FAMILY JEALOUSY-The Shameful Secret Behind Abuse And Betrayal
THE SHAMEFUL SECRET BEHIND ABUSE AND BETRAYAL
By Sister Renee Pittelli
THE FIRST CLUE: YOU THOUGHT EVERYTHING WAS FINE....UNTIL YOU GOT STABBED IN THE BACK
Many, if not all, cases of birth-family abuse can be traced back to jealousy or envy in the abuser’s heart toward the victim. It is very painful to be the target of jealousy from someone we love. We are often blindsided by it because it is the last thing we would expect from a family member, however it is much more common than you would think. Often, the victim has done nothing to provoke an attack or a betrayal, and is shocked when it happens. Many times, there will be no explanation, or the act of abuse or betrayal will be way out of proportion to whatever the victim might have done that the abuser claims angered him. An offender may decide to judge her victim for something that has nothing to do with her. Instead of minding her own business, she uses a decision the victim has made in her own life, perhaps to get married, or move away, as a reason to become angry at the victim and “punish” her.
It doesn’t make sense to anyone else except the offender. It’s almost as if she was waiting all along for any excuse, no matter how lame, to hurt her unsuspecting relative. As soon as the victim does anything she “disapproves” of, the abuser jumps on the opportunity to attack the victim and tell anyone who will listen how terrible the victim is. She may start an unprovoked fight with the victim because of her resentments. She may sabotage or undermine the victim. Or she may go to the extreme of cutting the victim out of her life because her own feelings of inferiority have made her uncomfortable around the victim all along, and now she finally has an excuse not to be in the victim’s presence any longer.
People who care about and love each other make every effort to talk things out and hold their relationship together. They may give each other advice out of concern for one another, but they do not force their opinions, wants, or needs on another. They do not judge, “punish”, or blackmail each other. If one makes a decision in her own life that the other is not completely happy with, an unselfish, loving relative puts her own feelings second, wants what’s best for her loved one, and shows support and encouragement. An extreme reaction that doesn’t make sense and is all out of proportion to whatever “offense” the victim supposedly committed is a clue that jealousy, envy, and resentment are at work behind the scenes.
Another tell-tale sign is a relative who hurts you and then “apologizes” by saying something along the lines of “we’ve BOTH hurt each other” or “we BOTH need to forgive each other”, when YOU haven’t done anything hurtful to her at all. When you ask her to be specific about what you have done that requires her forgiveness, she will be unable to give you any examples. She will try to change the subject, or the most you will get is some vague babbling. She will have nothing to say because there IS nothing to say- you have done nothing wrong.
Although you have not hurt her, she has FELT HURT by you all along anyway, simply because she envies you for some reason you are not aware of. She is resentful of you for inadvertently making her feel bad, inferior, or upset, and uses her resentment to justify attacking you. She is making you responsible for her feelings of jealousy. In her mind, her offense of betraying, abandoning, or abusing you is no worse than YOUR 'offense' of just living your life, and she reveals this in a “Freudian slip” by telling you she has “things” she needs to forgive you for too. But when you ask for clarification, she will be unable to admit her jealousy, sometimes even to herself, and so will have nothing specific to accuse you of.
WHEN THOSE WHO SHOULD WANT THE BEST FOR YOU RESENT YOU INSTEAD
SISTERS, BROTHERS, COUSINS, AND OTHER ASSORTED GREEN-EYED LOVED ONES
Sibling rivalry is well-known, has been written about extensively, and is almost expected. There is often an outright or unspoken competition between siblings, but many times this competition is very one-sided. Sometimes the signs are outrageously blatant, such as an adult sibling copying everything you do. Some women find their sister copying everything from a hairstyle or decorating color to planning a wedding within a few weeks of their own, or giving her baby the same name her sister chose for her baby. I know of more than one case where, for years, one sister told everyone in the family that she loved a particular name and intended to give it to her baby, only to have her sister give birth FIRST and use the name she had chosen before she could.
Many times one sibling isn’t even aware that there is a competition. It often comes as a surprise to the sibling who is just going about her life that her sister or brother may be envious or jealous. The signs may be hard to read because it is not expected, but a clue often comes in an off-hand remark.
When, after seven years of planning, saving up, and making do with a stove that only had two working burners, I remodeled my kitchen in a “country kitchen” style, the only thing my birth-sister had to say, with a shrug, when she saw it was, “ I like modern.” Not “Oh, how nice”, or “Congratulations”, or “I’m so happy for you- I know you waited so long.” Just a shrug and a comment on how it wasn’t her taste. Why should it be?- it wasn’t her kitchen! But just because something is not what you would have chosen for yourself doesn’t mean you can’t compliment it anyway. This was just one clue I had to the fact that she was envious, but I didn’t fully realize that until I was able to put it together with a few other clues.
