Honey, Your Success is Shrinking Me

Men have a hard time when the women around them do well.

Click here if you are unable to view this video.

Comments (22)

(21) Kassandra, October 3, 2013 5:52 PM

Redefining masculinity and achievement

A lot of the self esteem issues that men feel when women succeed comes from the stereotypical gender roles that so many of us have been indoctrinated with. In the reality of today's economy, long gone are the times when most or all women can stay at home while their husband's work. In light of this, it has left many men wondering to what extent they are needed, wanted or provide if their wives can do as well or better than them in the provision department. It's time that men redefine what being a man and being a father and being a provider looks like. It's also time that we shift individual success (esp. in marriage) from a "my" success to an "our" success. The moment a couple goes from me to we, a lot of the competition about professional success goes out the window because one person's achievement is the family's achievement. Reframing, as was stated above, is critical to both partners feeling valued and appreciated for their individual contributions. Every achievement in a family adds up to success and both partners need to emphasize this point as each person succeeds.

(20) Anonymous, October 3, 2013 5:50 PM

Many women can attribute much of their success to the love, support, wisdom and/or guidance they received from the man in their life. I know I can. If your man has helped you get to where you are in any way, however small, TELL HIM! If this hurts your ego or diminishes your feeling of accomplishment in any way, then think again. Do you want to build your marriage? Do you want to be a person of gratitude and humility? Acknowledging the help you got is part of your greatness and your success. So look deeply into what you have received from your man, tell him and make him feel like a million bucks.

(19) miriamwcohen, October 3, 2013 1:54 PM

not a problem

Really, all men react that way? You can find a study to support whatever view you have. The Ultra Orthodox world has a very narrow view of Women's roles, and even there it is changing.
Women and men are equal, yet different in their abilities. Yes, some women are more successful than their husbands, and not all men find that threatening.

(18) Gabriel, October 3, 2013 4:00 AM

Togetherness !

A metaphor of the Talmud:

A man works in the field and brings home wheat—but shall he then eat wheat? Of what use is his toil?

His wife grinds the wheat into flour and makes bread.

So too, the tasks of life: A man’s spiritual accomplishments only become realized in the material world due to his wife.

(They have to work together)

(17) Stewart Beveridge., October 3, 2013 1:52 AM

Useful Advice.

When asked to give a word of advice to those intending marriage, I usually include "Always be the first to apologise. Always be the last who needs to do this.'
Sadly this is sometimes forgotten after the bliss of being Newly Married has dimmed a little.

(16) Anonymous, October 3, 2013 1:02 AM

It has always been a man's world

Historically women have been under their husband's rule. He supports her and she caters to his every whim. Times are changing. If you want each and every gadget that technology can provide it takes two salaries. In many countries still today women are second rate citizens and subject to whatever "rules" men put upon them. It is hard for men to grow out of the concept that they are better than their wife.
Being the boss of your wife is a big ego trip and some men take this to the extreme...even in religious families. The way a man sees his mother treated by his father will influence the way he will treat his wife. If you want your sons to respect women then respect your wife.
I find this a topic that is really absurd. Why do women have to teach their husbands how to respect others (including their wives). "Lo sachmod" was not commanded only to the women. Doesn't "Eishes chayil" compliment the industrious wife. If you are a Torah Jew then look into the Torah and stop thinking you are so great. Be more humble like Moshe Rabeinu.

(15) Rebekah, October 3, 2013 12:49 AM

I think the best way for a person (man or woman) who is feeling jealous of his/her spouse's success is to reframe things a bit in light of what we know about men and women from the account of creation in Bereshit. Adam and Chava were originally one person and marriage is going back to that state to some degree by reuniting the male and female halves of a soul. If a person takes that into account, then it is not really that a person who is close to you has succeeded and you have not, but rather that your spouse, who is a part of you, has succeeded. Your spouse's success is also your success. I think this is necessary for both men and women to remember, but perhaps it comes more easily to women, who are often more accustomed to viewing themselves as part of a greater whole.

(14) Faye Beyeler, October 3, 2013 12:42 AM

it is not our problem and not our problem to solve

This is not our problem and it is not our problem to solve. The solution must come from males - from males like you, Rabbi Salomon. Every society needs strong males. But strong males need to be taught how to be appropriately strong - not by females, by other males in leadership positions, like you.

