Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Jealousy, possessiveness, ownership

Part of an email my husband sent after week 3 of his abuser course.  He was role-playing a woman in a domestically violent relationship, set in a club where she was innocently dancing around and he was 'watching and stewing':
The scene they set was so true to our life I had to point out that it had direct relevance to me. We are covering jealousy later on the course but they 'indulged' me for a while. 
I said that while i was playing Sonia, i had been 'innocently' dancing with other blokes, i told them that when we were out I wouldnt think of you dancing innocently and i would stew about you wanting to be with other blokes. I cant even remember you dancing with anyone else except J and maybe R (two of his friends), but i know i have been in clubs with you 'spying' on you and waiting for you to go off with someone else so i can then justify my mental paranoia. 
Since we have had kids this sort of thing hasnt been a problem as we havent really been out. I have thought even before the course, how will i react if in a few years we go out and you are dancing with other men, i dont know. I dont think you would be going around dancing with one man to the next, but i would like to be the sort of person who can look at their wife dancing with someone else and think 'i am glad R is having a good time'.

I am wondering if it is my pre conceptions of what dancing with someone means, to be honest i think if someone was dancing with someone else in a club they would therefore fancy them, however if you had been dancing with R, i would see that as nothing, but i see J as a threat as i probably would a stranger.

I keep going back years ago when you would explain to me about life in <Caribbean> where anyone was dirty wining with whoever and it was just about having a good time, In my head i think it is too intimate to be 'just dancing'. If someone danced with me like that i would assume they wanted to have sex.

I know this is part of the bigger picture of jealousy and because i know i am really jealous i see that my view is probably skewed at best and actually wrong. I am looking for discussion/guidance.
I went to sleep, slept well (!) and this morning composed my reply to him:

 I don't think this is deliberate on your behalf, but what I see here is distraction away from the actual problem (your jealousy/values/attitudes) to focus on something which is not the problem at all.  I don't know if it's uncomfortable for you or hasn't occurred to you, to actually look at what values are driving this relentless unwarranted jealousy.  Lundy basically says that it's down to ownership - you basically think that I belong to you and all your jealous behaviours come from that value.  I don't know if this is true, or whether you could admit it if it was but might be worth thinking about. 
Anyway, I am not going to get into a discussion about this for a few reasons.  
Firstly, the problem here isn't my behaviour so it is pointless discussing my behaviour in hopes it will solve the problem.  I think of A here (my friend).  Her constant obsession over one part of her body - which part of the body she focusses on changes over time - but one thing I can be sure of is that she will not suddenly be happy if that certain part of her body is changed.  She will then fixate on another part of her body.  Not because there is anything wrong with her body, which isn't perfect but isn't fundamentally flawed either, but because there is a problem inside that needs to be fixed.  Likewise, your jealousy problem is not caused by any external factors or behaviour of another person, it is caused by something inside you.  Discussing the particular behaviours will not change the problem.  
Secondly, you might think it will change the problem but I assume we can both agree that in the past constant reassurance, discussion and my *actual* behaviour (never having been unfaithful) hasn't changed your jealousy.  You may disagree and still think it could, but I don't believe it can.  In fact, for me, it is actually harmful.  I need to reassert to myself and you that I haven't done anything wrong, I don't need to justify myself, that undermining like this (which it would be to get into a discussion of this) is really unhealthy for me.   
Thirdly, if anything else needs to be said... I don't think that this is the only thing you can't handle jealousy wise - as I mention above.  This is just the thing you are thinking of at the moment.  It is crazy to be wanting to discuss something that hasn't happened in over a decade because you are still fixated on it!  See 'did you sleep with J' (aforementioned friend of his) last year!  Plus, I'm thinking of the fact you think I'm sleeping with anyone I talk to (D?! (a female friend of mine)) and I hope you can see why I think the problem is not my behaviour and whether it is or was justifiable in any context, but your values and jealousy. 
I hope that part of the course comes round soon! 
It's interesting what you say about the role play.  I can't imagine that a role play would be so effective, but it sounds like it was useful.  Maybe I'm being ... suspicious here... but reading your email it felt a bit like you'd only mentioned the role play and apologised for physical violence etc to 'soften me up' so you could then discuss the perceived dancing issue.  Maybe you would have felt embarrassed going straight into the jealousy thing?  Maybe I'm over-thinking it. 
I know this probably isn't what you were hoping to get back in response, but hopefully it's of use.

I was hoping to back up with a few quotes from Why Does He Do That but I didn't have the time to read through it.  However, there is loads in there about this abusive possessiveness and jealousy.

I await his response, but am happy with what I sent him.

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I appreciate all your comments, advice and support.