A clue that should have been obvious to me, but wasn’t at the time, was our phone calls. First off, every one of them was initiated by me. She never called me for any reason. Whenever she talked to my mother, she would just tell her to say hi to me. That was her idea of carrying on a relationship with her sister. And every conversation we did have was all about her. She could talk nonstop for two hours about her dog or about her gym workouts and never once ask me about my life. She never asked how my children- her nephews- were, how my husband was, or how my job was going. If I brought up anything going on in my life, she would immediately change the subject and go back to talking about herself. She was not the least bit interested in anything I was doing- she just did not want to hear it- it was totally 100% all about her! I now realize that hearing about anything in my life was probably just too much for her to take, and triggered envy and jealousy that she didn’t want to deal with.
When I gave birth to my first child, my birth-sister, who always made a big point to me of not wanting children to tie her down and infringe on her career, traveling, lifestyle, etc., did not visit me or the baby in the hospital. She did not come and help out, like other aunts might have. She finally met her new nephew for the first time when he was five months old and she happened to be in town for her job. Her jealousy was even more obvious when I gave birth to my second son. He was born on New Year’s Eve, and she did not come to see him until the following Christmas Eve, when she was in town for the holidays anyway, and he was almost a year old! She only worked a few days a month, lived a few hours away by car, and 45 minutes by plane- and because she was a flight attendant, she flew for free and had plenty of time off! But still no happy, excited Auntie showed up!
Several years later, after she had a miscarriage, I called to express my sympathies. Her reaction was to make light of it and repeat that she did not want children and she was perfectly okay with what had happened. It seemed a little strange, but I felt that further expressions of sympathy would not be appreciated- and I didn’t want to make her feel bad if she really was okay. After her second miscarriage, even my mother told me that it was just as well because my birth-sister did not want children. I didn’t realize then how odd it was that a woman in her mid-30s who didn’t want children would have a second “accidental” pregnancy. I just trusted my mother and sister to tell me the truth because it never occurred to me that this was something you would need to lie about.
It was only many years later that I learned from a neighbor that my mother had told her my birth-sister was devastated by losing her pregnancies. I was shocked and hurt. My sister and my mother had conspired to prevent me from offering any comfort. I was lied to by both of them.
I could not ask my mother about this because she had already died. To this day I do not know why my birth-sister would not want me to know she was upset by her miscarriages. She did not want me to comfort her. She did not want to appear vulnerable to me. She did not even want me to know her true feelings.
Unfortunately this lack of emotional connection on her part was the hallmark of our relationship for all of our lives and is the reason that I do not consider her a real “sister”. It’s no big deal that we are no longer in each other’s lives, because we never really were anyway. I can’t miss what I never had, and God has blessed me with two “real” sisters who have more than filled the void. I now understand that my birth-sister never revealed herself to me, or showed any interest in my life because of her overwhelming feelings of jealousy. It was as if she didn’t want to “give me the satisfaction” of knowing she cared.
But hiding her reaction to her lost pregnancies from me, and asking my mother to lie as well, when put together with her complete lack of interest in her little nephews, points to an envious heart. In her resentment, she could not be happy for me, because I had been blessed with children. Her reaction was to point out all the negatives to having children and emphasize how great her life was without all that responsibility. It was a textbook case of “sour grapes”.
And even more incredibly, for years, several of my friends, who really didn’t even know my birth-sister, had been telling me that she was jealous because I had children and she didn’t- and I had been insisting there was no way she was jealous because of her lifelong emphasis on not wanting kids. Remember the old Shakespearean saying- “Methinks the lady doth protest too much”? Well, even though it was right in front of me, I believed her denial and never saw it as a sign that she really DID want children. It’s really weird how the signs can be so obvious to others, but you miss them because you are too close to the situation, or you just take the person you love at face value and don’t question the truth of what they are telling you even though everyone else can see that they are lying.
Another time, my b.s. (birth-sister) and her husband, who was from
No matter what display we looked at, she remarked that she had seen better somewhere in
Finally, even my brother-in-law had had enough. We were in the lobby of the Plaza Hotel, admiring their gorgeous life-sized nativity when my b.s. commented that there was a much nicer one in
My husband and I, who could have gone to the city anytime we wanted to, went during the most crowded, stressful time of the year, just to treat her and her husband. We paid for their lunch and train fare and took a day out of our busy holidays. It is interesting to note that although my brother-in-law expressed his appreciation, not one word of thanks was ever spoken by my birth-sister, not even for treating them to lunch. She did not even make an effort to be pleasant company.
I was disgusted and aggravated by the whole episode, and pretty much promised myself never to bother going out of my way for her again. I couldn’t understand why she had behaved so poorly, till my husband gave me his old stand-by word of wisdom- Jealousy! And then it did kind of make sense. Jealous that I lived so near the greatest city in the world? That I knew it so well? That with all the traveling she had done all over the world, people from everywhere else always dream about coming to
THE UGLIEST JEALOUSY OF ALL: WHEN A PARENT IS JEALOUS OF THEIR OWN CHILD
Although sibling rivalry is well-known, jealousy of a parent toward their child is rarely acknowledged. This is one thing that people are very uncomfortable talking about and few will even admit it exists. Yet many parents are competitive with their children, or outright jealous of them. Mothers are jealous of the freedom and independence their daughters have that they didn’t. Fathers are jealous of their children making the kinds of salaries they never dreamt possible or having the kind of power on the job that they never did. Believing their child is “getting too big for her britches”, some criticize relentlessly, undermine their child’s self-confidence, humiliate her at every opportunity, or try and sabotage her success.
