How to Put the Brakes on the Comparison Game in Marriage
I was recently in a staff meeting where we were discussing comparison, how it shows up in our lives, and how it affects us. Our Marriage Pastor brought up an interesting observation from some of the trends she has seen in marriages.
Often younger couples that are engaged or recently married can have on “rose-colored glasses” and easily name their favorite things about their partner. In more seasoned marriages, husbands and wives can often compare their marriage or spouse to others.
Those that have some marital history in the books can sometimes say or think things like, “Look at them and how happy they are. Why aren’t we like that?” or along the lines of, “How come you never do that?” or “Why do you do that? He never does that.”
What is it about familiarity that breeds dissatisfaction? How do we go from believing our spouse is the greatest thing to ever happen to us, to now they are seemingly the root cause of all our problems?
Part of me is starting to believe we just forget who our spouse is, or we stop learning who they are.
When I begin playing the comparison game with myself it’s always my deficiencies that are stake. Something I don’t have or I’m not good at I find in someone else. (Then I’m jealous, which is the worst emotion in the world in my opinion.) But the point is I’m focusing on what I am not as opposed to what I am.
I lose focus of who I was created to be.
This is the window where it becomes easy for comparison to get a foothold and dig its way into your regular thought stream. Throw a few Facebook and Instagram posts of friends into the fire and you have a pretty good recipe for hating yourself.
The same thing happens in marriage; we lose focus of who our spouse was created to be.
We can get comfortable with our wives. We see them every day, wake up, go to work, do dinner, talk, watch TV, go to bed, do it again. (If you have kids you can take out the talk and watch TV part.)
But we get into a rhythm of life and find ourselves coasting. We start to forget who our wife is, what she’s about, what makes her tick.
A small fight happens. The marriage feels a little shaky and you’re still a bit agitated. Then you see an Instagram post of your friend and his wife out on a date with the caption, “My wife took care of the kids all day and still found time to plan my birthday outing. Date night!” You think, How cute… Why doesn’t my wife do that? Why isn’t our life that awesome?
That little seed is planted and it grows. The next time a fight happens or she nitpicks at something it becomes a little easier to think, I bet so-and-so’s wife doesn’t say that to him.
Put the Brakes On
In that same meeting I was sitting in, another friend and colleague of mine mentioned something he and his wife used to do. Whenever they started to get into a bit of a heated exchange they’d take a break, each pull out a piece of paper, and write down 10 things they love about one another.
Tell me that doesn’t completely diffuse the situation!
More importantly, it reminds you of who you’re dealing with. You focus on the great things about them and why you love them, not their deficiencies. This is someone you chose to be with forever. No one compares to them. They are your one and only.
I challenge you right now to stop reading and write down your 10 favorite things about your spouse.
Want a New Perspective?
I’ve created a measuring guide to alter how you view your marriage and your spouse. Ask yourself these questions, your mindset will shift quickly.