Why do we spend so much time comparing ourselves to others? Is it a fear of rejection? Of not being good enough?
Making comparisons is never healthy, but in the context of marriage, it can suck the soul right out of it. It is draining and destructive. Why? It’s because it leaves us looking for what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we do have.
Often when we are comparing our spouse to others, we are just cherry-picking certain qualities that we want to focus on, but we need to remember that the person we’re comparing our spouse to comes as a whole package.
As long as you think that something out there will make your life better, you’re denying reality. You’re also taking away from yourself the opportunity to develop your own appreciation for the beauty of your own marriage, your own spouse. So, what should you do when the urge arises? Make the choice to see in your spouse the beautiful compliment for who you are.
There was research done in 1982 by Sanders & Suls that stated some interesting findings on this topic. For example, they found that a sense of equity induces satisfaction. One way to look at this is, if I think that I put a lot more into our marriage than my husband (comparing my efforts to his) I will feel deprived. On the other hand, if I perceive that my husband’s efforts are equitable, then I will be more satisfied.
In other words, if you want to transform your marriage, work hard to make sure your spouse feels equitable in terms of contribution.
Another finding in the study was that if I feel good about my marriage, comparing it to others will make me feel even better. Oppositely, if I feel bad about it, comparing it will make me feel even worse.
Either way, making comparisons to your marriage is not healthy. If you feel something is lacking, you need to talk directly to your spouse about what is happening.
Before doing so, start off by asking yourself, “Do I have a perception problem or is there actually a shortcoming? Then have a conversation about it! Don’t let things fester while you compare your spouse to others.
If the problem is your attitude – own up to it and change it. Focus on the positive! If there actually is an issue with your spouse, bring it up and talk it out.
In Isaiah 45, a word picture is painted of a clay pot arguing with its maker. In a lot of ways, this is what we are doing when we are comparing ourselves, or our spouse, with others. We are saying that God should have made me (or my spouse) this way or that way… It is a rebuttal of God’s wisdom in creating you and is just a breeding ground for jealousy.
Comparison does not solve anything. It only creates a sense of dissatisfaction. Instead of lamenting on what we don’t have (but can see in others), we need to focus on what is right here, present in our lives.
Referring to the article, 10 Habits of Happy Couples, Edwin asks: “Is this just the things that happy couples do already? Or if unhappy couples start doing them, they will become happier (note, I didn’t say happy). Do you have to change feelings to change behaviour or does changing behaviour change feelings?”
I thought Caleb and I were going to disagree on this one. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!
In the podcast, Caleb referred to Episode 003, Receiving Influence From Your Wife. Go have a listen or read to find out what he was referring to.