Parents can be envious of everything from the talents, skills, or taste their children have to their families, careers, friends or social lives. My father was jealous of my volunteer work with Vietnam veterans, which included starting a national program, and never missed an opportunity to hint about his short-lived membership in the American Legion and claim he had always “done right” by his country, etc. But when you asked him for specifics, there were none, because he was totally selfish and never did anything for anyone without expecting a payback. In fact, he had briefly belonged to several organizations over the years and always left, or was 'encouraged to leave', under acrimonious circumstances. Yet he was compelled to “compete” with me in a field in which I had become fairly well-known as a person of some accomplishment.
An interesting envy I have seen, and which I suspect played a role in my birth-father’s antagonism toward me, is that of a parent who had children of one sex being jealous of a child who had children of the opposite sex, or both sexes. Having a child of your own gender is especially important to some people. My birth-father had two daughters, but never had a son. I am the one who was blessed with two sons, although I was never blessed with a daughter, and I have reason to believe my birth-father resented me for that.
Here is something I did not realize until I was in my 50s. When I was a young child, I was “daddy’s girl”, tagging along after my birth-father, helping him with chores, etc. When did that all change? When did the abuse, the criticisms, the put-downs, the humiliation, start? In the third grade, my class was given IQ tests. When I was 8 years old, my parents were informed that I had superior intelligence. I was enrolled by my school in a special class for gifted children. And that is when everything changed with my birth-father.
Intimidated by my intelligence and threatened by the fact that I was smarter than he was- coupled with his paranoid thinking that everyone was out to pull something over on him- he became obsessed with “keeping me in my place”. He systematically destroyed my self-esteem and did everything possible to undermine my self-confidence. I was called “stupid” and told “don’t be ridiculous” or “you don’t know what you’re talking about” on a daily basis. If I woke up in the morning with a pimple on my face, he would be sure to point it out at the breakfast table- just what an adolescent girl needed before going off to high school that day! Attention was brought to even the smallest physical flaw- God help me if I made a normal youthful mistake or got a bad grade on a test. Anything he could say or do to make me feel bad and keep me down, he made sure to do- all day long, every day.
This abuse continued for the rest of our relationship, far into my adulthood. When, as an adult, I successfully sold real estate in a highly competitive, upscale market for ten years, he would still argue the market with me and tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about- because he, too, had been a real estate agent for six months or so forty years earlier- so he knew better! It didn’t matter what I said about any topic- he always knew better. There were no conversations, only “debates”. The stress of being in his earshot was overwhelming, and I learned it was best to basically not say anything about any subject if he could hear me. The competition which I had never volunteered for was life-long and only by the grace of God did I ever escape it.
An ironic twist which I have found in my own life, especially with my birth-mother, is envy over the relationship I have with my children. But I raised my children in a way that would foster such a close relationship, while she did not. That was her choice, not mine. For instance, I made sure my children could always trust me- to take care of them, to protect them, to be honest and truthful with them, etc. - but I could never trust her. I was also taught to make decisions and live my life based on what others would think- not on what was right- but I taught my kids to do what is right regardless of what others think- that they only need to worry about what God thinks!
I have often said that I have my parents to thank for teaching me how to raise children- everything they did, I did exactly the opposite! So because they set an example for me of how NOT to raise children, and by the grace of God, I now have a loving relationship with my own children that both my parents envied. Several times my birth-father has tried to make my now-adult sons choose him over me, and has failed every time. I have always refused to put my children in a position of having to choose and have never allowed them to be dragged into disagreements between the older generations. My first priority was not to make them choose sides, but to protect them, and, although I never demanded it, or perhaps BECAUSE I never demanded it, they have rewarded me with unswerving loyalty. But why would it be important to him to turn my sons against me, or “win” them away from me? Is it, as I’ve mentioned before, jealousy that I had sons and he didn’t?(***For more on my birth-father's psychotic behavior and bizarre fixation toward my sons, including the story of the Christmas Presents From the Devil, see the article 'Some Things Never Change' on our site)
My own parents chose to raise their daughters in a way which resulted in a wary, arm’s-length relationship at best- and then continued this behavior with their grandchildren. Now they are not happy with the results, but that is a *Natural Consequence of the way they treated their family. T hey were clearly also not happy that I have a better relationship with my kids than they had with theirs.
And even more strangely, they were also not happy that I had a better relationship with my kids than THEY had with MY kids! Who wouldn’t expect the parent to be closer to her own offspring than the grandparent? But one trait of a Narcissistic abuser is the refusal to understand where they end and others begin- the boundary of their daughter as a separate person from them just isn’t in their heads. In the narcissist’s mind, if MY children love ME, they have to love HER just as much- or MORE!
