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Dealing With A Competitive Spouse (21 Real Actions You Can Take)

by Sonya Schwartz

If you are dealing with a competitive spouse, you are in luck because today’s topic is how you can take action today to save your relationship from unhappiness and even failure! I would hate to be in one of those relationships where one spouse always has to compete with the other one. 

I would rather have my partner celebrate my wins with me rather than having a competition about everything. I think both partners should work together to form a loving relationship where competition is something done for fun from time to time - like when playing sports or board games. If your spouse must always win, those wouldn’t be great options!

I would hate to be in one of those relationships where success is all about beating out other couples - where you had to be better than other people just to feel good about yourself. There shouldn’t be a need for constant comparison because all relationships are different from one another. 

Just like every individual is different, every relationship is unique. We all have great things we bring to a relationship, which is why it is one of a kind. Seek less competition and more change!

Dealing With Competitive Spouse (What To Do)

1. Give your spouse space

give your spouse space

If you feel your spouse is constantly making everything into a competition, go ahead and take some space. Ask for some room. This can be difficult if you live in a small house or apartment, but go in a closet if you must; just get some breathing room so that the two of you can stop making everything turn into a competition!

I know when I need space, I have found that I don’t have a lot of options because we don’t have a big house. I find it comforting just to go to the bedroom and shut the door. I have room to breathe and can gather myself together and regroup. It helps me feel better about my relationship and myself. I feel like there’s less of a competition.

After that, I reapproach my spouse and let him know that I’d like to have a conversation on the issue at hand so that we can talk things out. I’m much calmer, and so is he by this point. It helps both of us to cool off and not get in a fight over the competition. Instead, we have a warm conversation over what we were in a competition about. 

2. Don’t argue back

Did you know if you just chose not to say anything, there is no argument? It’s true! Think about it. If you don’t argue back or compete with your spouse, you have found success! There won’t be a competition or argument because you have chosen not to participate in an argument in your relationship. 

3. Don’t allow your spouse to bully you around

Make sure you do stand up for yourself, though. This is especially true if you are insulted by your partner. You should know what the smart things to say back are, so you can defend yourself. Don’t let anyone push you around, and if things get abusive or violent, call the authorities and leave. You don’t need to be mistreated.

4. Have a good cry when you need it

When you take your space, as mentioned above, you can let out all the feelings and emotions you feel. I find it helpful to take a shower when I need to have a good cry! That makes things less messy, not to and I can safely cry as much as I need to or want to.

5. Be agreeable

You don’t have to be a pushover or allow your spouse to demean you in any way. Don’t let anyone change your personality because of how your relationship is going. That doesn’t make much sense. You need to stand your ground. However, you can be agreeable in your relationship and you’d be surprised at the results! Instant success!

6. Take some time apart

If you have found your relationship to be completely unhealthy, you may need some time apart; that may mean a break or a separation, depending on the extent of the damage. If you ask for some time apart, it gives you both a chance to think about how you’ve been acting in your relationship and make all the needed changes.

7. Seek help

When needed, it’s always a smart plan to involve a counselor or therapist. Find someone trained in your particular problem area. For example, if you are in a marriage, find a marriage counselor. They specialize in having the right books, tools, techniques, and ideas to help you solve your specific problems. 

8. Focus on something positive together

Consider volunteering together as a couple. Go to church or work on your faith together as a team. If you both are working toward something positive together, it will only improve and strengthen your relationship. You may find that you will grow closer together and enjoy each other’s company much more than before. 

9. Do group activities

You may find it easier to be less competitive with your spouse if you are both around other people. Start doing group activities more often. It might also make you nicer to one another. Try to work on having that attitude in private, as well. 

10. Avoid debates

If a debate starts between you and your partner, you can always just explain that you are not in the mood to argue and let them know you will be leaving the room for some breathing room. You don’t have to participate in debates.

11. Pray for your spouse

pray for your spouse

It’s always a good idea to think positive thoughts or to pray for your spouse if things aren’t going as planned in your life. You never know what is going on in their minds, so lift them up in prayer and watch what happens. It can’t hurt, right?

12. Avoid sensitive subjects

If you think your relationship is in trouble because you and your spouse are too competitive, it might be smart to avoid sensitive controversial subjects like politics or religion, especially if the two of you fight quite a bit on those topics. 

13. Try to have more fun

Rather than fighting or debating over every little thing, consider making the atmosphere more light and breezy. Think about having more fun in your life. Join in with your spouse when he’s doing a fun event or activity. The two of you can grow and learn from each other. Find ways to enjoy each other’s company rather than feeling like there’s a battle.

If he is a golf pro, let him teach you a thing or two. If you hate watching golf, consider going out on a golf course or putting green and letting him teach you a thing or two. Give him the opportunity to shine while you do something really fun. You may not have the best time, but there’s no reason to not give him a chance to enjoy himself.

If you excel at crochet or quilting, teach him a thing or two. It’s okay for men to do crafts. In fact, during the Pandemic, my husband taught himself how to sew and started a side business selling homemade face masks! That’s definitely not something he ever thought that he would enjoy doing - sewing! He loves it now!

14. Don’t talk about upsetting things

If there is a subject that you and your spouse always argue over, don’t bring it up all the time. It’s especially important that you don’t bring it up after your spouse has had a long day at the office. This can be an already stressful situation, and he or she may not respond kindly to a conversation on that topic right now.

