CENTER YOURSELF & BALANCE JEALOUSY WITH EMPATHY by Sasha Lessin, Ph.D.
- CENTER YOURSELF & BALANCE JEALOUSY WITH EMPATHY by Sasha Lessin, Ph.D.
Q. My husband came back from a business meeting and told me he had sex with a woman there. He said he felt good about the experience, but bad because he did it without telling me first. He said it was healing for him and felt even more love for me afterward. I deeply love my husband. I don't want to leave him and I don't want to punish him forevermore, but I feel betrayed and hurt. What should I do?
A. It is better to communicate beforehand with your partner rather than after the fact when you're thinking of sharing intimacy. We would ask, what were your agreements with your husband around attractions to other people? So much pain can be avoided with clear agreements. If you had an agreement that you would only be intimate sexually with each other, this would certainly feel like a betrayal.
It's natural to be attracted to other people. We are by nature polyamorous. What we choose to do with those feelings needs to be fully discussed. It is in the making and keeping of agreements that trust is either engendered or undermined. Make your agreements after taking the time to fully discuss how you honestly feel, and what you ultimately want for yourself and your relationship.
Some couples choose to only make love with one another. Some choose to talk in advance of making love with another, to "check it out" or get permission.
Some couples feel comfortable with their lovers being free to love others any time, as long as it's done consciously, conscientiously and with integrity for all concerned. Honor whatever agreements you make. If later either of you come to realize you need to alter your previous agreements, sit down and communicate that.
So if your husband did break an agreement with you, he owes you an apology. The fact that he did tell you is a sign of truthfulness in the relationship, which is good. Truth is the bedrock of relationship.
This experience happened for a purpose. You can use it to bring you closer together, or use it to push each other away. Ask your husband to say what he learned from the experience. What wound in his psyche was healed? Talk to the woman he was with. Find out what her experience was. Perhaps this was for her also a healing experience. If she sent him back to you better than he was before, you could even thank her! The more that is known, the less there is to fantasize about, and the more understanding there can be. This can be an opportunity for both of you to communicate more in depth about your feelings and your needs. It could bring you even closer together.
You can use this kind of experience to become angry, bitter and unhappy, or you can use it for growth.
Ask yourself if your jealousy involves an inner voice that compares you with the other woman. Do you belittle yourself when you measure your worth against hers? Do you think she's prettier, smarter, richer, nicer or younger than you? Do you feel anxious when you consider her how she's better?
If you're putting yourself down in a jealous comparison, meditate or go to a counselor who'll help you accept yourself as you are and take steps to improve in the areas fueling your jealousy. Rid yourself of put-down comparisons and you lessen jealousy. Your discomfort with yourself was activated, but not caused, by your husband's girlfriend.
Tune into every aspect of yourself that has a reaction to your husband's behavior. Take them all into consideration and you can respond from choice, rather than respond only from the one voice that reacts first.
Listen to the voices in your head that disparage you and also any inner voices that object to your husband enjoying sex and healing with another woman. Focus on these inner voices, one at a time. Ask each of them what brought them strongly into your life. Let each voice tell you how it protected and served you when it first came out and ever since. Each such voice is one of your subpersonalities, here to contribute to your overall ecology if you but find out what they need and how to meet their needs without blocking the needs of your other subselves. Hear also the parts of you that rejoice in your husband's experience; find out what they have to contribute to your inner ecology.
Tell each voice concerned with your relationships what you appreciate about it. Ask it what it wants for you in your relationship with your husband. What does it ask of you when you relate to him in view of the fact that he made love with another. Tell each of your inner voices that you'll balance its concerns with the needs of other inner voices that also need expression. Let each one of your energy centers, chakras, had voices, what would they like to say about you, your husband, his lover and the way you three relate. Your security, sexuality, power, love, communication, understanding and spiritual consciousnesses all have their unique concerns and contribute to your centering yourself as your relationship drama unfolds.
When you've listened to all of the voices, to all your subselves concerned with your reaction to your husband's loving the other woman, you can better make discriminating responses to the actual situation in your relationship.
Then you're ready to turn your jealousy into empathy. Put yourself in your husband's place. Experience his joy as he physically joins his other lover. When you identify with his joy as he joins her, you practice a type of empathy called compersion. You disidentify with your jealous subselves--your inner Frightened Child who fears abandonment and your inner Controller who wants to dictate to your husbandand comperse.
You can also experientially identify with the woman as she receives your husbands amorous attention. Become her as she experiences your husband's embraces and devotions. Your consciousness, compassion and empathy are growing from this experience.
Sasha Lessin, Ph.D., is Program Director and M.C. for the World Polyamory Association Harbin Hot Springs California Conference, September 11-13. http://www.worldpolyamoryassociation.com