August 15, 2010
Rage is never pretty
– not in you, me, nor in the man in the moon. It has no upside. It produces nothing worth having. It reduces everyone in its environment to a victim. It scares children. There’s nothing redeeming about rage. It causes physiological distress, psychological pain, and accelerates physical exhaustion. It hurts relationships. Rage is always ugly, always destructive.
Rage is never helpful
I’ve witnessed rage erupt in clients during therapy where there’s a sudden burst of rage over a matter that might appear inconsequential to the observer. I’ve seen it while I am engaged in the give and take of life – a woman loses it with her child in public, a man yells uncontrollably in the traffic, a teenager storms off from a parent in the mall.
Regretfully, I’ve felt it in me. Forces collide, my world feels out of control, I resort to blaming others for whatever I perceive as having gone wrong. Something primal snaps. I’m momentarily blind, deaf to reason. Then, I breathe deeply. I hold onto myself. Reason returns. Logic prevails. I get my focus off others. I look at myself. I take responsibility for myself. Do I always catch it? Handle it well? Of course not.
How is a person to handle a moment of rage in a loved one? Keep a level head. Walk away. Try not to react. Don’t personalize it. It’s not about you. You may participate in the precipitating event, but you don’t cause the outburst. In the moment of his or her fury don’t try to reason, negotiate, or restrain.
This too shall pass.
January 5, 2009
“I have been in a four-year relationship with a married man. I still believe in his love but also believe he needs a push to do the right thing. I told him he has to own up to the affair and tell the wife himself, or I will tell her. I am not walking away with nothing after giving four years of my life. Then the wife can either have the choice of working things out with him or getting a divorce. It’s the women always make the decisions in the end.”
You might believe in “his love” (for you) but it is hard to believe you have any love for him. You clearly ignored any “push” to do the “right thing” and regard married men as “off limits.” While you are apparently vengeful and determined, you will most certainly find only temporary and limited personal peace.
I hope you will have some dramatic moment of insight, some divine encounter, an event of sorts that transforms you from within, and makes you ready to learn and ready love in ways that are helpful to you and to all persons in your sphere of influence.
July 29, 2008
“I love my husband and I am happy to some degree but he has become so insecure and very doubtful of me. He checks my emails; he checks my phone, my clothing, my iPod, and everything. It is killing our marriage because I don’t know how long I am going to be able to hold on. Everything started with an emotional affair I had, that was only a fantasy on my side. Nothing happened between us, and I regret and wish it never had happened. Now my life is hell. Is there hope or I am just holding onto a dream? Is he ever going to get over it? I am a good wife, a good mother, and a good successful woman, but now all that seems to be crumbling apart. Please help.”
There is always hope. Even the most toxic of relationships can survive if people are willing to seek appropriate help. I assure you that nothing you have done (fantasy or not) triggered your husband’s jealous behavior. You are not sufficiently powerful to elicit the behavior you have described. Don’t let him put this on you. I am not sure you are “holding onto a dream” – it sounds much more like a nightmare to me!
February 11, 2008
“I am sorry I have facilitated your insecurities by allowing your jealousy to influence my behavior. I will try not to do this anymore. It is not good for either of us. Walking on egg-shells is not how I like to spend my energy.”
“Going out to dinner with my friends (daughter, son, mother, father, brother, sister) is something I like to do and I sometimes like to do it alone. You are perfectly capable of understanding that having other important relationships does not mean I am rejecting you. Healthy adults can keep many relationships going at the same time. Why don’t you try it sometime?”
“We are each better off when honest, even if what we have to say is painful. Keeping you happy is too large a task for me. I hereby give that responsibility back to you. Anger, resentment, and the failure to forgive – all fruits of jealousy – are individual pursuits. You have to take care of this on your own. I am not going to interfere with your journey by trying to resolve your issues for you.”
“To love you is to stay out of your control. I’d rather have no relationships than relationships that inhibit who I am.”
February 4, 2008
“We’ve been married for seven years and have two children. We have serious issues. I have been unfaithful. He has been very abusive. After the honeymoon years we found out what type of people we really are. I tried to leave but each time he would get sad and I would run back. He hasn’t hit me for six months. To make matters worse I recently met a man who has made me feel like who I used to feel. I feel I have no right to leave my husband since he hasn’t hurt me in so long. I feel like I would rather live alone then with him. I would feel safer. He has never abused the children but I worry for when they get older. Do I need to save them the trouble of finding out before it’s too late and just leave?” (Letter edited)
You cannot legitimately assess your marriage while another man is in the wings. Somehow, get some distance (breathing space) from both men. Staying because he has not hurt you is perverted logic! Consider long-term safety. Health is defined by what people do, and not by what they don’t do. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends and, within the warmth of community, make a decision,
September 27, 2007
I am married to a very jealous man and, although I am completely faithful, I am accused of all kinds of things all the time. What can I do to help him?
Nothing. Jealousy is an individual pursuit. The one who is caught in its relentless grip is the only person who can address it. If you are a faithful person you must leave him to deal with his own feelings of jealousy and take no responsibility for his feelings at all.
If you try to convince him of your faithfulness, a jealous person will ultimately interpret your convincing as confessions. If you try to placate him, to reassure him, you will only have to repeat all your reassurances the next time he feels jealous (and to a greater extent every time).
Nothing you have done causes your husband to be jealous, and no amount of dancing (submitting) to his pathology (think of jealousy as a virus!) will result in its disappearance. A most unloving response on your part would be to behave as if somehow it is you who makes him jealous. Do not curb your natural, innocent behavior in the fear that it might stimulate his jealousy. Jealousy has already got him; don’t let it get you.