Jealousy is a healthy emotion. In fact, it may be considered as Mother Nature’s way of making sure couples remain vigilant when it comes to threats to their relationship. Imagine if your spouse doesn’t even feel a smidge of jealousy when you’re already spending 24/7 at someone else’s house. Why, it makes you question if the two of you have an attachment to begin with!

But jealousy, like any other negative emotion, can be a serious problem if not managed effectively. Jealousy can become an obsession; hence the woman who checks her boyfriend’s cell phone every night, and the man who carefully monitors who his girl hangs out with. It can produce rules that can stifle a loved one’s autonomy, such as demanding partners to report their whereabouts every 10 seconds. And at its worst, jealousy can even drive lovers to controlling, verbal and physical violence.

Is jealousy causing a problem in your relationship? Then consider the following tips in managing jealousy:

Feeling doesn’t mean fact. Jealousy can be triggered by many things, and these triggers need not mean something shady is going on. Is your partner suddenly cold and uncommunicative? Maybe he’s just frustrated at work — don’t assume that he doesn’t love you anymore. Is she always talking about the cute guy next door —– perhaps it’s just a crush, no need to hyperventilate. The best way to manage jealousy is to address the issue rationally. Is the threat to the relationship real? If yes, then talk about ways you can protect your bond. Is it just in your imagination? Then maybe there are things you can do to both feel more secure. Be solution-oriented; don’t go into self-destructive mode!

Figure out the roots of irrational jealousy. There are occasions when the jealousy doesn’t have anything to do with the relationship. Sometimes, jealousy is rooted in unresolved issues in childhood. If you suffer from self-esteem issues, you may tend to always check out if there’s competition.  If you grew up with unfaithful parent/s, you may be extra-protective of what you have. If you have a history of being deprived what’s due to you — people you love always get taken away prematurely — you guard what you have more selfishly than others. Understand the dynamics behind your own jealous behavior — it’s the first step to controlling this green-eyed monster.

Communicate. Bring it out in the open! Jealousy is a normal feeling; it’s neither right nor wrong. Don’t believe all the pop psychology hype on how expressing jealousy means you’re insecure, and will result to your partner taking you for granted. If jealousy is already destroying your mental health — and your love — then it’s better to have it addressed than repressed. Even unfounded jealousy can end a relationship between two people who genuinely love each other.

Be the best partner you can be. At the end of the day, the best way to protect a relationship from jealousy is to make sure that you’re irreplaceable. Show your partner how much you love him or her; this can eliminate the insecurity that causes trust issues to surface. Spend as much time with each other; this will help your partner know that you’re not getting your emotional and sexual needs met by someone else. And verbalize your feelings of care and affection. If you actively work at strengthening your relationship, there won’t even be a need for jealous behavior.