(As told to Joie Bose)
When a woman continually feels ‘my husband resents my success’, the dynamics of even the happiest, most secure couple relationships can change for the worse quickly. Even though jealousy is a common human emotion, it is known to wreak havoc on the human mind and relationship.
We all experience it at some point in our life, perhaps a lot more that we like to admit. When your best friend scores more than you… when your sibling comes home with a shining trophy… when a cousin lands that coveted fellowship overseas. As long as these pangs of jealousy are fleeting and you can navigate your way around it to feel happy for a loved one or even turn jealousy into motivation, all is well.
If not contained, jealousy can give way to resentment in the relationship. And such raging resentment can cause the relationship to wither away into nothingness…
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My Husband Resents My Success
An educated man always wants his wife to also study after marriage and we were always wary of such men. We knew that such men always got the darker girls, for they don’t much care about beauty. Considering my skin colour, I always knew that marriage would unfortunately not put an end to my life of studies and that is exactly what happened to me.
Despite all my prayers and beauty treatments! While my cousins were sending us pictures of snow from Canada, I was in Chandigarh studying for my bachelor’s degree in business administration in the distance mode, because my husband was a Professor of Accountancy and he didn’t want to have an uneducated wife.
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He wanted me to study further and get a job
Since I graduated in first class, he urged me to pursue a Masters’ degree when all I wanted was some children. I didn’t hesitate this time, for a masters degree meant I would have to go out of the house. The professor would have to take me to his university and that was a pleasure, since I had been a village girl, and the city intrigued me.
After my Masters’ results came out, my husband urged me to take up a job. That was quite a thing! Women never worked in our family if the husband could support the wife. My father was outraged.
But making a modern upbeat woman out of me had become my husband’s motto.
He insisted I work, even when I didn’t want to. He fought with his family as well, for they too were not in support of a woman working. In fact, my husband even bought me a coat, some shirts and pants to wear to the office. I was becoming a model wife he wanted to flaunt. I was becoming a model wife he wanted to flaunt.
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Then, came the signs he is jealous of my success
A few years later, an accidental pregnancy, followed by a miscarriage, left me depressed and I sank into work. When the doctor declared that my ovaries had to be removed and that I would never be able to taste motherhood, everyone started blaming my lifestyle. I was suddenly a cursed woman.
God is strange, for roughly around the same time I was offered a job in a firm in Delhi which paid me almost as much as my husband got, and then the signs he is jealous of my success began to emerge. For the first time in his life, I saw my husband not so keen on this kind of news. He said you must stay in Chandigarh only.
Perhaps some realisation dawned on my husband that I had the potential to earn more than him and I could sense that my husband resents my success.
When I moved for a better job…
His attitude changed. He began to regret educating me and began viewing education and the modern way of life that he had forced upon me, as a curse, for apparently, it had deprived him of fatherhood. He began losing all sense of logic. Living with him became tough and I took up the job in Delhi within a year.
It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve been living in Delhi. I’m the vice-president of a multinational company. He stopped talking to me the day I started earning more than him and went from being my biggest support system to just another husband jealous of his wife’s career.
Before this too we used to fight, but always found a way to resolve our issues.
Somehow my earning more than him was something he couldn’t take. I go to Chandigarh once a year even today to revisit the home that changed the course of my life. But we don’t talk. I tried talking to him initially, but he had asked me to leave my job and now I can’t do that.
Now, my job is more important to me
There are rumours that he is a womaniser now and often seen with female colleagues. People talk about how he has more female students coming for tuitions. Maids are a little wary of him, and every time I go to Chandigarh, I see a different house help. People close to me ask me if this behaviour of his hurts me.
I say no because what hurts more is that my partner is jealous of my success, my job and my career. My priorities have changed. But I don’t want a divorce. People in our families don’t divorce. God knows what torment I will unleash upon them if I take that step!
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Husband Being Jealous of His Wife’s Career Isn’t Uncommon
Husbands being jealous of wife’s career and success is neither uncommon nor a phenomenon exclusive to India, even though it may be more pronounced in our part of the world. A study has established that a romantic partner’s success inspires negative feelings in men, even if they’re on a subconscious level.
It doesn’t matter whether they in the same line of work or not. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a professional success.
If a man feels outperformed by his partner in any sphere of life, he is likely to feel threatened by it. So, you’re unable to shake off the feeling that ‘my husband resents my success’, there might well be a good reason for it. Here are some factors that fuel a man’s jealousy for his wife’s success:
1. Patriarchal conditioning
Our conditioning plays an important role in our world view. In a patriarchal society, men are typically raised to be the breadwinners of the family. So when their partner outperforms them in the professional realm, a feeling of inadequacy begins to take root. In extreme cases, this may be enough to turn him into a jealous monster.
2. Fear of falling short
The jealousy, resentment, and consequent irritability and discord are often manifestations of a fear of falling short. A man may be unable to be supportive of his wife’s success because he views it as a constant reminder that he is falling short, which fuels the fear that he may not be good enough for you anymore. He may even start being overly critical of you or show signs that he disrespects you.
3. Feeling unimportant
Any new job or promotion comes with added responsibilities, which means most of your energies and time may now be more focused on your work. While there is nothing wrong with that – a man in your shoes would do the same – an already resentful partner may view it as a change in your priorities.
This can cause him to become more jealous of the strides you are making in your career. If your career brings you joy, don’t let the nagging ‘my husband resents my success’ feeling hold you back.
At the same time, unless the relationship is damaged repair, try to get through to your partner and make time to work on your marriage. Outside intervention in the form of couples’ counselling can help this situation dramatically. If you need professional help to deal with jealousy in your relationship, know that help is only a click away.