Whenever it became obvious that I was going to protect my children from abusive situations the way my own mother never did, she would make it a point of bringing up my upbringing and saying that she “did the best she could”. Without me making any comparisons between us as mothers, SHE was the one making comparisons. It was obvious that she was very defensive about it, and envious of my strength and resolve to protect my own offspring.
Normal parents are proud of their child’s accomplishments. They are thrilled with their children’s successes. They are joyful when their children are happy. They want their children to have everything they never had, instead of resenting it if their child has something they didn’t. Because this is what a normal parent does, it is what society expects of parents. It goes against every acceptable notion of parenthood when a parent is jealous of their own child and begrudges their child happiness or success. So it comes as a shock to learn that your parents are jealous of you, and this is also why others find it so hard to believe it when you talk about it.
FACING THE DISTURBING TRUTH: RECOGNIZING FAMILY JEALOUSY
A jealous, envious, or competitive relative will never be happy for you. She will not celebrate your joys or successes, but she WILL celebrate your sorrows or failures, and although she might make an effort to keep it to herself, you will sense it. It will kill her to compliment or congratulate you. She doesn’t believe you deserve anything nice, or that you worked hard for something- she believes it’s just dumb luck- and why shouldn’t it happen to her instead of you?
She will make lame excuses not to be a part of your happy occasions- getting “sick” on the day of your wedding and miraculously recovering the next day, being “too busy” to visit your new baby, “not being able to get a babysitter” for a big party at your house. She doesn’t want to see you surrounded by family or friends or celebrating any happy events- it just kills her to watch you be happy!
When something bad happens to you, however, she will be there with bells on. If you lose your job, you have problems with your kids, your husband leaves you, or God forbid, anything worse, she will swoop in with false sympathy long enough to hear every gory detail and then disappear just as quickly, without ever having actually done anything helpful. It’s as if she can’t wait to get home and gloat in private, or call up everyone she knows and pass around your bad news or revel in your tragedy. And she will make it a point of claiming that you “deserved it” or explaining how you screwed up and “brought it on yourself.” There will never be any true empathy, compassion, comfort, or encouragement.
An envious relative will choke on the words “congratulations”, “good for you” or “that’s so nice” when you achieve a goal or have a happy event. You can count on never, EVER hearing the words, “I’m so happy for you”, or, heaven forbid, “I’m PROUD of you.” He is also completely unable to manage any words of sympathy (or at least any sincere words of sympathy) when you are grieving or in sorrow.
When my beloved cousin Tony died unexpectedly and very prematurely after a short illness a week before Christmas, I was devastated. We were very close and he was like my older brother. Tony had spent every holiday at my house for many years and my husband and children were also heartbroken. He was a gentle, good-hearted soul whose loving and cheerful presence kept things on an even keel at family gatherings despite my birth-father’s hostility and nastiness. Like all best friends, we chatted frequently, went out to lunch, and spent a great deal of time together, commiserating and laughing about the relatives we had in common.
Christmas the week after his passing was a very traumatic time for me, and I missed him so much I couldn’t help but brush away the tears. Yet my birth-sister, who was in town for her once-a-year visit on Christmas, never uttered a word of condolence. No sympathy whatsoever, not even an acknowledgement that I had suffered a major loss in my life the week before. She did not even mention Tony’s name. She laughed, chatted away about herself, and celebrated the holidays with our cousins at our aunt’s house on Christmas Eve, and then came to my house as usual on Christmas Day, eating the food I had prepared through my tears and having a fine time without even acknowledging Tony’s very conspicuous absence- as though nothing was the least bit out of the ordinary.
Tony’s friends put together a wonderful memorial service for him a few months later. Many spoke about how much they loved him. I gave the eulogy, and my husband and children attended as well. But not my birth-sister. She couldn’t be bothered. And even worse, not my mother, either- even though she was Tony’s first cousin, she went to an anniversary party instead. So while I tearfully struggled to get through the eulogy I had written, neither my mother nor my b.s (birth-sister) was there for any kind of support. It has been nine years since his tragic passing and my family and I still miss him and feel his loss, especially around the holidays, but never once has my b.s. expressed her sympathy or even mentioned his name in all this time.
Although I had expressed sympathy to her in the past when she had lost people she cared for, the favor was not returned. And since Tony’s passing, she has made it clear to me that she STILL feels entitled to MY sympathy and support if she loses a loved one, even though she gives none when the situation is reversed. This is a common characteristic of all narcissists. Sympathy FROM me was expected, but sympathy FOR me was unheard-of.
