Envy is a beast. It leads to jealousy, causing bitterness in your relationship and further blossoms into resentment. Because what you feed and nourish will grow. People think that envy and jealousy go away once you get married. Marriage doesn’t immediately fix what’s broken inside you. If you don’t resolve it, you will learn the hard way just how destructive envy can be in marriage.
What is jealousy?
I remember people saying that jealousy is a green-eyed monster. I used to wonder “are people with green eyes bad?” Laughing at that notion now, I know that the monster of jealousy can have eyes of any color. I tried to figure out the difference between envy and jealousy, and not surprisingly, there is only a marginal difference. Envy is the primary heart condition and, left unchecked, it gives birth to darker and harder heart conditions. In our scripture under consideration, it even says that love and jealousy are contradictory states of existence. “…love does not envy or boast…” (1 Corinthians 13:4b).
- Envy: the
- Jealousy: the
It takes only one of these elements to make its way into your heart and into your relationship, and then everything looks like this:
James 3:14-15 – But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
On a side note, Fervent by Priscilla Shirer (Amazon referral link) is an amazing book! I digress for a moment to share that this particular book opened my eyes to a lot of things that are going on in my world. I was dealing with bitterness and jealousy with some other people in my life and it quickly caused me to be angry and mean about a lot of things. And before I read this book, I couldn’t see it. Plain and simple.
But, back to the topic…
Have you experienced envy and/or jealousy in your relationship? Would you recognize it if you did?
3 Ways that Envy and Jealousy Can Creep Into Your Life
You’re afraid to let them out of your sight.
I won’t lie, I struggle with insecurity. I have low self-esteem because of an abusive relationship in the past. It used to drive me insane that my husband had female friends – even though I’ve always had male friends – and I thought it was just insecurity. Because of how I felt about myself, any woman who was prettier, skinnier, or smarter threatened me…and stirred feelings of jealousy. And because I was threatened, I lashed out and tried to CONTROL my man. I tried to control his friendships and his behavior. And just as a person has no desire to be chained, no one wants to be steered in who they are, what they think, or how they interact with others…especially when it’s based on invalid notions.
Your life becomes a weird soap opera.
Just as I struggled with my personal insecurities, my mind would take me to places that didn’t even exist. I know that women have an intuition about things, but not every woman who says hello to your man wants to take him from you. The man holding the door open for your woman is probably just a decent guy with manners. A huge ember flaming the fire of jealousy often comes from the reserves of our own imagination. If you have concerns about something that causes you to feel jealous or envious, talk it out. The first time your partner hears about your concerns shouldn’t be when you’re pissed at him for something he did…in your dreams. Yeah, that might have happened…
You can’t celebrate their accomplishments.
We have a prominent saying in the South that “What God has for you, is for you.” I hear it a lot in the blogging and business world; people are combating the feelings of jealousy if another content creator accomplishes something big. When I started my first blog, I made my hubby my business manager and his job was to keep me from spending too much money on my projects. I’d noticed that he’d started being more strict and critical of things that I wanted to do. I was starting to feel a bit suppressed, but as a submissive wife, I just said “Ok. He’s managing the budget, so I’ll let it go…”
One day, we were talking and he confessed that he’d been jealous of the success of my business. He’d started a small business around the same time as I did, but didn’t continue with it. I was beyond shocked. Why in the world would he be jealous of me?? But more important than the why was the what and how: what his jealousy led him to think and how he treated me and the business because of it. We didn’t have a big drawn-out fight over the matter, but we did have to talk through some things…
This is just a glimpse of where envy reared its ugly head in our lives.
I have to constantly remind myself that James 3:16 (ESV) says “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
One of the simplest ways to build a strong relationship and a strong marriage is to let go of your jealousy. To establish trust and be grounded in faith. It’s not easy – not by a long shot – but it’s worth it to have a strong, loving marriage. And this is coming from me who has to keep my insecurities to myself, in that what I see is not necessarily the actual picture. But since letting go of it and working on communication, our marriage is still on the path to amazing.