Why My Husband's Jealousy Is Good For Our Relationship

Envy goes both ways, and that can be frustrating — especially when all we really want when we state our jealousy is a little bit of sympathy. Image: Thinkstock.

Ultimately, it's more about recognition than actually being unhappy with the roles we've chosen.

It's no secret that sometimes I fall prey to the idea that the grass might be greener on the other side.

Staying at home with three small kids is a constant struggle for survival: They always need something from me, especially when I need to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom.

Getting the regular breaks and human interaction of a 9-5 job (like the one my husband has) seems enviable when I've had a long, sleepless night and need to get up to care for sick, whining children all day long.

While the trials of caring for three small kids make it easy for jealousy to bloom, what makes stay-at-home life even harder is the lack of empathy and understanding I get for this 24/7 job. I have spent a frustrating amount of time trying to “prove my worth” to my husband.

I make him go over the monthly budget to show him how much money we save because of my miserly ways. I post my cleaning schedule on the wall so he can see how daunting it is. I text him throughout the day to let him know when the kids decide to not take naps and whine all day long. I take an album’s worth of photos every time I get my shit together enough for us to bake cookies or do a Pinterest craft.

Don’t you get how hard this is? I think.

And the answer is no, he doesn’t.

Even when he is solo with the kids, it's never for days at a time. He doesn’t have the same routine to keep. He doesn’t have to worry about the cleaning or the mental clutter of remembering where everyone’s shoes are at all times.

He doesn’t experience my life.

The truth is my husband sometimes looks at my life and envies it as well. He wishes he could spend all day with our kids, not put on real pants, and decide to go out for ice cream in the middle of the day just because.

Sometimes he says as much, and I want to scream.

“Maybe I should get a job technical writing and you should be a stay-at-home dad,” I say with a bit of venom.


 

We chose the roles that made sense to us, the roles we knew would bring us the most joy.


 

He’ll remind me I don’t want that, and neither does he.

At the end of the day, he’s right: Envy goes both ways, and that can be frustrating — especially when all we really want when we state our jealousy is a little bit of sympathy.

My husband’s 60-hour work weeks are no picnic either. Even though they come with perks like child-free bathroom breaks and time to go to the on-campus gym, he doesn’t get to snuggle on the couch, eating bagels and watching Netflix in the mornings, or have the opportunity for a spur of the moment adventure to the park.

When he envies my life, he’s not discounting the work I do (even though it feels that way sometimes).

He’s reminding me I’m lucky to have this life — the kind of life that is worthy of someone’s jealousy.

Our mutual jealousy can become a source of tension because we both want praise and sympathy for doing the “harder” job. However, if we really felt unhappy, we would trade places.

For all of my complaining, I chose motherhood and staying at home with our kids because it was the life I most wanted. Even when it’s hard, it is still the life I chose and would choose again. I know my husband feels the same way about his job versus being a stay-at-home dad as well.

We chose the roles that made sense to us, the roles we knew would bring us the most joy.

So when I tell him how unhappy the kids have made me on a rough day, what I’m really saying is that I want someone to pat me on the back and tell me what a difficult job I’m accomplishing day in and day out. What I sometimes forget in the midst of my conquest for approval is that my husband is looking for exactly the same thing.

Ultimately, it's more about recognition than actually being unhappy with the roles we've chosen.

Sometimes I still get irked by the fact that my husband sometimes only points out the good and shiny parts of my life, but more often I try to let his jealousy give me perspective on why I chose this life in the first place.

I forget that being a stay-at-home mother and writer is a life most could only dream of — my husband included. It is a privilege, a source of joy, and sometimes, it takes a little jealousy to remind me how good I’ve got it.

If you like this article, please share it! Your clicks keep us alive!

Articles You'll Love

Add new comment