Congrats. *sigh*

Loneliness is hard. When we are married, loneliness can sometimes be even harder. One of the most isolating events in a relationship can be a celebration.

You win! Again.

Success is something everyone wants. But what happens when Mate is the only on succeeding? Do you patiently and dutifully lead the cheer from the sideline? Or do you give perfunctory congratulations and inwardly sulk?

What are you turning to gold?

Pompons at the Ready

You have seen the couples with the powerhouse spouse. The fair-haired one who has the Midas touch. No matter the situation, this person wins, comes out smelling like a rose, is always the victor. What about Mate?

Mate is the ultimate cheerleader. Mate tells everyone, joyfully, of the success and lauds Winner’s merits…at least in public. In the quiet times before bed, Mate may not be feeling all that perky. How much energy does it require to jump and cheer, every single time there is a victory of any sort?

  • Promotion
  • Raise
  • Sports victory
  • Epiphany
  • Reunion
  • Project completion
  • Purchase

How much more energy does it take when Mate has none of these to celebrate? Celebrating someone else can be very lonely. Are you this Mate?

Another Acceptance Speech

Quarterly or sooner...

Are you the Mate who is always in the spotlight? The fruits of your labor are put on display quarterly (or sooner) because you strive for excellence in everything you touch.

You sell more, create more, repair more than anyone else. You are the guest of honor at all of the awards ceremonies and every social function.

It is lonely at the top. Being #1 is a solitary spot. Looking down at everyone from the pedestal is the most dizzying loneliness.


Look at why the spots are so lonely. In both cases Mate is doing something alone. The Winner is basking in the limelight which Winner created alone. The Cheerleader is supporting the Winner without having a hand in the win.

Think about the last time you scratched off a lotto ticket and won back the price of the ticket. It felt good not to have thrown the money away. Did you run home and tell Mate? No, because really all you had done was broken even. But what about that ticket where you won $250? You could not get your cell phone out of your pocket fast enough.

Mate gets the telephone call and thinks one of the following:

  • Where did Winner get the money for another lotto ticket?
  • Why do I never get a winning ticket?
  • We really could use the money to (responsibly) pay for __________.
  • Winner already has decided how to spend the money.
  • What would I do with an extra $250?

So, Winner, what did you say in the call to Mate? How much consultation was there? Is the $250 yours to spend because you bought the ticket? Hmm. Really?

Now what do we do?

The easy solution is ask Mate how they are feeling, but that is treating the symptom and not the cause. The loneliness can be temporarily suppressed by intimately sharing the success, but it will still remain after the celebration.

Just ask.

Actively seek out successful activities you can share. Even those whose successes are microbial…like the scratch off ticket. This may not be as easy an assignment as it appears at first blush. It means including Mate in things which do not require assistance.

Every choice we make in a relationship is a chance to get Mate’s assistance, thus sharing the success. That sharing is the only way to banish the loneliness of being both the Winner and the Cheerleader. Rarely, in relationships is the solution the same for both parties, however, in this instance the medicine is precisely the same.

Like, What?

Consider some of the things you do every single (day, week, month) about which you do not consult Mate.

  • Routine business decisions
  • Eating for the first time at a new restaurant
  • A new haircut
  • A new book
  • Choosing a new doctor
  • Change in diet
  • A new exercise routine
  • New paint color for the guest bathroom

How difficult would it have been to simply ask Mate? Even in the things you would not expect to ask anyone’s opinion, take the time to ask Mate. But do not stop there. Include, involve and engage Mate in the activity or choice.

Practice makes perfect, so if your first attempt is not as successful as you might desire, talk to Mate and try something new…or the same thing from a different perspective.


Have you ever asked Mate for help or opinion about something which was unexpected? Would you consider sharing the mundane to strengthen a relationship? When did you experience the loneliness of success? How did you handle it?

(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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  1. Mutually sharing the mundane and asking for help or opinions on the incidental does strengthen the relationship, is also drives mates mutually whacky at times. A perpetual balancing act is required, let’s keep in mind sometimes the microbial and seemingly unimportant details of conspiracy mean the most.
    Doesn’t that all depend on how intimately you know Mate?
    Sharing a success and having Mate thoughtlessly ” laugh it off, cast it away or disregard it as unimportant” can exacerbate loneliness WAY more than NOT sharing. Thought-provoking, Red!

    • Yes, you absolutely must know Mate’s tolerance for mundanity. Again, in discussing more and more, you find exact how wide the landing strip is.