(13) Anonymous, October 2, 2013 8:55 PM


Let us consider Proverbs 31.The Virtuous wife. She is trust worthy, she is intelligent, she is a hard and determined worker. She approaches her work for the benefit of her family.Her Husband has no reason to doubt himself, undermine her, hold her back ,or feel bad about himself. God's own book is saying this is how a good pair works. This husband in Proverbs looks like he is doing good. He does not seem to lack confidence.When men are providing for their families by doing what they are truly able (I'm not talking here about the shiftless, slackers,cheaters,or abusers of women.(Those guys need to get adjusted.) I am talking about MEN! Who love their wives,and are doing their jobs in a caring and loving manner and are supportive of their wifes efforts to share the work load so that their Husbands are in turn given the credit he should have and are good represenatives of God and can help counsel, judge, and model for other men and the next generations.So men if you are not cutting corners. Don't doubt yourselves.You are wasting your time listening to random brain chatter, tell the chatter and self doubt to shut up! If you are slacking. Fix it! Start by complimenting your wives. She will probably love you for it and work that much more.It's an Win Win Boys. Oh by the way, my husband is taking me out to open a business. Win Win for HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(12) Kimberly, October 2, 2013 6:47 PM

Makes men seem pretty petty. I can' t imagine not being happy for someone that I care about when they achieve success. I don't know if you can change human nature but with women outnumbering and outperforming men in college men need to get used to being surrounded by successful women.

(11) Anonymous, October 2, 2013 5:27 PM

re: support

My success--and yearning for learning [separately and/or together]--was not supported in a long term marriage--unless it related directly to our children. Anything else was either downplayed, undermined, or threatened and it took me a very long time to realize that that was, sadly, the case. I don't honestly know how I could have helped him handle it, as there were other, underlying issues I have since come to realize.
You may have guessed--we're divorced.

(10) Rachel, October 2, 2013 5:00 PM


Real men don't resent others' success -- be it a woman's or another man's. You also don't define what you mean by "success". Financial? Spiritual? Parenting? Academic?
My husband (who is thrilled when I do well, not to mention relieved that I had a secure job when he was once of work) and I have raised our daughter & son not to compete with anyone other than themselves. In other words -- if another employee does a special project and gets a bonus, don't bemoan that -- figure out how you can get into a project that will earn you a bonus next time. Or, you only got a B on your exam? Don't hate the people with better grades (nor look down on those with worse); try to come up with a strategy to improve your own grades.
And by the way, it seems to me that the 10th Commandment should be a guide to religiously observant men & women: Don't covet any thing that is your neighbor's. That includes not coveting your wife's success.

(9) Rivka, October 2, 2013 4:15 PM

Dear men. Grow up!

The fact tht this is a legitimate topic of conversation is absolutely pathetic. It reeks if selfishness, insecurity, self importance, self centered fascination and lack of empathy. Men are not infants, they do not need women to change them or guide them to change. They are fully empowered to work on their own middot and if they feel this way it seems they should start now!

(8) Chanie, October 2, 2013 3:06 PM

Use it as a motivator to your own success

Thank you Rabbi Solomon; Your title caught my attention. As a highly driven woman I want to share my perspective on it.
1- Be successful by giving support: Women need to be acknowledged, appreciated and encouraged by close male figures in their life. Women can be very gifted and are in the same time highly sensitive.
2- Take the Courage: I think that Men are equally gifted and I feel that what we women might possess is more courage than men do. Courage to risk, trust our intuition (even when it does not make sense on pen and paper; a man's style), and leap.
The way I can help you? Yes, you may borrow our courage and dip your feet in the cold water; go for it; the worse thing will happen you will also be your most successful being (As seems you are already here on Aish.com :))
3- Information as the antidote for jealousy: I used to suffer from jealousy; I was So jealous of other's successes it would eat my bones. I shifted it to be an information gatherer to nurture my own success. Whenever I see something that triggers my jealousy, I ask myself; hey what is it that you are missing that you see in others? And it gives me a spotlight on the area that needs nurturing.
4- My personal Cell Phone "signature" is this: "BE the most of WHO YOU ARE, on this day, at this moment, ALWAYS; It is your surest WIN in our competitive world"

Anonymous, October 3, 2013 1:57 AM

I'm a man but allow me to comment anyway.

