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I’m Resentful of My Partner’s Easy Success

How do I tamp down these bad feelings?

Q: Dear APW,

After quietly suffering through four years at a monotonous job in the mortgage industry, I finally paid off my student loans (yay, party time!) and started applying for creative jobs that made my pulse quicken. After an agonizing nine month stretch of rejections, I landed an interview for a total dream job that I felt super confident was going to pan out. It didn’t. While this scenario has happened many times over the years since my college days, the older I get, the higher the stakes feel. I’m devastated and starting to give up on ever achieving my career goals.

For now, this is a problem that doesn’t hurt anyone other than me. However, my husband has been talking about applying for new jobs himself and… I don’t have it in me to be happy for him if he succeeds where I have failed. He’s already been showered with raises and praise at his current job and makes three times my salary. He has recruiters trying to poach him on a regular basis.

So far, I’ve managed to be grateful for all that instead of resentful. This, however, is going to hit me in my tenderest spot. Sure, I can plaster on a smile and fake being happy, but eventually I will explode. The voice inside me won’t be whispering, “But what about me?” it’s going to be screaming it. How can I stop wanting to scratch his eyes out, when he’s never been anything but kind and supportive of me?

To be clear, I don’t want advice targeting my career path. Every time I hear, “Don’t give up hope” it’s like a knife in the gut. My husband is the one consistently positive thing I have in my life, and I don’t want us to grow apart because of this. But how do I shut off the trigger for my negative emotions?

—Green Eyed Monster

A: Dear Green Eyed Monster,

Don’t try to shut off the negative emotions. At least, not yet.

What you’re feeling is real and valid (and to be honest, entirely relatable). You’ve done your time, you’ve paid your debt, and now you want your turn. That’s fair! The job market? Not fair. And to continually throw your best out there, get your hopes up over a perfect job, only to be rejected, over and over and over. It’s defeating and depressing. Of course you resent his easy success. Of course!

Allow yourself to feel those emotions, so long as you recognize (and you do!) that they’re not about him. Then be honest with him. He knows the struggle you’ve been through. Tell him, “Look, I’m really looking forward to being happy for you, but I just need a minute to feel sad for me.”

Sit in your resentment. Wallow in your sadness. It’s been a rough road and you’ve earned a good pity party. Don’t feel guilty about it.

If you allow yourself to do that, it’ll be worlds easier to put on the right face afterward. You know that deep down you’re happy for your partner. This isn’t about that. So get it all out of the way.

Once you do, it might be a bit easier to hear “don’t give up hope.”

—Liz Moorhead

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