What happens when a wife compares her marriage to another?
From personal experience and talking to other women, comparison in marriage crops up unexpectedly when another man excels at something your husband isn’t great at (but wish he was.)
If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know of my
struggle sin of comparison and how the drive for “better” lands me in wrong divisions.
I know I am not the wife who wars in vigilance and so I want to encourage you if you’ve found yourself wishing your husband was like someone else, and your longing landed you in blues-ville.
Before we dive in, let me clarify; desiring your spouse to change isn’t wrong. If your husband needs to grow in an area, it’s not wrong to want him to. So that’s not what I am addressing today.
For insights on how to inspire growth and change, read these articles
- 5 Guidelines for Setting Boundaries With a Difficult Spouse,
- Change My Husband : How to Influence His Growth,
The comparison I am talking today about is the one Paul addresses in 2 Corinthians 10:11-13. Concerning people who commend themselves for a job well done, Paul says
they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!
When you compare your marriage to another, you use an inferior standard of measurement because you are using fellow man as you standard.
But we are meant to look to Christ, not fellow man and when Christ is our gauge, we are more accurate in our assessments. Plus Christ fills our hearts with grace, love, and courage, not discontentment.
Comparison in marriage
A few weeks ago, I came across an article where a husband composed a list of ambitions; changes and improvements he was going to pursue to create a better marriage. It was impressive.
“Hike in the wild to spend time with God?”
Now, allow me to track back so you understand why I was impressed by outdoorsy man: my husband is a city boy – he doesn’t do well with the whole bug-dirt-darkness thing.
Me on the other hand, and while I’ve come to appreciate the perks of modern living, I am very much a country girl. I like a bit of outdoorsy type adventures.
So the outdoorsy dream of the man on the internet caught my heart.
I lingered on the article, astounded by his ambitions. And then, like a flash, I thought
“wouldn’t it be nice if my husband didn’t hate this type of adventure….”
Ladies, that is how comparison in marriage starts.
You notice a positive trait about a man who isn’t your husband – might be as innocent as a man opening a door for his wife.
And of course, you see the quality because you have eyes, not because you were looking to throw your husband over the comparison wall.
But instead of thinking “what a nice thing to do for his wife” and moving on, you screech to a halt and hitch another wagon “but my husband doesn’t open the door for me.”
At this point you still have the horsepower to “click out” of that page, like I should have done weeks ago; taken my sweet self by the ear and moved on.
I didn’t, at least not as quickly.
So you hitch another wagon “I wish he was more romantic..”
And the chips begin to fall.
You feel discouraged, upset, hopeless
You start nitpicking your husband.
And of course, when your heart is set on what he’s not doing, you can’t see what he’s doing.
The not-so-great becomes magnified in your marriage and discontentment sets in.
How to click out of the comparison page
The Bible says “temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” James 1:14
My own desire for a somewhat outdoorsy life led me to temptation. Is my desire for hiking a sin? Nope. Is allowing my desire to dampen the good things my husband is a sin? Certainly.
So how do you conquer “her husband is better than mine” elephant?
Well, here’s how you do not.
- Pretend the pull does not exist.
- Stuff it down because it’s too shameful to admit
- Fight it with your own strength
Here’s how you do it.
Acknowledge your desires.
I grew up in the countryside, an African countryside no less, so my heart will always be a little rough. But I chose to marry a city boy. So there’s that.
It’s not wrong to have a desire, but it’s immature to allow preferences to pull us apart. Plus our different personalities and desires spice up our marriage. If Tommy and I always saw things the same way, we’d have a really dull relationship.
God saw it fit to make us different, give us different life experiences and it’s up to us to grow up and use our differences for the good of marriage.
2. Ask God to help you confess temptation to Him.
Do you struggle to confess “small sins” to God? I do. And sometimes because I am not even aware of them.
But I’ve found that when I walk with God, daily, intimately, His spirit makes me aware of all sin. “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me” John 6:44
To nip comparison in marriage in the bud, we must ask God to help us see temptation and sin the way He does. Not as something to be hidden or be ashamed about, but as something to confess so we can find healing and victory.
3. Talk it over with your husband when appropriate.
Exposed sin loses its hold. Plus sometimes you just need your husband’s prayers.
So I told my husband about the article I read and my temptation. It was a odd conversation to have (oh so uncomfortable). I needed all my wisdom genes because you don’t just blurt it out, you think it through.
You don’t have to share, agonize or go over every temptation that comes your way. That’s why you have the Spirit of God, and He will lead you into all truth.
(For more tips on how to keep emotional boundaries and when/how to share the uncomfortable with your husband read this post – Emotional Affair: Guarding Your Heart as a Wife
But Ngina, are you saying I can’t genuinely compliment another man or notice something outstanding about them?
Of course, you can.
If you have the ability to sincerely celebrate a colleague who hit their targets at work without comparing him to your guy, I bet you can (I suspect most of us can do that!)
I just mean there’s a line when it comes to noticing/celebrating other men. And I can’t draw it for you.
That’s up to you, to listen to the Holy Spirit, to know when you’ve stared too long at another man and allowed his prowess to diminish what you have in your house or cause you to complain.