When you and your significant other tied the knot, you promised each other respect, partnership, and a lifetime of commitment. What you likely didn’t write into those vows—but probably should have—was a promise to keep your petty jealousies in check. After all, research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests a strong link between an uptick in jealousy and a reduction in both self-esteem and overall relationship quality.
But don’t fret: If you’re simply aware of your impractical behavior when you’re under the influence of jealousy—and simply talk things out with your spouse—your relationship will only grow stronger. “One of the most important aspects of a relationship is communication and respect,” says certified mental health counselor and life coach Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D. “If you communicate well together, you often know the actions and behaviors that make your partner uneasy, insecure and jealous. Then, you must have enough respect for them that you don’t do those things, or that you find common ground and compromise to make the relationship work in way that makes you both comfortable. And, always remember one of life’s golden rules: treat others how you would like to be treated.”
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the 25 silliest things that make you a jealous husband, from those nights out on the town without you to those annoying mentions of their ex, helping you tame that green-eyed monster once and for all. So read on, and remember to talk things out! And for more relationship behaviors you should knock out, don’t miss these Old-Fashioned Dating Rules to Stop Following Now.
Talking about his or her former relationships.
Like it or not, if your spouse has ever dated anyone prior to your relationship, those past flames may come up from time to time. Unfortunately, it’s not unlikely that hearing about your significant other’s past relationships—even if he or she only has bad things to say about their exes—could trigger some serious jealousy.
“There is a time and a place to talk about your ex—and it is not on date number one, nor is it during a strongly committed relationship,” says Dr. Kulaga. “When you first begin dating someone, take a few dates to learn about them and begin creating a general direction and foundation to the relationship. Then, it is okay to talk about your exes, where you have been, and even what caused the relationships to end.” And if you’re eager to start improving your relationship now, discover the 50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time.
That celebrity crush.
Of course, it’s not like Idris Elba or Cara Delevingne magically appears any time your spouse mentions their name, but that fawning praise they give to a celebrity crush can still sting, even if the likelihood of it ever coming to fruition is just about zero.
Of course, if you have managed to overlook that late ’90s Britney Spears picture that’s somehow still on display at your spouse’s parents’ house, it seems a bit unreasonable that the occasional mention of Harry Styles should send your spouse into such a snit. After all, celebrity crushes usually have little relation to what your spouse actually wants out of a relationship. “Celebrity crushes are about living in a fantasy world for most people,” Dr. Holly Richmond, Ph.D., tells Refinery29 .
Laughing at someone else’s jokes.
It’s not that your spouse isn’t allowed to find other people funny—you can get behind an Ali Wong special or an episode of 30 Rock, too. That said, when it’s an attractive coworker or friend nailing all those one-liners, it’s no surprise that you might find yourself feeling more than a little envious.
However, you may be somewhat justified in feeling more than a little jealous when your spouse is cracking up at someone else’s jokes. According to one study published in Evolutionary Psychology, the more times a man attempts humor—and the more times a woman laughs at those attempts when they first meet—the greater the chance the woman will want to date him. And when you want to make your partner crack up, start by telling these 50 Amazing Jokes from Comedy Legends.
Having nicknames for friends.
Those adorable nicknames your spouse has for you make you feel like a million bucks. What makes you feel way less wanted? When your significant other also thinks that “honey bear” is a totally fine thing to call a coworker or friend, too. That feeling may not always be grounded in reality: your grade-school babysitter probably had a bunch of cute nicknames for you because she thought you were adorable like a puppy, not because she thought you were a catch.
Constantly texting someone else.
The rise of smartphone usage has made it easy and convenient to keep in touch with your friends and family, but it also means that your spouse might be spending more time texting other people than you’re strictly comfortable with. It’s not like you don’t want them to have friends, but seeing their face constantly light up when they receive a message from someone else can be undeniably disheartening.
But if your spouse is spending all of her spare time texting someone else, that doesn’t necessarily bode well for that relationship. According to research published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, constant texting is actually associated with lower relationship satisfaction, so you might actually be grateful in the long run that you’re not the only one on the receiving end of those annoying GIFs. And for more technological behaviors to ditch, discover these 20 Social Media Habits That Are Technically Cheating.
Joking about a work husband or wife.
You walked down the aisle (or at least to the counter at your local courthouse) with your spouse, so you were kind of hoping you might be their only husband or wife in this lifetime. Unfortunately, those mentions of a “work husband” or “work wife” from your significant other are bound to have the green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head.
