Assertiveness when dealing with bullies can also be shown in a practical way. Your controlling partner will be very interested in your social network sites such as Facebook, and his jealousy will prompt him to frequently check your conversations and contacts. You can prevent this by concealing your passwords. This will enflame his suspicions and increase his jealousy, but it will show your strength and independence. Revealing these passwords will not curtail his jealous feelings and the harassment will not abate. You have a right to be private and your behaviour in concealing the passwords is a sign of good boundaries.
While it is not easy for the tormented to confront, it is equally hard for the tormentor to listen. I came across a piece in the newspaper Alive in March 2007 entitled How to Fight a Fair Fight, which I have adapted as a way of dealing with jealousy. It might even form a contract between you and your jealous partner to ensure some degree of harmony and respect and to highlight the reality of jealousy in your relationship. It is, however, a contract that your partner will find difficult, but admitting to being jealous is essential for healing it. I have adapted it as a way to be assertive and to reject jealousy while offering respect to your partner, but not to his or her behaviour. The person with core jealousy is unlikely to respond to it, but it will give you a voice.
We are on the same side. The goal is not for me or you to win, but to solve the scourge of jealousy and to love each other better. it runs as follows –
Your feelings matter to me even if they are different from mine. I will try to understand them and your jealousy and I will try to help you to understand mine and the pain your jealousy inflicts on me.
I will not shout, throw or slam anything, but I will oppose jealous control.
If I need space to think or cool off, I will go to another room and find a reasonable response to your jealousy.
I will not ascribe motives to your actions. I cannot read your mind and won’t try, but I will let you know that while I understand the roots of jealousy, I will not accept any excuse for jealous behaviour.
I will keep quiet when you talk, and try to understand everything you say, but I will challenge your jealous conduct.
I will allow as much space as is necessary for the discussion and I will help you to make sense of your jealousy in a non-threatening way.
I will not give you the silent treatment. I will do my best to express my thoughts and feelings so that you can understand how jealousy affects me. I will not clam up, sulk or manipulate because that is the behaviour of a jealous person.
I will not throw old grudges in your face even if they were the result of jealous behaviour.
I will apologise quickly if I break any of the above rules, and I will try to do better as we go along.
I will admit when I’m wrong. I will ask for your forgiveness.
If we can’t solve a problem on our own in a reasonable amount of time, we will agree to outside help to restore our relationship.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE