” Umm Mohammed retells a story in which “a man used to express admiration for female anchors in front of his wife and did not stop until his wife expressed her wish for her husband to look like a certain singer. He did not like this and the couple argued about it. In the end, he realized that his wife only wanted to show how it felt when he would praise female reporters in front of her. She wanted to know how much her husband valued her so she left and went to her parents’ house. He soon followed her and apologized profusely.” Umm Mohammed continued, “I wish that couples would take heed of the moral of this story and not counter jealousy with jealousy as the couple almost ended their marriage as a result.”
Psychologist Maher Abdullah Al Baghdady stated, “Linguistically, jealousy means to defend what we have from the abuse of others. Jealousy in marriages is caused by fear of others trying to endanger the relationship. This jealousy is in defense from what can harm it.” He continues, “Jealousy is only positive when it is within limit. When the husband or wife crosses the boundaries of customs, the violator should be held accountable. Jealousy is justified in some cases such as when a wife goes to a stranger’s house wearing inappropriate clothing or if a husband is talking to other women on the phone, is out late or travels for no apparent reason. All these scenarios may cause positive jealousy that aims to protect the marriage. Negative jealousy exists when couples act in a strict manner and interrogate each other on their actions and behavior at any occasion.”
Al Baghdady adds, “Jealousy is usually associated with one person in the couple committing dishonorable actions, however, without the other party having proof of such behavior. There is a big difference between jealousy and doubt. Jealousy is an exaggerated emotion that leads to paranoia of the partner’s actions. Doubt is casting accusations against the partner without any solid evidence.
Dr Maher believes that the most efficient way to get rid of jealousy is through “mutual respect of privacy on both sides. This is besides the mutual trust and understanding between couples. A husband should be sure that he chose his wife because he believes she is the most suitable for him and vice versa. The couple should be honest with each other and not act in a way that may cause suspicion such as making private calls or having private phone numbers for people who the partner may not know.”
Noora Bint Mohammed al Safeiry, psychologist and family consultant told Asharq Al Awsat, “Jealousy is a complicated emotional state, the elements of which are formed in early childhood. These elements vary between love of possession, fear of losing a close friend, family member or item, inferiority complex and frustration and these traits represent sound human reaction and are the first features of psychological adaptation and social homogeneity. Its one of the primary instincts for humans in their different periods of development, its psychological elements are constant but it changes in every period according to emotional development from childhood to adulthood. Morbid jealousy can be explained by a number of factors such as deprivation of love for various reasons.
Noora continues, “There is also the factor of favoring one child over another to motivate competition between the children. In this case, parents do not consider individual differences between each child or the psychological formation of children.
When we refer to the characteristics of adults who suffer from morbid jealousy, we must assert that the main reason is the lack of inner peace within oneself. These people who are suspicious are constantly in doubt and question the intentions of others’ actions. They are extremely sensitive when it comes to criticism from others, they find it difficult to establish close friendships and relationships even with their closest acquaintances and regardless of the time and effort other people exert in order to gain their love and trust.”
Noora further stated, “Concerning marriage, it is apparent that there is a clear link between love and jealousy as if jealousy is the only way to express love and as if those who do not get jealous do not genuinely love their partners. Jealousy within marriages sometimes emerges from the fear of losing loved ones and this is usually followed by attempts to protect those who are dear to their hearts. However, jealousy also stems from the lack of self-trust, inner peace and trust in the partner.”
Although she believes that a jealousy does have some positive elements, Noora argues that when jealousy crosses its boundaries it can have severe effects on people. She says, “Severe cases of jealousy can cause a man to quit his job, neglect his health and focus his energies on investigating his wife’s actions. It could even lead to psychological pressures, threats and torture.”
Dr Laila Saleh Mohammed Zazoo, a professor at the University of King Abdulaziz in Jeddah, told Asharq Al Awsat, “Even though many married couples have children, they could still experience many obstacles in their marriages. However, jealousy highlights the fundamental links that marriage is based upon such as understanding, love and respect for one another. Jealousy is required to a certain extent as it provokes emotion and builds bridges of communication between some couples at some stages of their marriage. However, if jealousy surpasses its limit, it is a danger to the marriage. Couples must sit and discuss matters that affect their daily lives and the problems they face, on top of which is jealousy. Jealousy does affect relationships. Each partner must give the other the opportunity to express his or her thoughts and feelings. Everybody wants true love whereby the husband loves his wife for who she is and vice versa and in these marriages, the couple is happy and secure and trusts one another. This way, they discard any doubts about each other. Positive jealousy is based on love and a solid foundation of appreciation and respect and is not destructive. Respect is the base of marriage and the guarantee for its success.”