Was she envious of the relationship my family and I had with Tony and the love we felt for each other? Was she jealous that I had been blessed with someone so terrific in my life? (I should mention that she could have been close to Tony too, if she had ever made an effort to keep in touch, but she didn’t- as she didn’t with most of the family. I had a special relationship with him, as well as many other relatives, because I DO make that effort.) Was it a small victory in her one-sided competition that he was gone and I didn’t have him anymore? Was she so selfish and self-centered that only HER pain deserved an acknowledgement- and she was blind to anyone else’s sorrow? Or was she secretly glad to see me hurting over the holidays instead of being happy and enjoying myself? I’ll never know- but her completely ignoring the fact that I was mourning the loss of a loved one is shockingly uncaring and unfeeling behavior coming from a so-called “sister”.
A jealous relative will do everything he can to bring you down and keep you down. This will range from snide remarks and criticisms, to lying about you or gossiping behind your back, to outright sabotage. I have seen jealous parents or siblings purposely set up a situation to embarrass or upset their unsuspecting family member- some even going so far as to sabotage their relative’s job or marriage. If you are joyful, he won’t be satisfied until he sees your smile vanish. If you are sorrowful, he’ll make sure to say or do something when you are at your lowest point to make you feel even worse.
In the Old Testament, we see that Cain murdered his brother Abel because he was jealous of him (Genesis 4:4-8). Abel never did anything to deserve being murdered by his brother. In Genesis chapter 37, we are told the story of Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were consumed with jealousy toward him, threw him in a well and plotted to kill him. They eventually sold him into slavery and told their father Jacob that he had been killed by a wild animal. That is how much their hatred burned toward their brother because of their own envy. But God loved Joseph, and prospered him greatly, as he will also prosper us. Genesis goes on to tell the rest of the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph had a happy ending, in which his brothers must come to him for survival and repent, he forgives them, and they are all reunited, together with their father. Our happy ending may not be the same as Joseph’s, but, sisters, I assure you that we will have our happy ending as well! Thanks be to God!
A jealous relative can only feel good if you feel bad. The last thing he wants is to know you are happy. All his high points come at your expense. In a sick way, he is truly obsessed with you and your life. Without realizing it, you have become his focus. It is a creepy feeling to know that you are just going about your normal life and minding your own business, all the while being observed by a loved one with jealousy in his heart who is just waiting for you to be hurt, upset, or embarrassed in some way.
Perhaps he is angry that you are not as obsessed with him. Maybe he wants your attention and is resentful of not being the center of the universe to you. In the case of a sibling, maybe he wants your PARENTS’ attention or approval. Perhaps he feels inferior in some way and can only feel better about himself by bringing you down to what he unconsciously thinks is “his level”. Or perhaps he really IS inferior, and can only boost his own self- esteem by making you look or feel foolish or bad. When a tragedy happens to you, he is secretly thrilled, because all along he had been bitter at whatever good things you had in your life.
BEWARE OF THEIR "INTEREST" IN YOUR LIFE
This is a very important point that we must all beware of: many jealous relatives are very good at getting you to reveal personal information which they will later use against you. Be very cautious about what you reveal. They are often shameless in their prying and nosiness. They will ask personal questions and become insulted if you decline to answer. They are OVERLY INTERESTED in every aspect of your life, including details that you consider less than trivial. Remember that this is a COMPETITION, even though YOU are not thinking of it in that way, and how can your parent or sibling compare her life to yours and compete with you if she doesn’t know all the details? If he can’t drag information out of you, he will go behind your back and try to get information about you from other sources or other people. “Minding your own business” doesn’t exist in the minds of some jealous relatives- comparing their lives to yours IS their business.
THE $64,000 QUESTION: WHAT EXACTLY ARE THEY SO JEALOUS OF?
We usually think of people being jealous of concrete things, like your marriage, your money, your house, your family, your looks, or even your popularity. But it is often difficult to figure out exactly what they are jealous of, because many times the jealous relative has more friends, more money, a better house, or a better figure than you do! Often it is the intangible things such as your personality, your sense of humor, your intelligence, or your kindness that they envy and resent.
Even righteousness and a Godly character can produce envy in those more inclined to worldly ways. DO NOT BE LIKE CAIN, WHO BELONGED TO THE EVIL ONE AND MURDERED HIS BROTHER. AND WHY DID HE MURDER HIM? BECAUSE HIS OWN ACTIONS WERE EVIL AND HIS BROTHER'S WERE RIGHTEOUS. DO NOT BE SURPRISED, MY BROTHERS, IF THE WORLD HATES YOU....1 John 3:12-13 NIV.
Misery loves company. Sometimes your parent or sibling is simply jealous because you are content or happy with your life -and she isn't. This is a vicious cycle- because the main reason she isn't content or happy with her life IS her jealousy!
There is often something going on behind the scenes in the lives of jealous friends and relatives that you might not be aware of at the time they decide to take it out on you. I had two longtime friends who suddenly and mysteriously ended their relationships with me. They gave me no reason, but simply dropped me out of their lives. Both of these women appeared to have everything they could want, much more than I did in many respects- happy marriages, nice families, big homes, great careers, expensive cars and jewelry, plenty of money.
