Choking Your Marriage With Comparison

Some good words of warning for couples from Justin Davis:

I want to talk about a deeper part of our heart and mind that we probably don’t allow others to know about too often. This type of comparison is subtle and it’s often illusive and justified. If the death of our heart begins as we compare ourselves to others, the death of our marriage begins when we compare our spouse with someone else.

This isn’t a conversation we have out loud all too often, but these thoughts can flood our heart and mind. The conversation goes something like this:

  • I wish my husband was as romantic as her husband
  • I wish my wife complimented me like she compliments her husband
  • I wish my husband spent as much time with our kids as her husband does
  • I wish my wife worked out and took care of herself like his wife does
  • I wish my husband was as good of a listener as her husband
  • I wish my wife could cook like she cooks
  • I wish my husband was handy and could fix things like he can

This is the first stage of comparison. But if left alone and unidentified, these feelings can quickly move to the next stage.

  • I wish my wife respected me like my secretary does
  • I wish my husband complimented me like my co-worker does
  • I wish my wife was as in shape as the lady in my spin class
  • I wish my husband was as good of a listener as my boss

The moment we start comparing what our spouse isn’t to what someone else is, we open the door for disconnection and fractured intimacy. Even if our comparison isn’t followed by romantic feelings, there is an aspect of our heart that is withheld from our spouse.

The reality is, when we wish our spouse was more like anyone other than Christ, we place an expectation on them to be something that they were never designed to be.

One of the practical things that Trish and I have done over the past five years is to tell each other what we love about the other. Rather than to compare what we aren’t, we compliment what we are. It has drastically changed our relationship. Instead of resenting what we don’t bring to our relationship, we celebrate all that we do bring to our relationship.

Maybe you find yourself in that place today.

If your wife could just be more like ____________________.

If your husband could just be more like ____________________.

Living in that thought will erode your marriage and allow resentment to rule your heart. Comparing will never bring life. You will live envious of someone else’s spouse and prideful of all that you are and all that your spouse isn’t.

Maybe the best thing you could do for your marriage today is to tell your spouse all that you love about them rather than all that disappoints you about them.

About Jason Hardin

Jason lives in southern Indiana with his wife Shelly and their three daughters. He works with the Charlestown Road church of Christ. Jason has written three books and a variety of workbooks. He's a fan of photography, baseball, mountains, wildlife, BBQ, banana pudding, and coffee. You can contact him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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God Notices the Little Things. Do We?

And [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." (Mark 12:41-44)

God notices and appreciates the little things. Little things are powerful. They can accumulate to have positive and negative impacts on our homes.

Little things affect our marriages. Most husband-wife relationships that have grown to be strained are not so because of one-time, massive, easily-identifiable "meteors" that suddenly and unexplainably fell out of the marital sky. Most of the significant problems we experience in our marriages can be attributed to the multiplication of the little things---a selfish choice here, rude disregard there. Attitudes produce actions. Actions evolve into habits. Habits undeniably impact life at home. Given enough time, the little things can snowball and cause serious damage at the very foundation of a marriage.

Children who are not taught to appreciate and participate in the little things are set by their parents on a trajectory of ingratitude and self-centeredness. Mom is not the maid. Dad is not the ATM. Children are not entitled to everything their hearts desire, nor should they be treated as immune to sacrifice or free from accountability. When the little things are taken for granted, erosion of the heart is experienced that can eventually lead to devastating consequences.