Overcoming Jealousy

Jealousy or Envy?

At first let us distinguish jealousy from envy. Although these two often overlap, both are distinct.

Envy is the depressing feeling you experience when you see another person having something which you would love to have but you cannot have for various reasons. It could be a healthy body, intelligence, special skills or talents, property, a luxury car, a dazzling spouse, position, power or money. Envy by itself may not cause detrimental harm to anyone. But it does become dangerous when combined with jealousy.

Jealousy is what you experience within you when someone or something has come as a competitor to something or someone you cherish.  What you cherish could be your fiancé/fiancée, your spouse, your child, your social or official hierarchy or even your school rank. It is a state of mind that makes you feel highly insecure and uncomfortable.

When it turns intense, jealousy becomes an evil passion that can cause serious harm to yourself, the person whom you want to hold on to and the person whom you feel is your competitor.

Consequences of jealousy

1.a. Jealousy towards wife/fiancée

A husband or fiancé suffering from obsessive jealousy can make the lady’s life miserable and make her feel that her life is unjustly devalued and debased; very much like what Desdemona told Othello, “Alas! he is betrayed and I undone.” As jealousy flared up, possessive love pushed out his romantic love, leading to the most unpleasant consequence. A man who is morbidly jealous of his wife may often imagine that she is after someone or someone is after her. So he may quietly check on her and watch her every move and make their lives a misery. Some men do not even permit their wives to wear a good-looking dress or a simple make up.

1.b. Jealousy towards husband/fiancé

Many poor guys suffer on account of the intense jealousy of their wives/fiancée. Some ladies, for example, cannot even stand the sight of their husbands/fiancé talking with another lady in a public function. You could see them coming suddenly from nowhere and standing between them, or calling out for him as if there were an emergency; or give him hell later on.


Men and women are social beings, hence it is psychologically harmful to dampen their natural urge to socialize with other men, women and children in a healthy manner within the norms imposed by the local culture. A healthy relationship between men and women is necessary and is acceptable. People, of course, have every right to jealously guard their spouses. 🙂 But do it in good taste.

Jealousy is natural and acceptable as long as it remains within healthy limits. However, when your jealousy reaches obsessive proportions, his or her love towards you may wane and may even be replaced by hate, the very thing you dreaded. Emotionally stable men and women do not torment their spouses with their obsessive jealousy. Ladies and gentlemen, please note! Consult a good psychologist if you cannot get over it yourself. Spend time meditating upon the word of God and ask God for help.

2. Jealousy towards your child/sibling

a. Father to daughter

There are fathers who are so possessive of their daughters that they don’t even like them to express affection towards their own mothers. I have come across some men who followed their daughters even to their work places or educational establishments. One day I saw a man in a shoe shop fumbling to wrap a sandal round his teenage daughter’s foot. He did not want the salesman do the job lest he should touch her feet. She had to try out many pairs, and it was a comical scene indeed. 🙂


Dear father, you must realise that your behaviour is immature and will affect your daughter’s life. If you realise this fact, then half the work is already done. The next thing you must do is to make a conscious effort to pull out gradually. If you find it difficult to do so, talk to your daughter and your wife about your weakness and get their help in solving this problem for you. If it persists, consult a good psychologist.

Dear daughter, if you are the victim of your father’s jealousy, talk this over with your father and mother and, if necessary, a family elder. Take healthy proactive role in getting your father weaned out of this weakness.

b. Mother to son

Most of the abuse of daughters-in-law around the world is caused by the morbid jealousy of the mother for her son. She just cannot stand the sight of another woman coming from nowhere and take away the affection she enjoyed all the while. She does so because her parent-child love has gradually turned into possessive love  instead of maturing into agape love over the years.

Dear mother, you are next to God when it comes to loving and caring for your son. You have brought him to this world and have taken good care of him. Now it is your turn to let him go and raise a family with his wife as his life partner. Your role as wife to your husband is different from your role as mother to your son. His wife is young and may not be adept at running a family. But she will learn gradually.

You do not have to jump in between them. You should also know that what you are doing is against the law and you may have to face legal action some day. Your daughter-in-law is not your rival. She is God-given gift to your dear son. You do not have to feel insecure that you have lost your son for this woman. No. If you love your son along with his wife you would have gained a loving daughter for yourself, too. They will come to you, dear mother, for all sorts of advice, which you can give. You have a life-long role in their lives, which will be constructive as long as you let them live and wish their wellbeing.

You should also be aware of the fact that God’s plan for your life does not end with caring for your own children. Spend your time meditating upon the word of God. God will show you how you should use your valuable time. Be part of the society. Look at other’s needs and see where you fit in. With your years of experience you can be an excellent counselor, comforter and friend to many children, youth and the elderly around you. There is no limit to what you can give. The more you give, the more you receive.

c. Sister to brother

All is well between sister and brother until he weds a bride. In geographical areas like South Asia where arranged marriages are very much in vogue, the boy’s sister often plays a major role in selecting a bride for him. Yet, in many families, particularly where joint-family system is practised, the sister’s colour changes when the sister-in-law steps into the house, and her jealousy shoots up. The poor bride who came into the house is mentally and even physically tortured.

Dear sister, she too is another female like you. It is a new house and a different life for her with a family she never knew. She would  have come with fears and hopes. Reassure her that all is well. Be kind to her if you truly love your brother. Hurting her is hurting the brother whom you love. May be you had a bad marriage and you are forced to live with your parents. Do not try to forget your deprivation by taking it upon your sister-in-law. You should also know that torturing your sister-in-law or anyone else mentally or physically is a punishable offence.

3. Social or official hierarchy

You may be an employee in an organization or hold an honorary position in a social organization. Suddenly you are faced with a situation where a junior person or someone from outside has come in as a threat to your position. What do you do in this situation? Do not fret. God provides for every one. Accept gracefully what is given to you; continue to be honest in your work and give full cooperation to the person who may be superseding you. You will receive your just reward according to God’s big measure, in His time. I have practiced it and never regretted it. My source of inspiration at that time came from this illustration.

4. School rank and peer rivalry

Pear rivalry is bad especially among high-ranking students. It is not that one did not get good grades, it is just that she or he scored more than you! The reaction goes even to the extent of trying to take one’s own life or that of the other. What is the gain? How can you overcome this form of jealousy? You should realise that

  • Fretting over it and hurting yourself or your peer will only complicate your young lives.
  • Your world will not come to an end if she/he scored more than you.
  • Most successful persons in life did not rank topmost in their class.
  • If you study diligently and pass, you stand to get good opportunities in life.

Healthy competition is good, whether it is in a class room, office, business or sports. Keep your mind composed. Love your competitors. Be happy for them when they do well. Pray for them. God will bless you.

Godly jealousy

Only Almighty God can have this form of jealousy. It is the intolerance of the Creator towards human beings when they pay reverence to created items instead of the Creator. God is right in doing so because He is the Supreme Being who created all non-living and living things including angels (Some angels, of course, fell from God’s grace because of their pride, and are called demons or devils).

In spite of being Supreme, God loves to have fellowship with humans and even be their friend. But if we worship other created living things or objects, God has every right to be displeased, and this is called Godly jealousy. In the same way if we love anything more than the Creator, He is displeased. Click here for details.

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