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Home > Resources > Essays > Overcoming Jealousy

OVERCOMING JEALOUSY

As much as we'd like to disagree, we all have feelings of jealousy from time to time. Stepmoms often struggle with strong feelings of jealousy as they try to come to terms with all the people and relationships in their lives. It can be a terrifying experience.

Jealousy is a natural emotion, yet it's hard to understand, interpret and prevent in the unnatural situations created by stepfamilies. But there is a way to overcome it.

When you remarry and inherit someone else's children, and even if you think you're ready, you suddenly experience feelings you can't begin to understand. There is no preparation in your past for dealing with your husbands first wife and their children. It's a situation that is never planned or courted -- one day, it just *is* and there is no instruction manual. Base emotions kick in with a vengeance, and jealousy is a strong one.

Those feelings of jealousy are powerful. They will quickly overtake anything positive and do all kinds of harm to the stepmom and her family if they aren't dealt with swiftly and completely. For a plan of attack against this most destructive of enemies, try these steps:

  1. First, don't be so hard on yourself for feeling the way you do. You can't overcome the feelings of jealousy if you continue to deny them because it's not what you want to feel. The feelings are natural, and you can deal with them when you acknowledge them.

    If you're sometimes jealous of the time your husband spends with his kids, that's understandable. You've had no honeymoon period for your new marriage. You're forced to share what you worked so hard for -- instantly. It hurts a little now and then.

    Maybe you're jealous of the financial security your husbands ex-wife has at his expense. That, too, is understandable. He's still giving to her and that hurts, even if it's for his children. It doesn't matter -- the feelings are the same.

    You can't change these feelings until you give yourself time to understand them. Accept them and then choose to change them.

  2. Accept the facts. Jealousy is an irrational emotion. It rules out of fear and insecurity and goes straight to your heart. It has no logic, but the pure, cold facts can deter it. It may sound like some sort of "tough love" speech, but to combat the feelings of jealousy means to simply fight them with logic.

    Jealousy makes you want to change whatever is hurting you. Some things you can't change. Accept those facts. Accept that your husband will always be spending time with his kids. Accept that he must fulfill his obligation to his ex-wife because the courts say so. You didn't create those situations and you can't change them. Don't waste your time and energy on how things you can't control "should be" or what's "not fair" if there is nothing you can do about it.

    Then soon, if your jealousy has no foundation to build on -- if you dismiss its arguments -- it will fade and you can move on to better things.

  3. Replace the jealousy. While you've got the jealousy on the run, replace it with something else. There is only so much room in your heart for conflicting emotions -- sooner or later, one or the other will win out. You can be filled with jealousy and insecurity or acceptance and security. It's your choice.

    When you stop focusing your mind on your husbands ex-wife's life and start focusing on how to best run your own, your heart will follow. When you stop worrying about the time your husband spends *apart* from you and start focusing on making the best of the time that he's *with* you, you'll be filled with hope and potential, not jealousy and regret. Choose to fill your heart and mind with work that builds the relationships between you and your husband and you and your stepchildren.

    Jealousy keeps you down and in the past, always focusing on what you don't have. Look instead to the future that you can build and focus your energies on what you do have.

This marriage is a second chance to do so many things right. You can't do that if you're looking back. Unload the baggage of jealousy and look ahead to grow. It's the better choice.


Author unknown. Contributed by Donna (Snugglebunny).