This can cause a great degree of dissatisfaction if one partner becomes significantly more successful than the other or receives an honor or recognition that the other doesn't. Why is this more difficult for men than women? Because typically, men have higher power needs than women. Of course, there are exceptions to this, and I believe a lot is changing as gender roles in this culture become less stereotypical. However, culturally it is the man who is the "provider" and the "protector," both of which requires strength and power.
When a women outshines her man, it takes a special man to celebrate her accomplishments.
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What does that special man look like? A man who can celebrate his woman's accomplishments would be a man with a high need for connection. He would place their relationship above all else. This man would always want what's best for his woman, as long as it doesn't threaten the security of their relationship. In this situation, the woman could be as successful as she wants as long as she lets her partner know their relationship is important to her.
What if you aren't with that guy? All right, so you don't recognize the man I just described, or at least he isn't the one in relationship with you, now what? The good news is, two high significance people can be successful together as long as they recognize the dynamics at play.
1. Recognize you are both high significance people ... and that being successful is important to both of you.
2. Decide together to excel in different areas. During the Olympics, I watched as football player and husband, Aaron Ross, cheered on his Olympic champion wife, Sanya Richards-Ross. I suspect they are two very high significance people, but they excel in different sports. So they are not competing against each other. In a more everyday relationship, this might mean deciding who is responsible for finances, and who is responsible for education, etc. Divide up the major areas in your life and allow the person in charge to make the decision in their designated areas of control.
3. You can decide to create significance with each other ... instead of competing against each other. This could mean building a business together, or setting goals with the money accumulated from recognition and success regardless of which person earned the money.
4. Adjust your thinking. When one person is more successful than the other and it causes problems in the relationship, it is almost always caused by feelings of jealousy. We cannot directly change our feelings, but we can most certainly change them indirectly by adjusting our behavior and our thinking.
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Whenever you find yourself feeling less than supportive of your partner's success, ask yourself, What am I thinking right now? It will likely be angry, jealous thoughts directed toward your partner or degrading, disempowering thoughts about yourself, neither of which serve you. So change them! Develop some statement you will use instead, like, I'm so happy the person I love has this opportunity or success.