They seemed to have perfect lives, so what was there to be jealous of? Little did I realize this was just the façade they were presenting to outsiders, and both of their marriages were shams. It was not until many years later that I found out what had been going on in their lives that they kept secret during our friendships. One had a husband who went straight to the bar every day after work, sat there for hours to avoid going home, and got blitzed before he had to deal with her every evening. Whenever we socialized as couples, it was obvious they had little in common. He seemed bored with her, and the differences in their intellects and interests was noticeable. They barely spoke when they were together in public, so I can only imagine how tedious they found each other’s company when left alone with no one else around. After their children grew up and left home, they had nothing left to talk about. Apparently he found it much easier to tolerate her inability to contribute to a mentally stimulating conversation if he was drunk and dozing off instead of alert and having to listen to her silly chatter.
The other woman’s husband was having a longtime affair with his coworker, and refused to stop even after he got found out. He told his friends the love was long gone but a divorce would cost him too much money, so he would just mollify his wife by buying her whatever she wanted. And sure enough, all of a sudden the new cars, flashy jewelry, and even exotic pets were being flaunted. They also took to having sex in public places, and boasting about it like naughty teenagers. I had never seen a long-married couple, parents of grown children, who were so eager to brag about the private, intimate details of their sex lives, and it was embarrassing to listen to. The wife made it sound as if their sex life was awesome and her husband couldn’t keep his hands off her. In fact, she was so desirable that they had to stop in the middle of a round of golf and have sex in the bushes on the golf course! She also showed me some “sexy” pictures she had framed and was giving to her husband to display on his desk at work. They were totally inappropriate and downright scary bondage pictures of this middle-aged grandmother hanging half out of a studded leather bustier. I would have been mortified to have my husband’s colleagues gawking at pictures of me like that. But then again, I have nothing to prove. I guess she wanted to show her younger rival that she was either a sexy wife, or a crazy one she’d better not mess with. I didn’t get it at the time, because I had no idea her husband was cheating on her. I figured it was just some midlife crisis thing. But apparently she was putting his coworkers on notice, and staking her claim on a husband whose heart no longer belonged to her. All of this “proof” that she was an incredibly happily married, hot and sexy wife, whom other woman should admire and envy, was nothing more than pathetic and degrading attempts by a desperate older woman to keep her husband in her bed instead of his young mistress’.
So both of these “perfect” women, whom I thought had wonderful lives, were stuck in loveless marriages with husbands who had lost interest in them- surely a major blow for women who always prided themselves on their now-fading looks and sex appeal. And, thank the Lord, my marriage was intact, healthy and loving. My husband wasn’t a drunk, and he wasn’t an adulterer. He’s a great husband and father, someone I can trust, and my best friend. Although I was unaware of it at the time that they mysteriously cut me out of their lives, I had something they didn’t have, and their egos couldn’t take it. They were used to being the “haves,” and everybody else had to be the “have-nots.” If they could not feel superior to me, then they could not relate to me. They could not look me in the eye and face me, knowing I had something they only pretended to have- a happy marriage and a husband who loved me. Their jealousy and ending our friendship had little to do with me, anything I had done, or anything I had in my life. It was really all about them.
If you suspect you have a jealous relative, at the next family gathering, take the time to stop and observe her. You will see for yourself that it is just killing her that you are enjoying yourself and appear to be having a good time. Pay close attention to facial expressions, body language, eye contact, subject-changing, attention-seeking behavior, sulking, and comments that are made, as well as what is left unsaid. The resentment you notice at a one-time event is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the bitterness she feels when she sees that you are happy with the big things in life- your faith, your family, your marriage, your friends, your job, etc.
I did not always have a nice family and a nice life. Far from it, as most of you already know. The Lord has blessed me abundantly and taken care of me as his daughter since I have come to know him as my Father. Godly people are not by nature jealous, envious, or competitive- because the things of the world are not important to us. We know that our Father provides for our every need and gives us all we need to be happy- and we are happy with all he gives us and supremely grateful; therefore, we can be happy for others when he blesses them as well.
Sometimes I have been told by people, half in jest, that I’m “so lucky” or that they envy my life, my family, etc. But they are not willing to do what I did to have this life- which is to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Only through him can you have peace and joy. Only through him can you have everything your heart will ever desire. Only through him can all your dreams come true. Unfortunately, jealous people prefer to wallow in their bitterness rather than ask the Holy Spirit to give them a new heart.
We each need to decide what our tolerance level is for phony relationships with people who will never be happy for us and are just waiting for us to stumble or for some disaster to befall us so that they can then feel good. If you choose to have such a person in your life, know that you can never share anything with her from your heart. My personal opinion is that many such people can be downright dangerous in many ways, and it is much safer for me, my husband, and my children if we just stay away from them.
You will always be disappointed and disillusioned with a jealous family member’s reaction if you share upsetting news- you will never feel supported, she will manage to make you feel even worse, and you will know she is secretly gloating. Any happy news will trigger her feelings of inferiority and envy, which she will then take out on you somewhere down the line. You can hardly call it a close family relationship when you have to watch what you reveal and think twice before you share anything about your own life.
