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Family Matters: Jealousy a real topic

June 8, 2011

Sometimes one partner in a relationship feels threatened by a relationship between their partner and someone else.
Fear that the external relationship will cause irreparable harm to the partnership can be difficult to communicate.
Many arguments in homes are fueled by this type of anxiety and oftentimes these arguments are not adequately resolved. Partners may avoid conversations that address the underlying anxiety generated by a threat and outbursts happen over other areas of household living.
A person may worry that their relationship is in jeopardy and react by picking a fight about some other shared item at home.
For example, some people worry that their partner is developing an outside connection and then become furious about the partner’s lack of attention to household chores.
It can be extremely difficult to voice a concern that a friendship or a colleague relationship seems too close.
Some people believe that avoiding a conversation that identifies the source of anxiety will prevent a discussion about the weakness in the relationship and, therefore, maintain the relationship.
However, when one person harbors feelings of inadequacy about a partnership, it is very important for the problem to be addressed.
Many marriages face times where the strength of the bond is questioned.
This is a common problem in long term relationships. People can worry that a relationship has lost the impact of a charged connection and fear that a partner is pulling away.
In this event it is important that people express to each other the impact of fear before the expression of the fear leads to a rift that poisons the daily interactions.
Some conversations that attempt to address this dynamic get bogged down in language that is heavy with blame.
When we feel blamed, we feel attacked and when we feel attacked we, naturally, try to defend ourselves.
This blame and defense type of argument style can impede our ability to express the underlying concerns. Many couples can benefit from adopting the use of “I statements” to express fears.
When one partner is anxious that their partner is pulling away by emphasizing another relationship, the problem can be stating in the following way: “ I am concerned that you want to be with your friend rather than spending time with me”.
This declaration highlights the need for prioritizing the shared couple time without creating a situation where the partner feels attacked.
Oftentimes an introduction to a dialogue about the need for shared intimacy within a relationship can lead to solutions that then create stronger bonds that improve the way that people get along in families.
When people feel unable to have this type of emotional dialogue without intense arguments that distract from the problem of intimacy, then seeking the assistance of a counselor may be an important intervention.

Jody Eyre MS LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Her practice is Marriage and Family Counseling in NK. She can be reached at or 294-3780.

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