“Work spouses can contribute to jealousy,” says Dr. Kulaga. “It is important that if you have a work spouse, your real spouse is okay with this person and the fact that you call them your ‘work husband/wife.’ In addition, you should never bad mouth your real spouse to your work spouse and in the presence of your real spouse, and never compare them to your work spouse. You and your work spouse must keep professional boundaries. If you ever get to the point where you wouldn’t feel comfortable if your real spouse read emails or text messages back and forth between you and your work spouse, then you have overstepped the professional boundary.” And for more ways to err on the side of professionalism, discover these 30 Things You Should Never Do at Work.
Having inside jokes with other people.
It’s not like you’d ever ask your spouse to stop joking around with other people. That said, when your spouse keeps cracking up every time you say the word “sneeze” and only responds with “you had to be there” when you ask why, it’s understandable that you might feel a tinge of jealousy.
The good news? Those inside jokes aren’t necessarily a predictor that your spouse will start finding someone else attractive. According to research conducted at the University of Kansas, it’s a shared sense of humor, not specific jokes, that bonds a couple together.
Frequently mentioning a new friend you’ve never met.
Making new friends can be a great way to expand your social horizons. However, hearing your spouse talk ad nauseam about their new friend—one you’ve never met—can turn even the most level-headed man into a jealous one in no time.
When that feeling rears its ugly head, just remember this: those friends likely serve a very different purpose in her life than you do, and it’s not exactly like you were super eager to join that book club or take up jiujitsu with your spouse, anyway. And if you want to expand your own social circle, discover these 40 Ways to Make New Friends After 40.
Having a girl’s night out.
It’s not necessarily that you prefer to spend your evening at a cocktail bar with your wife and her sorority sisters or the members of your local SoulCycle studio, but feeling like you’re intentionally left out when she goes out can sting. And knowing that she’s definitely having a good time without you (and maybe getting flirted with a bit along the way) can make anyone jealous.
“The relationship that a wife may have with her friends could be a source of jealousy for a man. A lot of the jealousy is contingent on the actions and behaviors of the wife with her friends. For instance, if several of the wife’s friends are single and they are frequently going out together to bars, singles tourist destinations, and hanging out with men, this is likely going to cause jealousy and pain in the relationship,” says Dr. Kulaga.
Posting tons of selfies with attractive friends to social media.
Even if you’re not always up for striking a pose, when your significant other is constantly posting selfies with her friends and leaving you out of the mix, it’s understandable that you might feel more than a little jealous. And while your jealousy may seem silly, that doesn’t mean that selfie habit is: according to Dr. Linda Papadopolous, selfies can actually harm a person’s self esteem by influencing people to compare themselves to others.
Taking vacations with friends while you stay home.
Whether you’ve got work commitments, a lack of funds, or just don’t particularly feel like hitting up Turks and Caicos, your spouse’s travel plans—when they don’t include you, that is—can stir up jealousy in any husband. If you want to help get past some of those jealous feelings, try planning the trip with your significant other—according to one survey, planning a trip (whether or not you actually go) can increase your happiness with your spouse.
Getting super dressed up to go out with friends.
Your spouse always looks like a million bucks to you. However, when he or she spends the week before an evening out with friends booking appointments at the salon, buying new clothes, and generally dressing to the nines, that envy sometimes can’t help but boil over. But research has suggested time and time again that women tend to dress up for their own pleasure and the approval of other non-romantic-interest women, not for potential partners. See? It’s silly to be jealous!
Being flirtatious with bartenders.
It should come as little surprise that part of a bartender’s job is being kind, friendly, and courteous to customers. When you see your spouse returning the favor (or outright flirting) with the attractive stranger pouring their drinks, it’s understandable if those feelings of jealousy start to get the best of you. Just remember: that bartender sees hundreds or thousands of customers a day, so the odds that a smile and a $2 tip is anything more than a transaction to them are slim.
Spending tons of time on social media.
It’s not like you don’t have your own social media accounts—you don’t live in the Dark Ages, after all. That said, your jealousy may kick into overdrive if you see your spouse logging long hours on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat when you’d prefer their undivided attention.
It’s not just you being influenced by their social media habits: according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Facebook use is significantly linked to lower overall well-being. And for more reasons to ditch the extended hours online, discover these 20 Ways Social Media Stresses Us Out.
Having an attractive new BFF.
That handsome personal trainer your wife is suddenly spending a lot of time with? That model-like new boss your husband is always going for after-work drinks with? Yeah, it’s more than understandable when your feelings toward those seemingly nice strangers (or your spouse’s relationship with them) aren’t entirely warm and fuzzy. That said, just like any other person your spouse meets, there’s a good chance that attractive new friend is already in a relationship or—despite it being unfathomable to you—doesn’t happen to find your spouse attractive.
Repeating experiences he or she had with an ex.
