Updated: Jul 21, 2021
Jealousy is a topic that comes up when people think of a polygamist relationship. How can you share your husband? How do you feel when you know your husband is being intimate with another woman? Jealousy is something that I have had to personally tackle since I spiritually became the second wife to my husband back in 2015. At the beginning of our relationship, I had not known my husband or sister-wife for long, and I was insecure when it came to my place in the family. The feelings of jealousy would pop up a lot in the early days of my relationship. I would see my husband and sister-wife hugging or go on a date and the feelings of jealousy would start to fester. I would tell myself that I was not going to say anything about how I felt, but it is hard for me to keep anything to myself. So, I would end up blowing up and causing a scene. Then that would begin a long conversation with both my husband and sister-wife to sort out my feelings. It was uncomfortable to talk about, but looking back, having an open conversation about it helped put light on it and helped me work through my thoughts and feelings.
What is jealousy? The definition of jealousy is “feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages” (Dictionary). When it comes to being jealous of a sister-wife I think it is about what someone else has over the person, which in this case is time with the husband. When I was jealous it was because I was envious of what they were doing together. I wanted the attention or to be a part of what they were doing. For whatever the reason was for my jealousy, my mind did not feel at peace. The Bible talks about jealousy in Proverbs 14:30 saying, “a sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.” According to Strong’s definition, a sound heart refers to a mind that is healthy. That makes perfect sense when looking at feelings of jealousy and envy.
Jealousy, like envy, affects the flesh (our bodies) and rots us away from the inside. When we are jealous areas of our brain that also register pain and feelings of shame light up. This can cause a “person to become oversensitive, possessive, or excessively vigilant” (Newcomer). Also, jealousy can trigger the body's stress response, which can lead to “to spikes in heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone,” and can cause sleeping problems and poor appetite (Newcomer). I can attest to the fact that I felt rather unwell when dealing with thoughts of jealousy. I felt physically sick and there was no peace inside my mind. That was the first clue that something was not right with how I was feeling. In fact, after repeating the same pattern several times I came to realize that how I was feeling was not a result of what was happening around me, but it was because I was not confident or secure in my place. Sure, it is somewhat expected at the beginning of any new relationship, monogamous or polygamist, but after it was well established that I was, in fact, secure in place and still feeling jealous was the first indication that the problem lay within.
It is a rather uncomfortable feeling having to look within, but it does a world of good. A lot of how we think and feel is based on our experiences in life. Events happen to us, and we attach meaning to those events. How we see the world is shaped by both our viewpoints and mindset. If I believe in something enough, I can make it true. For example, If I believe that I am stupid and unattractive those thoughts and feelings become a reality. I may start to act less confident and make mistakes due to second-guessing myself. Soon others will believe that I am not confident, and I will make frequent mistakes. On the flip side if I believe in myself and tell myself that I am smart, attractive, and capable of doing whatever I set my mind to then I will approach life differently and therefore look at the events of my life more positively.
So, what does having a positive mindset have to do with jealousy? For me to get over jealousy and find a sound heart, I had to change my mindset. The easiest way I did it was to find ways God was blessing me by giving me the chance to have time away from my husband. The biggest blessing, I found was that now I had more time to do other things. This was time I could use being alone, spending time with the kids, or running errands. Alone time for me is a big deal. I am an only child and an introvert and having time alone means I get to decompress and focus on my mental health. That was not only a blessing for me, but it was also a blessing for my relationship with my husband. How does the saying go, time apart makes the heart grow fonder? Why is that statement true? It is because “time apart can reignite that excitement of wanting to be together and prevents a rut from forming. ‘Missing each other even just for one day can offer a lot to your relationship. You may get so used to being around your partner that you start taking them for granted’” (Wakhisi). It was because we spent time a part that I could continue to grow and develop having the time to focus on self-care.
Having time to do things with our kids was another blessing. I could take the kids to the park or play a game with them all the while I knew someone was helping my husband meet what God was thinking. I did not have to worry about neglecting either my husband or kids because either way there was another mom/wife to be with either. I have been able to go away on long trips with my husband and I know who is taking care of our kids. I have also been able to take the kids on trips and know who is with my husband. Why worry about my husband being with another woman behind my back when I know who the other woman is? I have changed my mindset and it has helped me count my blessings instead of feeling like I am constantly missing out on time with my husband. Sure, time with him is important, but I have other things I need to spend time on.
After I changed my mindset and counted my blessings, I realized something. I love the way our family is set up and would not want to lose my sister-wife. For our family to stay together our husband must have a strong relationship with each of us. My husband and sister-wives time together strengthen their relationship. If my husband and sister-wife had no intimacy and no time alone their relationship would not be strong. If it were not strong then our family would not be strong. I want our family to stay together and so each time they are together I rejoice. I rediscover the joy I have for seeing them together knowing that our family is staying together. When I see them together, I now feel compersion, which is the opposite of jealousy. Instead of feeling upset and hurt I feel a sense of happiness seeing them together building their relationship.
14:30, Proverbs. The Holy Bible: King James Version. Dallas: Brown Books Publishing, 2004.
Dictionary, Oxford Advanced American. Jealous. n.d. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/jealous. 20 June 2021.
Newcomer, Laura. Stop Jealous Feelings, The Science of Jealousy and How to Squash Jealous Feelings. 29 June 2016. https://www.fix.com/blog/stop-feeling-jealous/. 20 June 2021.
Wakhisi, Sylvia. How time apart cements long-term relationships . 6 December 2019. https://www.pd.co.ke/lifestyle/how-time-apart-cements-long-term-relationships-15981/. 20 June 2021.