Jealous people usually have few friends or family members willing to put up with them- and this is a *Natural Consequence of their behavior . However, many envious relatives can behave pretty normally with outsiders and are not jealous of EVERYONE else, they have singled out just ONE unfortunate sibling or child to be the focus of their resentment- and God help you if YOU are the unsuspecting 'winner'! There is not much you can do about a jealous parent or sibling except avoid them until they change their attitude.
A BIBLICAL LESSON: YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S DISSATISFACTIONS IN LIFE
WHEN RACHEL SAW THAT SHE WAS NOT BEARING JACOB ANY CHILDREN, SHE BECAME JEALOUS OF HER SISTER. SO SHE SAID TO JACOB, “GIVE ME CHILDREN, OR I’LL DIE!” JACOB BECAME ANGRY WITH HER AND SAID, “AM I IN THE PLACE OF GOD, WHO HAS KEPT YOU FROM HAVING CHILDREN?”…..Genesis 30:1-2NIV.
I often think of this scripture when dealing with jealous relatives, not only when thinking about my own birth-sister’s apparent envy of me for having children, but with all types of envy and jealousy. What especially rings true to me is Jacob’s response to his wife’s unreasonable attitude of blaming him for whatever she is not satisfied with in her own life. He points out to her that he is not God, who decides who has children and who doesn’t. Jacob refused to accept responsibility for Rachel’s unhappiness, dissatisfactions, failures, bitterness, resentment, or feelings of jealousy and envy.
We need to take a page from Jacob’s book and not allow others to make us feel responsible for their unhappiness. We didn’t cause it, it is not our doing, and it is not our fault. Should we not have children because a relative is going to feel bad? Should we not accept a big promotion at work because a family member is going to resent us if we are more successful than he is? Should we not talk about our friends because our mother is going to be jealous of our popularity? Should we not buy a new couch or a new car because we don’t want to trigger our sister’s feelings of inferiority and envy?
With very few exceptions, someone who is unhappy or dissatisfied with his life can take many positive steps to change things and to work toward his dreams, if only he wanted to, instead of thinking that if he can’t have something, no one else should have it either! A person who is unhappy with her job can enroll in college classes and advance her education at night, and then go out and get a better job. YOU having a great job is not keeping HER from getting a better one! Someone who wants to take an expensive vacation or buy a new car can get a temporary second job, save up, and pay for it. YOU’RE not stopping him from doing that! A childless person who wants children can pursue fertility treatments or adoption. That has nothing to do with YOU! A brother who envies your outgoing personality can take public speaking or drama classes to overcome his shyness. YOU can’t do it for him! You will find that jealous family members rarely, if ever, do anything positive to change their situation. They prefer the lazy way out- feeling sorry for themselves and resenting what others have.
The Scriptures are very clear in calling jealousy and envy a serious sin, which will keep the jealous person from heaven. THE ACTS OF THE SINFUL NATURE ARE OBVIOUS: SEXUAL IMMORALITY, IMPURITY AND DEBAUCHERY; IDOLATRY AND WITCHCRAFT; HATRED, DISCORD, JEALOUSY, FITS OF RAGE, SELFISH AMBITION, DISSENSIONS, FACTIONS, AND ENVY; DRUNKENNESS, ORGIES, AND THE LIKE. I WARN YOU, AS I DID BEFORE, THAT THOSE WHO LIVE LIKE THIS WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD….Galatians 5:19-21 NIV. It is interesting that the Scripture does not make a distinction in degree of seriousness between envy and jealousy, and idolatry, sexual immorality, witchcraft, hatred, drunkenness, etc. ALL are grievous sins which will keep the sinner from heaven and God’s grace. THEREFORE AS SURELY AS I LIVE, DECLARES THE SOVEREIGN LORD, I WILL TREAT YOU IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ANGER AND JEALOUSY YOU SHOWED IN YOUR HATRED OF THEM AND I WILL MAKE MYSELF KNOWN AMONG THEM WHEN I JUDGE YOU….Ezekiel 35:11 NIV
God is so serious about condemning envy that he included it in the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20: 17, we are expressly FORBIDDEN from envying others and COMMANDED NOT TO do it: THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOUR’S HOUSE, THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOUR’S WIFE, NOR HIS MANSERVANT, NOR HIS MAIDSERVANT, NOR HIS OX, NOR HIS ASS, NOR ANY THING THAT IS THY NEIGHBOUR’S (KJV).
Of course, we must be very careful not to brag or show off in any way, but we should not have to hide, sneak around, or keep secret whatever we do in the course of normally living our lives just to avoid envious relatives being jealous. Our jealous relative needs to take ownership of his own feelings and not blame us because he is not happy with his life. We have a right to expect to be able to share good news as well as bad with our loved ones without having them react inappropriately. It is perfectly reasonable for us to want our family to act like FAMILY, but with a jealous sibling or parent, it is unlikely that will ever happen.
