Grass appears greener, but have you watered your own lawn?

It’s easy to compare your relationship to others and question if you’re really happy where you are, write Mo and Phindi
It’s easy to compare your relationship to others and question if you’re really happy where you are, write Mo and Phindi
Image: 123RF / Rawpixel

Have you ever thought about statements like these, or even said them before?

“They never argue like we do.”

“They always seem so adventurous and alive. But we never go anywhere or do anything fun.”

“Why isn’t my husband thoughtful like her husband?”

“I wish my wife had bigger breasts like so-and-so.”

“Why can’t my wife just take care of the house, and cook like his/her spouse?”

“They have a nicer car and house than us.”

“Why can’t my husband get a good job like her husband?”

It’s easy to compare your relationship to others and question if you’re really happy where you are.  

The grass appears greener on the other side, but have you ever thought of watering your own lawn?

It’s very easy to think about the things we see missing in our spouses and marriages.

Or the improvements we’d like to see while taking for granted all the good things in our relationships.

There’s no such thing as a perfect husband, wife or marriage.

We’re all in different stages, with varying circumstances and needs.

Lingering on comparison could lead your mind, heart and body to places that cross the line or set you further back in your marriage.

Unhealthy comparisons can kill your marriage. If you’re “jokingly” lusting after another person and finding yours inadequate, this topic is really no joke.

It can set your spouse up to feel as though they can’t win.

If you know your spouse at all, you know exactly where their achilles heel is.

You can use this as a weapon in favour of your marriage to create greater intimacy.

Certain “harmless” attention to their weaknesses and vulnerabilities can make them feel violated, defensive, or shamed.

Let’s take a look at some common effects that comparisons have on your spouse, and your marriage.

Inadequacy

Often your partner, especially men, will not talk about feeling inadequate.

But if they’re honest, they’re most insecure about not being respected or valuable enough.

That fear is stoked and kept alive when they’re compared to others unfavourably.

They can rationalise that they’re good partners who try hard.

But the truth is, they can never live up to the make-believe world of fantasy partners or even the person next door who seems to have it all together.

If your husband for instance, joked about your body, you’d probably take it very hard, because so many women feel insecure about their bodies.

Be aware of how your joking may make the other feel. It belittles your spouse

Beyond the inadequate inability to measure up, by comparing your spouse with someone else you make them feel small.

Whether you state it verbally or simply think about it from time to time, comparing your spouse affects how you perceive and treat them.

It’ll make them feel like they can’t do anything right.

Even if you make favourable comments to your spouse like, “You are such a better cook than Cindy ever was,” or “You treat me so much better than Mike ever did,” these kinds of comments are still comparative and therefore, out of bounds.

They make your spouse feel awkward and hurt because they realise that you are still thinking about that previous partner or relationship.

Humiliation

Humiliation can be described as “a painful loss of pride, self-respect or dignity”.

And openly comparing your spouse to another sends a message that they’re not good enough.

Perhaps even worse, it suggests that you wish they were someone else.

Discouragement

Discouragement is losing confidence and enthusiasm, becoming disheartened and deflated.

This is a natural byproduct of being compared negatively with others, whether the deficiency is real or imagined.

If your spouse feels they can’t be valuable enough and win respect, they can become so discouraged that they believe their efforts won’t make a difference.

They’re likely to withdraw and may seek respect and value elsewhere, leaving them vulnerable to temptation.

It degrades the sanctity of your marriage bed.

This is a big one. You absolutely must resist the urge to compare your sex life with your spouse to your past sexual experiences, and for goodness sake, do not compare your spouse’s body to your ex’s body.

Verbalising these comparative thoughts will break your spouse’s heart and most definitely kill the mood, but simply thinking these thoughts will affect your level of intimacy with your spouse.

More so, we shouldn’t bring any people — in person, thought, or even virtually — into our marriage bed.

You made a vow to “forsake all others”.

It stunts the growth of your marriage

A strong, healthy marriage takes work: intentionality, kindness, forgiveness, encouragement, trust, consistent and conscientious communication, and significant time and attention.

So, when you are preoccupied with comparing your marriage, you keep yourself from fully embracing and appreciating your spouse and marriage.

Over time, you can become disillusioned and dissatisfied with the life you have.

This isn’t how our marriages should be.

And we simply cannot grow in love when we are focused on how our spouse and marriage are better or worse than others.

You simply can’t properly move forward while looking backwards or elsewhere.

Unhealthy comparisons are formulated from a distance, while relationship and transparency allow for honest growth.

If we are going to crush comparisons, we must know our true source of identity — both individually, and as a couple.

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