The Jealous Wife

 

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds

 

I’ve been a jealous wife.  I probably wouldn’t have admitted it if asked, but I have made a habit of swimming in underlying currents of distrust in my marriage.

 

Generally my green-eyed monster manifested in the form of humor (cause that’s my go-to defense mechanism). I would jokingly ask about Jeremy’s latest facebook friend who I didn’t know.  I would jokingly tell him he wasn’t “allowed” to be funny in front of girls at school (his sense of humor is one of the things I find wildly attractive about him). I would make snarky, pointed jokes about girls in his life. The kind of jokes that aren’t really jokes.

 

But I’ve been thinking a lot about cross-gender friendships lately, in part, thanks to my friend Alise. She’s a huge advocate of healthy cross-gender relationships within Christian community. And it’s really made me reexamine what I think about friendship and attraction.

 

For one, as Alise points out so eloquently, our society has done a huge disservice to the concept of attraction by equating it with sexuality.  So we’ve branded attraction with fear and labels. But here’s the thing – there is plenty of room in a mature Christian environment for attraction to play out in a pure and nonsexual way.

 

We are attracted to all of our friendships, whether they’re male or female.

 

I’m attracted to Sarah Bessey’s down to earth and soul soothing manner, by our common interests and talents. And doesn’t it sound silly to assume that will lead to a sexual encounter? But if she were a man, I might be living in a place of guilt or shame for what I feel for her. For wanting to talk to her, confide in her, have her be a part of my life. For when she took both of my hands in both of hers and prayed for me.

 

But what attracts me to her, is the Jesus inside of her. The gifts he’s given her, his light that shines in her life. We shouldn’t have to “guard our heart” from the Jesus within others. It’s healthy and normal to be attracted to the Jesus in other believers.

 

It’s perfectly natural for people (any person, male or female) to be attracted to my husband’s sense of humor, his knowledge, his story, his convictions and beliefs. And it’s fear-based and legalistic of me to want to withhold  those things from the body of Christ because of my own insecurities.  His talents and abilities are free gifts to be used to build up the body of Christ. They aren’t mine to own. His physical body, his heart – that is what belongs to me.

 

As the body of Christ we grow stronger in community, in unity. And there’s no place for fear and jealousy in that. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.

 

And love always trusts.

 

There is plenty of room for caution, for common sense, without forbidding cross-gender friendships among mature Christian community. And I, for one, am finished with living in a place of jealousy and insecurity.

 

Because at the end of the day jealousy, suspicion, worry – it doesn’t do anything. Nothing good, anyway. It doesn’t prevent anything. It doesn’t fix anything. Who by worrying can add even one hour to their marriage? I’m pretty sure Jesus said that. Or something.

 

So I apologized to my husband for all the jokes that weren’t jokes. And I told him that I’m not going to make them anymore. That I trust him not to turn into a hormonal teenager just because he’s attracted to the Jesus in a female or a female is attracted to the Jesus in him.

 

And it wasn’t just lip service – I meant it. I felt it in my bones when the chains of jealousy fell from my heart.  After so many years of anxiety and possessiveness, I finally felt free to love him unselfishly.  There’s a power in loving freely and accepting the truth that you can only control yourself.

 

So I’m not the jealous wife anymore. And it feels good.

 

-Jessica

Comments

  1. Jessica,
    What an incredibly honest and refreshing post! I believe this post is very helpful and needed for the body of Christ today. Thank you for your courage in writing this. This post took the words right out of my mouth. I’m speechless!

