Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
– Deuteronomy 4:23-24, NIV
God is jealous!
Jealousy is an appropriate emotion to have at times. It is especially appropriate for a spouse to feel jealous when the other is giving attention that belongs inside to someone outside of the marriage. Such jealousy safeguards the marriage. It says the emotional and sexual energy of a spouse matters to you. They are valuable. And you do not want them stolen or squandered by your spouse spreading them out “on the street” so to speak (see Proverbs 5:15-17).
The stories I hear/read of faithful spouses being treated as pathological for having healthy jealousy are too numerous. The classic misdirection move is to claim the faithful spouse is being too jealous or controlling when he or she expresses displeasure over a relationship threat to the marriage. In my experience and in others’, that threatening relationship is usually downplayed by the cheater and even others–e.g. the counselor, pastor, or family member–while attacking the sanity and character of the faithful spouse.
The faithful spouse’s jealousy is treated as out of place.
They are made to feel like the crazy or unhealthy ones.
This is a gross injustice.
The reality is the jealousy felt by the faithful spouse is God’s gift to the marriage. They feel jealousy because they value the marriage and their spirit recognizes a real threat to the viability of it. In reality, the jealousy is incredibly healthy and appropriate to have.
By being jealous, a faithful spouse is reflecting God’s heart.
As the husband to the people of Israel, God was unwilling to be “Plan B.”
When someone becomes married, the traditional vows exchanged by the couple include a part that says, “forsaking all others.” This part of the vows makes it explicit that a spouse is not allowed to develop romantic “backup relationships” to their marriage. It is totally appropriate for a faithful spouse to be jealous and even angry if the other spouse is cultivating such relationships. Such a spouse is breaking their solemn marriage vows.
God does not tolerate multiple lovers in His covenant relationship with His people.
Neither ought His people to tolerate third parties in their marriages.
T0 tolerate third parties is demeaning and devaluing behavior. It robs the faithful spouse of dignity and respect. Healthy marital jealousy says,
“I will not accept such humiliation and relationship theft! I deserve better. You will not treat me as an option when you vowed lifelong exclusivity to me before God.”
Jealousy can be the faithful spouse’s friend.
It guards his or her self-worth. And it alerts the spouse to threats to their marriage. I would encourage listening to this feeling. You may find God has given it to you as a precious, precious gift.