Marriage vs. Marriage
"Comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt
It's a quote we've all heard and we all need reminding of from time to time, don't you think? I've written about the topic of comparison before (read it here) in terms of life as a whole, but today I'm covering comparison of marriages.
I try to talk about the good, the bad, and the funny of marriage on this blog pretty equally. That being said, we live in an online world where it's so easy to fixate on the highlight reels of one another's lives.
We see the adorable pictures of various couples on social media and envy their photogenic selfies, adventurous vacations, new purchases, or exciting announcements of babies, moves, or job promotions. It can cause us to look upon our own relationship and feel less than. Sometimes the self-talk or internal struggle can sound like the following:
"They're so lucky they get to spend every waking second together while we work opposite schedules."
"Man, it must be so nice to jet off on a moment's notice to such beautiful places of the world."
"How do they afford so many date nights? And to be able to do so without kids in tow?"
"How does she look so dang good three days after giving birth? That'll never happen to me."
"Look at how he looks at her. My husband never looks at me like that anymore."
"How is it that their life plan has gone exactly the way they'd hoped?! Why is God's plan for our life so much different than we wanted?"
"Their life is so picture perfect! The house, kids, dates, trips... Man, they have it so good."
"How is it that they can get so much time off work?!"
"How does she have time to make such immaculate dinners for her family?"
"Where do they get all that time to work on personal projects?"
"How do they afford all the stuff for their house? I hate having to save and save."
Sound familiar? Gosh guys, I could go on forEVER on the topic of relationship comparisons we come across daily it seems.
But today I want to remind you, you don't know the trials of all those around you. Just as they don't know yours. Our comparison of one relationship versus our own is something sin concocts in our minds to make us feel unworthy, less than, and under-loved.
Maybe the couple you perceive as "picture perfect," looks at your life in the same way. This circle of comparison is unhealthy, unhelpful, and just ugly. Why do we do it? I say we, because I am guilty of envying particular persons quietly behind my screen too. I compare certain areas of my life to theirs and wish I could have those specific joys they experience. It causes me to begrudge my own circumstances and find unrest and ungratefulness in my very blessed, God-given life.
Now I'm not saying we should start turning our comparisons into, "But I bet his wife/her husband is really bad at _____. Or doesn't ______ like my spouse does." This sort of mindset is just as ugly, damaging, and sinful as the comparison itself. In fact, it amplifies comparison even more, don't you think? It justifies our own selfish need for self-assurance while at the same time tearing another relationship down... if even just in our own mind to "make us feel better."
That's no way to live.
And as Christians, it's not how Christ calls us to live.
"But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." 1 Timothy 6:6-8
I chose this verse because I wanted to emphasize the importance of contentment. There are other verses on comparison (see my previous post on comparison), but I think at the very heart of comparison, we have somehow learned to dig a hole of discontent.
Let me explain what I mean by that last statement:
Think of the happiest day (with your S.O.) you've encountered. One that you simply look back on with great joy, contentment, and pleasure. Maybe it's your wedding day, a particular date night, your engagement, birth of a child, etc..
As you're thinking back on that day or that moment, do you feel discontent? It was your day. Your own special moment. Nothing compares to it because it was so unique to you, right?
Now compare your special moment/day with that of someone else. If it was your wedding day, compare it to someone else's lovely wedding, or something like that.
Do you feel a sad about your special day now?
Probably not, because your day was special to you. Others may look back on your day fondly, too, but they won't hold it in nearly the regard you do. There's simply nothing to compare with the personal elation that day or moment gave you - and that's why you thought of it in the first place. It was a moment of contentment in its purest form.
That's what I mean when I say we dig a new hole of discontent. It doesn't just appear, we let it - but you don't have to let it. Did my little exercise cause you to dig a hole of discontent in your happy moment? Well, I hope not (haha) ... but I believe the reason it didn't invoke discontent, is because you can so easily recognize that even though you are seemingly comparing the same thing, you're really not at all.
I challenge you.
Find contentment in your own. Realize that when it feels like there's so much to compare, it's your sinful mind working to dig an icky hole of discontent in your heart.
So what if your spouse doesn't cook and so-and-so's does? What does it matter to you?
Where is your personal elation in your day-to-day? Maybe your spouse gets up early to make you coffee. Maybe they do bath-time with the kids every night. Maybe they keep your gas tank full, or the laundry clean. Maybe they come home early and prioritize time with you. Maybe they work hard, long hours so they can provide a comfortable life for your family. Maybe they lead your family in prayer and devotion each day, or show selflessness to others that inspires.
Whatever it may be, find your contentment, dear friends. Remember why God brought you together and what trials you've faced and conquered. Think of the joys you've experienced that never even made it to your online 'highlight reel' and thank God for your spouse... for the friendship, love, faithfulness, and humility that marriage teaches us. There is no such thing as marriage vs. marriage comparisons, my friends, because each is so unique - thankfully so. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
All my personal wedding photos are credited to James Saleska Photography