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Oct 12, 2018



Envy is a normal human experience that results from comparing ourselves to others, and the feeling that we come up short in the comparson.

In the article, titled “To Love and To Envy,” by Dana Shavin, she writes “Envy is the emotion that arises when we feel that someone possesses an attribute we crave but lack.”

But what happens when we compare ourselves to our intimate partner and feel envy? This is a difficult question to answer because many of us do not want to acknowledge that we feel envy towards our significant other.

“The incidence of envy between spouses can be hard to measure because people mostly don’t admit it, even to themselves,” says psychiatrist Gail Saltz (quoted in To Love and To Envy)

Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear stories, explanations, and examples.


Imbalances are going to occur in relationship. There is no way for you and your partner to be exactly matched in every facet of your life.

Examples of imbalance in relationship are when one partner:

  • Is better with the kids.
  • Makes more money.
  • Has a more close-knit family.
  • Is in better physical shape.
  • Has more education.
  • Gets more recognition and accolades.
  • Is more articulate and social.
  • Is more artistically talented.
  • Has a more prestigious career.


Even when major imbalances occur in relationship, it doesn’t mean that envy will occur between partners.

Here are a few ways that couples maintain a strong relationship; They:

  • Keep competition for sports and play.

“Strong couples want the best for each other,” (Judith) Sills says. “They don’t compete except in play—think running a marathon or playing tennis. Strong partners are thrilled when the other gets ‘the goodies,’ even if they maybe feel a pang that they themselves didn’t.” (quoted in To Love and To Envy)

  • View each other as equal in status, despite different ways of contributing.
  • See themselves a part of a invisible team within the relationship.
  • Take pride and joy in each other success.


From time to time, we may all experience some level of partner envy. However, pay close attention if you notice envy becoming a more prominent feeling and/or you feel resentful, bitter, and disconnected in relationship with your partner because of envy.

Here are a few reasons why partner envy happens:

  • Partners don’t hold a unit mentality, such as viewing their relationship as a bigger team that they are each belong to.
  • One partner’s success is seen as a threat because it reflects the other partner’s feelings of inadequacy.

“People who don’t fully grasp the concept of ‘what’s good for one of us is good for both of us’ tend to envy a partner’s success,” (Gail) Saltz says, “even as it makes life better or easier for both of them.” (quoted in To Love and To Envy)

    • Partners feel a sense of inequality in their relationship.

“Psychologist Peter Fraenkel, an associate professor at City University of New York and the author of Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage, says that, like many problems in intimate relationships, a propensity to envy can often be traced to childhood. A lack of praise from parents, or achievements that were met with indifference or criticism, can set the stage for a lifetime of insecurity about one’s accomplishments.” by Dana Shavin


1. Be Honest About Your Experience.

“Harboring resentments toward your spouse is never a good idea,” (Gail) Saltz says. Recognize that to envy—and be envied—is human and move on to the next step: deciding how you and your partner will deal with the problem.” (quoted in To Love and To Envy)

2. Assess Equality In The Relationship.

  • Recognize each person contribution.
  • Value different forms of contribution.
  • Offering acknowledgement and validation for each partner’s value can help counteract old negative stories and beliefs.
  • Look at areas of inequality.

3. Look For Desire & Discontent.

  • What does envy tell you? What do you want and what do you not want?
  • Both desire and discontent can be great teachers.
  • They indicate and let us know what we are missing and what is not working for us.
  • We can use this information as a source of inspiration to take action on.
  • As we work towards creating more of what we want and less of what we don’t want, we have a life that is more authentically aligned, hence happier and healthier.

4. Focus On The Team. 

  • Look at the overall strength together as a couple.
  • Recognize how you and your partner help each other and support each other in your accomplishments.
  • See ways in which you and your partner complement each other.
  • Recognize how are you and your partner are better together.
  • Both partners are responsible for the life they have created.



Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode:

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Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Knowing how to overcome envy in a relationship help couples overcome selfishness and celebrate each other’s success.

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