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Envy - Jealousy’s evil companion

Published:Saturday | September 24, 2016 | 9:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. Proverbs 14:30

Jealousy has been highlighted a lot regarding marital relationships, but another more sinister emotion is just as harmful - envy.

Envy, if not handled properly will sooner than later manifest itself in jealousy or even more hurtful actions.

Dr Edina Bayne, associate pastor and member of the American Association of Christian Counselors points out that envy is based on a perception that one is inferior, or that one's self-esteem is threatened by someone else's well-being.

"So envious people act from a position of inferiority, and that is why they become aggressive, whether in words or action. Envy is a potent motive for engaging in put-downs, whether through insults, ridicule or intimidation," she said.

According to Bayne, envy is immoral and extremely dangerous because it can be practiced inwardly - this eats up the bearer of envy and leads to outbursts and explosive behaviour.

Envy is definitely a relationship killer and it is not a friend in marriage. Bayne stressed that this emotion is a big threat to relationships - be it marriage, family or friends.

"Envy is unjustified hatred of others because of their good fortune, their peace, their joy - you just don't want them to have anything good, and you want to see it taken away. One sees the other's well-being or success as a personal affront and they are made to feel intimidated, inferior or worthless, so they want to destroy it," said Bayne.

Envy comes in many types, and to properly deal with the emotion, Bayne shared that there must be an understanding of them.

According to her. there can be general envy and particular envy with the former entailing hating entire groups of people because we don't have some things that we do not want them to have - unjustified spite.

"Then there is particular envy directed toward specific individuals with whom we compare ourselves or against whom we compete.

For example, a husband can dislike women in general, and envy his wife, in particular, who might be successful and confident; he might see himself in competition with her career, or for the affection and/or relationship with their children," said Bayne.

The driving force of this emotion, said Bayne, are feelings of inferiority, hatred and impotence that results in heavy doses of self-imposed suffering.

This, she said, can manifest itself in the relationship with that envious partner assaulting the other.

The problem, she said, goes beyond a one on one relationship, and can lead to hatred on a large scale, involving entire classes of people and also has the potential to disrupt society.

"So when both these categories of envy exist in a marriage, they have the capacity to wreck marriages because of the pain and abuse - physical and otherwise," she points out.

Getting past the emotion and healing the relationships involved is a difficult one as Dr Bayne said, it will take the partner acknowledging to themselves or being forced to confront several unflattering truths. It would also mean admitting that their self-esteem is so feeble that it depends on the misfortune of the other person.

"When a spouse is self-deceived about envy, this leads to a loss of conscious supervision over these emotions, and the hatred does not go away. It is usually uncovered when it expresses itself by outwardly exploding, verbally or physically. When a spouse says, 'I don't recognise this individual as the man or woman that I married', it is because an entire personality has been taken over by this unconscious envy," shared Bayne.

She added: "In order to overcome or weaken envy, they have to remove the feelings of hatred, inferiority, and impotence with which it is associated. They must increase confidence in their ability, strengthen the basis of their self-esteem, and increase their capacity to appreciate rather than hate," she said, adding that it will take hard work, but it is something that can be achieved by developing stability..., discovering their own talents and developing them through work and relationships.

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