You spent months planning that perfect vacation for you and your significant other. The only problem—and one that happens to make you seethe with jealousy? Upon deplaning in Paris, you find out that your spouse and their ex had been there before—and have all the kissy face photos under the Arc de Triomphe to prove it.
“Regardless of whether or not a relationship is early on or very committed, you should never compare your partner to your ex(es), reminisce on the times you had with an ex, or take your current partner out somewhere and start the conversation with, ‘So and So and I went to this place years ago,'” recommends Dr. Kulaga.
Someone else checking your spouse out.
Intellectually, you know your significant other has no control of what other people do. That said, seeing someone else give them the once-over, whether on the street or at a bar, is sure to prompt a little jealousy. When you feel that jealousy start to bubble over, try to remember that not only does your spouse have no ability to control whether or not people look at them, the person passing by could have just as easily been looking at someone behind your significant other, a cute dog on the street, or may have actually been giving you the once-over.
Getting a sudden makeover.
You already love the way your spouse looks, so why the sudden change? While logically, you know they’re probably just trying to make themselves feel more confident, you can’t help feeling a bit jealous over all the attention their new look is bound to get them.
When you’re feeling weirdly jealous about that new haircut or flashy manicure, just remember this: it’s unlikely that anyone other than you will even notice those changes. As Lynn Gilliard, author of Let Him Chase You tells Brides, “[Men] don’t pay as much attention to detail as women do. Women are very detail-oriented. Men are simpler and tend to see the bigger picture.”
Taking a friend’s side instead of yours.
You want your partner to back you up—and when they don’t, it’s more than a little jealousy-inducing. Even if what you’re saying isn’t a popular opinion (or even verifiably true), having your spouse side with someone else can definitely sting. And while it may hurt a little to know you don’t have unconditional backup from your significant other, try to remember that you weren’t exactly on her side when she tried to make an argument for ferrets as pets.
Having someone else handle a project you thought you could do.
It’s not like you think your significant other has any hidden fantasies about your plumber or handyman, per se, but the idea that he or she thinks they’re more competent than you can spur some surprising jealousy.
After all, you’ve more or less fixed leaks and done some other halfway decent home upgrades in the past. And while that feeling your spouse thinks you’re less-than-competent may be hard to shake, you’ll definitely be thanking them when your pipes don’t burst and your drywall doesn’t have to be ripped out.
Making new friends.
There’s no denying that some people simply have an easier time making new friends than others. Unfortunately, if your spouse happens to number among this gregarious set, you may find yourself surprised by just how jealous you feel. It’s not like you don’t want him or her to have friends, you just kind of wish you had it so easy, too.
Instead of bemoaning your own social circle, which seems to get smaller with every year, try making a vested effort to make new friends—researchers at Rush University Medical Center have linked an active social life with a reduced risk of cognitive decline in later life.
Posting sexy photos.
Confidence is sexy. Looking hot is sexy. Combine the two and you’ve got a recipe for abundant Instagram likes and semi-salacious comments on Facebook—and a good way to make you jealous. And while your reasons for not wanting your spouse to snap those sexy pics may be a little silly, you’re not alone in judging them: according to research published by the American Psychological Association, people who posted sexy photos were deemed less competent.
Being too busy to hang out.
You know that your spouse has plenty to do that doesn’t involve you. However, no matter how he or she is spending their time, that little hint of jealousy may still rear its ugly head. When you find yourself feeling this way, just try to remember that there’s probably virtually anything in the world—including spending time with you—your spouse would prefer doing than spending another late night at work or braving a family reunion.
Showering your pet or kids with affection.
It’s not like you think your pet or children are actually competing for your spouse’s affection—at least the logical part of your brain doesn’t. That said, when it seems like your significant other would force you to sleep on the sofa for the rest of your life because Fido finds your side of the bed more comfortable, it’s understandable that you might be a bit jealous.
“A mother—especially a new mom—may quickly find themselves consumed with the child, not giving as much love and attention to her husband. This can lead to feelings of jealousy on the husband’s part and even create some guilt in him too for having these feelings,” says Dr. Kulaga. “Remember, you are a role model to your children for relationships and how they operate. It is okay to have ‘mom and dad time.’”
Needing alone time.
Virtually everyone in the world needs occasional alone time. However, feeling like your spouse actually prefers flying solo—especially when you want some company—can make even the most even-keeled husband feel suddenly wrought with jealousy The good news? Your spouse taking a bit of a solo break might actually benefit your relationship in the long run. According to researchers at UCLA, alone time can actually improve a person’s capability for empathy, giving your relationship a boost in the process. And for more ways to solidify your bond, discover these 40 Romantic Experiences Everyone Should Have by 40.
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