I think the issue is being poorly misunderstood. The underlying insecurity in man is not that the women are succeeding but that men may feel like failures. Men, especially religious men are raised both religiously and socially that it is the man's job to support his family, it is a man's job to go to war-so to speak. He often defines his manhood based on his success in the outside world. This has been going on for centuries. It is not just a matter of "selfishness, insecurity, self importance, self centered fascination and lack of empathy." It is a matter of total reformation of how we define ourselves. Not easy. So lets be a little easier on the men,

(7) Betty Moses, October 2, 2013 1:10 PM

I think men have to realize that no matter who the more successful one is in the family, it tells on both. If the husband is more successful it also means that he got the support of his wife.in that way they both have achieved success. Same goes for the men. Instead of looking at it as a competition, please men, look at it as a joint effort. Look at it as a family success.

(6) ross, September 30, 2013 8:28 PM

I'm cursed, not her

No, wait! Bereshis: I got the curse of having a hard time earning parnassa, not her. Why should it bother me if she's successful? If I don't have the curse of a hard childbirth, frankly I'm thrilled!

(5) Inbar, September 29, 2013 9:52 PM

different types of success and values

Interesting statement! I once read that many successful women claimed their fathers encouraged them to succeed, and I assume their husbands supported them too. Is this a case of the support given being a little too effective?
Things a man could do to make 'her' success more acceptable?
Realize that:
- he has helped to provide an environment in which she was allowed to grow so she could succeed. He may have also helped with advice, mentorship, practical support and much more.
It is very difficult for a woman to succeed when the men around her make it difficult for her, sometimes even forcing her to choose between shalom bayit and 'success' or any other outside interests.
- this very capable and now very successful woman has chosen him (if he is her husband) to be the other half of her soul - any successes from that moment on are 'ours'. She clearly made a great choice!
- he is not only supporting his wife, but also being a role model for other men - and indeed, the women and girls around him. Many women hope to find men who are confident and secure enough to allow women to shine where they can, and who will realize that that makes them heroes - they conquer the desire to limit women.
Even more important - Hashems definition of success does not depend upon the values of this society. And ultimately, Hashems opinion is what counts!

(4) Anonymous, September 29, 2013 9:04 PM

Attitudes Are Changing and Will Change With Time

The type of success you refer to seems to refer to career or financial success. Sad. I could go on and on on this topic. Attitudes of men and women about the matter you raise are already changing as men and women's roles have changed. My daughter makes more money than her husband. Their family couldn't manage without her salary. They seem to have a good marriage based on mutual respect and an appreciation for how both assume the various roles in the marriage based on what makes sense and not simply on gender. My husband is happy about my career and recognizes the value it has brought to our lives. Older men are most likely to continue to have the problem you describe because their views are simply more traditional. In reality,I believe older men, in general do not really respect women in traditional roles. These are just old fashioned attitudes that are fading away...fortunately.

(3) SusanE, September 29, 2013 8:35 PM

Sure you want to hear this??

The men I have known who were and are threatened, jealous, of womens abilities and sucess. Well, those men just weren't that great anyway, whether the women around them rose to a level of success or not. It's only when the women do well, that the men's shortcomings and weakness shows in his character..

(2) Anonymous, September 29, 2013 2:52 PM

Nice to see Rav Noach zt"l back up on the wall. As to the question of men feeling threatened by their women's success, a year of psychotherapy might do it.

(1) Bobby5000, September 29, 2013 1:10 PM

success and gender

Notice the opposite. If a man makes substantially more money than a woman, fine, everyone is happy. When a woman makes more, people poke fun at the man. When one male star was less successful than his wife, you could not believe the taunting and comments he faced. Ask some mothers, if they would be happy if their daughters married men who earned less than the daughter.


Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment

Receive Weekly Current Issues Emails

Sign up to our Current Issues Jewsletter.

Our privacy policy