Are You Jealous Of Your Ex?
7 Real Life Ways To Get Over It And Move On
When someone came into elementary school with a new pencil box, some classmates may have felt envious of it.It looked brighter, bigger and loaded with all the colorful pencils a child could want.And people might have stolen it or perhaps stared at it endlessly.
But what happens when envy sticks around to adulthood during a divorce? When envy, in other words, goes from wanting a classmate’s clothing or toys to “I got the house, but he got the hot, new wife” syndrome. Jealousy.
“I was happy that he married her because in my case, it was like we had grown apart,” Elizabeth Delwinter of Chicago, Ill. says of her ex-husband. Delwinter’s ex-husband had gotten remarried, and everything seemed fine. “Her kids used to baby-sit my kids,” she says, explaining how the two families had gotten along well enough that she often allowed the step-siblings to watch her own children.
But though Delwinter had not been married to her ex-husband for years and had since moved from Missouri to Illinois, but he still felt the need to ask for her back. “He was so upset that he came all the way to Illinois to follow me,” she says.
Although her ex-husband had since remarried, Delwinter hadn’t – and perhaps he saw that as an opportunity to try again. Delwinter says that she was surprised. “I told him, ‘I don’t feel the same way. I don’t want to be with you anymore.'”
“Usually, I ask, ‘What’s really going on?'” says Jim Brenner, a marriage therapist in Anchorage, Alaska. “It depends on how long they’ve been divorced. Sometimes, there’s other stuff going on, but often jealousy.Everyone, once they’re separated or divorced – they don’t like to see that person with another person. We all kind of look like, ‘He belongs to us,’ even if they’re divorced.”
Brenner says that ex-spouses often like to use children as a means of getting through to an ex and reconnecting, even when remarried. “When they have kids, they’re always going to be connected to that. Some women stay dependent on their ex-husband when they get remarried and call them up when they are newly married, and I think they call them up just to upset them in the new marriage,” he says.
“I have called him before about it, but one of the things is the kids were very angry at him for a long time.They were upset because they felt that he had to choose,” says Elizabeth Delwinter, whose ex-husband tried to speak with her about the children before asking for her to return.
The jealousy and anger issues aren’t limited to ex-wives. The ex-husband’s new wife is frequently annoyed with the ex-wife’s over-involvement in her new family.
“I ask them how they feel when the ex-wife calls, and there’s jealousy on her part too,” says Brenner, who has treated couples with marriage issues for over 30 years. “If they’re paying child support, then the new wife really resents money going away from her family. The ex-wife is angry at the new wife, and the new wife is angry at the ex-wife, and usually, the man is caught in the middle.”
“Basically, it’s a function of where that individual person is at. Let’s say they’re still single and would like to remarry. They’re going to feel jealous and envious,” says Joel Sherr, a social worker in Oak Park, Ill. “If a person is happily remarried, then they’re going to view it more differently. But if a person isn’t, there’s a chance they’re going to be jealous.”
Sherr says the green-eyed monster of jealousy can also affect men and women who have remarried. “That can occur even if both individuals are remarried. Someone could’ve remarried someone more sophisticated, wealthier or prettier and feel that the other people did better.”
“As long as they’re still attached to the husband, that makes it safe for them. In their minds, some of these women are still married, especially if they’re religious, especially if they didn’t want the divorce, they’re still angry a lot of times.” Jim Brenner says.
“Recognize that some of this are more than a loss. It’s a very large loss, like loss of job or parent. It’s also saying that something they tried to work at very often failed,” Sherr says. “It’s important to mourn that loss, but at some point, it’s also looking at what you need in your life to feel more satisfied. Rebuilding your life.Getting over life.”
SEVEN TIPS ON HOW TO GET OVER JEALOUSY
Jealousy can happen to anyone. Here’s how you can move past it:
1. As difficult as it is, admit that you are jealous. Figure out the source of your insecurities and decide whether they are valid.
Then think about how great your own life is. Joel Sherr, an MSW and LCSW in Oak Park, Ill., recommends gathering positive points.”You can always compare yourself to someone else, but I would ask, ‘What are some of the things you like about your new life, your spouse, your new environment?'”
2. If you are jealous of your ex’s new spouse or lifestyle, remember that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
“You’re seeing them on the outside. You don’t know what’s really going on. Everything might look all right on the exterior, but everyone has their own personal problems,” says Sherr.
3. Don’t throw yourself back into the dating world just yet.
“To most people who get divorced, dating doesn’t even sound like fun. It sounds like a hassle,” says Jim Brenner, a therapist in Anchorage, Alaska. Repeat and read again: don’t allow yourself to fall back into dating at all.Going back into dating is the most common mistake to confusing yourself with your new life. Instead, concentrate on friendships. But don’t push the new friendships. If they aren’t coming to you naturally, don’t work on hanging out with anyone but your original group of friends.”Keep old friends. That’s who you’re comfortable with. It’s uncomfortable getting out when you’ve been married for a while,” Brenner says.”I would stay with old friends because they’re who you are comfortable with.”
4. Never neglect time for your children, says Sherr.
“I think the most important thing is if people get divorced, and they have kids, very often, their sadness gets in the way of parenting. Always put your kids first.” Sherr says always be civil to your ex: “Your child always needs access to the other parent.”
5. Consider your options in your town – what can you do to make yourself feel better?
Try going to new places and doing new activities. “It depends on the woman and what she’s thinking about.
If she wants to get over being depressed and anxious, she needs to get out and meet people, or take a college class and do something,” Brenner says.
6. Besides going to new places, become a member of new organizations in your area, Brenner suggests.
“I recommend church or joining a lot of clubs. They could go to skiing clubs or places where people have the same interests would go.”
7. Finally, recognize that there is no way you will ever have your old spouse back. Period.
“What I usually tell my clients? I tell them that they just need to not do that anymore and need to think about their new life because the other person has already gone on,” Brenner says.