Everyone is competitive. We all like to win. We all enjoy being the best. We compete at work with colleagues, with friends over accomplishments and kids and appearances. We compete with other parents over how much we have accomplished and how good a parent we are.
But what about with your spouse? Ideally, one would believe that spouses don’t compete, that they are a team. In a perfect world your spouse wants what is best for you and for you to be your best. But competitive drive does not stop just because you love someone and are on his or her team. Spouses do compete, they just are not always aware of it in themselves and in each other.
Competitions range from who seems to be the better parent to better career, who makes the most money, has more friends, is the better cook, to even feelings about who has the better “deal” in bed.
What??? You think I can’t be serious, but believe me I have seen plenty of couples where one thinks the other is having more fun, orgasming more easily, getting what they want more of the time and as a result they feel envious.
Generally speaking this kind of competition has to do with normal drives and a little insecurity. The greater the insecurity about your own abilities, the more likely you will feel competitive. If you feel uncertain about your ability to have success or feel nervous about your identity, then when your spouse performs well or treads into your identity/space (like if your hubby makes a fantastic meal over which your friends rave, and you thought of yourself as the real cook in the family), then you may feel “HEY, that’s my purview!” You may also feel at the same time that you are very appreciative that he pitches in and proud of his ability to cook.
Similarly, if he is being great with the kids, and they are in a period of being particularly close to him, you may feel both happy that he is such a great dad and also competitive that he may be doing “better” as a parent and the kids are going to like him better.
These are really normal feelings and the important thing is to be aware of them and be able to talk about them so that you don’t just grow angry and allow it to be destructive in the relationship. Competition is normal as long as you can keep it in perspective and avoid real anger, resentment and taking it out on your spouse. Instead talk about your feelings and be supportive and reassuring to each other. Point out your spouse’s real strengths and help them to be the best they can be. If you bring out the best in each other your marriage will thrive.