Before I write my question, I’m just going to say don’t tell me to see a therapist. I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work for me.
I am envious of my husband and I don’t know what to do about it. These feelings date back about five years.
I met “Bill” in journalism school and we are both writers, but he has had much more success than I have. He makes more money and his work is much more widely-read and better reviewed than mine.
He also seems closer to our twin boys than I am, while I tend to play the role of the disciplinarian. He has more friends than I do, as I have trouble keeping in touch with people. Finally, he is aging very well: he is fit and handsome and doesn’t look a day over 35 (he is 44). I am 42 and although I still look pretty decent I am gaining weight and my face is starting to sag.
How can I stop being envious of my husband? I love him very much and we have a great marriage. Our sex life is great, he still romances me and tells me I’m gorgeous, he is incredibly supportive of my career and even after 14 years of marriage we still have fun together.
I don’t want these feelings to ruin what we have. Please help.
Thank you for the letter which included a preemptory order not to advise you seek therapy. I’ll take a moment to remind you and all my other readers that one does not tell the Lovely Advice Goddess how to give advice.
It’s annoying because I wasn’t going to tell you to see a shrink, but now it appears I am merely kowtowing to your demands. I’ll try to put aside my rage and help you anyway, because that is my job for which I am very well compensated.* I’m nothing if not professional.
The reason I wasn’t going to suggest you seek therapy is because I don’t think being envious of your husband is something for which you need help beyond what you will read here. It’s natural and I can provide you with the solution to your problem, but it comes with a bit of difficult news: what you are doing isn’t working and it’s time to change course.
I believe your “envy” stems from the fact you are very unsatisfied and disappointed with four critical areas of your life: work, family, friends and self-esteem vis-a-vis what you see in the mirror.
I put the word envy in quotes because the love with which you spoke of Bill belies that term. I certainly don’t think you begrudge your husband the positives in his life but it is clear you’d like to experience them as well. We had several conversations andI know you are fully capable of making a few changes which will improve things for you and eradicate these envious feelings towards your hubby.
You need to give yourself a break, EW. I know from our talks that you had two children at the same goddamned time four years after graduating and you and your husband decided it made sense for you to stay home for a few years while the children were young. You said you tried to write from home but, in your words, you “failed miserably.”
Far be it from me to correct anyone’s opinion (I never do that) but that description is highly fucked and loaded with blame and self-loathing. Being a stay-at-home mother to an infant is hard enough, but you had two little fuckers to deal with. From your description of their colic and sleep problems, I’m surprised you didn’t sell them on eBay or just abandon them behind your local 7-11.
When I had my son, my employer was incredibly generous and gave me 3 months of PAID maternity leave. After 8 weeks at home with my shitting, screaming and just plain MEAN baby, I’d had enough. I went back to work, despite how uncomfortable it made my boss when my milk would leak through my shirt.
Funny story: after the first Runaway Breast Milk Incident happened, I did it on purpose just to watch him squirm. That guy was an asshole.
I bring up this point because I can’t imagine doing something as challenging as writing while taking care of twins. I can barely manage blogging every day with the demands put upon me by my dogs.
Your marriage sounds great but if you aren’t happy with yourself it could definitely suffer, so let’s put a plan together for you. Once again, I will rely on a list to help me help you, because if I don’t stay on task I could blather on and on for hours.
1. Now that your kids are in school full-time, make your career your priority. Reach out to old contacts and do some serious networking. If you need to, consider sleeping with someone to land your dream job. I know that sounds rough but it’s all part of a self-improvement plan, so don’t worry about it.
2. Reconnect with old friends and make plans. It’s easy enough to send a text “hey Betsy, haven’t talk to you in a while!” but it’s worthless if you don’t follow up and actually see people. Concentrate on those with whom you have the deepest connection but also put yourself out there and be open to new friendships.
Avoid flakey people who cancel a lot. These folks chap my ass, and not in a good way.
3. Given the amount of time you have spent with your boys at home over the years it’s not surprising that you have assumed the disciplinary role. This does not make your husband “closer” to your kids, it just means they love him more. Time to switch it up and make Daddy the Bad Guy so you can even up the love scales, because love ain’t worth shit if it isn’t being constantly measured and compared.
The next time the boys want to do something fun, you take them! And the next time they need to be beaten, starved and held in a dark closet for hours, make Daddy do it. You may want to consider bad-mouthing him to the boys, which will surely result in their seeking comfort and love from you.
4. Finally, if you aren’t happy with how you look, do something about it! I think you are once again being too hard on yourself, because I had you send me a photo and you are stunning, in my opinion. However, the five pounds you gained since college (I hate you) can easily be eliminated with a healthier diet and more exercise, or you could begin abusing laxatives and Adderall. There are lots of choices here!
Regarding your face, which is lovely, yes you have some wrinkles. Any woman your age does, but you may have a few extras because your children were so hideous for the first 4 years of their lives.
If it really bothers you, do something about it! I am a big believer in plastic surgery, and think all us gals should start early and do it often. I’m not talking about going crazy here, but it’s easier to pull back the hands of time before the clock reads 11:57, if ya know what I mean…
You know, I could be envious of my husband because he enjoys a level of achievement and respect in the legal community which I never have nor will. Instead I celebrate his career and know that mine is different and I have talents and achievements of my own, even through they embarrass him on a regular basis.
Envy has no place in a marriage. Partners should lift each other up (use your legs, not your back!) and be a component of each other’s growth and success in all areas of life. Otherwise, you just have one more competitive relationship to deal with, and isn’t that what sisters are for?
You have a really great life, EW, but it’s not exactly what you want. So go make it better.
*visualization will make me wealthy