Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Christian Marriage as an Antidote to Partner Loss Jealousy

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Christian Marriage as an Antidote to Partner Loss Jealousy

Article excerpt

It was hypothesized that married Christians are less likely to experience romantic jealousy because their partners are probably also Christians who recognize fewer grounds for divorce than non-Christians. As a result Christians are less likely to lose a spouse to a rival and are, thus, less likely to experience romantic jealousy. Sixty-one married individuals completed measures of strength of Christian faith, perceived spouse strength of faith, perceived partner grounds for divorce, and jealousy. Results indicated that strength of faith was associated with less romantic jealousy, but this relationship was mediated by participants' perceptions of their spouse's faith and grounds for divorce. Apparently, a Christian marriage is an antidote to jealousy resulting from the possibility of losing the partner to a rival.

Romantic jealousy is defined as the negative emotion resulting from the actual or threatened loss of a romantic partner to a rival (Mathes, 1992). From an evolutionary perspective, jealousy serves as a mate-retention strategy designed to protect close relationships from the intrusion of others (Buss, 1999). Buss (2000) suggests that throughout human history, those individuals who reacted strongly to interlopers enjoyed reproductive advantages; thus, jealousy is now an innate, reflexive response to relationship threat. Because jealousy has played an important role in the retention of partners over evolutionary history, it should have evolved as a universal human emotion. Recent research indicates that this is the case; both men and women experience jealousy with similar frequency and intensity (Buss, 2000; Buunk, 1995; Shakelford, LeBlanc & Drass, 2000). Indeed, it is a common experience in relationships, reflected in one survey of mamage counselors which indicated that one -third of their clients had jealousy issues (Pines, 1992). Furthermore, over half of respondents in another survey considered themselves to be jealous people and estimated that 75% of the general population was jealous (Pines & Aronson, 1983).

Jealousy is adaptive in that it motivates the individual to engage in activities designed to prevent the loss of the partner to a rival. This goal can be seen in common protective responses to jealousy, including derogating or threatening the rival (Guerrero & Andersen, 1998), holding hands with the mate in public, calling the mate at unexpected times, refusing to take a mate to parties where competitors may be present, and monopolizing the mate's time (Buss, 2003). Often, people respond to jealousy by trying to repair their relationship by improving their appearance, giving their partner gifts, or doing more housework (Guenero & Andersen, 1998). Given these types of behaviors, it is not surprising that jealousy has been linked to romantic love (Mathes & Severa, 1981), verifying the positive aspects of jealousy.

However, jealousy has also been found to be related to a host of detrimental personal and interpersonal characteristics. Specifically, studies have demonstrated that jealousy is associated with negative traits such as low self-esteem (Stewart & Beatty, 1985; Tipton, Benedictson, Mahoney, & Hartnett, 1978), emotional dependency (Buunk, 1982), low trust (Carson & Cupach, 2000), neuroticism, insecurity, anxiety, unhappiness, dogmatism, and malevolent attitudes (Bringle, Roach, Adler, & Evenbeck, 1979; Mathes, Phillips, Skowran, & Dick, 1982; Mathes & Severa, 1981), and various forms of psychopathology (Marazziti, Rucci, DiNasso, Másala, Baroni, Rossi, et al., 2003). Other characteristics connected to jealousy include traditional gender role orientation (Hansen, 1982, 1985), feeling rejected, insecure, and suspicious (Peretti & Pudowski, 1997), younger age (Melamed, 1991), fear and anger (Guerrero, Trost, & Yoshimura, 2005; Mathes, Adams, & Davies, 1985), possessiveness, violence, and manipulation (Aylor & Dainton, 2001), and avoidance and denial (Carson & Cupach, 2000). …

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