BY JAVIER & SHANNAN LABRADOR, The Marriage Flippers – 24/7 Marriage
Your Marriage is Unique: Embrace It!
Picture this: You’re sitting with your friends, sipping on your favorite beverage and casually discussing relationships. As stories unfold, you find yourself comparing your marriage to theirs, questioning whether you measure up or if something is amiss. I vividly remember doing this early on in my marriage. I asked myself, “Why are they getting along so well?” or “My wife does not treat me that way; look how she loves to do things for him.” Comparison is a trap and a dangerous gauge for the health of your marriage. We live in a world saturated with social media, highlight reels and sound bytes, and we get pulled into the comparison trap from the moment we wake up. But, here’s the truth – your marriage is unique, and comparing it to others is futile, yet, we do it often.
In working with couples, we find the comparison game kicks into high gear when they are going through a rough season in marriage and under the influence of extreme emotions or insecurities. A fight with your spouse can spin you into a place where you think every other marriage is perfect. Or, maybe you and your spouse are in sync, and you walk in pride, telling yourself that you have more together than your best friend’s marriage after she called to seek your advice. You and I know nobody is perfect, and there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Yet, it’s so easy to stray from reality. People who compare their marriage to others will rob their marriage of joy. Comparison is the thief of joy, and it can kill your marriage.
Let’s look at how you can break free from the comparison trap.
- Recognize the Illusion
First and foremost, it’s crucial to acknowledge that comparing your marriage to others is comparing apples to oranges. Each relationship is complex and a mix of personalities, circumstances and experiences, making it impossible to draw an accurate comparison. Remember, you only see the highlight reels of others’ lives, not their behind-the-scenes struggles. Go ahead and look over the fence. The grass may seem greener, taller and more lush, but what you don’t see is all the crap in the grass – trust me, it’s there.
- Embrace Your Uniqueness
Instead of fixating on what your marriage lacks in comparison to others, celebrate what makes it special. Every relationship has its strengths and weaknesses, its own rhythm and dynamics. Take pride in the qualities that define your marriage, and learn to express gratitude for the unique aspects that bring you and your spouse together. Embracing your uniqueness will cultivate a deeper appreciation for what you have.
- Have a Heart of Gratitude
Gratitude realigns your heart. It realigns your perspective and changes how you see your spouse. When you choose to have gratitude for your spouse, it will shift you from comparison to connection. Where comparison pulls you apart, gratitude will bring you together. It breeds connection, and when you are connected, comparison will fade.
- Don’t Compare your Spouse to Other Men or Women
A number of months ago, I worked with a man who could not free himself from the trap of comparing his wife to other women. His inability to look at the gift that was in front of him and look past the problems to see the person was destroying his marriage. Every time you compare your spouse to another, you build a case against them for why you deserve better. You married your spouse with their unique strengths and personality. Don’t look to the right or left. Look straight ahead at the person you have been blessed with. You said your vows and made a sacred commitment before God and family. Your spouse will not always be your favorite person. There will be days you are not on the same page. But, the most dangerous thing you can do is compare them to another man or woman.
When I officiate weddings, I tell couples that their marriage is a beautiful tapestry woven from the threads of two unique individuals and two distinct lives. Comparing it to others is futile and can only breed dissatisfaction and disunity. Instead, focus on nurturing and celebrating the uniqueness of your partnership. When it gets tough, focus on what is right and good and what has brought you together. Be grateful for the person you are blessed to call your spouse and refuse to allow the current struggle or pain to turn your head away to look at the false reality around you. Embrace the beautiful imperfections of your marriage, and watch it thrive and grow stronger.
So, the next time you gather with friends and sip your favorite beverage, don’t compare; celebrate your spouse and marriage!