By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
In a marriage relationship, spouses are called to love, honor, and cherish one another. But even in the strongest of marriages, comparison can creep in, causing the sins of envy and jealousy to tear each spouse down rather than build each one up. When one spouse is doing better than the other in some area of life, Satan can whisper lies into the other spouse’s ear, and he/she may belittle or tear down achievements rather than celebrate them.
Spouses Should Build Up, Not Tear Down
Spouses should not be at war with each other. They should rejoice in each other's achievements and comfort each other when one is feeling sad. In the competitive world in which we live, however, it is easy for a husband or wife to compare themselves to other people, whether that be in the workplace or in other people’s relationships. If gone checked, spouses can then compare themselves with the other. Yet, comparison does not belong in any marriage. What can we do to combat it?
Here are six ways to help your spouse deal with comparison:
1. Consult Scripture
There are many examples of comparison in the Bible. Cain and Abel, Rachel and Leah, and Peter and John, to name a few. Nothing good comes from comparison. Comparison originates from the sin of pride because one thinks he or she should be better than the other. Search Scripture and discover what it has to say about comparison. Take a couple of those passages and write them down on an index card. Place them in prominent places in your home where you frequent. Use them as a daily reminder that the only person whose opinion matters about you is God.
2. Rejoice with Each Other
When one spouse succeeds, the others should be there to rejoice with them. Scripture says, “rejoice! Again, I say rejoice!” We should always be able to give a reason for joy in our hearts rather than envy or jealousy. Remember: their success is your success. Just as we cannot do anything apart from God, spouses marry to do life together. While each spouse in a marriage is a separate individual, they are to be interdependent rather than independent from each other. The next time your spouse succeeds, rejoice with them as if it were your own. It will increase the intimate bond between you, and your spouse will appreciate your love and support.
3. Celebrate Hard
Although we may comfort each other when things are going badly, we forget to celebrate the triumphs. Life is hard. When we have something to celebrate, celebrate well! Go out to eat, get yourself a special gift, or treat yourself to that experience you've never had before. While life can have its trials, life is to be enjoyed and celebrated. Figure out something you want to do to celebrate and do it with no regrets.
4. Share Intimate Details
A couple that spends regular time together sharing their intimate thoughts and details about their lives is more than likely to resist comparison when the temptation arises. This is because your love deepens and the intimate bond between them strengthens. When two people feel intimately connected, they no longer become jealous of each other's accomplishments.
Carve out time on a weekly basis to sit and chat about life. It can be about any topic, including each other's hopes and dreams, their vision for the future, or how life is going in general. Practice active listening by being present with them and asking follow-up questions when appropriate. Not only will each spouse appreciate the quality time spent together, but they were both feel cared for and supported. When each other's needs for love and security are met, comparison no longer has a place in their lives.
5. Root Your Identity in Christ
Comparison rears its ugly head the most when a person roots their identity in places other than Christ. In today's society, it is expected that people will work long hours, sometimes sacrificing precious time with their families to achieve the American Dream. When spouses place their worth and value based on how big their paycheck is, what they do for a living, or how much their spouse shows them they care. It's easy to start comparing themselves both to the spouse and to others’ relationships when things are not going the way they would like.
But God wants us to root our identities in being His children. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” When we live each day knowing that God will provide for our every need and that He loves this, not based on what we do or don't do but on who our loving father is. We no longer have to perform to achieve our worth. We will no longer have to perform to gain our spouse’s love and approval, and we will no longer have to work long exhausting hours trying to achieve fame or money or climb the corporate ladder. God knows what we need, and He is a loving father who will provide both what we need and what we want. Luke 8 says, ““Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
God does not deny His children the things they need the most. He gets great joy out of blessing His children. While it is important that we live our lives with purpose, we do not need to strive needlessly to live independently from God.
6. Use Social Media Sparingly
Social media can be a good thing, but it can also increase our need to compare ourselves to others as we scroll through our feeds each day to look at the highlight reel of others’ lives. It is easy to believe others’ lives are better than ours because of what they choose to post on social media. Social media is just a snapshot of someone’s overall life. For example, a friend may post about a big promotion or a photo of their significant other, but they will not post about the fight they had just minutes before. While social media is great for keeping up with what's going on with friends and family, use social media sparingly. If possible, get off social media completely. It only emphasizes the myth that others have more than what we have, and we feel like we are not enough.
No matter how strong a marriage is, each spouse comes into the relationship with baggage. This baggage can take the form of previous portrayals, deep wounds, or sin patterns that may have been passed down from previous generations. If issues within the soul are not dealt with completely, spouses will tend to isolate themselves from each other, which increases the temptation for comparison. Buy a book on emotional health, and creating boundaries, or seek the help of a professional to help you process these issues. You and your marriage will be better for it.
Although comparison can try to tear apart even the strongest of bonds, marriages will be the strongest when Christ is at the center. Seek to celebrate the good in your spouse, and you will see the world (and your spouse) in a more positive light.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog, Cookie. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.