Nightmarish Irrational Jealousies Anyone?
Written By: Mark Smith
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We are going bread and butter this week with perhaps the #1 relationship problem in America. It goes something like this...
*A victimy, pouty, husband who sulks around for days because his wife was exhausted when his infantile neediness demanded disconnected sex.
*An embarrassingly reactive wife completely ruins a family get together because her husband was all of 10 minutes late.
*A bitter, demeaning, punishing husband who bludgeons his wife with shame for a brief affair after decades of put downs even though his lack of depth with her was a contributing factor in her vulnerability.
* A husband whose whiny, clingy, pathetic neediness makes his wife want to throw up.
* A psychologically terroristic girlfriend who has a scary mental meltdown over her boyfriend's innocent hanging out with his buddies.
*A worn down, miserable, negative, harping, control freaking husband who is haunted by the fear that his wife will cheat on him even though that it not at all who she is.
*An insecure husband who rages when his wife so much as jokes with or smiles at another man?
* A stereotypical 'evil' stepmother who abuses her stepchildren because she is profoundly jealous of having to share her husband.
*A childish, demanding wife who shuts down completely and can't talk if their husband so much as glances at Sports Center for a split second while they are having dinner at a pub.
*A wife who reacts to an trust infraction by her husband that rates a 12 on a scale to 100 like it was a 99.
Have I got your attention yet? Let me give the condition that I just described its proper name. While 'nightmarish irrational jealousies' describes it pretty well, the clinical term is 'Abandonment Issues'. Do these types of behaviors sound familiar to any of you? I know that for many of you it sounds all too familiar. We deal with this issue A LOT in our counseling office. It is the King Kong of couple issues! It is not possible to gain too much awareness and insight regarding this subject if you or your significant other happens to suffer from it. There are so many different faces to abandonment issues and believe me they are all both ugly and potentially quite harmful to relationships. The main problem with abandonment is that when it comes up inside you, it is very much like becoming instantaneously drunk " impaired, reactive, defensive, out of control, non-objective, stubborn and absolutely impossible to speak rationally to.
Abandonment issues cloud and distort reality. What you see seems so real, but it is actually a projection from within your own deeply wounded, little and abandoned soul.Here is the thing that you have to understand - abandonment issues absolutely come from your being abandoned by one or both parents when you were very young. You do not have to remember the parental abandonment, think it is important or give any credence to it at all for it still to dominate your life. Children are extremely needy little creatures, you have seen this in your own kids, so when those needs aren't met during childhood then the core of the adult, years later, is basically an irrational infantile abandoned little kid. Obviously that will cause serious problems in an adult relationship. So which parent was the one who was really distant from you, or was it both parents?
You can run from your childhood wounds, my friends, but you can't hide. The more that you try to bury your wounds the more you attract significant others who treat you in very much the same way that your parents did and that will make you feel deep and suffer greatly. As Ann Fairbairn wrote in Five Smooth Stones, "A man cannot cast aside his childhood, though he run from it as he would the devil. He may make of it a burden under which to stumble and fall, or a shield to hide behind, or he may make of it a tool."¯
Recovery from abandonment issues includes intensive therapy focusing on childhood abandonment memories, developing the ability to learn to hear your significant other even while 'under the influence'¯ of abandonment and developing the ability to observe situations much more objectively rather than having a knee jerk reaction to the misperceptions and distorted realities caused by your abandonment wounds. You have to learn to see the world as it is without your tinted lenses of insecurity, jealousy and childhood abandonment. Abandonment issues can get better, but be advised, they don't get better quickly. It takes a lot of outside professional feedback and accountability.
Another absolutely brutal thing about abandonment issues is that as with all marriages, you will only be attracted to someone who basically has the very worst (disguised) qualities of your abandoning parents. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. They are going to abandon you in one way, shape or form. At your core you are utterly and completely terrified that your spouse will abandon you, when they eventually do because it is their nature to do so you spend the rest of the relationship unintentionally but quite obnoxiously chasing them away due to your insecurities.
It is a vicious cycle that can easily continue to replay itself until it completely destroys the relationship. If you and your significant other are suffering from abandonment issues you will need effective professional help immediately. Don't even try to tackle these issues on your own! This problem will not go away. It will only get worse. It is high time for you to learn what is causing your pain and then get started on the process of addressing it. The very best thing that can happen to you is to develop a trusting relationship with an strong, unbiased, insightful, direct and courageous therapist. They can serve as your relationship referee until you both have enough recovery under your belts to communicate safely and effectively at home. If you and your spouse suffer from serious abandonment issues then you understand exactly what I mean by needing a referee.
After serving as referee for several years for a couple with some pretty active abandonment issues, when they weren't mad at me they actually began to refer to me as their "angel."¯ Naming the underlying abandonment issue, specifically naming its particular manifestation in that situation and providing a safe place in which to dialogue are all absolutely priceless gifts to couples suffering from severe abandonment issues. I have talked hundreds of couples off horrible, irrational, destructive, relationally suicidal ledges with solid, cutting, accurate observations about the nature of their particular abandonment nightmare of the week. If you and your significant other suffer (and I do mean suffer) from abandonment you MUST understand it, begin to heal it from its childhood roots and get the therapeutic support that you'll need to slow manage, cope with and ultimately heal this massive issue! Abandonment issues can be tamed. They don't have to dominate your life and ruin your marriage. Read 'The Journey from Abandonment to healing' by Susan Anderson if you'd like to learn more.
Also, here are some links to article that I have written on the subject. 'Green Eyed Jealous Can Haunt Relationships'
'Managing Abandonment Issues – 7 Effective Steps In Taming The Fire Breathing Dragon'
'Abandonment - THE Most Difficult Issue to Work On'
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