How not to compare your marriage to somebody else’s – when you first hear that, it sounds so simple, so clean. Yet, I am sure you’ve heard it said — comparison is the thief of joy. And what strikes me about comparison in our high-tech, plugged-in age is that this thief sure is sneaky.
It happens to the best of us…
You find yourself *innocently* checking Instagram… You stop *mid-swipe* overcome with jealousy for the new kitchen you’re staring at… The light! The organization! Why doesn’t your kitchen [your life] look like this?!
The worst part? You don’t even know who the person is who posted that image. And just like that — the thief has gotten away with your joy.
I wonder if we really recognize that the words and images we see on social media represent just a snippet of a real life. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or the blogosphere — posts just seem to attack us with chants of “Look at my great life!” and “Don’t you wish you were like me?!” But these taunts are not exhortations from real life, they are messages curated from a life of much less-glamorous moments; a life much like yours or mine.
Comparing ourselves to others is especially dangerous when we look at how others portray their husbands, their wives, and their marriages.
When we start comparing our spouse to the “perfect” spouse we “see” on Instagram or Facebook we unwittingly start raising our expectations to unrealistic (and unfair) levels. We might start expecting more from ourselves, but mostly we start demanding more from our spouse. Instead of working on loving the spouse we have, we turn inward to dream of the spouse we wish we had.
The way your relationship functions only needs to be working for the two of you. Nobody else.
To expect that ALL relationships (or ALL husbands or ALL wives) to be the same is clearly nonsense — they CAN’T be the same because it’s you and your spouse, not your friends, siblings or the person across the street or down the hall. Your relationship is created by the union of two unique individuals, which means it is, by default, going to be unlike any other.
So how do we stop comparing ourselves?
When comparing yourself (or your spouse or your marriage) to someone else on social media, ask yourself this one question:
Is my response motivated by grief or by temptation?
If your response is grief over something that your relationship has lost — if you recognize a trait that used to be yours and no longer is — then perhaps it becomes an invitation to conversation. Perhaps it’s something that you two never had but always desired. Allow yourself to ask what it is you need from your spouse, be willing to try to be heard… and together make the change necessary for a fulfilling life together.
If your response is temptation to covet perceived perfection in someone else’s relationship, then it may be time to take a break. What do I mean? If the temptation to compare continues to be disruptive to you or your marriage — if it’s getting too difficult to manage feelings of worthlessness — perhaps it is worth unplugging. I know several individuals who chose to log off various social media channels because it simply became unhealthy for them.
Where do you stand today?
Do you find comparison sneaking into your life? Your marriage?
Do you consider getting off of all social media? Or a particular platform? Do you struggle with envy when looking at posts from friends and strangers? Know that it takes guts to be able to say – I WILL DO WHAT IT TAKES to protect what most matters in life – my marriage & my family.
And that is how you can accomplish it – how NOT to compare your marriage to theirs.