THEREFORE, RID YOURSELVES OF ALL MALICE AND ALL DECEIT, HYPOCRISY, ENVY, AND SLANDER OF EVERY KIND. LIKE NEWBORNS BABIES, CRAVE PURE SPIRITUAL MILK, SO THAT BY IT YOU MAY GROW UP IN YOUR SALVATION, NOW THAT YOU HAVE TASTED THAT THE LORD IS GOOD…..1Peter 2:1-3 NIV
LOVE IS PATIENT, LOVE IS KIND. IT DOES NOT ENVY, IT DOES NOT BOAST, IT IS NOT PROUD….1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV
SURELY RESENTMENT DESTROYS THE FOOL, AND JEALOUSY KILLS THE SIMPLE….Job 5:2 NLT
A HEART AT PEACE GIVES LIFE TO THE BODY, BUT ENVY ROTS THE BONES ….Proverbs 14:30NIV
ANGER IS CRUEL AND WRATH IS LIKE A FLOOD, BUT WHO CAN SURVIVE THE DESTRUCTIVENESS OF JEALOUSY?....Proverbs 27:4 NLT
FOR HE KNEW IT WAS OUT OF ENVY THAT THEY HAD HANDED JESUS OVER TO HIM….Matthew 27:18 NIV
WHEN THE JEWS SAW THE CROWDS, THEY WERE FILLED WITH JEALOUSY AND TALKED ABUSIVELY AGAINST WHAT PAUL WAS SAYING…..Acts 13: 45 NIV
THEY HAVE BECOME FILLED WITH EVERY KIND OF WICKEDNESS, EVIL, GREED AND DEPRAVITY. THEY ARE FULL OF ENVY, MURDER, STRIFE, DECEIT AND MALICE….Romans 1: 29NIV
YOU ARE STILL WORLDLY. FOR SINCE THERE IS JEALOUSY AND QUARRELING AMONG YOU, ARE YOU NOT WORLDLY?.... 1 Corinthians 3:3
LET US NOT BE DESIROUS OF VAIN GLORY, PROVOKING ONE ANOTHER, ENVYING ONE ANOTHER…. Galatians 5:26 KJV
IT IS TRUE THAT SOME PREACH CHRIST OUT OF ENVY AND RIVALRY, BUT OTHERS OUT OF GOODWILL….Philippians 1:15 NIV
BUT IF YOU HARBOR BITTER ENVY OR SELFISH AMBITION IN YOUR HEARTS, DO NOT BOAST ABOUT IT OR DENY THE TRUTH. SUCH “WISDOM” DOES NOT COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN BUT IS EARTHLY, UNSPIRITUAL, OF THE DEVIL. FOR WHERE YOU HAVE ENVY AND SELFISH AMBITION, THERE YOU FIND DISORDER AND EVERY EVIL PRACTICE….James 3: 14-16 NIV
AND THE SPIRIT LIFTED ME UP BETWEEN EARTH AND HEAVEN AND BROUGHT ME IN THE VISIONS OF GOD TO JERUSALEM, TO THE ENTRANCE OF THE NORTH GATE OF THE INNER COURT, WHERE THE SEAT OF THE IDOL OF JEALOUSY, WHICH PROVOKES TO JEALOUSY, WAS LOCATED. AND BEHOLD, THE GLORY OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL WAS THERE, LIKE THE APPEARANCE WHICH I SAW IN THE PLAIN. THEN HE SAID TO ME, “SON OF MAN, RAISE YOUR EYES NOW TOWARD THE NORTH.” SO I RAISED MY EYES TOWARD THE NORTH, AND BEHOLD, TO THE NORTH OF THE ALTAR GATE WAS THIS IDOL OF JEALOUSY AT THE ENTRANCE. AND HE SAID TO ME, “SON OF MAN, DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY ARE DOING, THE GREAT ABOMINATIONS WHICH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL ARE COMMITTING HERE, SO THAT I WOULD BE FAR FROM MY SANCTUARY?”….Ezekiel 8: 3-6 NASB
SEE TO IT THAT NO ONE MISSES THE GRACE OF GOD AND THAT NO BITTER ROOT GROWS UP TO CAUSE TROUBLE AND DEFILE MANY…Hebrews 12:15
AT ONE TIME WE TOO WERE FOOLISH, DISOBEDIENT, DECEIVED AND ENSLAVED BY ALL KINDS OF PASSIONS AND PLEASURES. WE LIVED IN MALICE AND ENVY, BEING HATED AND HATING ONE ANOTHER. BUT WHEN THE KINDNESS AND LOVE OF GOD OURSAVIOR APPEARED, HE SAVED US, NOT BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUS THINGS WE HAD DONE, BUT BECAUSE OF HIS MERCY…TITUS 3:3-5NIV
*For more about Natural Consequences, see the article “REAPING WHAT THEY SOW- THE NATURAL CONSEQUENCES OF BAD BEHAVIOR ” in the Section entitled “Rebuking” on our website.
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The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues.
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships. We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.