One of the most common conflicts in co-parenting disputes are the parents not being accepting of their coparents’ partners.
Those conflicts are mostly derived from jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. Feeling this way can create a lack of confidence or not being satisfied with where you are in life right now. Jealousy can be an evil emotion and usually reactive with anger, aggression, and hostility. You can distinguish each feeling by how you act or react in your interactions with your estranged ex and family.
Let’s look at Cambridge Dictionary definitions of jealous:
jealous adjective (WANTING QUALITIES)
Ex: He can’t believe that his ex replaced her with a younger and attractive guy that does not look responsible at all. They must be together for financial benefit or ex is just trying to make him jealous.
jealous adjective (FEARFUL ABOUT LOVE)
Ex: She did not want her son to love his step-mother more than he loves her. She will never love him as she does.
jealous adjective (CAREFUL TO PROTECT)
Ex: He feels jealous every time the other man is there to pick up their son. He doesn’t want him alone with him. He is not his dad.
jealous adjective (UNHAPPY)
Ex: She was jealous of her ex-husband’s new wife. It’s not fair that they look so happy taking her son and she had to be alone for the weekend.
Suffering can be profoundly personal and it tends to project indefinitely with one of the effects being jealousy. Just like the body has a physiological immune system response, the brain has a similar response. When something goes wrong, an instinctive trigger releases a defense mechanism. An individual can overreact and cling to limiting beliefs and fears of disappointment, loss, and grief. Although those beliefs are negative, they are familiar. It’s often intensified if the ex appears to be doing better after the end of the relationship.
But dear parents, those feelings and emotions do not release you from the responsibility to prevent hardships and protect the mental wellbeing of the children you brought into this world. You must work on your own issues as well especially if you are battling with feelings of inadequacy.
You must want to learn how to deal better with jealousy by shifting your perspective. It’s up to you whether you want to keep feeling angry, aggressive and hostile or if you want to approach everything with acceptance, understanding, and compassion to reach your own personal peace and hopefully inspire the rest of the family to do the same.
Here are some tips on how to control that Green-Eyed monster that I practice myself:
This can be done anywhere at any time. As soon as you feel anxiety, get hot and with an urge to react in a not so positive way, breathe in through your nose for 6 counts, hold it for 6 counts and breathe out through your nose for 6 counts. Continue as long as you like or until you feel calm. Focus breathing is one of the first lines of defense against loss of focus agitation and anxiety.
I like to use a cognitive behavioral therapy technique where you write down the issue that is causing you anguish and then follows with proof that that belief is false. For example, start with what might be your biggest fear: “My kids will love their step-mother more than me because I am not good enough.” At this time, you write down how much you love your children, how passionate you are to the commitments and changes you have made to provide for your children, and how you make your children feel safe. Write about the small things that you do every day to make your children’s lives easier and about the connection you have always felt with them in spite of being with their other parent or not! That’s the evidence that you have great qualities and you are indeed enough and worthy of a love that your children can only share with you. You must believe that you are a great parent to your child! And if you think that you are not, identify what you think that you are doing wrong and fix it!!!
Make friends with your own demons. Respect your feelings by analyzing and changing destructive behavior/feelings. Use it to define what you truly want and what part of you need to heal, dig deeper and find out what it’s trying to teach you. Do not make the mistake of comparing yourself to others. Instead of focusing on the differences, focus on the similarities that can bring you closer in the future. Seek inspiration from them.
One of the basic things when learning how to deal with jealousy is that you should never wish harm to anyone else. If all you seek is someone else’s destruction, sooner or later the law of Karma will catch up with you. In the end, you should match your desire to be respected and accepted by showing it to your co-parent AND your co-parent’s partner. Start appreciating the moments/time/things that you have instead of hating and crying over what you don’t. When you feel jealousy poking you, re-focus and give yourself, your children and the other great people around you some extra love. Show them that you appreciate what you have and you are ok with sharing, even your children. Work hard to not antagonize or alienate your co-parent and his significant other because of your jealousy or feelings of inadequacy. Be kind to yourself!
As always, I asked that when reading my articles you try to keep an open mind and understand that we all have our own unique circumstances and reactions to them. If you feel triggered by something, please search within. There might not be a perfect way to achieve your peace and I may not be the one to provide you with the solution you need. I am offering different perspectives and possible solutions that you can make your own. At the end of the day, Kindness is the super-power I wish upon you.
Patricia Amorim is a Family Mediator and CoParenting Coach. She was born in Portugal and lived in the United States for the past 10 years. Patricia has 3 sons with 3 different CoParents. She developed a passion for family law when she went through a challenging divorce and could not find enough resources to help her own family, so she decided to be part of the change in Family Disputes.