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Jealousy: The Green-Eyed Monster

Why is jealousy called the green-eyed monster? Possibly because it stems from the fact that it turns us green and turns us into monsters. Monster seems like such an ugly word. Visions of aliens, misshapen radiation contaminated creatures come to mind, consuming all of mankind. Yet, this is exactly what jealousy is. It is an emotion that transforms us into monsters, which not only consume those around us, but also consumes ourselves.

What is jealousy? Of course, we know it is an emotion. Can we control jealousy? Yes and no. We cannot control the fact that we feel jealousy because we cannot control how we feel inside. However, we do not have to let our feelings control us in our behavior. We can control our behavior. We are the “captains” of our own ships, the master of our behavior.

Where does jealousy originate? Jealousy almost always originates in our own feelings of inadequacy. We feel we are inadequate to have or be what we think we see others having or being. Jealousy can run into every area of our lives, it has no limits. We can be jealous of material wealth, spiritual wealth, character wealth, personality wealth, beauty, skill and talent; there is not end to the areas in which we can feel jealousy.

In a relationship, jealousy can destroy not only the relationship but also the jealous spouse or partner as well. Once the pattern of jealous behavior begins, it requires a conscientious effort to overcome it or it will consume the next relationship as well. Jealous behavior may be learned from those around us, perhaps we saw our parent or parents acting in a jealous manner. Perhaps we developed the behavior ourselves following a relationship in which behavior warranted jealous behavior in our eyes. For whatever reason we have come to behave in a jealous manner, we must learn to control it by controlling our behavior.

Jealousy is a mood. We cannot control our moods. We must learn to recognize them as moods or feelings that we cannot control. Feelings are neither good nor bad; we should not try to judge them. We cannot ever control the way we feel. We can control the manner in which we react to the emotion or feeling. We all talk about the terrible two’s. This is an age when temper tantrums develop and we as parents, are expected to teach our children to control their behavior when they are experiencing intense feelings. The child is learning to deal with feelings, he is learning that while he may feel angry, sleepy, sick, selfish, or even jealous, he must learn to control his behavior and not create scenes of uncontrolled emotional behavior.

We must learn that there is nothing wrong with feeling jealousy. We cannot control how we feel. We can, however, control how we react to the emotion. We need to examine our feeling in an effort to identify the possible cause of our feeling. Many times our spouse has given us no reason to feel a lack of trust, yet when we see them giving attention to or even looking at the opposite sex, we turn green and are overcome with feelings of jealousy.

We must realize that we own this feeling. It is not anything, which our spouse has done which has caused us to feel this way; our spouse does not feel this way. We must own our own jealousy; it is ours and ours alone. We are responsible for how we react to this feeling. To forbid our spouse from looking at the opposite sex is ridiculous. He cannot help but see women; she cannot help but see men. We must realize that though our spouse is seeing the opposite sex, we are secure in our relationship with them. We have no cause to feel threatened. We have no justification for forbidding him or her to look at the opposite sex.

We must identify our fear. Why do we feel threatened? Has our spouse given us cause to feel threatened? What is the worst thing that can happen if our spouse looks at the opposite sex? Will he/she lust after every person of the opposite sex? What is the real threat? Do we fear that another man or woman may be more attractive? Do we feel more threatened by the man or woman on the street than the men or women he/she may be watching on TV or in the movies? Why? Self-examination may reveal the causes for our jealousy.

We must realize that our marriages are a complex web of memories, experiences, friendship, bonding which has much more than a physical attraction in its base. What are the chances that the man/woman across the restaurant that your spouse may be admiring will be suddenly drawn to your table and replace you in your seat? Do you feel that your spouse should be constantly mesmerized by your presence to the point where he/she does not see any other people in the restaurant? For him/her to acknowledge another person is the restaurant means that you are not holding his/her full attention? Can we really expect our spouse to be so enchanted by our presence that he/she is blind to anyone else? Do we feel that way? Does our spouse that we do not see anyone else so constantly blind us?

In this article, I have not addressed the situations that may warrant a frank discussion for the basis for our jealousy. In most situations of jealousy, there is no basis for the reaction of behavior. We feel threatened, jealous and we tell our spouse that he/she is not allowed to look at, appreciate, nor acknowledge the opposite sex when they are in or out of our presence. Because we feel threatened, we expect our spouse to exist in a cage in which they are blinded. What we foster is the very thing we fear. We are forcing our spouse to secretly admire the opposite sex. It is only natural for each of us to look at other people of both sexes. It is only natural for us to admire people of both sexes. We cannot help but admire a well-dressed person, beautiful eyes, beautiful hair or a charming demeanor.

When we forbid our spouse to share with us their admiration of another person, we force them to be sneaky, to not share with us their feelings. We are depriving our own relationship of a natural part of life. I am not saying that we should allow our spouse to constantly admire other people to the exclusion of admiring us, but I am saying that we will have a healthier, more natural relationship if we can realize that it is natural for all of us to admire someone of the opposite sex. When we choose to forbid our spouse from sharing this with us, we are limiting the fullness or our relationship with our spouse. We all need to examine our feelings and find that point at which there is healthy balance.

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