Jealousy - The Green Eyed Guardian Of Honor
( Originally Published 1918 )
JEALOUSY is generally portrayed to us as a terrible demon who takes possession of the unfortunate individual, wrecking life and home and happiness in a manner that might almost be called insane. This is without doubt jealousy in the abnormal, but we must remember that, like everything else, jealousy has its normal as well as its abnormal aspect.
We say, for example, that a man is jealous of his reputation, meaning, that he holds it in such regard that he will go to any extreme to protect it from injury. We hear, also, of a mother who is jealous for the good name of her daughter, and in both instances we recognize the jealousy as being normal and proper.
Turning to the dictionary we may find additional light upon the subject. Here we learn that the word "jealousy" comes from exactly the same root as zealous, which conveys the idea of ardor, enthusiastic devotion, either to a cause or to a person.
Jealousy, then, in its normal form, would mean the state of being ardently and anxiously suspicious, vigilant in guarding, watchful. Only in the, abnormal could it be considered as being distrustful as to the fidelity of wife, husband or lover, or revengeful on account of fickle treatment or slighted love.
It is right for the husband to be jealous of the good name of his wife, for the wife to be jealous of the reputation of her husband. They are mutual guardians of each other, and in that relationship can be of incalculable benefit to each other. The wife, for example, may not realize that her care-free, playful manner of meeting her men friends may lead to censure on the part of those who do not understand her. She has been a good comrade to these masculine friends, it may be for years before her marriage, and she sees no harm in continuing the friendly relation. Her husband may agree with her in principle, but, being jealous for her good name, he realizes that it is necessary to take into account to some degree the possible misunderstandings of other people. It is not because he lacks confidence in her love for him that he speaks the wise word of admonition to her, but simply in order that she may not allow her good name to be evilly spoken of by those who do not understand. Such words of careful warning from a devoted -husband should be given careful attention by an appreciative wife.
On the other hand, many men, with the best of intentions, are more or less prone to allow them-selves little liberties, now that they are safely married, with some of the younger girls, it may be. They have nothing but the kindest intentions in their hearts, and they are not in the slightest degree untrue to their wives. Yet, properly jealous of their reputations, their wives may be justified in calling to their attention the unwisdom of such behavior.
There is another aspect of this matter, which it is also well to take into consideration. The young wife, for example, may perceive at once the danger to young girls which come from allowing these little liberties to any man. It is a letting down of the barriers which form the young girl's greatest safeguard. Not only so, but it may result in arousing in her a feeling of admiration for this older man which she may consider to be love, and which may ultimately place them both in a very dangerous position. At any rate, it is not fair to her to have her feelings aroused by one who cannot return them; and so, for the sake of the girl, the wife should make plain to her husband the wrongness of his course.
The same is equally true of the wife. Her free and easy ways may stir some young man's heart and bring to him suffering which he does not de-serve. As the guardian of her honor, her husband has a right to exercise the prerogative of a normal and unselfish jealousy and warn her of the dangers which he sees about her.
Without any doubt, this feeling of jealousy has been implanted in the human heart as an aid to the maintenance of the integrity of the home. The human race has learned that the greatest good to the greatest number comes through the monogamous marriage, and the instinct of jealousy has doubtless been implanted in the human breast as an aid to the maintenance of that standard of life. It is the duty of each to see that no one is allowed to enter the life of the other who will draw him or her away from the pathway of complete devotion to home and family.
This does not mean, however, that jealousy should be allowed to assume undue proportions. The husband whose suspicious nature is so highly developed that he cannot see his wife speak casually with another man without being driven into a rage is in an abnormal state which he should overcome. His extreme proneness to distrust her would cause a careful observer to be suspicious of him. It is the one who himself is untrue who is always suspecting falsity in others. If he is hiding some of his actions from her, it is natural that he should suspect that she is being equally deceitful with him. The wife who is under the dominance of an abnormally jealous man should be aware of this fact, because this knowledge may prove to be her only weapon of defense in his unjust attacks. Let her turn upon him with the pertinent query, "What have you done that you should be so suspicious of me?"
Abnormal jealousy on the part of the wife would probably be an indication of similar deceitfulness on her part. Abnormal jealousy makes life a hell upon earth for both husband and wife, and as soon as it raises its head it should be scotched at once. If allowed to develop, it will eventually wreck the home.
There should be enough mutual confidence so that both husband and wife may have pleasing friendships among 'those of the opposite sex, while at the same time the normal expression of jealousy will serve to protect them from any unwise intimacies.
It is true that, if men and women are associated intimately together for a good deal of time, there is a danger that the fundamental attraction between the sexes may make itself felt, and interfere more or less seriously with their home relationships. For this reason, it is well for each to listen with consideration to the husband or wife who sees that such a serious result is likely to develop. Even though the one involved is not able to see at the time how dangerous the situation really is, nevertheless true love will lead to a generous sacrifice of the friendship in order to save a loving heart the least bit of uneasiness.
We must realize that the love of the sexes is a very practical matter with a definite purpose, namely, the perpetuation of the life of the race. Marital unions must be made permanent for the sake of the children, and jealousy is one of the attributes of human nature which has this for its end and aim. In its rightful place, therefore, when properly controlled and directed, jealousy may well be considered as the guardian of family honor.