      Bear mentioned an example of that. It is even more isolating for Mate to not recognize success. When Mate misses the plane, you have to look at where the delay occurred. If it is truly about not caring, it may be time for new fletches. (Read Darts.)


  2. This post reminds me of my parents so much. My dad was always the “golden boy” in almost all public aspects of his adult life. People thought he had it all together, 100% of the time. But it was actually my mom who made him able to accomplish so much and have such a great reputation. She never complained because his success was enough for her and she loved him so much, but I can’t be entirely sure that he was ever completely aware of how much she supported him. He passed away years ago, and that’s one of the questions I would love to ask him now.

    • It is a fundamental success you can see the inner workings of your parent’s marriage. Many parents shield their children from much of marriage, thus making it difficult for the children to absorb both the necessary pieces and the complicating extra pieces which come in the jigsaw box. Something I am sure you will want to teach Bebe.

  3. I have a friend who struggled with the golden boy thing. I have a husband who cooks….., and all our married life I’ve been told how “wonderful” he is and how lucky I am. One time I asked an old friend who repeated this AGAIN, “And what am I? Chopped liver?” It’s not quite the same, but I have struggled with the fact that people think it’s wonderful to live with my husband. Many things about him are wonderful, but people do not see the whole picture. They have no idea.

    Then I kind of realized that they say that to me because I’m there and he’s not. If he were there, they would talk about me. I just smile and say, “Thank you.” now and get over it. I think everyone has good and bad areas that others do not see.

    We do not succeed or fail alone. But sometimes others only see half of the picture. It can be a very lonely place to be if you let yourself believe your mate’s success (or lack thereof) somehow defines who you are.

    🙂 Angie

    • Excellent point. John talks about how being true to yourself is one of the master keys to a successful marriage. I know being secure in one’s own identity helps weather the storm of celebrity when married to a Midas spouse.

      And just like you did not know what all was in store for you when you married, your friends are blissfully in the dark about the foibles you would not dream of airing about your spouse. It is part of your spousal protection instinct not to tell your friends, “Yeah, but…” every time they mention the fair-haired status.

  4. Good post. Always been ‘#1’ mate. husbands and boyfriends forget my birthday, ignore gifts and cards from myself, bring a downer to a celebration.
    I have a broken ‘picker.’

    The loneliest of all IS being married. So true. So sad. So many attorney’s fees.

    • I know about the broken picker. And I think you needed new fletches as well. (Maybe I should have posted that one first.)

  5. The mundane is what hold us together is a nice steady place. The hard times tilt us down and the amazing crazy times shoot us up, but I get less sick staying nice and steady.

    • What is there about us and the constant references to roller coasters? Is it a subliminal message we really need an amusement park vacation? I am thinking Disney…no children.

      • You have no idea how great that would be. Actually, I’m sure you would.
        Thanks for understanding my “up” was supposed to be us. I really need an editor.

        • The only reason any of this is coherent IS because I go back and edit all the blather I type here. *Googles tickets to Disney instead of making next post so Lorre can catch up.*

  6. bear

     /  January 21, 2012

    When I was self employed and successful, I was married to a woman whose family was more important…namely her brother (real estate developer). He was a success, of course, but what he did overshadowed anything I did. Was I jealous? Yep. Was I hurt? Oh, hell yeah. What was funny in the divorce she told the judge, I’m thrilled! I didn’t know we had so much stuff, and I get most of it. That was a true statement on court record. I guess I wasn’t such a failure after all??????????

    • bear,
      it probably wasn’t funny at the time, but that her words are actually in court documents -and a total vindication of your work, and their condescension, is priceless!

    • Well, of course you were not. That she would tell the judge that just underscores the fact she was a total boob. Red.

  7. I have explored and lived in every shade of loneliness imaginable, from childhood through marriage through illness and beyond.

    I’d rather be lonely in a relationship than lonely outside of a relationship. I suppose that I may change my mind if I was in one. I have spent almost a year in isolation and anything at this point has to be better. (I know isolation does not have to equal loneliness and vice versa)

    However, I am not saying that it’s the better alternative or lesser evil.

    • You are right about them not being equal, but I cannot say with any certainty which, if either, of them burns more emotional capital. I have been both places and prefer neither. Both present a dearth of support and necessarily require far more work than having a partner to tote the other end of the stick. {HUGZ} Red.


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