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Relationships I love my wife, but envy her successful career. How do I deal with my jealousy?

The question

My wife and I are in the same profession but she is much more successful and makes a lot more money. It’s left me feeling bad and to be honest kind of emasculated. Also, since she works long hours she has basically suggested I pick up the slack in terms of housework. Should I wear an apron? I love her but can’t help feeling a little jealous of her career. Meanwhile everyone I know on social media seems to be having a better life than me and I’m jealous of them, too. How do I deal with these feelings of jealousy?

I moved abroad for love, but left my dream job behind. Which one do I choose?

Why do I feel guilty for breaking up with a toxic friend?

Having a baby destroyed my marriage. Now I want my husband back. Is it too late to fix things?

The answer

First, I hate to be “that guy.” My own wife recently rudely muttered the word “pedant” in my vicinity vis-à-vis my relationship to the English language.

Personally, I prefer “stickler.” Hey: I’m a writer. Can I not do a little stickling now and then?

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You’re making the fairly common mistake (these days) of saying “jealousy” when you mean “envy.”

Jealousy is what one feels when one starts to think one’s wife covets someone else sexually and/or romantically. Envy is what one feels when one covets one’s wife’s career.

Before we talk about you and your wife, I want to say I feel what you feel about social media. Everyone on my Facebook feed seems to be leading such fabulous lives, posting pictures of delicious meals in foreign climes, fine wines, beautiful white sandy beaches and azure waters viewed from their hotel room windows, golf trips, ski vacations – all while I freeze/work my butt off here in Canada.

Causing my guts to churn with envy.

Speaking of which, let’s move on to your feelings about your wife’s career.

In my view, you’re looking at it all from the wrong angle. You should be proud of her. Celebrate her career success. The best couples are a team, and if your wife brings strength to the team: awesome.

Why not use her as inspiration to pull your own self up by the bootstraps? That’s what I do with my strong, powerful, successful wife: try to emulate her hustle and ambition.

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She’s in a different profession from me, but if you’re in the same profession as your wife, all the better. Perhaps she could use her connections and expertise to give you a bit of a leg up?

Next: Rethink your attitude on the home front. Your job there is to be as helpful as possible.

Perhaps, as a metaphor for what I’m trying to say, let us speak about men in aprons.

I know they get a bad rap. In the movie Rebel Without a Cause James Dean’s dad tries to give his teenage son (in reality Dean was 24) some advice about “how to be a man” while wearing an apron and Dean storms off in disgust and peels away in his car.

But that was 1955. Now it’s 2019 and the other day I answered the door wearing an apron to two teenaged boys who (along with their mother) had come over for dinner.

And said to them as they came in: “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Check it out yo: Our friend’s dad is wearing an apron. That is so wack.’”

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(My ability to mimic teen slang is terminally mired in the 1990s.)

“And” (I said) “I know you’re probably immersed in first-person shooter games and movies where the grim-faced, muscle-bound, man-of-few-words has to pilot a flaming plane to the ground.

“But really, how often does that come up? Here’s what happens in reality, boys. That same muscle-bound man goes home from piloting the flaming jet to the ground, his wife’s just had a baby, and he doesn’t even know how to cook an egg. She becomes disenchanted and frustrated and divorces him.”

They, of course, being teenagers, looked at me with an admixture of puzzlement, bemusement and boredom, and then spent the rest of the night staring at their phones.

But who knows? I said my piece. I spoke my truth to teenagers. Maybe someday they’ll say to themselves (staring at their phones): “Hmm, wonder if that old dude had a point.”

Personally, I think I do. Wearing an apron is a symbol of your willingness to help around the house and to me that’s more butch and more likely to lead to a good relationship than wearing a leather jacket and not helping.

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