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Is Your Partner Jealous of Your Career Success?

It seems ironic that your partner or spouse would get jealous when you are more successful at work than they are. After all, aren't you teammates, for better or worse, sharing the same vision for the future? Well, yes, you are, but it can still be difficult when you are invested in being the breadwinner for your family, while your partner contributes more financially. This is especially challenging for men who have been raised to believe that providing for the family is their job. You may notice your partner sulking or being more sarcastic than usual, and it can be hurtful. After all, isn't your partner supposed to see that your success is theirs and supporting you is what a loving spouse should do?

Career jealousy can occur in many dual-income relationships, and the sooner you notice it, the sooner you can address and work through it. Below, I have listed common subtle signs of jealousy in a relationship:

  • They're sarcastic: You may notice your partner teasing you more or making mean comments, disguising them as humor.

  • Your partner may discourage your ambition and make you feel guilty. They may sigh when they see you working on a Sunday afternoon or taking an emergency call, making you feel guilty for not prioritizing family at that exact time.

  • They may downplay your success: Does your partner downplay what you do, making it seem trivial and unimportant? Men want to feel needed by their partners, so if he's downplaying your accomplishments, it could be a sign that he feels replaced or minimized. You won't know unless you have an open and honest conversation about your feelings.

  • Acting out passive-aggressively: If your partner gives you the silent treatment or slams doors, it could be a sign that they are upset about the situation. Ignoring this behavior will only lead to more confusion and anger.

Here are some things you can do to improve the situation:

  • Be upfront about the behavior you have noticed. Your partner wants to feel needed, so if they are downplaying what you do, it could be that they feel replaced or minimized. You won't know unless you both have an open and honest conversation about your feelings.

  • Remind your partner that your success is a shared success. When you express gratitude and say things like, "I couldn't have done it without your support," or remind them of what you appreciate about them, they feel validated and are more likely to be supportive and less competitive.

  • Look in the mirror and have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Perhaps your partner isn't intentionally making you feel guilty, but you personally feel guilty and are projecting it onto your partner. It's always wise to reflect and ensure that your priorities align with your values. If you find yourself deriving fulfillment solely from your career instead of your partner, you may need to make changes so that your partner doesn't feel replaced or dismissed.

  • Ask your partner for their input on your career. When you seek advice or help from your partner regarding your job or career, they feel included, needed, and respected. In a healthy relationship, partners turn to each other for valuable advice and guidance.

Every couple experiences times when they may feel envious or jealous of each other for specific reasons. However, when your partner consistently exhibits jealousy and their self-esteem suffers from comparing themselves to you and feeling inferior, it's time to have a heart-to-heart conversation. Working together as a team to support each other's contributions to the relationship and the lifestyle you both enjoy can help you feel connected and hopeful for the future you share together.


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