Eventually, not even counseling could assuage his coldness. Nor could it reassure his spouse, who was convinced of her failure as a woman and a wife.
A relationship ruled by jealousy exists in a continual cycle of suspicion, accusation and rejection. Ultimately, constant discord destroys any real intimacy between the two partners, who have become rivals.
COMPETITION, LEGALISM AND CONFUSION
Spiritual jealousy between spouses quickly leads to competition. It carries confusion and masks itself in religious legalism.
For example, a husband who envies his wife's spirituality might insist that a woman cannot practice certain spiritual gifts because they are "reserved only for men." Threatened by her influence, he may accuse his wife of being a "Jezebel" who is attempting to rule when she should submit.
Such was the case with a leader's wife I had occasion to meet. This woman spent a number of miserable years in confusion and depression under the burden of her husband's volatile insecurities and jealousy. Sadly, the stringent gender roles of their denomination served as a deceitful vehicle of unrighteousness in their personal dynamics.
At one time, this couple was certain that God had ordained them to share their spiritual calling in marriage. In public, she was the joyful, supportive, submissive, wife; inwardly, she felt completely stifled and used.
At church, the husband took the helm as the charismatic center of every event. At home, he was a self-consumed tyrant who used doctrinal laws of submission and obedience on his wife to his own benefit.
He required that her every ounce of energy be consumed with him. If she was unwilling to comply with his every whim, he would accuse her of rebellion.
This cycle continued, hidden behind the facade of religious piety. The wife's zeal for her husband and his vision cooled. In response, he began to suspect her of lusting after other men in their circle of acquaintances.
The alienation in their marriage made way for open conflict. He would become angry, accusing and threatening her.
Meanwhile, the dynamics of their situation were further affected by the fact that God began using her spiritual gifts in a way that gave her increasing public approval and influence. It became difficult to see where her husband's jealousy of her ended and his appreciation of her anointing began.
He made sure to exercise tight reign over her schedule and engagements in order to limit her interaction with others, especially if he wasn't going to be present. Ultimately, it took a miraculous visitation for the woman's husband to see himself in the mirror of the Word of God.
Slowly, the man began to relinquish his insecurities and enjoy the fact that God had given him a capable wife. The regrettable part of this story is that the couple spent many miserable years in captivity to the husband's jealousy, which he masked behind their religious roles.
When the anointing of God falls on someone, Satan takes opportunity through jealousy. This spirit makes the person who is afflicted by it its captive, then victimizes the people to whom he relates. But there is a way out.
BREAKING FREE OF ENVY
Jealousy can have power over you only when you give it a place in your life. If you are trapped in this vicious snare, practicing the following principles will help you to find freedom:
- Love. Love is not jealous; it seeks the welfare of others (see 1 Cor. 13:4-5).
- Do not think more highly of yourself than you should. See yourself and your spouse circumspectly (see Rom. 12:3).
- Dethrone yourself. Jealousy provokes vain imagining (see Ezek. 8:3). If having to be the center of attention puts you in competition with your mate, you have given way to a spirit of idolatry! You have become your own object of worship.
You will be subject to resenting, accusing and alienating your mate. Put Christ as supreme in your thoughts and behavior. Then your spouse's success and influence will cause you to rejoice.
- Be aligned with the Word of God above your emotions. A jealous spirit will cause you to misinterpret the actions and motives of your mate, as in the case of Michal, David's wife (see 2 Sam. 6:14-23).
Guard the truth in your heart, and discern your real image and that of your spouse. Do not give the accuser a foothold either by charging your spouse with evil or by receiving his or her jealous accusations.