Comparison Breaks a Marriage Down
Comparing our marriage to the relationships of others is dangerous territory to step into.
Relationship comparison can lead to a covetous attitude that will damage the foundation of any healthy partnership. Comparison leads to a plethora of issues that continually break the relationship down as time goes on.
Are You Comparing Your Marriage to Others? What It Looks Like
The saying you don’t know what you don’t know is fitting for many of us that delve into relationship comparison because we commonly do it without realizing what we are doing. We put our relationships at risk, and the damage is often done, resulting in the need for repair, before we become conscious of what is happening.
Comparisons typically look like this:
We listen to a friend talk about the wonderful things that their partner does, and then we slide into wondering why can’t my spouse do that?
We see a post on social media that glorifies a spouse, a husband in this example, who warmly sends his wife out the door to her executive position. She is dressed to kill, with hair and makeup that looks magazine cover fresh. ‘Why do I never look like that?’ Her husband not only glides through early-morning house cleaning, but he also feeds the kids and whisks them off to school before he heads out to his job. Is this reality? Perhaps – only for a snapshot of time. It is not common in real life – and it is not a scenario that we should compare our own marriage to. We would all eventually plunge headfirst into divorce if we continually did so.
We might be fully aware of these unbelievable glimpses into others’ lives on social media, knowing that we’re only seeing the highlights of someone else’s life and relationship. And we might think about avoiding the trap of social media entirely (studies indicate that people who do not use social media are up to 11% more satisfied in marriages). Yet, with or without social media, we still allow comparative thoughts to derail our minds, and to steal from our relationships.
Comparison can sound like this:
They look so happy. Why can’t we be that way too?
They obviously love each other much more than we do.
The roles in their home are split so much more evenly than ours are.
They are an interesting couple. We are just boring.
They shower each other with warmth. I don’t see that in us at all.
Clearly, they meet each other’s needs. Why does that feel impossible in my marriage?
These thoughts are dangerously subtle – they unfold as something that we may not think about often, but then they become a part of our day, our normal existence, and then they begin to erode our relationships away before we know it.
Comparisons are Unfair
It is easy to see what we feel is lacking in our relationships, but when we focus on the deficits, we fail to see the good things, i.e., the qualities in our partners and in our marriage.
When comparing one spouse to another, we fall short of remembering that our partner is a unique individual with a different background. We forget that this uniqueness is often what attracted us to our partner from the start.
It is impossible to call relationship comparisons fair and just. How do we know if someone else’s relationship is built upon the same goals in life? How do we know the inherent and intrinsic personal needs that a partner meets, or does not meet, from relationship to relationship? We can only see the surface, and perhaps a glimpse of what lies below, but we are looking from the outside in.
How to Stop Comparing Your Marriage to Others
Focus on Yourself
Redirect your thought process to you. We cannot change others, but we can change who we are. And we can change our outlook on life.
We can live based on our own set of core values. We can openly communicate the core values that matter and help a relationship.
Most of us understand that professional growth is crucial to our careers, but we ignore the need for personal growth. We cannot feel happy in our relationships without trusting and investing in ourselves.
Look for the Positives and Encourage
Develop a mindset that looks for the positives in your spouse and your relationship.
Encourage the good qualities in your spouse and communicate that you appreciate them.
A fully engaged partner who sees the pros in a spouse or a relationship, one who shows and feels appreciation, feels no need to partake in negative comparisons.
Focus on What Makes a Relationship Healthy
Make it a practice in your relationship to focus on the elements that can make it healthy.
When you have trust, honesty, compassion, open communication, a balance of power, and your own lives, you are able to cultivate emotional intimacy in your relationship.
Emotional intimacy creates a sense of security within your relationship. It allows you to be who you are without feeling as if you are putting your relationship at risk.
When you can share and understand one’s feelings, it fosters a relationship that has zero need to compare to others.
Learn more about the 5 Elements of a Healthy Relationship
Are You Ready to Not only Love Your Relationship but See it Thrive?
When you’ve done all that you can do and your relationship is not where you want it to be, it may be time to reach out for help.
We believe that, by doing the work together, you can bring health to the relationship that you are in – and that it will thrive!