Conjugal Paranoia Is A Disease
Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D
Jealousy is considered to be a "side effect" of newly-found love. Some say demonstration of jealousy and the zealous guarding of their "prospect" deepens the relationship and strengthens the bond. Even the name, "romantic jealousy" sounds good. Who doesn't want to be passionate and romantic in love?
The above argument has a point within reasonable limits and if the "passion" is appropriately expressed. But remember, being jealous is one thing and being suspicious another.
If it's normal romantic jealousy, it would diminish as the relationship consolidates and partners feel sure of each other. But suspiciousness and paranoia get worse over time because the "stakes" get higher. Morbidly jealous partners become ever more suspicious, possessive and controlling over time.
A lady whom we shall call 'Vicky" is constantly accused by her partner she solicits the attention of other men. She tries her best to avoid making any eye contact with another member of male species, be that a bus boy in a hotel, server at the table or a stranger on the sidewalk. She has perfected the art of staring into empty space, anywhere as long as it is away from people.
But that's not enough to forestall the problem. If men were to look at her, she is blamed for it. He would accuse her of wearing a provocative dress, a particular lipstick or a hairstyle designed to attract other men. She repeatedly tells him that he is most gorgeous man she ever met and feels very proud walking on the road by his side.
And, what does he do? He gets looks from women all the time and he looks back. Sometimes, he often gives them a lingering look and sometimes even a "double take." The difference between him and her is this: When other men look at her, he feels threatened. When other women look at him, she feels proud of being with him. In her mind she says, "I am with him and you are not!"
Morbid jealousy is not always caused by partner's act of infidelity. Morbidly jealous people find grounds for suspicion and accusations in unintentional, unavoidable and everyday behaviors of their partners. Accused partners can't figure out how to escape situations which might provoke accusation by their morbidly jealous partner.
Momentary lapse of attention or being distracted by something in the environment can enrage morbidly jealous partners for not paying total and undivided attention to them. An exchange of greeting or perfunctory conversation may be viewed as an act of enticing the members of opposite sex.
Victims of morbid jealousy reach a point when they don't want to get out of the house at all. Why go anywhere if it would always end up in a horrible fight! Forget about going to a beach or a mall. There are lots of potential "landmines." In spite of training their eyes to always look down and not wanting to meet the eyes of a member of opposite sex, they can't find a fool proof method.
Meeting past acquaintances can be a problem and might require a full historical report on that relationship. As a result, victims of morbid jealousy turn their head and try to look in the opposite direction to avoid an encounter with an old friend of opposite sex. They have to be careful what they say about the content of past relationships lest it should invite accusations of indiscreet amorous involvement.
Telephones invite their own share of grief. Even a genuine "wrong number" in voice of the opposite sex might be viewed as an attempt to arrange a secret rendezvous.
Going out with morbidly jealous partners provides them enough "fuel" for more accusations and fights. Going out without them requires a detailed and complete account of what one did and who one met. It's a "do-it-or-don't-do-it-you-are-damned!" situation.
Other times, the jealous person can be most gentle and loving people. This can be a real confusing situation for victim partners. They don't know which one is real. Is it the one who is so caring and loving or the one who is demeaning, hurtful and accusatory? Morbidly jealous change (or "snap" one should say) in a blink of eye.
If you are currently in a relationship with a morbidly jealous, don't get married. Marital vows won't make it better. On the contrary, it might get even worse. Don't blame yourself. It's not your fault that your partner has a disease. Remember your partner has a disease, you don't. Of course, you can't treat it by more vocal assurances, evidence of your innocence or more convincing demonstration of your love.
Upon realization of the threat of the break up of relationship, morbidly jealous partners are enraged. They don't understand why their partners instead of correcting their own misbehavior desert them. When forced in a corner, they might agree to marital counseling.
Marital counseling can be educational for you but it won't treat morbid jealousy. Morbidly jealous person needs individual counseling and in some cases medication for other mental disorders. Victim partners should consult professionals in absence of their partners so they can freely ask questions and understand the extent of the problem or the progress in treatment.
Copyright 2005, Mind Publications