15. Talk about it

When it is a good time, it’s a smart idea to talk about your competitive natures. Discuss the fact that this has become an issue for your relationship. If you have a discussion on the fact that you are both too competitive, you might laugh about it and agree that you need to change things up. 

16. Avoid competitive sports

This may sound like an obvious solution, but you may think you can handle these things when really it is better if you do not play them. For example, playing hockey or basketball with each other can be especially upsetting if you don’t want a competition to take place.

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17. Offer encouragement

Encouragement and reassurance are great things in a marriage or partnership. You want to celebrate with one another and lift each other up when things are going well or when things aren’t going according to plan. This means making sure that you have all your bases covered. Are you being a good listener and partner to your spouse?

How have you shown him or her that you care? You might need to up your game if you think you might have been slacking in this area. Sometimes, we need to take a step backward and look at the outside of our relationship to see how we are contributing to it. Are you positively influencing your spouse? Do you cheer him or her on?

There are many ways you can encourage another person. One such way is to leave little notes around the house, showing that you are thinking of your spouse when you are not there. You could put little post-it notes on his or her mirror - something for him or her to find when you are not home. This is a great way to show encouragement and love.

Another way is to give them an unexpected gift like flowers. Women love it when their men surprise them with flowers. It usually brightens their days, especially when it’s “just because.” Also, you can be a good listener. Ask questions, show interest, and pay attention when your partner talks. Show you care by how you listen.

18. Take turns

We all have wins and losses; it’s just a part of everyday life. It’s not always the best part of life, but it comes with the territory. If you think you are losing more than you are winning and that bothers you a lot, talk to your partner about it. Let him or her know that you are feeling a bit like a failure in certain areas. Take turns triumphing and losing.

You don’t need to feel like a loser or lose on purpose to make your spouse feel better. You can inspire him or her by just giving them a chance to excel in a new area in your life. Maybe you could join a bowling league and allow them a chance to shine in that area. It’s okay to let the other person steal the thunder from time to time.

19. Avoid envy

Try to be inspired by the successes of your spouse. If he received a raise because of a job well done, don’t take that away from him by taking credit for the part of his job that you helped with. Instead, rejoice with him. Take him out for a celebration so that he knows you are proud of the work he’s done to get this achievement.

You also don’t need to be jealous or envious of his success. You should have your own triumphs in life that you look forward to. If you don’t think your spouse shows you enough attention or rewarding action when you achieve something, talk about that. Have a discussion about what you think you are missing out on in the relationship. 

Provided your spouse doesn’t take it too seriously, he will surely want to do whatever is necessary to make and keep you happy. Let him know you need him to be more excited about the things you do well. Tell him you are working on doing that with him and would like the same behavior in him. This will lead to an open discussion.

20. Don’t play a board game

Figure out something else that the two of you can do together. Avoid video games and things like that, but if you like sharing in the housework or want to bake a cake together as a team, that sounds like a productive idea!

21. Find new ways to shine

find new ways to shine

If you think that your light has to die down for your spouse to shine, find new ways to shine! You can do this by developing new interests and hobbies. Find something else you are passionate about. If you think that you are better at something than your spouse, you may want to stop doing that thing with him or her. Do it with a friend instead.

Don’t feel a constant need to one-up your partner if that is making him or her feel insecure about himself or herself. Instead, find ways that you can both shine brightly. 

If he excels at knowing the facts about what’s going on in the world, let him share the news with you every time he comes home from work. Join in the conversation.

If you excel at baking and he enjoys your cooking, bake a cake for a neighbor or friend. You can let your partner put the sprinkles or decoration on top once the cake is made so that he or she feels like they were part of the process. Make sure they feel included in all that you do - if they are non-competitive things. You don’t always need the spotlight.

FAQs

Is competition healthy in a relationship?

It can be when both people have success from time to time. If there is a tendency to always be right or if jealousy is a problem, competition may not be the best for the relationship. It’s important to understand your partner’s emotional triggers and get help if needed.

How do you tell if someone is competing with you?

If there is always a comparison between you and them, they are competing with you over something. For example, they may think their goals are more important than yours. Some couples fight over goals for their relationships. Others just enjoy debating every subject under the sun.

What is a competitive relationship?

Competitive relationships have partners who don’t celebrate one another’s successes, but instead, they care about who is the best at something. When this happens, change is needed in the relationship so that both partners feel loved and cared about. True success in a relationship can only happen when both partners want the best for one another.

Why do couples compete with other couples?

In some relationships, they believe their relationship is stronger or better than another’s. One relationship isn’t better than another, really. Instead, everyone is different. If you find yourself and your partner thinking you are better than everyone else, it’s time for a change in your relationship and the way you think.

Is jealousy a sign of love?

The Bible says that love is not jealous; it does not boast or envy. If that is what we believe to be the definition of love, then we should believe the facts it states about love - not jealous, boastful, or envious. Check out 1 Corinthians 13:4 for the truth.

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To Conclude

Are you in a relationship where there is always competition? Did your husband get a promotion and shove it in your face out of insecurity? That’s just one example of a problem you may be going through. What is your trouble? Please share in the comments!

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Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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