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Jealousy & paranoia: relationship killers.

It was one of the most humiliating and painful events of her life, but it wasn't the first time she was the victim of her husband's intense jealousy and paranoia.

It was his family event, but because he had to work, the wife took their three sons to his parents' home for the barbeque. As she was standing talking to his brother, her husband arrived, walked up behind her, whirled her around and punched her in the face--breaking her nose, splattering blood down the front of her cute summer outfit. He then accused her of sleeping with his brother.

"That's the extreme case of paranoia--a 10-plus," says Dr. Brenda Wade, a family psychologist, of a couple she counseled.

It's not only men who are jealous. In another case, if the husband so much as glanced in the direction of a woman, the wife would explode in a dramatic meltdown and accuse him of cheating. "The man in this relationship was absolutely walking the straight and narrow," says Wade. However, in both cases, the mate's out-of-control behavior threatened any hope of a fulfilling relationship.

Jealousy and paranoia are both "rooted in fear," says Dr. Ronn Elmore, a relationship therapist, ordained minister and author. He says jealousy starts when "our head starts talking to us, making us suspicious." Paranoia kicks in when we are no longer questioning whether a suspicion is true. We've concluded that it's true and are considering aggressively acting on these suspicions.

There are milder forms of jealousy, the experts say, that fall within more normal ranges. "If you're out at a restaurant or a party with your husband and a beautiful woman comes up to your mate and starts to stroke his check in front you and proposition him--that's normal jealousy," says Wade. "That's when you gently and sweetly ask your mate, 'Honey, can I see you over here?'"

Chicago-based psychologist Dr. George Smith believes it is best to pick up on signs of these emotions during the dating process.

"Verbal and physical threats are both forms of intimidation that impose fear on a person," he says. "These are red flags. If you get to this phase, you need to get out of there," says Smith, who has worked with more than 3,000 couples in the past 30 years. "A lot of times this delusion begins with insecurity. You can't let someone's insecurities become your shortcoming," he says. "Rejection coupled with anger and rage will become a very toxic situation."

He says men sometimes view women as property. "They sometimes feel they've put down the earnest money, they are making the payments and even though the relationship is in foreclosure, they still claim ownership," he says.

Relationship experts suggest that you put your own jealousy and paranoia in check. First realize that it's often an "inside job."

If you're in a tense situation, follow these steps: "Stop your anxiety. Take a deep breath, a sip of water, excuse yourself--get yourself under control," Wade says.

Next, you should get help. Jealousy and paranoia are often rooted in a fear of abandonment or other issues, which may require long-term therapy. And, finally, maintain your dignity by behaving with the utmost self-respect.

If you have a problem with these emotions, it probably is not the first time, Elmore says. "If you've been accused of this by two different people who don't know each other, perhaps it's time to consider that you are the problem and [you should] try to change. And change is always difficult."

But change is necessary, not just for the relationship, but also for the individual. "We are responsible for our own thoughts, feelings and behavior," Wade says.

RED Flags

* He or she routinely accuses you of being unfaithful for no apparent reason

* He or she checks phone bills, e-mails, cell phone directory to see who you've been communicating with

* He or she calls often throughout the day to check on you

* He or she may threaten to harm you or themself
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Author:Bennett, Joy T.
Publication:Ebony
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2008
Words:665
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