Reminder: You're NOT second-best

August 5, 2020

By Ann Marie Alton

Reminder: You’re NOT Second-Best.

Being married to someone with a demanding and powerful career has potential to have an unfortunate impact on the psyche of the spouse. In my case, I’m married to an Orthopedic Surgeon, and he’s killin’ it in his career.

If I let it, I could see how it would be easy to feel overshadowed by all my husband is doing and achieving and let it affect my own feelings of value and self-worth.

Maybe you feel like you sacrifice so much of yourself for your spouse’s career that you get smaller and smaller along the way, eventually feeling as though you’ve lost your own identity. You wonder if you’ve done enough with your own life. You watch your spouse get further along in education while you are pretty sure you’re not going back to school. Maybe you’re at home wrangling kids while your spouse is off saving lives and taking names.

I’ve had (and I would say mostly CRUSHED) the little inklings of these thoughts that show up now and then. But it’s not easy.

So from one spouse to another, let’s chat.

Instead of dwelling on the obvious differences between your career and your spouse’s, here are some other positive things that I have done with that mental energy. Maybe it’ll work for you, as well, friend.

1. Instead of being bitter about your partner’s success or career choice, consider yourself a contributing factor to their success.

Bitterness can push you and your spouse in opposite directions. I’m not saying that if you’re having a hard time, that you should ignore those feelings or try to stifle them. Talk about them, confront them, and deal with them. What I AM saying is that it may be helpful to note that YOU, in fact, are a part of your spouse’s winning team. Then maybe you can bury the resentment, and become more proud of what you are BOTH accomplishing.

It’s true that you may not have studied for the MCAT, or have aced Physical Chemistry in undergrad, or dominated Step 1 like your partner. But in a healthy relationship, you’re a team. And if a member of your team wins, you are winning, too. Like, majorly winning. So instead of questioning your own self-worth because your spouse totally rocks, you can be proud that you’ve chosen and supported a partner who is awesome. (And hey, that also says something about you).

2. Use your abundance of alone time for good and not evil.

Oh, you’re operating for the evening? Great. I’ll just catch up right here on the trash TV I can’t convince you to watch with me. Or that blog post I’ve been wanting to read or write. Or I’ll see if I can snag a last-minute babysitter and go out with my gals.

My husband was working extra late several nights in a row a few weeks ago…and so I literally bought (and completed like the BALLER that I am) a jigsaw puzzle during the evenings while watching most of a season of Big Brother. And I freaking loved it.

Obviously, as a gal who loves her husband, I prefer to have my dude right here to hang out with. But if he’s not, in fact, right here, that’s okay sometimes, too. There’s someone else that needs him that is benefitting from his rockstar surgery skills.

Caveat: Unless our kids are freaking out and then he needs to be right here immediately.

—> Just kidding, but that situation is a little more complicated than if it’s justme missing him. I do not recommend that any mom do mom-ing alone for too long, so if your spouse is away for a while, get help from friends or family or a babysitter. Please.

The bottom-line is to avoid sitting at home and wallowing. Sit at home and do something fun. Or sit somewhere else. K?

3. Remind yourself of the benefits of your spouse’s job.

If your spouse has a demanding career, there’s probably a good chance you can think of some ways that you are all better off because of it!

If your spouse is still in training, you may not feel like you’re reaping many benefits yet. That being said, I would challenge you to still focus on the positive side of things, that 1. They are ultimately realizing a dream of theirs that will in turn make them (and you!) happy. 2. They are developing and using their God-given gifts and talents. It would be a tragedy to later look back on your life and realize you didn’t live in to your calling. You don’t want that for them, or for yourself.

Now, if your spouse already has their dream job, then try to focus on the perks that come with that. Maybe it’s being able to give to others more, or travel more, or have new friends and community through his/her job.

4. Don’t let your spouse’s occupation define you or who you are in the relationship.

Even though I’m wildly proud of my partner, my confidence comes from knowing my own self-worth as a strong, educated, child of God, independent woman, with my own talents and unique gifts.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to realize your own strengths in life! I am constantly impressed by all of the medical spouses that I’ve connected with over the past two years. It’s surprising to me how many wives are actually in medicine, themselves (myself included *waves*). Then there are all of the entrepreneurs, and coaches, and other bloggers, and stay at home moms that are doing great, amazing work, and just a ton of women working toward their own dreams. Way to go! Seriously, impressive. If you don’t know what direction you want to be headed in, maybe it’s time to explore that!

Lastly, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that 1. Your voice matters less, or 2. Because your partner is doing so much to provide for your family, that you deserve less respect in the relationship, or 3. You are now the less important one in your relationship.

Your partner married that confident person you were back then for a reason.

These, my friend, are just some of the ways that I remind myself that I am valuable in this winning team.

I matter.

You matter.

Find your voice, if you haven’t already, because you have something incredible to contribute to the world. And if you are standing next to a strong, powerful, dominant guy or gal, remember that they need you.

And you, my dear, are not second-best.

You’re actually killin’ it, too.


Ann Marie ❤️

Modified from an original post: “Finding Your Own Voice When Your Spouse is Killin’ It”

About Ann Marie: Hi! I’m Ann Marie, a blogging mama of 3 tiny gals, and a wife to a busy Orthopedic Surgeon. You can find me over at,  where I help women and mamas like you live your most joy-filled and beautiful lives! I’m inspired by so many topics, and I share them ALL with you: I’m talking home decor, motherhood, style, beginner beauty, marriage (I see you other medical wives!) and more. You’ll find me most active on Instagram or Facebook for life between blog posts. And I truly can’t wait to see you there, friend. ❤️💋

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