You can only move on when you get to the root of your jealousy.

How to Deal With Jealousy When a Former Spouse Gets in a New Relationship

by Nina Edwards

You will struggle to have a decent relationship with your ex-spouse unless you learn how to deal with jealousy of their new relationship. You may have had a rocky marriage followed by an unhappy divorce. Or, perhaps you split amicably. Regardless of exactly what happened between you and your ex, you cannot seem to move on from this excruciatingly painful place. A few strategies exist that you can use to deal with jealousy so that you can open the door to a new, happier relationship.

1. Analyze Your Feelings

There are a number of steps you can take for dealing with jealousy, say Robert Leahy and Dennis Tirsch in the article, “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Jealousy” published in the “International Journal of Cognitive Therapy.” The first is to accept and observe your thoughts and feelings of jealousy. Realize that you do not have to get rid of your feelings to deal with them in a positive way. Perhaps, you think that his new spouse is somehow a threat to you. You may even think that his new wife will be a better mother to your children. If so, realize that these are not facts but your unsubstantiated opinions about what your children may think.

2. Recognize Uncertainty

Jealousy is a type of worry and worry is often a way to seek certainty. You cannot find certainty in the relationship that your ex now has. Try separating your thoughts into two groups: positive and negative. Then, focus your time and attention toward your positive thoughts. For example, say to yourself: "You are beautiful. You are a good mother." If you need to, write these and other positive thoughts on a sheet of paper that you can reference whenever you start to think negatively about yourself. It may seem odd that something simple like writing down these positive thoughts could bring about a sea change in your feelings, but in time, it can.

3. Be Realistic

Your jealous feelings may be because you have unrealistic expectations about relationships. Unconsciously, you may have believed that your spouse would not be attracted to anyone else. You may also harbor thoughts that there must be some way to force him to love you. These are not realistic beliefs, however, so it is not a prudent use of your emotional energy to spend time thinking about them. Instead of focusing on these unrealistic wishes, be realistic about the fact that he found someone else. You're still you. His moving on does not take away from who you are. His moving on does not mean that you are somehow deficient in some way. It just means that he has moved on. Try making an effort to do the same.

4. Manage Your Relationship

Recognize the possibility that your ex-spouse may be stoking your feelings of jealousy, as uncomfortable as that thought may be. Many ex-spouses will instigate problems simply to get back at you for what they think you have done to them, explains Mark Banschick, M.D., in the article, “Do You Have an Impossible Ex?” on Psychology Today. If you feel that your ex-spouse is doing this, try turning his attempts to be negative into positive interactions. Congratulate him on his new relationship and reiterate that you want to have a positive relationship with him going forward. He may recognize your attempt to repair the relationship and respond positively.

About the Author

Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.

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