It’s easy to understand why any couple would want some help dealing with hardships like unemployment or health issues. What may not be so obvious is that success can also come with its own set of challenges, especially if one partner seems more accomplished or luckier than the other.
A recent study found that men’s self-esteem dropped when they were told that their girlfriends aced an IQ test. The researchers attributed the results to competitive feelings and fears that their significant others might start looking for more attractive mates. Although only men were studied, many commentators believed that the results would also apply to women.
How can you avoid such jealousy and insecurity so you can operate as equal partners and cheer each other on? Try these tips for dealing with your partner’s success.
How to Handle Your Partner’s Success
1. Acknowledge your feelings. Maybe you feel a little guilty about having mixed emotions about your partner’s triumphs. Accepting your reactions for what they are will help you to make constructive changes.
2. Resist comparisons. You may be causing your own distress by ruminating over how you stack up. Instead of comparing yourself to others, devote yourself to developing your own potential.
3. Enjoy your differences. You and your partner probably excel in separate areas. That comes in handy when you need to negotiate mortgage rates and plan a wedding.
4. Ask for what you need. Let your partner know what you like about your relationship and what you want to do differently. Keep the lines of communication open.
5. Be inclusive. Keep your partner at the center of your life. Suggest ways they can participate in your activities and help them feel comfortable with your colleagues. Show an equal amount of enthusiasm for their projects and priorities.
6. Widen your circle. At the same time, it’s okay to have your own network where you can indulge another side of yourself. Make time for your women’s club or a regular men’s night out.
7. Share responsibility. Whatever the discrepancies in your income or media coverage, ensure you both matter when it comes to being a couple. Understand your finances, and appreciate each other’s contribution.
8. Pursue your own goals. Hold onto your dreams. Find fulfillment in raising a family, doing meaningful work, or playing the tuba.
How to Encourage Your Partner’s Success
1. Offer praise. The same compliments mean more coming from the love of your life than from any fan magazine or professional association. Speak positively to each other.
2. Listen closely. Take an active interest in what your partner is doing. Give them your full attention when they talk about what they did today.
3. Recognize effort. There may be a lot of setbacks and learning experiences before your partner succeeds. Be proud of them for trying. Remind them that you’re on their side when they’re struggling.
4. Pitch in. Lend a hand when your partner has a tight deadline or heavy workload. Take over some extra household chores and create an environment that will help them shine, whether it means preparing their lunch or taking the children outside to play.
5. Focus on giving. Work at being generous and grateful to each other. The more you build your partner up, the more love and happiness you’ll both receive.
Remember that success reflects well on both of you. You’re not responsible for your partner’s self-esteem or performance, but you can have a huge impact on how they feel and how far they go. Pull together and share the rewards of your hard work and special talents.