Jealousy. Envy. The “green-eyed monster”. Every now and then, this nasty little monster creeps its way into my brain, aimed right at the one person I love the most in this world—my husband. Am I the only one who struggles with a certain level of spousal envy? And I do mean S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E. There have been times when I have gotten so jealous of my husband, and it not only strains our marriage, it also makes me feel terribly stressed out and like a pretty horrible person. As a result, I have also worked on ways to cope with that problem.
First, there are two main areas where I start to feel the most spousal envy of my husband: Alone Time and Ability to Focus on Work.
Number One: Alone Time.
I teach. My kids go to the school I teach at. That means that 80% of the time, they drive to work with me. (I get one early morning meeting a week that lets me leave alone.) And 100% of the time, they come home with me. And I see them throughout the day. And he works most evenings, until at least 6:30 or 7 on a good night. By that time, I am mostly ready to lock myself in the bathroom until they are in bed. It wouldn’t do me any good; they know how to pick the lock. If I want time to myself, I have to hire a babysitter and pay for it. Dearly. My husband, however, gets to drive to and from work and NOT listen to KidzBop. He can grab a drink after work without having to make sure children are chauffeured, fed, and homeworked first. I get jealous.
Number Two: Focusing on Work.
My husband works a lot. When he isn’t at the restaurant, he is fielding calls or texts about the restaurant, or on the computer working on marketing or recipes or where he can cut labor or food costs. The work never stops. (I’m not jealous of that part!) But he is rarely the one who gets interrupted to make a snack, or to help with homework, or to brush hair, or to do the laundry or the dishes or the vacuuming (although he does help with those things). I bring work home every night, too, but then I carry it right back to school with me the next day. If I want to sit and focus on grading or planning, I have to leave my house. This, again, means either finding and paying for a sitter or giving up time together as a family. I get jealous.
It seems so selfishly petty, doesn’t it? Probably because it is. I am not sure where the root of this jealousy lies, and I feel lucky that it has been a bit since I really got overwhelmed by it.
When envy creeps up, I have to acknowledge it and deal with it.
One thing that helps me overcome it is looking at it from his perspective. Luckily, I am an expert over-thinker, so I have no problem imagining his point of view. He could very well feel jealous of me. There are plenty of things I get to do that he has to miss out on. Whether it is baking cookies with the girls on a snow day together, taking them shopping for new shoes (how do they outgrow shoes in 3 days?!), or getting a quick random hug when I see them in the halls at school, he misses out on some of those moments. I don’t know that this is the healthiest coping mechanism, but it does calm me down and dull the green rising in my eyes.
Excellent communication is also crucial. I make it a point to talk to my husband about it when I start to feel overwhelmed. He never throws this jealousy back at me. Instead, he is an expert at reassuring me that I’m not missing much when it comes to coveting his life and time. We work through it together and come out a bit stronger than before.
Finally, I just remind myself to change my mindset. I make a conscious effort to let that green-eyed monster go and instead look at the blessings I have in front of me. I have a husband who is supportive, dedicated, and loving. I have kids who are healthy, active, and fun. I have so much for which to be grateful, and there is simply no room for nastiness.
Through all the stresses of everyday life, in those times of envy, spite, or sadness (which I think are pretty standard for a lot of moms), I hope we know we aren’t alone.
I hope we know that other moms are going through it, too. And I hope we see that we can turn away from that envy, that jealousy, that toxic negativity, and embrace the love and support that is out there for us.
*This was originally written in 2020.