  2. I bet it feels wonderful to find such a mature place as this. :) I look forward to reading more from you on the topic.
    Jenna Boettger Boring recently posted..Wine. Blogs. Tattoos. SLR.My Profile

  3. When the Hubs and I first got together, there were a lot of those “jokes” tossed back and forth…to the point of argument on a couple of occasions. I knew it was just both of us being insecure, but it was “oh, ha ha, that a text from your boyfriend? hardy har har” and the like. One day, I eventually said “Enough! This is stupid! Why are we being like this?” and we just stopped doing them. But that insecurity was still there. Especially on my part when he started working his current job and was working with other women all day. He’d come home and talk about what this woman said, or the joke this one made, and I would panic. Because I find him everything about him crazy hot, I figured other people would too and they would be trying to jump his bones. Then one day I said to myself “Myself, you’re being ridiculous. Like, for real. You have no reason to be insecure about this. Just trust him” And I let it go.(Well, it wasn’t an instant thing, but you know.) That whole “I trust you, I just don’t trust the situation” line is bull. Really, I just wasn’t trusting him completely, even though I had no reason not too.
    Neffer recently posted..Suwannee River, 8/4/12My Profile

    • Yourself, you are full of wisdom and not bullshit. :) That phone thing is CLASSIC, is it not? I used to be bad about it and I’ve seen other people do it, too. “Who’s that text from? Hmmmmm?”

  4. When we are ‘attracted’ to one another, this attraction is based not upon the outward, but the inward ‘man’, Jesus Christ.

    As Mary poured perfumer upon His feet, and expressed her adoration of Jesus, this wasn’t a ‘physical’ attraction, she saw in Him grace and truth. We are admonished to remember her story.

    We like Mary learn to treasure the Treasure that is within one another.

    Great post Jenna!

  5. Congrats. Welcome to greater freedom!

  6. I really appreciate this post (and Jamal for reposting on his blog, which is how I ended up here). It is funny/ironic/sad that we so often find ourselves doing things to “protect” relationships that actually end up to be damaging, such as subtley (or not so) letting a spouse know that you don’t really trust them. This breaks down the relationship at a foundational level and makes it hard or impossible to build on.

    My wife had a difficult time trusting me when we first got married. Eventually she was able to get past it, mostly because she realized that she was projecting the failures of other men onto me. She realized that I’m not them, and that really opened the door to trust.

    I do think that in cross-gender friendships where one or both sides are married, it is valuable to be aware of what constitutes healthy boundaries and to stay within them. I believe this can be done without bringing fearfulness to our doorsteps. What those boundaries are may be different for every married couple and even vary between friendships.
    mark recently posted..Renewing Christmas Music Part 2My Profile

  7. Amen! I was directed this way by Jamal Jivanjee. Thank you for your transparency here and for true words of encouragement. A lifting of that burden of jealousy was such a powerful picture. Specifically; “I felt it in my bones when the chains of jealousy fell from my heart.” Praise God for a lifting of oppression that you no longer have to carry! Blessings to you, your husband and your family. May God continue to shine mightily in you and yours for the sake of the Kingdom!
    hyattherald recently posted.."In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus, I commission you, for the work of the Gospel, as a…"My Profile

  8. First of all, the attraction is mutual. ;-)

    Second, great insight. You’ve given me a new perspective, and I haven’t really considered that before. I guess I haven’t given it much thought because most of my cross-gender friends are also friends with my husband, and so it’s kind of a package deal. But yeah, lots to think about. Love this, Jess. xo
    Sarah Bessey recently posted..In which I present My 2012 Favourite Things :: a Christmas gift guideMy Profile

    • I probably should’ve warned you before I wrote a paragraph about you with a sexual encounter in it, huh? :D

      Glad the feeling is mutual though. :)

  9. This resonated with me. I’ve been mulling over the concept of friendship between men and women. We are attracted to our friends, but this only seems to cause discomfort with opposite sex friends. There is something inherently wrong when we can’t talk and share time with another human being without it becoming a question of fidelity.
    Veronica recently posted..Smoke Detector RantMy Profile

  10. Sue Whitson says:

    Trust is a bedrock of marriage. Jealousy that hasn’t been earned destroys.

