Baggage Check: No Prize for Best Husband



My husband is very ambitious and has won several honors recently. I’m very proud of him, but I sometimes feel like he turns things into a competition (or maybe it’s me who does so) and dismisses my professional accomplishments. I always imagined that I would feel part of a team with my spouse. But instead, I get jealous. What gives? — Bummed

It seems to me that it’s not so much a matter of your being jealous or competitive, but more your feeling invalidated and knocked down. Might Steven the Achievin’ be getting a little too big for his britches?

This won’t get resolved without talking to him. Pick a quiet time unconnected to any of his achievements — so, not backstage at an awards ceremony. Establish that you want him to be happy, but then segue into how you’re feeling slighted. Emphasize that you want to be a team — you don’t want to take away from his individual accomplishments but maximize the joy of them. Once you clear the air (and the trophies), you can figure out why he’s acting this way. Is he just disoriented with success, or does he feel like he has to be dominant in the relationship?

Learn to Like Yourself First
I’m 25 years old and feel like people just don’t like me. I’ve never really dated anyone, but that’s not my main concern. It’s just that I don’t feel close to people, and I feel alone. It seems like whatever new situation I’m in, everyone else finds their way eventually except me. I don’t expect to be the life of the party, but I hate feeling like I’m the outcast in a junior high lunchroom. My sister just tells me to be myself, but it’s not that easy. — No Name, Please

I know it won’t help much for me to let you know that you’re not really alone — at least in the sense that there are many others who feel like you do. And “just be yourself,” as you’ve noticed, is not that inspiring for someone who doesn’t really believe that her real self is someone who other people want to know.

But a good therapist can give you the tools to start redefining who you are, banish the ingrained negative thoughts that get you down on yourself and increase the types of behaviors that will get you more out of your shell. It might take work, but the sooner you take the step, the sooner you can experience life as someone who you want to be.

Talk back to Dr. Andrea by leaving a comment below. To ask a question for Baggage Check in the Express print edition, e-mail baggage@readexpress.com or submit an anonymous question here.

Art by Ben Claassen III for Express

Dr. Andrea Bonior writes Express' advice column, Baggage Check.
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express | June 21, 2010