Enhancing Relationships – Part 7
Hal and Sidra Stone
A short word on jealousy, a most maligned aspect of relationship. There are many kinds of jealousy and there are many causes, but jealousy, when appropriate and moderate, does much to support a primary relationship.
There has been a
strong tendency in recent years to view jealousy as
something bad. There is no way of being or feeling or thinking that is
essentially bad or good. It is always a question of how the energy is used. Since we love one another
and we want to guard our relationship from erosion, we are both quite sensitive
to anyone or anything that could conceivably cause damage to it.
We look upon normal jealousy as a protective mechanism. It is like pain. Pain warns us that there is something wrong.
If you did not feel pain, you would not know when one of your feet was in a campfire and that you should remove it. There is no great advantage not to feel the pain. As a matter of fact, people who do not feel pain can get very badly hurt. Your foot, for instance, could remain in the campfire until you smelled burned flesh, if you were unfortunate enough to have a problem with the pain receptors in that particular foot.
Jealousy can alert us to problems in our relationship. If we are caught in a bonding pattern and one of us is attracted to someone else, our jealous reaction alerts us to this, perhaps even before the attracted partner is actually aware of the attraction.
The jealous partner is then in a position to bring the matter into awareness. After the first blood is drawn, we can open the issue to a creative process and see our parts in the dance of the selves that led up to this. We have found that growth inevitably follows an exploration of selves that has been initiated by a jealous reaction.
There is one other creative aspect of jealousy that should be noted. Jealousy is a powerful indicator of a disowned self.
If you see someone as more attractive, more sophisticated, more powerful, more wise, more creative, more spiritual, more self-indulgent, or any of the myriad other “mores” that can be brought to mind, and you are jealous, you are probably looking at a disowned self.
This can lead to the
exploration and integration of a new, and usually a very welcome, disowned
self. This disowned self is one that you wanted but thought belonged only to
others, rather than a disowned self that you had found distasteful in others and had not wanted for your
Jack is jealous of his brother Bob, because Bob is very wealthy and quite successful in his investments and business dealings. At a certain point in Jack’s life, he discovers that the whole world of business and finance is a disowned self of his, and he begins to honor it and embrace this part of himself. He never is going to have as much money as his brother has, but as he begins to honor the world of business and finance, as he gets this part of his life organized, his feelings of jealousy dissipate to a large extent. He has embraced a disowned self, and so he no longer has to be intensely jealous of people who are identified with their business selves and who are successful in the world of finance.
A different kind of example would be that of Nan. She feels very jealous of her husband, and she is somewhat ashamed of the fact. She has mentioned on a number of occasions that she is jealous of him when she sees him with other women at the parties they attend. He is quick to reassure her that it is all quite innocent. She then dreams for three nights running that he is having an affair. When she finally confronts him in the morning after the third of these dreams, he admits to the affair and to others besides this one. Her jealousy was quite justified and had given her some very important information.
Alice is very much identified with her vulnerability and frequently feels like a victim. She disowns her own Aphrodite energy, and so she is very jealous of her husband’s secretary, who is an Aphrodite type.
One must learn to
seriously, but one must also learn to examine the possibility that one’s disowned selves are involved in
the matter. Alice remained jealous of her husband and brought up her suspicions
over and over again, accusing him of an involvement with his secretary.
Eventually, her husband did enter into a relationship with the secretary, which
ultimately broke up the marriage.
In our view, the inability of Alice to face her own Aphrodite nature, and to integrate it, literally created the fate that she so much feared. Her disowning of the Aphrodite energy within herself had created an energetic vacuum in the relationship with her husband. It may have happened under any circumstances, but our own experience and viewpoint are that things would have turned out differently had she been able to come to grips with her jealousy and understand the lessons it was trying to teach her.