By Heidi Vegh, Crosswalk.com
When I got remarried after my first husband passed away, it was a joyous event. I had found another man to love me and someone that sincerely loved my children. I had married a man that had been divorced, so we each went into the marriage with a past.
I was twenty when I first got married to my high school sweetheart. Neither of us had significant past relationships, and jealousy of another woman had never been something I struggled with. When I married my second husband, I had to process the fact that he had been married before and not to someone that was far and distant but to the mother of his only child. Someone that would now be a significant part of my life.
Going into the relationship, I had known his past, and it didn’t seem to bother me. Until I made my worst mistake, I dove headfirst into their social media history and imprinted on my mind pictures of them together, things they had done together, and the fact that at one point, they had been in love. This was detrimental. I know that many people divorce and remarry; however, I feel like jealousy can be a silent killer in remarriages. If we allow ourselves to dig too deep and let our curiosity get the best of us, it can spoil the new relationship and cause irreparable damage. It can harm the relationship if we go into it with an untrusting heart or a fear that our spouse may still have feelings for their former spouse.
I had been happily married for 13 years before my husband passed away, and I could not understand divorce. I am grateful that I never had to experience that and have seen first-hand the damage that it can cause, especially in children.
However, I know that God gives grace and new life when we allow Him to reshape and renew our lives.
So, let’s define jealousy. One definition is “harboring feelings of envy and bitterness.” This is a destructive sin with harmful consequences, not just for us but for those around us. In 1 Corinthians 13:4, it states that “love does not envy.” We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, which means not to be jealous or envious of things that others have.
In the case of remarriage, it is easy to be envious of their past experiences together, the love they shared, and the life they lived. I was envious of the current relationship they shared, even though it was only based on their child. I was jealous when he would be with her or talk to her. I had never been in a relationship with a man that was involved with another woman. It was causing deep rifts of jealousy that I could not seem to shake.
This was hard for me to grasp because I was also jealous of something that was in the past and was no longer. I realized this was a waste of time, but the enemy had a hold on me. I was jealous that I had not married him first. I was jealous that I had not been his first love and that his first child was with her and not with me. These are honest and raw emotions that I was experiencing, and I longed to get rid of them.
1 Peter 2:1 states, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.” Peter is describing how to live a holy life. A life lived without these attributes will lead to true life, not death.
When we live in an envious state of mind, we are hindering God from working in our lives. We are living without peace and contentment because we are focusing on bitter feelings and emotions and letting them steal our joy. God wants you to rise out of this pit and place your thoughts on things above. In Colossians 3:5, Paul tells us to “put to death whatever belongs to earthly nature,” including envy and jealousy.
God wants us to clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (1 Col 3:12)
God is calling you to love your spouse’s EX and not be envious of them or their relationship with your husband for any reason. Here are five ways to overcome jealousy in remarriage:
1. Focus on the Future, Not the Past
When we focus on things that have happened in the past, that is only causing us harm. Letting our minds dwell on sinful thoughts is destructive and can snatch any peace right out from under us. We can’t change the past. It is a conscious choice that we need to make to stop allowing our minds to dwell in these dark places. With the help of the Lord, He can help us set our minds on things above. But it is a choice. We need to constantly take our thoughts captive and surrender them to the Lord. (1 Cor 10:5) Focus on your new life, new family, and the future in front of you with your new spouse. This will be life-giving, and peace will rule in your heart.
2. Ask the Lord to Forgive You and Move Forward
We have a real enemy who wants to hinder us and lock us up with sin. He wants our minds to be focused on early things and not on the things above. When we recognize this behavior as a sin and ask God for forgiveness, He cleans our slate and allows us to walk in freedom from the unhealthy patterns of living in jealousy. Pray for God to rid you of your sinful nature and give you the strength to turn and start walking the other way.
3. Talk it Out
Taking time to speak to a trusted counselor or friend about the jealousy you are experiencing can help pull you out of the pit and perhaps see it in a different light. They can hopefully help you understand that living this way will not change the past but only hinder your future, especially with your new spouse.
4. Only Show Trust
Try to avoid asking too many questions or prying into their past. If your spouse needs to be with their ex-spouse without you around, exude only trust and understanding. This is also difficult for them, and it will be easier if they know they are trusted. Trust is a choice, so make a choice to trust and not live in the dark places of envy.
5. Get to Know Them
I learned that the more I accepted my husband’s ex-spouse into my life, the less jealousy I felt. I started to get to know her, include her, and involve her in our family life. Doing this helped me view her as a friend and not an enemy. I know in some cases, this may be difficult or even impossible. However, if we strive to be the light and love in the new family dynamic, then it will hopefully inspire this person to do the same. Even if there is no loving response back, as they are struggling with you being in their life as well, still love them. Still be kind and exude compassion, gentleness, and love.
Many different dynamics come with remarriage. They are complicated, and the complexities of everyday life can be overwhelming. When we strive to kick jealousy and envy to the curb, we can focus on the things that matter. Our new family!
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Heidi Vegh is a writer, speaker, and ministry leader living in Gig Harbor, WA. She is a remarried mother of four, navigating the blended family life after the loss of her first husband to cancer in 2013. She longs to use her writing as a way to encourage others who have experienced loss and guide them on the road to healing. She contributes to her blog found at thebreathingmama.com, sharing stories and devotionals of faith stemming from her loss and healing, mothering, and her blended and complex family. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Creative Writing and English and is working on her first book. Heidi is the Women’s Ministry Director at Gig Harbor Foursquare and has a deep heart for sharing Jesus with women and encouraging them in their faith walk. When she is not writing she loves to travel, read, craft, and experiment in the kitchen. Visit her Facebook and Instagram (@breathingmamalife) to learn more.