I recently read a research study which scientifically determined whether or not, men are really happy when their wives or significant others over-achieve them professionally. And the answer is….NO…they aren’t! Even though he may take you to dinner, break out the champagne; even praise your accomplishments from here to Timbuktu, happiness isn’t in the equation. In short, he said it, but he didn’t mean it. To him, your BIG promotion or gigantic raise is like the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head, lowering his self-esteem with each achievement swing.
In a study performed by researcher Kate Ratliff of the University of Florida Gender Differences in Implicit Self-Esteem Following a Romantic Partner’s Success or Failure, she explained that “there is some evidence that men automatically interpret a partner’s success as their own failure.” When it comes to male/female relationships, the more successful the female, the more problems the men have with the relationship. Women on the other hand, are just the opposite. We love it when our mate is successful and making money. For us, it’s a matter of dollars and cents…for men it’s EGO.
After reading the study, I laughed aloud because women don’t need a study to tell us what we already know. For the most part, men are either mildly or overly insecure about one thing or another; and we know it! Just two months ago I intentionally lost a game of cards to my husband because had I won, he would have sulked for the rest of the night. No strike that…for the rest of the week.
Women tend to deal with self-esteem issues much better than men because our issue-causing problems are much different than theirs. Our problems start at our head and end at our toes. To be more definitive, breast to knees. And if we’re not careful, trying on a bathing suit can send us into shock!
But the question is why do so many men have self-esteem problems when it comes to their wife or significant other being more successful than they are? The study made me wonder if most men still want us to play the ‘Honey, You Are’ game. You know, Honey, you’re so smart; or Honey, you’ve done a wonderful job; Honey, you’re the greatest; and my personal favorite, Honey, you’re a real rodeo rider. Oh, sorry, that’s another game.
According to Dr. Ratliff, since “men tend to be more competitive than women,” their self-worth diminishes when their romantic partners achieve more success than they have. Even without the study it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that unless the man is really confident, secure, and proud of his partner, he’s not going to ride with you, so you might as well leave the car in park.
Men were meant to be the bread winners of the family. They possess an inherent need to be looked up to, revered and respected. No matter what their title, or their salary, or where they live, they want to be viewed as the stronger, dominant one. Even the corner drug dealer wants to be viewed as ‘the man’ that’s why he’s always flashing his cheddar.
Even though times-are-a-changing personally and professionally for both sexes, one thing doesn’t change, and that’s the male ego. It’s continuous, unchanging, and always waiting to be stroked. So always talking about your important corporate job can make him feel very unimportant while subconsciously lowering his self-esteem bit-by-bit.
Putting research aside, and talking common sense, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter what women do for a living or how much money we make, in most cases, it’s how we make our mate feel. Some women just don’t have a knack for making their mate feel good. They demean, discourage, complain and nag all of the time. These women rarely lift him up but constantly wield their title, money and submissiveness like a sword, even in the bedroom.
It doesn’t take a university professor to decipher the psyche of men. Undoubtedly, feelings of insecurity on his part can lead to arguments, cheating, and unnecessary problems at home. Sure, he may have said it…but didn’t mean it, when congratulating you on your big promotion, so what.
If you want a happy life with your husband or significant other, stroke his ego now and then, and play the ‘Honey, You Are’ game at least once in a while. Because if you don’t, and his self-esteem decreases as yours increases, the one word he will mean is, ‘GOODBYE” as he walks out of the door.
Written by DeBorah Heggs-Alston