My husband is a jealous man. It’s hard to admit that. It seems shameful. The admission wants to cast a guilty shadow on my life, because what kind of wife, after all, would allow there to be any doubt in a husband’s mind? But if there’s one thing I know about jealousy, it’s that jealousy is the most irrational emotion we are capable of throwing about. It’s the feeling that we can’t have enough, someone else is getting more, and worse, is getting what should be OURS!
I dated a guy once (twice, actually) who seemed to have a crush on another girl the entire time we dated. He was insecure, and his heart was all over the map. He didn’t want to settle for me if she—any she—might be better. And I was stupid. I let it happen. The day he asked me to start dating the second time, he admitted that he’d sent flowers to another girl. She’d said no, and I, stupidly, said yes. I was willing to take the chance on him. I loved him.
Of course it didn’t work out for us, because I was always looking over my shoulder because he was always looking over his. Things ended with a whimper, and we’re both married now, and hopefully we’ve learned our lesson: he needs to keep his heart to home, and I need to respect myself or my mate will have no reason to.
But my husband, he was in my shoes too, but on a grander scale. His first wife ran around, took the kids and left him, came back to him, left, came back, left. It was awful. It’s awful even now, twenty years later. How could a woman do that to a man?
So I guess we’ve both brought these experiences forward. And if ever there’s a situation that touches our hearts just a teeny tiny bit like those old hurts did, we throw up our wall, and the dark clouds come in, and our partner is stranded on the other side saying, “No, it’s not what you think. You misunderstand. I only love you. I only ever could.”
But like I said, jealousy is irrational. It’s also stubborn and illogical and suspicious. It’s a wild-eyed, quick-footed bully clothed in justification.
A banner at our wedding read “Perfect love casteth out fear.” Love, I know, does not blame the husband, does not blame the ex-wife, does not blame the jealousy. Even though my love wants to be defensive, and impatient, and unkind, I set about making my love perfect. Making it kinder, and purer, and holier. Because love, perfect love, casteth. Then I set about casting and casting and casting and casting out this fear of his with my perfect love. But no matter how hard I cast, it didn’t do any good. It’s like baling out a boat with a hole bigger than your bucket.
And then I realize, it’s not my love that needs to be perfect. What the situation needs is to welcome in perfect Love. Love with a capital L. God’s perfect love, not mine. Only God’s love is perfect. So we invite perfect Love in, and we hold each other tight, and repeat the best three words we know, and we pray the boat doesn’t sink before the fear is cast out.
And it never does.