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 is 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 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.