  11. I’ve often ecountered an overemphasis in churches on “boundaries” at the expense of the community, and I’ve always found it highly distressing. So I greatly respect/am encouraged by your willingness to change your perspective and believe in the strength of your marriage.
    “wanting to talk to her, confide in her, have her be a part of my life… she took both of my hands in both of hers and prayed for me.” Isn’t this kind of deep affection what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ?
    This kind of trust (in your husband and his friends) also makes the church a much, much more safe and welcoming place for single people. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
    lyndsey recently posted..I reject critical thinkingMy Profile

  12. To all who are interested in cross-gender friendships, I can’t recommend Dan Brennan’s book “Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions” highly enough. It’s one of the only books I’ve read about this issue. Really great.

    Also, there’s a conference specifically about this. You can find out more at sacredfriendshipgathering.com.

    And yeah, after saying for years “there’s no way I will never have a close male friend,” God brought me into a close relationship with a married man. It’s been weird, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
    Alise recently posted..Unfulfilled ExpectancyMy Profile

  13. the Blah Blah Blahger says:

    BADASS!
    the Blah Blah Blahger recently posted..A WINE LOVER’S GIFT GUIDEMy Profile

  14. Great post! I never understood all the paranoia surrounding inter-gender friendships. I’ve always had female friends. But then again I am queer ;)
    Travis Mamone recently posted..First Week of Advent – Always Winter and Never ChristmasMy Profile

  15. This is terrific, Jessica. And important. And necessary. Learning to live well with both men and women friends is part of what it means to be the body of Christ, seems to me. Sure, there need to be boundaries. But panicky fear, jealousy, unwarranted self-censure? Nope. Been there, done that. Not helpful. Thanks for this.
    Diana Trautwein recently posted..An Advent Journey: Stop, Look, Listen – Day 4My Profile

  16. Mark Allman says:

    Jessica,
    While I agree that jealousy is not a good thing in relationships I do think that one has to be fiercely protective of relationships and especially one of intimate love. I have made the mistake thinking I was taking the high road by not speaking up that something bothered me in a relationship. It never gets dealt with and does not go away. I think I want my spouse to tell me if they feel jealous or not. It gives the opportunity to discuss what is driving those feelings and gives me the opportunity to assure her that she is loved and adored. God is jealous in his relationship with us. I think that the attitude you have to have is that you will not let something attack your precious relationship and you will fight for it not to. Sometimes I think that needs to result in me or my spouse communicating with the other that I am having a tough time dealing with something and I need their help and support in doing so. I think dealing with jealousy offers great opportunities to express ones love to their spouse. It is also important that if you are the one in the position of having to deal with a jealous spouse that you handle it with love and work to understand. I think over time this lessens the insecurities but also keeps open the most needed communication on this issue and any others. I want a spouse who clearly is willing to fight for our relationship and is willing for me to do so as well and willing to deal with the issues that this raises when we do so.

    • And I think that’s where common sense kicks in. What I’m really trying to address is the unnecessary jealousy/distrust that is so prevalent in marriages. Keyword being – unnecessary. :)

      • Mark Allman says:

        I agree Jessica and it is a big problem when the person who is jealous can not move on from it even after working together.

  17. I’m not the jealous type… well I didn’t used to be the jealous type….I’m working on managing my jealousy. Your story of overcoming is encouraging. After almost a year of torment, I believe I’m on the right track now. I just finished reading Joel Osteen’s book, I Declare. I think he’s onto something here, at least for my situation. These daily declarations remind me of God’s promises to me. Since I can’t control or change the situation which makes worry for the security of my marriage, I have to devise methods of dealing with the hand I’m dealt. Wish me luck.
    A Good Wife recently posted..Correction: Why is my husband texting his female friend at night?My Profile

Trackbacks

  1. [...] As a result, I will not share my regularly scheduled post with you here today.  That can wait until next week.  Due to a busy week, I will also not be blogging anymore until next week.  Today’s post will be my last for this week.  For today’s post, I would simply like to point you to Jessica Bowman’s insightful piece entitled:  The Jealous Wife. [...]

  2. [...] people of the opposite sex. I think the body of Christ could benefit magnificently if more of us shed our jealousies and opened ourselves up to close [...]

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