Comparison is a destructive trap. One that, sadly to say, I am all too familiar with. It can spring up just driving to work! I look over and see someone’s car that seems so much nicer than mine and suddenly the squeaks and rattles in mine seem to oddly become louder. Or when I jump online and I see someone’s vacation pics and then I look around only to see my messy garage and a yard that desperately needs tending to and just like that I can go from having a pretty good day to being just downright miserable.
Comparing ourselves with others is nothing new, is it? Most of us would also admit that it has become unquestionably magnified in our social media fueled culture. Comparison is an ugly thing really. It kills our contentment and leaves us bitter or in some instances prideful. Comparison drives wedges in our relationships and it brings out the worst in us and everyone around us. It feeds our insecurities and it keeps us striving toward a picture in our heads that we think will finally lead to our happiness but in reality, comparison is a no-win proposition.
It can also be especially destructive to our marriages.
We have a fight with our spouse and we start to believe that others have the perfect marriage. OK, well if not perfect, then certainly better than ours. Even if deep down we know that there is no such thing as a perfect husband, a perfect wife, or a perfect marriage we still allow ourselves to fall for its deception.
Few things can destroy a marriage quicker than comparing our marriages or our spouses to others.
Many times, this comparison creeps in more subtly. Maybe we weren’t in a fight, maybe we’re just daydreaming about how we wish our husbands should be or how he should act. Maybe we find ourselves thinking “when is my wife ever going to change and become more attentive to my needs?” We become frustrated with what we got or did not get in a spouse. Soon, comparison robs us of the belief that God has provided us with everything we need for our joy or to accomplish His purpose for us in life. We begin to believe the lie that the other person is somehow standing in the way of us “living our best life”. Or we begin to believe another lie; that maybe we aren’t worthy enough to receive the desires of our hearts. The simple truth is that our husband or wife will never fully bring us the affirmation or happiness we crave.
Yes. Comparison will rob us of our joy and contentment.
None of us are immune to this are we? This isn’t just a woman’s issue or just a man’s issue; it’s an everyone issue. The great news is that we can begin to escape the natural drift toward comparison by starting with two simple things:
First, recognize what we have, and that everything we have comes from a God who is good and who loves us.
Paul reminds us, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
Next, refocus on the truth that God has uniquely created you and has given your spouse to you for the unique plans He has for your life.
He is writing your unique story. We don’t have to endlessly search and strive to measure up. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Yes, comparison is a destructive trap that we all fall into from time to time. One that promises us something better, but instead steals our joy and destroys our relationships. But once we begin to recognize and silence comparison by reminding ourselves of these two simple truths, we can once again find contentment in God’s provision. We can rest in who He has designed us to be, and we can find joy in celebrating others!
1) Take time, individually as a husband or wife, to ask God to help you see how the comparison trap may be robbing you of contentment and joy in your marriage. Confess anything He reveals to you, first to Him, and then to your spouse. Consider asking a same gender Christian friend to pray for you to grow in joy and contentment in your marriage.
2) As a couple, take a few moments to read and reflect on Psalm 9:1-2. Then together make a list of all the things you can give thanks for as a couple. End your time praying together using the list you have written. Consider doing something similar as a regular practice in your marriage.
Abiding Marriage, June 2022. Author: Barry Williams is the Marriage and Parenting Pastor for the Summit Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas and serves on the Board of Directors for Abiding Marriage. He and his bride Shannon have been married for 31 years.
Image by Dietmar Becker on Unsplash