Are your comparing your marriage to other people’s? Consider this story.
Morris walks out into the street and manages to get a taxi just going by. He gets into the taxi, and the cabbie says, “Perfect timing. You’re just like Dave.”
“Dave Aronson. There’s a guy who did everything right. Like my coming along when you needed a cab. It would have happened like that to Dave.”
“There are always a few clouds over everybody,” says Morris.
“Not Dave. He was a terrific athlete. He could have gone on the pro tour in tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang like an opera baritone and danced like a Broadway star.”
“He was something, huh?”
“He had a memory like a trap. Could remember everybody’s birthday. He knew all about wine, which fork to eat with. He could fix anything. Not like me. I change a fuse, and I black out the whole neighborhood.”
“No wonder you remember him.”
“Well, I never actually met Dave.”
“Then how do you know so much about him?” asks Morris.
“Because I married his widow.
Comparing our lives with those of others can make us feel inadequate. Do you ever look around at other marriages and wish that your marriage could be as good as theirs? It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially when our emotions are running high. Maybe you’ve had some of these thoughts when you see these perfect couples.
- I wish my spouse was as loving as _____________’s husband (or wife).
- Why can’t my spouse take care of the house like ____________?
- Wow! They are still so affectionate with each other. Why can’t my spouse even hold my hand?
- He’s so proud of his wife! Why doesn’t my husband brag about me that way?
- It’s not fair that she always gets flowers from her husband. Mine must not care as much.
The Bible tells us not to be jealous of what other people have:
“You must not want to take your neighbor’s house. You must not want his wife or his male or female slaves, or his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” -Exodus 20:17 NCV
This includes the marriages of others. If you compare your marriage with others, you will always find a couple that seems to have it all. However, making these comparisons will steal the joy from your marriage and create feelings of resentment toward your spouse. These feelings could lead to the death of your marriage.
It is possible to compare your marriage to other couples’ marriages for positive reasons. You can choose to learn from what they are doing, and strive to improve your relationship by using theirs as a model.
But remember, perfection is only an illusion.
Comparing marriages is like comparing your body to the body of one of those gorgeous models you see in advertisements. But we all know those pictures have been photoshopped to create an illusion of perfection. Don’t weigh your appearance against them, and don’t weigh your relationship against the perfections you think you see in the relationships of others. People often compare someone else’s strengths to their own weaknesses. Or as Steven Furtick said, “we’re comparing our behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.”
Seeking perfection in any area, including marriage, is a wild goose chase.
In today’s society, social media fuels the comparison fires. However, most people don’t post all the struggles in their lives on Facebook. A couple can be posting beautiful sentiments to each other for their anniversary online, and then in real life, file for divorce a month later.
We only get to see what other people allow us to see about their relationship. It’s like an iceberg. You can only see about 10% of what it looks like in reality. Don’t crash your marital ship into an iceberg.
You will never have everything you need in life provided by your spouse. They won’t get that from you either. And, while people are posting about their spouses like “He completes me” or “She’s the best” or “I could never want more,” no one else is seeing that happen in their marriages either. They’re just either pretending or fooling themselves.
So, don’t judge your relationship against couples that outwardly look like they are living the perfect life. Life is not lived through an Instagram filter. Nobody has a perfect house, family, or marriage.
Comparing is not Fair
Couples are different because people are different. Different doesn’t mean wrong. Every marriage is unique because it is the union of two unique human beings. Since no one is exactly like you, your marriage will be an adventure designed just for the two of you.
What works for one couple doesn’t always work for another. We all have different schedules, habits, routines that work well in our house, but would be a disaster in another. Focus on what is working for the two of you instead of trying to copycat another relationship.
How can you stop comparing marriages? Here are some tips to help you.
Change your mindset
If you find yourself comparing your marriage to that of another couple, try making changes to your mindset about your marriage. Keep your marital mindset constructive and focus on building your marriage, not tearing it down. Don’t just blame your spouse for any perceived deficit. You have a part in it too. It takes two to make a marriage, but it also takes two to destroy one.
Start with yourself: Work to bring out the best in yourself. You can’t change your spouse. You can only change yourself. When they see the changes you are making to your attitude, there could be a domino effect that causes them to want to improve themselves as well.
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. —Matthew 7:5
Be Positive: Have a daily appreciation for the person you married. Focus on their positive qualities, and choose to see their remarkableness.
Be optimistic: Tell yourself that your marriage is for life and that you believe in your chances of having a life-long relationship with your spouse. Don’t make that decision be dependent upon changes you expect them to make.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. —1 Corinthians 13:7
Change your actions
Focus on the positive: When you begin to feel jealous about what everyone else has, take time to write down all the fantastic things your spouse does and the incredible talents they bring to your marriage.
Focus on your marriage: Keep your focus on your spouse, not what everyone else is or is not doing in their marriages.
Communicate: Instead of just being jealous of other marriages you see, or the actions of other spouses that you wish your spouse would do, talk about it. Your spouse can’t make something better if they don’t know there’s a problem. Tell them what you need and carefully listen when they are telling you what they need.
Marriage exists for God’s glory, not ours. Marriage is not about being “happy,” it’s about living together with another person to give glory to God. This does not mean though that we shouldn’t do everything we can to have the best marriage possible.
Avoid falling into the trap of measuring your relationship up against others. Instead of looking around, look to God. He is the designer of marriage, and he wants to help you create a marriage that honors Him and that works for you and your spouse, in all of your uniqueness.
What do you need to do today to stop comparing your marriage to those around you? Which one of the six changes will make the most difference in your marriage? Hop on over to our Facebook page and let us know!
Optimism is only one of the Seven Mindsets that will improve your marriage. Want to read more about the others? Get my FREE Marriage Mindset Workbook by signing up below!
“Comparing Ourselves With Others – Faithlife Sermons.” 11 Aug. 2008, https://sermons.faithlife.com/sermons/47629-comparing-ourselves-with-others. Accessed 13 Dec. 2018.